Information Services Office   4.1.2012


The 130-hectare campus of CUHK is linked by the footprints of OAs
Ms. Yau Kit-wah
Wah Che prefers to deliver on foot rather than wait for the shuttle bus
Mr. Wong Mun-fai
The post bag Fai Gor carries usually weighs 7 to 18 kg
Mail Room at G/F, John Fulton Centre
Newsletter No. 390 > Feature > The Familiar Silhouettes Who Connect Us

The Familiar Silhouettes Who Connect Us


In the electronic era, connecting one with the world is simple and easy. Texts, graphics, photos and audio-visual files can be sent thousand miles away by simply pressing a button. However, you can still see staff members carrying big post bags travelling around the CUHK campus, delivering mail to various units. The CUHK Newsletter talks to two senior office assistants (OA) about their stories, and their toils through the days, be it sunshine or rain, hot or cold, on Hong Kong’s largest campus at 137.3 hectares. There are services that cannot be replaced by state-of-the-art technology.

Yau Kit-wah

OA in the Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering, joined CUHK in 1988

When asked about her life in CUHK, Ms. Yau Kit-wah said, ‘It’s really a pleasure to work here. I’ve gained so much, including the recognition from colleagues and supervisors, friendship and the opportunity for my children to study abroad.’

Ms. Yau, or ‘Wah Che’ (Sister Wah), was first engaged as a workman at the Lee Hysan Clinical Research Laboratories of the Medicine Faculty, where she was responsible for cleaning test tubes and preparing apparatus. In 1990, she was transferred to the Dean of Students’ Office at Shaw College (SC). She had to travel between SC and central campus once in the morning, and once more in the afternoon. In addition to the Mail Room, she had to hand in the computer room fees to the Accounting Operations and Systems Unit (AOU) at the University Administration Building (UAB) and posted the announcements at Science Centre. Her hard work won her supervisor’s appreciation and she was encouraged to take the promotion examination for the rank of OA.

As a quick-tempered person, Wah Che prefers to deliver on foot rather than taking time to wait for the shuttle bus. ‘I carry an umbrella and wear a pair of trainers whenever I go outside. Walking up and down in the sun is definitely not good. That’s why summer is not my favourite season.’ As time passes, Wah Che has developed knee pain problems. She was worried that she might not be able to cope with the work when she grew older, and applied for a transfer.

Wah Che was transferred to the Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering in 1994, the year when the department was founded. Being one of the founding members of the department, Wah Che said, ‘One day, I set off from the Mong Man Wai Building to the Mail Room at the John Fulton Centre with a trolley of mail. Prof. Kwong Chung-ping, founding chairman of the department, saw me. He was astonished and asked, “Are you alone in carrying so much mail? But even so you’re walking faster than me!” He then helped pushing the trolley to the Mail Room. I was very moved.’

While she has served in a number of units, Wah Che feels the care from colleagues everywhere. She is glad to work at CUHK. She also met some of her best friends here. She said, ‘I was able to apply for a staff loan from the money in my superannuation account. Together with the savings from the Credit Union, I was able to support the studies of my son and daughter in the US.’

Wah Che has a special talent—she has a good memory of the names, telephone and room numbers of over 100 academics, research assistants and postgraduate students of the department. She can tell you the telephone and room numbers of any individual member that you would care to name. ‘Though I am absent-minded, I do have a good memory for these things. Maybe it’s because I treat them as my family members.’ No wonder she likes working here so much. She always takes leave only upon her colleagues reminding her of annual leave being due to be forfeited.

Words from Supervisor

Ms. Kan Yuet-lin (executive assistant, Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering)
‘Wah Che is an affable, hard-working, and responsible member of staff.

Wong Mun-fai

OA in Bursary, joined CUHK in 1978

Mr. Wong Mun-fai joined the University as an office messenger, a post which no longer exists. Mr. Wong, nicknamed ‘Fai Gor’ (Brother Fai), was promoted to the rank of OA many years ago. He said, ‘Being in the Business Office, I spent most of my time in the Mail Room then located at the basement of the University Library and took care of the section’s chores. I picked up the post bags delivered by the Post Office early in the morning, and sorted the letters and parcels. Then I would dispatch the mail for Chung Chi (CC), New Asia and United Colleges through the campus post van, which also collected the Colleges’ outgoing mail.

‘Upon returning to the Mail Room, I would distribute the mail for various units by inserting the posts into the units’ pigeon-holes. In those days, each unit had an office messenger or workman to take care of its own mail. About 10:30 am, I would take the post van to Tai Wai Post Office, where outgoing mail items were posted. This routine would be repeated in the afternoon.’

In 1989, Fai Gor was transferred to the AOU, where he started his days of delivery mail to other units by hand. Several years passed, the University purchased a new post van to keep up with the demand for efficiency and speed. Fai Gor said, ‘With such arrangement, a lot of time and efforts were saved.’

‘As the UAB did not have sufficient space, most sections of the Bursary were moved to the Lady Shaw Building. While it would be too time-consuming for mail items to go through the Mail Room and post van, I was tasked with delivering letters, cheques, bills, invoices, and other documents on foot. I had to make about eight trips per day between the UAB and the Lady Shaw Building, i.e., once an hour, carrying a post bag weighing from some 7 to 18 kg.’

With years of mail delivery experience on and off-campus, Fai Gor developed his three ‘must-bring items’ formula and had a tip to offer. ‘I must carry an umbrella, a big plastic bag and my staff ID card. When it rains heavily, the post bag will get wet even if you are armed with an umbrella. I’ll use a big plastic bag to cover it. I frequently have to visit different units or external organizations where the staff do not recognize me. The staff ID card is a vital proof of my identity. Once I was asked to deliver a document to Hong Kong Island, I took the train to Hung Hom and got on a cross-harbour tunnel bus. Unfortunately, I ran into a traffic jam shortly after the bus crossed the tunnel. I was scared of being late. Luckily, I arrived on time. After that I never travelled by bus while I was on duty.’

While choosing transportation unwisely caused anxiety, taking an unnecessary long route made Fai Gor mad. He recalled delivering a letter to the CC Administration Building. Not knowing that there was a shortcut near the Ho Sin-Hang Engineering Building, ‘I simply followed the bus route downhill and made a turn at the Fong Shu Chuen Building heading to the destination. It’s really a long walk.’

Fai Gor’s post bag has been changed from an ordinary carrier bag to a recycled bag. He is now familiar with the shortcuts on campus. ‘Seeing the University develop through these years prompted me to reflect profoundly on the changes that have taken place.’

Words from Supervisor

Miss Annita Chan Yuk-chun (senior personal secretary, Bursar’s Office)
‘Fai Gor is the “Superman” in our office. He is capable of solving all sorts of problems, including the repairing of office machines and electrical appliances. This helps us a lot.’ 

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