Unveiling of the portrait of Mr. T.H. Chan at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, May 27 2015

By Gerald Chan

Ronnie and I are honored by your presence today. Thank you for joining us here
to honor our late father by the unveiling of his portrait. Our mother who was
here last September for the gift ceremony is unable to come this time because
of a prior commitment to another celebratory dinner in Hong Kong next week. In
her nineties, she still has a very active social calendar. Our younger brother
Andy is also not able to be here today as he is in New Zealand.

I begin with a canon in the Judeo-Christian heritage – the Ten Commandments.
The fifth of the ten commandments charges us to honor our father and mother.
The spirit of that commandment is that we should never forget our source. Some
of you have seen the successes that Ronnie and I have had in business in the
last few decades. I want you to know that there is a source. That source is the
upbringing that our father gave us. Having had a hard childhood himself, Dad
gave us an upbringing that was spartan. He trained us to excel. He felt that we
must excel in what we do if we are to win others’ respect. He taught us hard
work. He taught us to be upright. He told us that a major building in Hong Kong
would have been his project if he had only given a bribe to a government civil
servant. He did not. He told us that he was invited to invest in the casino in
Macau. He did not. He was a God fearing man, he was a man of principles. He
also taught us to be grateful and not to forget those who had been kind to us.
He taught us not to forget.

Our father was a self-effacing man. Before he passed away, he instructed us
that his ashes should be scattered over Hong Kong. There is today not a
headstone on earth that memorializes him. Our desire is that his name should
not be forgotten. By this school bearing his name, we want him to be remembered
as an upright man who supported education and cared for others’ welfare. In
time, people will forget what he did in business; that does not matter.
Although his accomplishments will fade into history, it is his exemplary virtues
that should be remembered. These virtues are timeless.

Hence, in naming the school after our father, we are not seeking aggrandizement
for him. Rather, we want there to be a reminder to posterity of a life that was
well-lived. By his name being part of the name of this school, we want his life
to be a mirror by which students will examine their own lives and to pursue a
life that is worthy of honor. We want this memory of the past to serve the
future, for without heeding the past, we will be reckless in our crafting of
the future.

Finally, I was in the British Airways lounge in Heathrow Airport last week.
There was before me a lavish display of glossy magazines hawking luxury goods –
luxury vacations, luxury yachts, luxury properties, luxury wines, luxury this
and luxury that. I leafed through some of those magazines and said to myself –
how much better it is to use our means to be of service to others than to
pamper ourselves. How much better it is that others should be the focus of our
living rather than living a self-centered life. It is indeed more blessed to
give than to receive. In honoring my late father, we are all being called to a
life of service, for in it is true blessing.

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