Updated (partial) on October 21, 2010
|January 12, 2001 photo of Anson Chan being hugged |
by Tung Chee-wah after her announcement of retirement
as the Chief Secretary.
Anson Maria Elizabeth Chan Fong On-sang 陳方安生, generally known as Anson Chan (b.1940 Shanghai - )
In 1993, Chan was appointed the last Chief Secretary of the colonial Hong Kong government, and became the first ethnic Chinese to hold the highest government position next to the Governor who was a British Queen appointee. Chan joined the civil service in 1962 as an administrative service cadet, rising to Assistant Financial Secretary in the Financial Branch of the Colonial Secretary in 1970, the first woman to attain that post, after stints in various departments. She helped establish the Association of Female Senior Government Officer to fight for equal rights, most particularly in wages, with their men counterparts. She was appointed Director of Social Welfare in 1984 and became the first female civil service director ever appointed. Chan stayed on in the Chief Secretary position in the Tung Chee-wah’s cabinet and stepped down in April 2001. She was succeeded by Donald Tsang. She married Archibald Chan Tai-wing 陳棣榮 who was a businessman, a former science teacher of St. Joseph’s College and a retired Commandant of the Hong Kong Auxiliary Police.
Venise Chan Wing-yau 陳詠悠 – In 2005 took the titles in the Girls’ Singles and Doubles events at the International Tennis Federation Grade 4 Chinese Taipei International Junior Championships. This moved her junior world rank from 164th to 83rd - the best achievement ever for Hong Kong tennis in the world junior ranking.
Irene Cheng, nee Ho-tung 何奇姿, later changed to 何艾齡 (b. October 21, 1904 Hong Kong – d. February 17, 2007 San Diego) – In 1925, Cheng completed her undergrad studies at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Hong Kong and became the first Hong Kong-born woman graduate, with a degree in English. She entered the university in 1921 when it began to admit women students nine years after its establishment in 1912. Cheng went on to be trained as a teacher at the King's College of the University of London before she received a master degree from Teachers' College at Columbia University in New York in 1929. Cheng was presented at the Buckingham Palace to Queen Mary in 1932, and obtained her PhD from the University of London in 1936. After a stint teaching at Guangdong’s Lingnan University, Cheng returned to Hong Kong after the war to work in the Education Department. At the time of her retirement in 1961, she was the highest ranking Chinese women in the department. She was created an OBE in 1961. Cheng is the daughter of Robert and Clara Ho-tung. In 1930s, she married Beijing engineer Cheng Sheung-sin 鄭湘先 who was the maternal great-great-grandson of Lin Zexu 林則徐, the Qing Imperial Commissioner sent to Guangdong to suppress the importation and sale of opium. Lin’s bold actions had led to The First Opium War and the subsequent ceding of Hong Kong. Cheng died in 2007 San Diego, California. She was 102.
Canadian Governor-General of Asian Descent
Female Member of an Assassination Group
Ding Xiangtian 丁湘田 – In 1910, Ding became the first (and remained the only) woman member of the Hong Kong-based assassination group - The China Assassination Corps 支那暗殺團 – founded by her long time boyfriend Liu Shifu 劉思複. The two had a son, but never got married.
Clara Eastmond - In 1889, Eastmond arrived in Hong Kong to take up the position of the matron in the Government Civil Hospital to take charge of the first nursing staff of trained nurses from the London Hospital.
Founder of YWCA
Fok Hing-tong 霍慶棠 – In 1920, Fok, together with her sister Fok Shui-yue 霍絮如, and friends Wu So-ching 胡素貞 (principal of St. Paul's Girls' College) and Ng Bik-yuen 吳碧絃, founded the Hong Kong YWCA. The association, when established, had 81 founding members and 12 founding Board Members. Fok is married to Ma Ying-piu 馬應彪, the founder of Sincere Department Stores – noticeably the first department stores in Hong Kong owned by Chinese. She created a sensation in the city by becoming a woman storekeeper (at the cosmetic department) in her husband’s department store. Until that time, only men worked as storekeeper in Hong Kong. Her bolt deed had encouraged women in Hong Kong to enter that field.
Elaine Koo Mu-pin, nee Hui 古許慕彬 – In 1975, Koo joined the Hong Kong Observatory and became the first woman Scientific Officer. She was promoted to Assistant Director in 1993.
Woman Court Interpreter, Hospital Matron of Chinese Origin
Lai A-mui 黎亞妹 (b. 1839 Xiqiaoshan, Nanhai - d. 1902 Hong Kong) - In the 1860s Lai worked as an interpreter at the High Court, the first woman to be hired for the job. Lai, an orphan raised by Chan Ayow, a devout Christian and widow of crooked Police Magistrate Daniel Richard Caldwell, studied at the Ting Wah Girls’ School and was well versed in English. She married Hong Kong’s first Chinese dentistry practitioner, Kwan Yuen-cheong 關元昌 and was the mother of Dr. Kwan Sun-yin 關心焉, the first graduate of the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese to practice in Hong Kong. She worked in the College and the Alice Memorial Hospital, wherein the College was housed, initially as an intepreter and later as the Matron. It is likely that she acquired her nursing skill from Dr. Patrick Manson, a co-founder of the College. When the first professionally trained matron, Helen Stevens, arrived at the hospital in 1891, she confirmed that the hospital already had a Chinese matron, by the name of Kwan Lai-si 關黎氏. This wasn’t her alias; the name can be best translated as Mrs. Kwan, nee Lai, which was a very common way a married woman was addressed at those days.
Woman Legal Chief
Elsie Leung Oi-sie 梁愛詩 (b.1939 Hong Kong - ) – In 1997, Leung was appointed Secretary for Justice and became the first Chinese person as well as the first woman to be placed in the highest legal post in the government. She held the position until 2005. Leung qualified as a solicitor in 1968, specializing in divorce cases. She was the only lawyer appointed to the post not a Queen’s Counsel (or King’s Counsel) or a Senior Counsel (this doesn’t make her very special, only hugely unqualified). The title of Secretary for Justice was known as Attorney General in the colonial government era. Leung is a founder of pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong 民建聯.
Woman Bus Driver
Leung Wai-yu – In 1989, Leung became the first woman bus driver, who broke into a male-dominated line of work. She joined Kowloon Motor Bus Ltd. (KMB) earlier in the same year, with 11 other women, as trainee in the Bus Captains Training School established in 1988. She retired at the age of 60 in 2008 with near-zero record in road accidents. KMB now has 484 female bus captains, accounting for 6 per cent of the total driving team.
Florence Li Tim-oi 李添嬡 (b. 1907 Hong Kong - d. 1992 Toronto) – In 1944, Li was ordained by Bishop Ronald Owen Hall 何明華 of the Anglican Communion and became the first women priest of the Anglican Church. The ordination was an emergency measure in response to the crisis among Anglican Christians in China caused by the Japanese invasion. In 1946 after the war, Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Francis Fisher, who assumed the post in 1945, laid an accusation against Hall for wrongly ordained a woman to priesthood. To protect Hall from the likelihood of being sacked and to end the controversy, Li resigned her license, though not her priestly orders. Twenty seven years later in 1971, Joyce Bennet and Jane Hwang Hsien-yuen became the first regularly ordained women priests. In conjunction with their ordination, Li was officially recognized as a priest in the diocese. In 2008, Li was nominated as a candidate to be conferred the tile of Saint.
Crusader Against Child Labor
A.M. Pitts – In 1918, Pitts, a missionary of the Church Missionary Society 英國聖公會差會 who had been working in Hong Kong for seventeen years, delivered a speech to the Church of England Men's Society on the welfare of children in Hong Kong and became the first woman to attack the child labor problem in the colony. She was also the first woman to speak to the Society and to mark the event ladies were invited to attend. Pitts spoke on five issues relating to child labor in Hong Kong: (1), the employment of children to carry loads to the Peak; (2), the conditions of children working in factories; (3), the question of domestic servants; (4), the lack of school places for children of school age; and (5), the need to bring pressure to bear on parents and guardians to send children to school. She estimated that only one-fourth of the children of school age attended school. She then set out six concrete proposals to correct the situation: (1), the appointment of women inspectors for factories; (2), the framing of factory laws; (3), compulsory education, industrial and technical training for half the day; (4), establishment of free schools and provision of playgrounds where possible; (5), laws against selling children and the registration of servants; and (6), restricted immigration. In 1921, Pitts was invited to sit on the government appointed “Commission of Inquiry on Child Labor” chaired by Secretary for Chinese Affairs S.B.C. Ross. Also serving in the committee were Legislative Council member Chow Shouson 周壽臣, contractor and philanthropist Li Ping 李炳 and C.W. McKenny, the head of the Government Civil Hospital.
 Correction: The photo is of Pu Xixiu 浦熙修, a notable journalist in China and a girlfriend of Lo Long-chi. Thank you, 水橫舟, for pointing out my mistake. (10/12/2014)
Female Head of Dental Organs
Wong Tin-chun 黃殿春 – In 1989, Wong was elected the president of the Hong Kong Dental Association and became the first women head of the then 39 years old professional society. She went on to become the first woman President of the Hong Kong Society of Orthodontists in 1991, the first woman to be appointed to the Dental Council of Hong Kong 香港牙醫管理委員會, and the first woman to be elected chair of the Dental Council’s Preliminary Investigation Committee. She was the recipient of the FDI World Dental Federation Merit Award in 1998 and was conferred an Honorary Life Membership by the Hong Kong Dental Association in 2000. Wong is the current Finance Committee Chairman of the FDI World Dental Federation. Wong, an orthodontist, attended the University College Hospital Dental School in London.
- TO BE COMPLETED -