Newsletter No. 181

British Minister Warns of Threats to the World Environment B ritish Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, Mr. John Battle, MP, delivered a public lecture entitled 'The World Environment: Where Do We Go from Here?' on 14th March at the University during his third official visit to Hong Kong. I n his l ec t u r e, M r . Ba t t le o u t l i n ed some o f the environmental problems confronting governments the world over. These problems also present opportunities for greater recognition o f the earth's fragility, for more investment in env i r onmen t al projects, and f or greater i n t e r na t i onal cooperation between like-minded governments. He concluded by saying that the challenges are formidable but so must be the de t e rmi na t i on to conserve the env i r onment f or future generations. As Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK , Mr. Battle's portfolio includes the Asia Pacific, including Hong Kong, and environmental policy. During his three-day visit, he met with the Chief Executive of the HKSAR, senior government officials, and leading business and political figures in Hong Kong. Novel Gene Found i n Ma le Reproduc t i ve Tract R esearchers at the University's Epithelial Cell Biology Research Centre and the Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found in the epididymis of mice a novel antimicrobial gene. This gene has the potential to help develop medication against various microbes, including the AIDS vims and many sexually transmitted diseases. It is also important for the development of male contraceptives as well as for helping infertile men. According to Prof. Chan Hsiao Chang, director of the Epithelial Cell Biology Research Centre, research leading to the discovery of the gene was all carried out in China, and the results were recently carried in the international journal Science. The discovery is a big boost to life sciences research in China. The Epithelial Cell Biology Research Centre was jointly set up by the University and the Academy of Military Medical Sciences. Disturbance of epithelial cell functions leads to a wide spectrum of common disorders such as diarrhoea and lethal diseases such as cancer. The study on the mechanisms underlying epithelia-related diseases provides grounds for the development of better treatments and new drugs. Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large on CU Campus P rof. Tommy Koh, ambassador-at-large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, visited Shaw College as the 2000-1 Sir Run Run Shaw Distinguished Visiting Scholar, and delivered a public lecture at Shaw College on 21st March. The lecture, entitled 'Asia and Europe in the New World of the 21st Century', explored the nature of the world in the 21 st c e n t u r y - w i ll it continue to be a unipolar world? Wi ll Western Europe and East Asia emerge as the second and third poles of a multipolar world? Can Asia and Europe overcome the burdens of their history and build a new equal partnership? Prof. Koh was trained in the legal profession, and began his diplomatic service for Singapore as early as 1968 as Singapore's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. A t various times, he was Singapore's Ambassador to the United Nations, the US, Canada, and Mexico. He was also chairman of the Th i rd United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, chairman of the Main Committee of the United Nations on Environment and Development, and the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Russia and the Baltic States. Prof. Tommy Koh (right) and Prof. Yeung Yue-man, head of Shaw College Journalism Student Wins Scholarship to Oxford Mr. Chan Ho-yin (left 4) with the selection panel. (From left) Prof. David Parker, Dr. Robert Stevens from Oxford, Dr. Deanna Lee Rudgard, representing the donor, Prof. Arthur K.C. Li, and Prof. Dennis Lo M r. Chan Ho - y i n, final-year student in Journalism and Communication, has been chosen as the scholar-elect for the year 2001 of the Esther Yewpick Lee Millennium Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded annually to an outstanding graduate or a final-year undergraduate student of the University to study at the University of Oxford for two to three years. It covers all tuition fees, transportation expenses to and from Oxford, as well as an annual personal allowance for board and lodging and other maintenance costs. Mr. Chan is the first to benefit from the scholarship scheme. He has demonstrated himself to be a person of high intellectual ability, and has maintained an outstanding academic record throughout his university study. He is also a young man of integrity, with a mature and outgoing personality. He w i l l be leaving for the UK to start his BA studies in philosophy, politics, and economics in October 2001. The Esther Yewpick Lee Millennium Scholarships scheme is established with funds from the estate of the late Dr. Esther Yewpick Lee. It serves to commemorate the Lee family's strong connection with and affection for both the University and the University of Oxford. Japanese Cultural Critic on Conversionary Culture P rof. Shuichi Kato, renowned literary critic and medical doctor, delivered a public lecture under the Distinguished Humanities Professorship Scheme 2000-1 in the Esther Lee Building on 12th March. Entitled 'Japanese Conversionary Culture', the lecture presented and analysed some individual cases o f 'conversion', i.e. radical change in people's mind and stance resulting from strong political or social pressure, in Japanese history. Attempts were made to place the phenomenon in a structural framework of traditional Japanese culture, as a system of interactions between the individual, small and large groups, and ideologies, at the levels of the mind, the emotional, and the intellectual. Prof. Kato has had a distinguished career as a critic and commentator on Japanese culture, literature, and arts. He is a noted literary figure in his own right and has contributed to deepening the understanding of Japanese culture worldwide through his teaching and writing. He received the order of Officer des Arts et des Lettres from the French government in March 1993 in recognition of his outstanding achievements, exemplified in his works History of Japanese Literature, and Nihon Bunkagaku Shi Josetsu. He also received the prestigious Asahi Prize in January 1994 for his contribution to post-war Japanese culture.