Life devoted to the community and helping needy children

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 March, 2009, 12:00am

Veteran paediatrician and Hong Kong Committee for Unicef chairman Robert Fung Hing-piu, who devoted a lifetime to helping needy children worldwide, has died aged 74.

Dr Fung was venerated by his peers and those who worked with him as a person of upright character.

'I had the privilege of knowing Dr Robert Fung for more than half a century. He was a Christian. He lived by example and he set a good one,' Andrew Wong Wing-hung, president of the North American Medical Association, Hong Kong, said.

Dr Fung received his bachelor of arts from Harvard in 1956, followed in 1960 by a Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

For more than 40 years thereafter, he remained a specialist in child medicine, becoming the founding paediatrician-in-chief of the Adventist Hospital.

In 1986, Dr Fung founded the Hong Kong Committee for Unicef, the United Nations agency to promote children's rights. He held the chairman's seat for all but one year up to this year, and worked hard to organise fund-raising and advocacy programmes that made significant contributions to Unicef projects.

'Dr Fung was a visionary leader who was completely dedicated and committed to Unicef and its values. His tireless efforts, benevolence and generosity have benefited our community and countless children around the world,' council members of the Hong Kong committee said in a statement yesterday.

Dr Wong said Dr Fung had played a crucial role in moves by Hong Kong's medical schools to offer bone marrow transplant programmes in the 1990s. The programmes would not have been possible without Dr Fung's efforts, as founding vice-chairman of the North American Medical Association, to bring Nobel laureate Edward Donnell Thomas to the city and to line up meetings and lectures for local medical academics.

Dr Fung was equally active in community organisations. He also played an active role in fund-raising that helped the Hong Kong Award for Young People in the 1990s, when it was in bad financial shape.

Dr Fung, who died on March 6, is survived by his wife and five children. His life will be celebrated at an invitation-only event organised by the Unicef committee at the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine on March 27.