Monthly Highlights
Taking Art : Lee Chack-fan  

Professor Lee Chack-fan fell in love with literature since he was a child. Although he chose to be a water resources engineer with hopes to contribute to the country, writing is never far from his heart. His extensive works range from prose to travelogue. As a member of the WKCD Board who also sits on the Performing Arts and Development Committee, he is confident that the project will become a world-class arts and cultural hub.

exhibitionQ: What was your first encounter of art and culture?

A: I think it started with literature. When I was studying in St Joseph’s College, we had to read one English novel like Jane Eyre, Tale of Two Cities and Wuthering Heights every week, filing book reports, sharing with other classmates to learn from each other and hence practising our writing skills. I also enjoyed hanging around book stores after school reading classic and contemporary Chinese novels.

Q: Did you take part in other cultural activities?

A: I joined the Chinese Student Weekly during my senior high school years and we invited some famous authors like Liu Yichang, Wong King-hei, Tsoi Si-guo, Lo Koon-chiu and others to teach in a summer course on writing. Later, Miss Chan Yuen-ying (now Professor and Director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre, University of Hong Kong) and I along with others co-founded the Wah Ching Literature Society and I won the Youth Literary Award with my short novel “Mudlark”. I also took part in some Shakespearean plays at the School Music Festival.

exhibitionQ: Did you keep writing in your university days?

A: I was admitted to HKU’s Department of Civil Engineering in 1965. Shortly after that, I joined the Hong Kong College Students Social Service Team and I spent a great deal of time on voluntary work such as building roads and bridges in small villages in the New Territories. I read more than I wrote then.

Q: Why did you choose engineering, not literature?

A: I used to read a lot of Chinese literature of the post-May 4th movement period, most of which described how poor Chinese peasants suffered from drought or flood. So I was determined to contribute to the country through water resources work. I pursued a doctorate degree in Canada after graduation and practised engineering there for over 20 years, and later participated in many projects in China including the Three Gorges of Yangtze River, the Yellow River, the Song Hua Jiang and the Upper Pearl River as technical consultant.

Q: Which other art forms do you like apart from literature?

A: I used to learn various types of Chinese painting from teachers like Yung Sau-shek, Tsai Dingwen and Kam Nai-ming etc. But unfortunately I don’t have time for painting any more.

exhibitionQ: Do you collect Chinese paintings too?

A: I do have some and my favourites are portraits by Yang Zhihuang and Jiang Zhaohe. I also have some calligraphy and painting works given to me by Professor Jao Tsung-I when I serve as Director of the Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole in recent years. 

Q: Do you enjoy performing arts?

A: My wife is a soprano so we love going to concerts, Chinese and western opera performances. When I’m on business trips to China, I enjoy staying in the hotel room watching concert and music programmes from all over the world on CCTV channel 15.

Q: Why did you join the WKCDA Board?

A: A decade ago I was the Convenor of the Museum Committee under the Cultural Heritage Commission and we were trying to formulate a cultural policy for Hong Kong and to rationalize the local museums. Guess my role has been extended to become a WKCDA board member now.  

exhibitionQ: What do you expect from the WKCD?

A: The Board and its committees have been planning every facet of the project meticulously to ensure the proper development of both hardware and software for the district. An important issue is that construction costs are continuously rising so we might have to build some of the performing arts facilities through public private partnership, which has been proven very successful in overseas countries. I am confident that WKCD will become a world class arts and cultural hub because Hong Kong is a melting pot of Chinese and western cultures with a global vision. I look forward to seeing a great variety of spectacular programmes from overseas as well as different regions of China in our future cultural district.