CUHK Library honours legacy of Mr Hilton Cheong-Leen with major collection donation
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Library marked a significant milestone today with the Donation Ceremony of Mr Hilton Cheong-Leen’s Collection. The late Mr Cheong-Leen, widely known as the first Chinese Chairman of the Urban Council and co-founder of the Hong Kong Civic Association, has left an indelible mark on Hong Kong’s history.
The substantial collection, spanning 1962 to 2012, comprises five boxes of documents and publications. This treasure trove includes over 150 letters exchanged between Mr Cheong-Leen and key governmental bodies, about 80 speeches, 200+ photos capturing Council activities, over 20 volumes of Hong Kong Hansards, the official Urban Council proceedings, documents from the Hong Kong Handover Ceremony, and exclusive interviews with Mr Cheong-Leen.
Expressing gratitude at the ceremony, Mr Eric Ng, CUHK’s Vice-President (Administration) and University Secretary, lauded the family’s generous donation. He highlighted Mr Cheong-Leen’s impactful role in shaping Hong Kong’s social landscape, advocating for causes such as nine-year free education and improved housing for the underprivileged. The collection, meticulously preserved in CUHK Library’s Special Collections, promises to enrich the study of Hong Kong’s history.
CUHK’s University Librarian, Mr Benjamin Meunier, expressed deep honour in receiving Mr Cheong-Leen’s papers, emphasising the historic figure’s dedication to improving lives. The donation agreement, signed during the event by Mr Meunier and Ms Flora Cheong-Leen, Mr Cheong-Leen’s daughter, signifies the commitment to preserving this invaluable history.
Ms Flora Cheong-Leen remarked on her father’s legacy, describing him as a progressive and inclusive figure in Hong Kong’s society. She thanked everyone for receiving her father’s donation and preserving his history within CUHK.
During the ceremony, Mr George Li, CUHK’s Special Collections Librarian, presented select items, including letters from Mr Cheong-Leen to former British Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major. These artifacts offer insight into Mr Cheong-Leen’s support for significant decisions, such as granting right of abode to British nationals and the construction of a new airport in Hong Kong. The collection also features historical photographs documenting Mr Cheong-Leen’s impactful tenure as the first Chinese Chairman of the Urban Council. It is expected to be open to the public in the first quarter of 2024.
About Mr Hilton Cheong-Leen
Born in British Guiana in 1922, Mr Hilton Cheong-Leen moved to Hong Kong at the age of nine. Founder of Cheong-Leen & Co. (Asia) Limited in 1945, he played a pivotal role in Hong Kong’s business and political landscape. Co-founder of the Hong Kong Civic Association in 1954, he joined the Urban Council in 1957, serving as its first Chinese chairman from 1981 to 1986—the longest-serving elected public official in Hong Kong’s history. Mr Cheong-Leen also served as a member of the Legislative Council from 1973 to 1979 and from 1985 to 1988.