Alumni Linkage — OU People

Alumni Communication & Support Alumni Linkage Past Issues January 2019 Issue Alumni Linkage — OU People

Alumnus Jimmy Yuen was the first-ever Chinese head of the Hong Kong Police Force's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau (EODB). Dismantling a bomb is like 'cheating death'. He made no bones about the danger. 'I have to be prepared to die. Each time I must be 100 percent focused. There is just take one and no take two.' However, he emphasized that playing it strictly by the book as a professional had made it possible for him to come through all the perils unscathed.

Crises at close quarters tackled with guts and wits

Jimmy joined the Police Force in 1983. Ever ready to accept new challenges, he later became a member of the EODB, at a time of localization of the Force as the EODB began recruiting Chinese police officers for the first time. 'In those days, I found myself facing new hurdles in that I had to adjust to the cultural differences in the Bureau, where most of my colleagues were British. I also had to work doubly hard to make up for my lack of military knowledge. On top of that, training for the critical thinking skills essential to bomb disposal was lacking in local schools, a significant disadvantage in comparison with Western societies.' Nevertheless, with his determination to overcome the difficulties and five times of training abroad, Jimmy eventually rose from a Cadre member to the first Chinese head of the Bureau.

Despite feeling a bit nervous prior to each bomb disposal operation, Jimmy was invariably reminded to be thorough and to develop the right mindset. 'Once I arrive on the scene, with my nerves gone, I would immediately focus on the task at hand and begin my analysis, planning and execution for the situation attentively.' As supervisor on the spot, he focuses not only on the bomb but also on how to respond to all possible emergencies to ensure the safety of everyone present. This is truly a mission that takes guts and wits to pull off.

Over the years, Jimmy has taken part in numerous dangerous missions. The one in 1995 to dispose a wartime bomb stuck to the anchor of a cargo ship in Tsing Yi is still vivid in his memory. 'With the bomb dangling in mid-air, there was little room for me to manoeuvre except to defuse the bomb while sitting on it. I had to go with the flow of the anchor swinging like a pendulum in the strong wind. Finally, the job was successfully done.' Before his retirement in 2014, a wartime bomb filled with 1,000 pounds of TNT, which could cause massive destruction of buildings, was found in Happy Valley. The discovery drew territory-wide attention. In a concerted effort under the supervision of Jimmy, his team laboured through the night and dismantled the bomb with state-of-the-art equipment. As the first of its kind in the world using the equipment in a real situation, the operation also marked the perfect conclusion for his bomb-disposal career.

L_1901_ASS_Jimmy Yuen 2

I can because I think I can

In pursuit of knowledge and his dream of a university degree, Jimmy enrolled in the OUHK in 2008. The problem involved this time was insufficient time. With proper planning, however, he managed to juggle his full-time job with obligations to family, studies and volunteer services, and even came out with flying colours academically. 'I seldom missed a tutorial and cherished the chance to attend class. That was most useful for improving my knowledge and thinking skills.'

After retirement from the Police Force a few years ago, with the same passion, he took up an aviation security training job in addition to volunteering work. Since becoming a Hong Kong Red Cross (HKRC) youth leader in 1977, Jimmy has remained a dedicated volunteer and is now an HKRC Director. Back in his youth, despite his gruelling voyage of adventure battling the waves on the Outward Bound Hong Kong sailing vessel Ji Fung, Jimmy was able to steel himself for hardships and come up with his life motto – 'I can because I think I can'. He elaborated, 'Just like bomb disposal, no matter how thorny the problem is, you can't give up halfway. You must keep trying to find a solution to tackle it step by step.'