The Oxford and Cambridge Society of Hong Kong
President’s Report for the Year 2009 - 2010, for the AGM on 24th April, 2010
The year has both been challenging yet very rewarding as I served as the President of this society. I am delighted to deliver the President’s Report for the year 2009 - 2010.
As one of the most active alumni societies in Hong Kong, it is the responsibility of the Committee to be able to deliver a broad and diverse range of activities to offer to our members. I am pleased to report that we held some 23 events during the year for our members to attend.
We organised a larger than usual number of speaker dinners and drinks events to do our part to help dampen the effects of the global financial crisis! The series of events started on a high note when our Boat Race Dinner last year had a record attendance of 112 guests, listening to Dr. Deng Yaping, Mr. David Webb and Mr. Jim Rogers, all of whom spoke with eloquence and wit. A long time supporter of our Society and a familiar face, Mrs. Anson Chan, former Chief Secretary of the HKSAR Government kicked off the dinner series with a talk about Hong Kongin the 21st century. Other prominent speakers who supported us included Mr. Anthony Wu and Mr. Norman Chan, at our first collaboration with The Bauhinia Foundation; Mr. Stephen Venables, the celebrated mountaineer, shared his experience of conquering Mount Everest in a joint event with The Royal Geographical Society of Hong Kong; Mr. Steven Green, Group Chairman of HSBC Holdings plc spoke to us on his first visit after the announcement that the bank planned to move its executive office back to Hong Kong; lastly, Mr. C.Y. Leung, Convenor of the non-official members of the Executive Council shared his thoughts with us at a dinner held in February 2010. Of course, there were also the favorite social events. The quarterly mixers attracted many new and potential members to gather after work over cocktails. The Chinese New Year Dinner at the Luk Yu Teahouse Restaurant always started promptly, as David Fu insists on opening the finest bottle of red wine at the beginning of dinner rather than at the end. A wine tasting event was also organised and I believe I was the only one who had both a glass of red wine and champagne at the same time, as Anthony Petit spoke to us in the crowded room in Pala Restaurant. A total of 105 members and guests celebrated Christmas with us in the Garden Lounge filled with Christmas Carols in The Hong Kong Club at the Christmas Cocktails, the introduction of Swiss Raclette cheese and honey glazed Yorkham was definitely a hit!
We had also organised many sporting events for our members to burn off the extra calories after numerous dinners and drinks; of course, we held cultural events to feed the soul. The annual regatta was postponed due to bad weather but nonetheless held successfully in May. For the first time, the Regatta was combined with RHKYC’s Club Championships. Many members, including myself, learnt to play croquet under Rupert McCowen’s expert guidance during our Garden Party but perhaps the Pimm’s were ever so slightly more popular. The hike in November proved to be very popular with 40 people attending. I would especially like to thank Bob and Sally Bunker for offering to host tea at their residence after the hike. For the second year round, our Society also participated in the MIT Sports Days held in January. On the cultural side, we collaborated with Christie’s for the first time to organise two private art viewings and talks on both Asian contemporary art and Chinese works of art. The Society also managed to secure special prices for ‘The Magic Flute’ opera and the French Opera ‘Manon’. We revived the long tradition of debating in our Society this year after a pause since 2004. ‘This house believes that China’s benign dictatorship is better for business than Britain’s elected dictatorship’ was the motion of the debate and after a fiercely contested evening, with excellent speakers and a wide range of contributions from the floor of around 70, eventually we saw the motion defeated by 10 votes.
The highlight of the calendar year was of course the Biennial Ball themed ‘The Venetian Masquerade’ which was held at the Hong Kong Country Club. We achieved many ‘firsts’ during this ball. It was the first time we secured a sponsorship from Versace, the first time we engaged Roger Sansom as our production and event manager and the first time we had very positive press coverage by both Tatler and Prestige Magazines. Due to overwhelming demand and limited seating capacity, the Committee also decided to sale ‘after dark’ tickets to allow access to the after party which continued to almost 4 a.m. I would like to thank Ronald Kwokand the Ball Committee, as well as Versace and Roger Sansom, for working so hard in the many months leading up to the ball in October. The ball was, of course, nominated as one of the top events of 2009 by the Tatler Magazine.
All in all, this was a very fulfilling year in terms of activities and I hope that our members enjoyed participating in these events.
We have been very conscious on our membership drive for this year. The membership currently stands at 519 members. Of these, 427 are full members and 92 are student members while the Oxford/Cambridge mix is approximately 56%/44% in favour of Oxford. In order to attract more potential members, especially recent graduates of the universities, we have improved our website interface, utilised internet social networks and produced roll-up banners for use at our events. However, we would still like to solicit our members to encourage other Oxbridge alumni and their peers to join our Society.
The Committee allocated HK$80,000 for scholarship grant awards for this year to 4 students studying in Oxfordand Cambridge. The awards are summarised below:
BAO, Kelvin King Hei(Cambridge): To undertake medical elective / project work in Tanzaniain summer 2010.
CHI, Marcus(Cambridge): Volunteering with "Lawyers for Human Rights" in Pretoria, South Africa.
CHU, Timothy Tin Chung(Oxford): To undertake a summer internship at Grameen Bank, Dhaka, Bangladeshto study the workings of microfinance in helping the poor.
LAU, Ada(Oxford): Spatiotemporal Modeling of Wind Power Generation
Unlike previous years, the Committee awarded up to HK$20,000 per candidate which restricted the total number of successful applicants to four students given the HK$80,000 budget constraint. However, the awards committee feels that the money will be spent on good cause after evaluating their individual merits and projects.
Traditionally, the proceeds of the Christmas Cocktails are donated a charity chosen by the President. The charity of choice this year was The Ocean Park Conservation Foundation (“OPCF”), supporting their work in nature conservation in Asia. I would like to especially thank Judy Chen and her team from OPCF for joining us at the cocktail and giving us a brief introduction of their work, and of course, thank Peter Cheung and Polly Cheung from Versace for donating a ladies handbag as a raffle ticket prize. A sum of HK$9,400 was donated and a letter of thanks was received from the OPCF.
Although not strictly a financial donation, the Society encouraged members to join a beach cleaning initiative organised by Fergus Fung last July. The Committee believes that it is important to give back to society in any way we can and we would encourage more events in community services in the future.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to our administrator Irene Lee, who has been very helpful to the committee as always. Of course, I would like to thank David Fu, our Honorary Secretary, who has been invaluable to the efficient running of the Society for so many years and has kept the President in check on many occasions. I would also like to thank Caberine Wong, who has helped us on many events when help was needed.
Note of Thanks
It has been a great honour for me to serve the Society for this year. As we have mentioned on many occasions, the nicest aspect of this Committee is the mutually supportive atmosphere between our members, where all of us work to strive for a common goal. I would like to thank every Committee member, both new and old, for devoting so much of their personal time and effort in organising such wonderful events. Without such a wonderful team, it would have been impossible for me to offer such a substantial event programme.
Lastly, I would like to thank our members, firstly, for sitting through such a long report, and for their support they have shown towards our events, especially in the midst of the financial crisis. I am happy to announce that because of you, our enthusiast members, almost all of our events this year were sold out and the Committee and organisers could not be more excited about this.
In my new role as Immediate Past President, I shall no doubt continue my support towards Ronald Kwokand the new Committee and I looking forward to serving the Society in my new capacity. Thank you.
24th April 2010