I was in Algeria when I learnt about Professor Lee's passing. I didn't believe right away what I read through the hotel's Wi-Fi service because I'd always joked with Prof Lee he'd live to well beyond a hundred on account of his longevity gene. The teasing came about after Prof Lee arrived quite late to CUSA's Annual Dinner one year. " How come you're so late ? You're normally punctual so we got worried that something might have happened to you !" I asked him. " Well, my mother couldn't find a taxi after playing mahjong with her friends, so she called for me to drive her home." I was astonished. " How old's your mother ?" " She's 103 !"
The day I arrived back to Hong Kong from Algeria was the day of Prof Lee's funeral. I'd been travelling non-stop for 18 hours, but I felt compelled to show my last respect despite being bone-tired. What the world sees as an eminent and highly accomplished doctor and leader in Public Health, CUSA and I see as a staunch friend and adviser. Much have been written about the long and distinguished career of Prof Lee, more certainly should be said about the humanity and extraordinary personal magnetism of this kindly old gentleman. Everytime I ran into Prof Lee , either in CUSA functions or medical meetings, I was always struck by his big warm smile and genuine care - Prof Lee had the knack of instantly putting people at ease, even those who might ordinarily be intimidated by his fame and status .
Soon after Prof Lee joined the Chinese University in the 1990s he's taken an interest in CUSA and how we could better spread health messages to the CU staff , but only in 2004 that we had the good sense to officially invite him to be CUSA's Honorary Consultant. Prof Lee was particularly zealous about integrating HK-China medical care and arranged for CUSA to visit Clifford Hospital in Panyu the same year. Prof Lee never missed any of CUSA's Annual Dinner ; he's at his most relaxed during such informal gatherings and often showed the fun side of his character. At our 25th Anniversary Dinner, Prof and Mrs Lee were so enchanted by the singing of Miss Trene Ryder they did an impromptu dance, much to the delight not only of the CUSA members, but of the restaurant staff !
Prof Lee's passing is an immense loss to CUSA, both on an official as well as personal level. Words cannot express our deep respect and affection for this great man that we've had the good fortune to know and the privilege to count as one of our own. Our thoughts and codolences are with the family, but our association does not end here. Just as I whispered to Mrs Lee at the funeral : If there's anything we can do to help, drop in at CUSA anytime, our door's always open to you.
CUSA never forgets