Business magnate Li Ka-shing has revealed that he had his gall bladder removed recently because of acute inflammation.
Asia's richest man made the revelation in an address to 2,600 students at a graduation ceremony of Shantou University, Guangdong, yesterday.
The 85-year-old tycoon, who co-founded the university in 1981 through his Li Ka Shing Foundation, surprised the young audience by saying at the start of his speech: "I recently suffered acute cholecystitis and underwent gall bladder removal surgery."
He continued: "Well, I am fully recovered and fit as a fiddle to soldier on." He added that the operation was "quite painless".
He did not mention when and where the treatment was carried out, or how he had contracted the illness.
It is understood that the operation took place in the past two months. A foundation spokesman said: "There is no need to be overly sensitive. It just so happens Mr Li chose to mention this in his speech at this occasion. There is no special reason."
Li was said last year to have undergone a heart operation, but his flagship Cheung Kong company quickly denied the rumours. There have rarely been reports about his health problems in recent months.
In his speech yesterday, he encouraged the students to work hard for a better tomorrow, and to "push for social progress, justice and prosperity".
"Only those who face up to reality can overcome it; perseverance, diligence and judiciousness can turn a quandary into opportunity and hope," he said.
The 1.28-square-kilometre Shantou University is located in the northwestern part of the coastal city of Shantou . Li's foundation has committed about HK$6 billion to date.