Home About HKMU President’s Message Speeches

2021 Inauguration Ceremony for New Students

Address by Professor Paul LAM Kwan-sing, President

14 September 2021

I'd like to begin by saying how happy I am to see so many new students at HKMU.
One of the best parts of my job as an academic is meeting students at the start of their academic adventure.
I wish you all the best as you start this exciting new stage in your life.
Many years ago when I was a high school student, I thought studying was the only important aspect of university. However, when I entered university, I realised there was so much more than books and labs!
My extra-curricular activity was debating. I spent most of my free time learning how to build an argument, persuade others, construct counter-arguments, and conclude a case. The training was highly elaborate and taught me how to think.
Debating took up so much of my time that I didn't participate in any other activities. I could have tried rugby, which I was interested in, but time spent in the debating room was more attractive than training on the pitch.
The point is, no matter what you do besides completing your coursework and preparing for exams, extra-curricular clubs and societies are enriching.
You learn communication skills, teamwork, how to set goals and how to manage your time, how to compromise and how to learn from others. All these skills are vital for getting a good job and building a successful career.
And so today, at the start of your studies at HKMU, I encourage you to take advantage of the many wonderful prospects on offer. Make time to explore the HKMU website and discover for yourself how you can expand your horizons by getting involved.
If you love running, join the cross-country team. If you adore films, but the Film Society is not running this year, find out how to re-boot it. If you love K-Pop dance, but there's no K-Pop Dance Society, feel free to start one.
I will let you into a secret. You might not believe it, but some students spend several years at university without enjoying the many extracurricular activities, internships and exchange programmes that might be available.
They might find out too late, like at their graduation ceremony. They finally discover that there was a university football team, and even though they loved football, they had never joined the training sessions.
For me, this would be very sad indeed. After all, I have never met a student who regretted getting involved in university life. But I have met several who regretted NOT getting involved!
And so I urge you all to make sure you know what opportunities HKMU offers. You need to look at the website, consult your school, check out the social media platforms, and explore.
The key is communication, which has to be a two-way street for it to be successful. That's why, while I pledge to you that HKMU will work its hardest to keep you informed, you guys need to do your best to find out for yourselves.
I know very well that starting a new programme, a new job, a new life, a new relationship, making new friends. moving to a new place are always challenging moments in life.
And there are many challenges. Hong Kong has experienced a turbulent past two years. We have had the social unrest and then the impact of the pandemic. More than ever, we need to work together to heal society, rebuild trust, and look to the future.
As members of society, we owe it to each other to be objective, fair, and rational. We have to make sure that we understand the information that we are given, and that we can judge whether or not it is good or bad.
I'll give you an example of what I mean.
There's no doubt that your generation, and mine now, get most of their information from online sources. We live in a “Digital Age”, or we can call it the “Information Age”.
When I was your age, we got news from newspapers, the radio and the TV, and we got information from our professors via letters, circulars, and posters.
It sounds almost pre-historic, right?
In contrast, you guys get almost everything online.
Unfortunately, though, a lot of information on the internet is not verified. It might actually be wrong.
Living in the information age does not necessarily guarantee that we are more “knowledgeable”.
Let me give you an example, which is related to my research area – environmental chemistry and toxicology.
Although modern-day incinerators are a great way to handle huge amounts of waste, many people object to them. They have read that these incinerators are dangerous to our health because they emit dioxins into the environment.
Now, it is true that dioxins are toxic chemicals, but the emissions from modern incinerators are extremely low. State-of-the-art incinerators are very safe, and don't pose a threat to public health.
Nevertheless, many people fear incinerators because the information they received emphasises, and increases, a fear of dioxins.
So what do we need to do to overcome false information?
Clear, rational thinking based on facts and the good interpretation of data.
We need to examine the world around us with an open mind and consider objectively both sides of an argument. This sounds logical and simple, but many of the problems we face today are caused by a failure to think properly.
Like a good scientist, historian, data analyst or doctor, we have to look at the evidence and then draw good conclusions. We should not formulate a conclusion before looking for evidence to substantiate our beliefs.
Challenges are opportunities. Overcoming a challenge is a wonderful experience. You feel empowered, energised and emboldened.
At HKMU, we will do our best to nurture the ability to look at a problem from many perspectives, and then search for answers, solutions, alternatives, clarifications and resolutions.
It's all about good communication and understanding. You may have heard this before, and that's because it's true.
And I believe that by getting involved in all aspects of life at HKMU, you will develop skills that will enable you to think clearly, analyse problems well, and find answers.

So I pledge to you that HKMU will pursue these three goals for the immediate future:

  1. Provide our students with a top-drawer education;
  2. Help students find good jobs, start their own business, and build meaningful careers; and
  3. Enable our students to become upstanding members of the community.
University life is a wonderful opportunity, one that is inaccessible to many around the world.
In contrast, we have a wealth of opportunities here in Hong Kong and so let's seize them! Here at HKMU, you have this golden chance to improve yourselves, make a better life, and prepare for an exciting career doing what you love.
Work with us, and we will support you all the way.
Thank you.