Fame and celebrity

Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau receives honorary doctorate, hopes to be role model for young people

The 56-year-old had humble beginnings and became a celebrity through hard work. He is now active in community service.

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 December, 2017, 7:33am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 December, 2017, 2:32pm

When Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau received an honorary doctorate from Shue Yan University on Thursday, his acceptance speech consisted of just one line, where he said: “No worries, I am not going to make a speech, thank you.”

Lau, 56, was awarded a Doctor of Letters, honoris causa – his first from an institution in the city. His one-liner after being conferred the degree by university provost Professor Hu Yau-su was met with thunderous applause from the audience.

Earlier, he listened attentively and occasionally smiled and nodded to the audience as his citation was presented.

He was praised for his hard work during his over 30 years in show business and his contribution to society through community and charity work.

The citation highlighted his popularity among locals and said: “His low-key, modest, friendly and approachable personality has endeared him to millions of fans and ordinary folks alike, who also consider him to be a ‘heartthrob’ and the ‘unofficial Chief Executive of [Hong Kong].”

Lau did give more comments to the press after the ceremony, saying he was “very glad to be able to receive such an honour.”

“I hope I can be a role model for young people. No matter how humble your beginnings are, no matter how adverse the situation you are in, there is no excuse for you not to do your best or work your hardest to strive for excellence.”

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He also said he hoped to be able to do more for the development of local culture and Cantonese opera in the future. Asked if he would consider going back to school to continue learning, Lau said: “Nothing is impossible. Perhaps when I settle down and when I have time, I may pick up studying again, if [the university] would accept me.”

Asked why his wife, Carol Chu Lai-sin, and daughter did not show up, Lau joked: “I fear they would steal the limelight from me.”

One of the most beloved celebrities among Chinese fans worldwide, Lau was born in Tai Po to a working class family.

He joined TVB as an actor in 1981 before finishing Form Six. The following year, he landed his first lead in Ann Hui’s film Boat People. So far, he has starred in over 160 films.

In 1984, he tried his hand at singing and has since performed in about 500 concerts, with his album sales exceeding 48 million copies by the early 2000s. That was when he started spending more time on making films and doing community work.

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In 1991, he set up his own production company to support young and talented film directors. In 1994, he established the Andy Lau Charity Foundation to help the needy.

In 2006, he was given an honorary fellowship at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

He was feted with several awards – the Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award in 1999, the Outstanding Young Persons of the World Award in 2000, the Medal of Honour by the Hong Kong government in 2004 and the Bronze Bauhinia Star last year.

Sharing the limelight at Thursday’s event was Mr Justice Patrick Chan Siu-oi, a non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal. He was conferred a doctor of laws, honoris causa.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Justice Chan urged young people to show gratitude to others.

“There are people who consider that they are entitled to what they get and that since they have a right to it, it is not necessary to be grateful to anyone.

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“But the truth of the matter is that there is hardly any absolute right to anything. After all, nobody owes us anything.”

The conferment of honorary degrees was part of the university’s 43rd graduation ceremony, held from Wednesday to Friday. This year, 1,446 students graduated from Shue Yan University. Of them, 1,375 were undergraduates and 71 were postgraduates.