Newsletter Special Issue (2003)

Open Letter to Staff and Students of the University Dear colleagues and students, I believe all o f us are extremely worried about the recent outbreak of war in Iraq and atypical pneumonia in Ho ng Ko n g. I n fact bo th incidents have had their tremendous impact felt on our campus. A few days before the start o f the contentious war, a war without the full endorsement of the United Nations, 1 made the decision to postpone the University Presidents' Global Forum from March 2003 to 2004. It was a tough decision to make, one which entails as much disappointment on my part as on the part of many o f our colleagues who have diligently prepared for the Forum over the past 12 months. But many university presidents across the wo r ld who were invited have expressed their support for my decision. Next year's Forum, to be hosted by a new Vice-Chancellor, w i l l ce r t a i n ly carry a special meaning for The Chinese University. The outbreak of atypical pneumonia is indeed a very grave matter. Our Faculty of Medicine at the Prince of Wales Hosp i t al was pressured into a state o f acute emergency right away. As the virus associated w i th the disease is a brand new strain, combating it in the initial phase was as d i f f i c u lt as f i gh t i ng an enemy in pitch darkness. Since the outbreak, the number of those afflicted has risen significantly, among whom 16 are students of the University (14 have been cleared and discharged; the two who were in more serious condition are being given effective treatment, and one is now on the way to recovery). A l l this while, colleagues at the Faculty of Medicine (as well as doctors and nurses at the Prince of Wales Hospital) have been fully engrossed in the provision of urgent medical care for the patients. They work around the clock to save lives, struggling against shortages o f resources and manpower. Thanks to them all, order has been maintained throughout the crisis and a great majority of patients are o u t o f i mm e d i a te dange r. T h e i r h i g h l e v e l o f professionalism, their selfless courage, and their dedication to their duty truly deserve our respect and salutation. 1 wish to express my deep gratitude to Prof. Sydney Chung, dean of medicine, and Prof. Joseph Sung in particular for the exemplary leadership and medical ethics they have displayed. In the tough battle against atypical pneumonia (now named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome — SARS), Prof. Tam Sin Lun of the Department of Microbiology and his colleagues successfully identified the nature of the virus (of a genre called paramyxoviridae) on 20th March. The discovery posed a glimmer of hope in the fight against the disease and was affirmed and lauded by the World Health Organization. On 22nd March, the University o f Hong Kong also discovered the virus and came up with a method of test for it. This is indeed another piece of encouraging news. I believe Hong Kong is on the way to the eventual conquest of the virus. However, we cannot afford to loosen our grip on the situation, as SARS is still rampant in Hong Kong and other parts of the world. We should in fact be more vigilant. On 21st March, a CUHK Campus (SARS) Task Force was set up with Prof. Jack Cheng, pro-vice- chancellor, as chairman, and Dr. Kenneth Pang, director of the University Health Service, as member/secretary. Other members of the Task Force include representatives from staff, students, and the Committee on Safety. The group has started work immediately. 1 rely on all staff and students of the University to give the Task Force their full support and cooperation. Dear colleagues and students, the Un i ve r s i ty is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. For the many tasks that await to be done, let us tackle them one by one decisively, overcoming whatever hurdle that may come our way, as has been the case in the past. Wind or rain, let us forge ahead determined and fearless. United, we shall sail into fair weather on our way forward. Wishing you health and all the best. Ambrose Y.C. K i ng Vice-Chancellor