THE KING AND I: A Short History of Mr Rex King

by Albert KingFan Ng (YWC 1977)

It was 24 Jan 2023 (Tu), two days before Australia Day. I finally located Mr Rex King, Principal of Ying Wa College 1972-1978. A blessing, we have crossed paths with each other for 5 years as I was a Ying Wa boy 1972-1977. When I called him on the phone, the voice on the other end sounded a bit hesitant as if he was talking to a “stranger” who was one of his tens of thousands of students from decades gone by. But once the ice was broken, we had a decent 3-minute talk on the phone and arranged the rendezvous with “the Godfather of Hong Kong public exams” I later jokingly referred to him as.

His residence is basically a home for senior retirees with independent living: he has his own apartment on the ground floor with a lounge, a kitchen, a bedroom and a washroom. There are staff on duty round-the-clock catering to the needs of the residents. Meals are provided and the seniors mingle and enjoy communal living. He purchased this current residence over a decade ago. This was financed by a property he purchased when he first moved to Adelaide at the age of 60. That first property he bought had a seaview from the balcony and the house was freestanding on a block of land. The value of that house tripled over a decade when he sold it. When he was in Hong Kong, he owned an apartment in Kwun Tong in Kowloon; then he moved to Hong Kong Island. The value of the property hiked when he left Hong Kong. With the proceeds, he purchased the posh house in Adelaide upon resettlement.

Once I stepped into his apartment, I spotted a stack of photos on the coffee table in the lounge. My photo with my name printed on it was on the top page. How meticulously prepared was this old man who lost very little of his drive to perfection!

As we sat down and briefly introduced ourselves, we started touching on the many anecdotes of our days in YWC, and a few names were mentioned. But what I really wanted to find out on this mission was the howabouts and lwhereabouts of this man, an almost god-like figure in my 5 years with him, before he entered YWC and after he left YWC. That is the gap I was eager to fill.

He revealed that he once had an elder sister two years his senior but she fell off the horse that got frightened by a piece of falling paper and an oncoming car. Riding bareback, she was thrown off the horse and died. Mr King was barely twelve and from then on, he was never on horseback. That obviously left a traumatic dent on everyone in the family and he became the only child in the house.

He lived on a sheep farm and used to do all sorts of farmwork including milking the cow. He also perfected the skill of delivering a lamb single-handedly. With one foot on the sheep’s neck and the other on its behind to immobilise the mother, he pulled the lamb out from the sheep’s womb with both hands, sometimes putting his hands into the sheep to deliver the baby lamb. The lambs were sold on the market: that was the major source of income. Another source of income was from sheep shearing.

His father worked at an abattoir, mainly in the office, not a worker slaughtering the animals. He was into heavy smoking and alcohol. He died of a heart attack in his 40s. That is why Mr King touched neither in his whole life. His dad also missed joining the New Zealand Army in the World War because he had crossed toes and it was his deep regret when his mates all went to war. His dad also bought a large acreage for farming and a Ford model T2 which was left behind for them. Mr King learnt his driving using the T2 which he had to wind a handle to start the car (like lighting the spark plug in a modern car). After his father died, his mother took over the chores of the farm. After he entered university, he would still return to the farm to help out during holiday breaks.

He was a 100% country boy as he used to live half an hour from the nearest town, Invercargill, the southernmost city of New Zealand. People often say if you take one more step you’ll fall off the world. It frosts in the morning about 20 days a year. So Mr King went to school with frost all over his legs as shorts were worn for the school uniform. He started off wanting to major in Maths but found himself not coping at a higher level. He dropped Maths and majored in English instead. He earned two degrees, one from the University of Otago in Dunedin and the other from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch.

In New Zealand, he served a mandatory 6-month conscription as bugle boy. But whenever he played the bugle at home, the dogs would keep barking. He learnt to use all sorts of firearms but missed serving in the Korean War (which happened too early for his age) and the Vietnam War (which started too late).

His coming to Hong Kong was in fact his own choice. He studied Hong Kong from many editions of the Hong Kong Yearbook before the journey (again a tell-tale sign of his meticulous personality). He came as a missionary teacher with the United Church of Christ (UCC) which merged the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches. He arrived in 1963 and spent 2 years as an English teacher in Ho Fook Tong College near Castle Peak which was still a small fishing village then. He then accepted the offer of principalship at Ming Yin College in Shek Kip Mei in Kowloon. He was actually involved from its construction to its opening and then its operation as a school. He had fond memories of Ming Yin College, the youngest school then that he pioneered. He also treasured his time in YWC as it is the oldest school. We also discussed the dispute on the oldest school reputation of YWC, the Malacca phase of YWC and Morrison, etc.

He remembered visiting 3 Hong Kong Governors in their house through his connection with a Hong Kong high ranking official whose name he evaded. He couldn’t quite recall which Governors but upon prompting, he named Edward Youde, David Wilson and one other. I mentioned Murray MacLehose but he didn’t concur. He said it was not David Trench. It’s most likely Christopher Patten but he couldn’t name him. But he remembered on one occasion David Trench picked up an English textbook in his school and criticised the standard. When I asked who his most favourite Hong Kong Governor was during his 33 years in Hong Kong, he said it’s between Edward Youde and David Wilson, but definitely not Murray MacLehose.

He also remembered quite clearly the 1967 riot when he was principal of Ming Yin College. Xenophobia prevailed and anti-Western slogans were written all over the walls of Shek Kip Mei. But his school remained open during the whole riot. There was even one student who went to school on foot all the way from Tsuen Wan to Shek Kip Mei at that time, he recalled.

He also recalled getting a friend from New Zealand to teach in Ming Yin College. This New Zealander later became the first principal of Ming Kei College in Tai Kok Tsui in Kowloon, using Ming Yin College as its campus before the construction of its own premises. This gentleman is J K Walls.

After he left YWC in February 1978 (the same year I left YWC), he joined the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA). To enhance his knowledge, he pursued a master degree in education/exam in HKU under the mentorship of Alan Brimer (HKU Dean of Education then), the leading figure in school examinations in the world. Mr King was promoted to Deputy Secretary General (1992–1996) in HKEAA. He was very proud of that as he knew how important he was in that position since public examinations is THE thing in Hong Kong.

During his 19-year tenure in HKEEA, two interesting events stood out from the rest. In the early days of his tenure, the English Examination Paper, after it was finalised, had to be shipped overseas for printing and shipped back to Hong Kong before the exam. While unloading at the wharf, the cargo carrying the exam papers fell off and broke. The papers were scattered all over. The disaster was irreparable. Mr King and his team had to prepare the exam paper anew on Saturday and hand-print it on Sunday. Just in time to be distributed for the exam. The whole event was kept secret from the public. After this accident, the exam paper was printed locally. Then came the next event. One year a part-time worker in the printing room intended to smuggle out an English Exam Paper but was caught red-handed by Mr King.

He also mentioned how crazy Hong Kong parents could be. Students would be coached by private tutors and they worked on sample exam papers. Mr King made every effort to collect the sample papers from these private tutors and made sure that the actual exam paper was set as differently as possible from the sample papers. What a smart gweilo!

He revealed that while working at HKEAA, he missed frontline teaching a lot which is his greatest passion. In his spare time, he offered volunteer work as English teacher two evenings a week at St. Andrew’s Church in Tsimshatsui. He also initiated the Summer with a Purpose (SWAP) program, a 4-week English camp for secondary school students during the summer holiday. There was a quota of 30+ and he allocated half of it to Ying Wa boys. My niece’s husband, Daniel YiuKwok To (YWC 1998) was one of the participants in the SWAP program. We visited Mr King together in this Adelaide trip. After relocating to Adelaide, he was still active in volunteer teaching in the local community, mainly teaching Chinese migrant students for some 12 years before complete retirement. He is definitely a teacher at heart through and through.

I also commented on his accent or rather lack of KIWI accent during our chat. To my understanding, he came to Hong Kong in his 20s, an age most would retain their accent. His answer was that his accent was mid-Pacific which is a hybrid of New Zealand, Hong Kong and Australia.

Regarding his ancestry, he remarked that his surname came from someone who played the role of KING in a medieval pageant in the 14th to 15th century. Mr King was a 4th generation New Zealander who migrated from Australia. He reconfirmed that he was not of convict stock!

When I asked him about his choice of retiring in Adelaide instead of New Zealand, his answer was that he preferred a place not as busy as Hong Kong but more vibrant than New Zealand, kind of the middle of the road. These days, he does morning walks in the neighbourhood as exercise and plays snooker with his friends in the residence. In fact someone called him for a game during our visit but he turned him down. He usually spends an hour daily playing snooker. He is good enough to have a break of 20s, a skill that requires sinking at least 3 colour balls.

When asked to recommend a novel or an author to us (since he majored in English), he said he couldn’t. He spends most of his time on the internet these days. He used to play cricket at a young age. These days he watches sports on TV instead, but he’s not fanatic. He usually goes to bed at 10-11pm. Before going to bed, he watches TV, mostly on recorded news and documentaries.

Regarding his health, I deliberately left it to the end as I wasn’t sure if he wanted to discuss that. I bought him some cakes and fresh fruits. His immediate comment was 2/10 for cakes and 10/10 for fruits because he is type 2 diabetic. But he did eat a cheesecake in quite high spirits. He was adamant that physically he’s still in top shape. Just his memory at times gets the better of him. He also revealed that he successfully fought off 2 bouts of cancers, bowel cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Both have been in remission for a long time.

I think it’s important to put some notes on my meeting with this 85-yr-old, a man I once found formidable. He is a living testimony of “West meets East” in the last century particularly for his contribution to HK. There is so much he wants to get off his chest, maybe before his memory starts to twindle. I have tried my best to cross-check some of the facts, especially names and times, on the internet. I have also omitted some stories which are either contradictory in timing or irrelevant to most of us. It’s still possible that some of his recollections could be slightly inaccurate. He told me that if he were to write his biography, it would be in 3 sections: 26 years in New Zealand, 33 years in Hong Kong, and the 26+ years in Adelaide. I feel obliged to at least accomplish part of that in writing before it’s too late.

Afternote:

We had a second meeting, dinner in a Chinese restaurant, on 27 Jan 2023. When I dropped him off after dinner in his residence, I farewelled him at the gate and told him that we would see each other next time I visit Adelaide. He replied, “Could be in my cemetery.” My heart sank and this old man slowly disappeared in the distance.

Further Reading:

https://www.hkeaa.edu.hk/40years/loadeb8b.html?id=294077

YWCOBA Startups Sharing: NLP (自然語言處理) in Professional and Customer Services

Date: 10 January 2023 (Tue)
Time: 7:00 p.m – 10:00 p.m
Place: Hong Kong Medical Association – Central Club House
2/F, The Chinese Club Building, 21-22 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong

Fee: HK$400 for members / HK$480 for non-members / HK$200 for GAP member university student

(Chinese banquet is included in the dine-out sharing talk)

Guests of Honor:
Colin Hong 洪振東 (YWC 1988)
Co-founder and CEO of DeepTranslate

Chris Shum 岑潮輝 (YWC 1995)
Co-founder and CFO of AsiaBots

Jovian Ling 林正輝 (YWC 2003)
Co-founder and CEO of Set Sail Software

For seat reservation, please learn more and register via the link ( https://bit.ly/3WrBCb9 )!  Come with your missed classmates and make it a YWC reunion for yourselves!! 

Notice of AGM – Ying Wa College Old Boys’ Association Limited

Dear Members,

Annual General Meeting for the year 2022 of Ying Wa College Old Boys’ Association Limited (“YWCOBA”) will be convened and held at Ying Wa College ,  Ying Wa Street, Shamshuipo, Kowloon, Hong Kong on Thursday, the 24th day of November 2022 at 7:30p.m.

There will be a dinner after the AGM at Noble Hall, RSVP to register your seat by filling in the Google form  Here  before noon 21st November 2022

For enquiries, please contact Mr. Gareth Ng ( garethckng@gmail.com ) or Mr. Rex Liu ( rexlh.liu@gmail.com )

Yours faithfully,

YWCOBA Executive Committee 

英華行 2022

敬啟者:「英華教育基金」由校友會於 2012 年成立,集合校友、學校、校董會及家長教師會等多方資源力量,為學校籌募經費,讓學校有更充裕的資源去提升英華學生的學術水平及各種天賦才華。有見及此,「英華教育基金」每年都連同書院、小學、兩個家長教師會,以及校友會舉辦步行籌款活動,藉此籌募經費。

英華行是結合書院、小學和校友的大型活動,希望透過此活動能加深英華一家的情誼。今年的英華行的活動名為「英華行 2022」。一如以往,誠邀書院、小學及校友一同參與。

活動日期 2022 年 12 月 10 日(星期六)

活動形式及集合地點
1. 參與者可以按自身能力,選擇以下路線或其他路線,以步行或跑步形式完成路程。
2. 參與者需於指定時段先到童軍會東涌營地(東涌海濱長廊香港童軍總會大嶼山區東涌活動中心)集合,拍攝團體合照留念,合照後即可起步,行畢路程無需再返回集合地點。
3. 報名時參與者先選擇一個集合時段,但由於場地人數有限制,參與者或被編配至其他時段。大會於活動日期之前再通知參與者最終編配時段。

第一個時段 09:00-09:30
第二個時段 10:30-11:00
第三個時段 12:00-12:30
第四個時段 14:00-14:30
第五個時段 15:30-16:00

活動詳情請參考附件   <  英華行 2022 YWCOBA  >

英華行2022 詳細路線圖 < Walkaton 2022 Routes   > 

如有任何疑問,可致電英華書院 (852) 2336 8838與徐小姐聯絡。

此致

各校友                                               

英華書院校友會主席  | 英華教育基金會主席    謹啓

二零二二年十月二十七日                                        

【保健養生】- 中醫保健講座

【保健養生】在我們的青葱歲月,「英華」這兩個字與病痛通常扯不上任何關係;不料到了我們更能體會「寸陰是惜」的今天,「英華」又給我們輕鬆上了一課,也讓同氣連枝的兩間學校校友,在短短約一個小時內,獲益良多。
英華書院及英華女校的校友會邀請了YWC的校友中醫師徐澤昌博士(2003屆)為校友主持中醫保健講座,講座已於上周五(8月19日)晚上,在YWC的多用途活動室圓滿舉行。
當晚主持林漢傑(2005屆)及徐博士以清談形式,帶領現場及線上,一起探討都市人經常面對的健康困擾,包括痛症、更年期前後,以及脫髮等問題。徐博士不但為兩校校友破解了不少健康迷思,還即場提供了許多保健養生實用貼士。
講座答問環節,反應最為熱烈。兩校校友提問非常踴躍,林林總總的問題涵蓋新冠肺炎患者的調理、耳鳴、食療等。可惜當晚時間所限,即使校友意猶未盡,校友會亦唯有待日後再邀請徐博士,與校友一起探討了。
是次講座更獲YWC校友贊助與中西醫、保健養生、食療、纖體、美顏等內容相關的書籍,現場免費贈閲,以供兩校關注健康的校友參考。
是次活動是兩校校友會近年首次攜手合辦的活動,大家覺得如何呢?請留言告訴我們吧!🙏🏻我們很期待下次在校友會其他活動遇上您!😊

Application for admission to Primary 1 of Ying Wa Primary School

Dear Members,

Ying Wa Primary School (“YWPS”) will accept applications for admission to Primary 1 students for the year 2023/24 between 20th July 2022 to 24th July 2022 through online system.

I am glad to inform you that Ying Wa College Old Boys’ Association (“YWCOBA”) has liaised with YWPS to render assistance to Ying Wa Old Boys who wish their sons to be admitted to Primary 1 of YWPS subject to the following conditions :-

1) The father of the son(s), must be a paid-up member of YWCOBA for the past two years (i.e. full 24 months counting back from the date of the deadline).
2) The conduct of his son(s) must not be poor in his (their) present school(s).
3) The candidates should meet the minimum standard of academic capability as set by the Headmistress of the School.

If your son wishes to apply for a Primary 1 place in YWPS, you are required to make the online application and submit to YWPS directly. You may wish to get the latest information about the application from the website of YWPS (http://www.yingwaps.edu.hk) and make inquiry to YWPS for details of the application if necessary.

If you wish YWCOBA to render assistance in the application, please remember to print a copy of the application form before proceeding to the page for payment of the application fee. You should then send the copy of the application form together with the confirmation  mail with an application number from YWPS to the office of Ying Wa College for the  attention of Ms. Tsui through email tyf@yingwa.edu.hk on or before 25th July 2022 (Monday).

Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact our Convenor for Student Affairs, Mr Ng King Him at 93582756 or Mr Ivanhoe Ko at 92674830.

Yours sincerely,

Gareth Ng
Chairman

校址點對點

【校址點對點】2022 英華行啟動啦!今年我們以雙腳來個「校史回顧」,一次過重訪了英華現在及昔日的三個校址😎

周日(6月26日)下午,我們從九龍塘牛津道校舍(1963-2003年)出發,🏃🏻‍♂️途經旺角弼街昔日校舍(1928-1963年)所在,再到 現時西九龍英華街校舍作結。當天氣溫☀️雖然高達攝氏32度(體感38度🥵),但我們都無懼高溫、「熱」血地加入#英華行傳承線上走 完成 五公里 行列,與各位師兄弟一起為英華教育基金( https://bit.ly/3mTApcP ) 出一分力,籌募經費。

途中回想2017年的 歷史接力跑 走訪各校舍原址,的確是一個別開生面的活動,也是歷代英華仔獨有的集體回憶。五年過去,至今記憶猶新,而日後的美好回憶就在今天締造。

英華仔,你今年又英華⋯⋯🏃🏻行了嗎?

lCT Dine-and-Share – 香港獨角獸「商湯」SenseTime

疫情緩和,闊別大半年的lCT Dine-and-Share,又可以再次舉行,讓校友們可以再聚首一堂。

今次校友會邀請了香港獨角獸「商湯」SenseTime 亞太區董事總經 Nixon Chau 和可持續人工智能項目經理 Philip Woodhead 出席,席間他們除了分享該公司Al在各行業的務實應用,也解答了與會者有關Al技術發展的多方面疑問。校友們亦透過嘉賓的親身分享,更加認識「商湯」這間以香港為家的AI科技公司業務,以及其公司文化及遠景。

當晚位出席的40多位校友們,年期由70年代的校友至應屆大學生。聚會中既是同窗久别重逢聯誼,又是認識新朋友吸收新知識的好機會。難怪聚會7時開始,嘉賓及參加者熱切傾談,要到接近11時才願離開呢。

期望下次再和大家見面

英華行證書的設計

今年英華行證書的設計跟英華一向嚴謹樸實的風格很不一樣。顯現出英華人亦是敢於創新敢於突破的。

今次英華行2022的證書由書院的二年級生賴博軒同學設計,在此特別鳴謝新一代英華人為校付出。希望英華精神續能薪火相傳。