In a Chinese mainland graduation ceremony with lighting, music and a worshiping audience more in keeping with a rock concert, the star of the show, Hong Kong magnate Li Ka-shing, had an important announcement to make.
"After today, I will step down as honorary president of Shantou University," Li told university students, famous for her international vision and occasionally confronted with Communist Party inspectors.
Before a deafening welcome and a sea of telephones, Cantonese-speaking Li, struggling with a speech in Mandarin, announced Friday that she would spend her lifelong mission to support the education of her youngest son, Richard Li Tzar-kai.
Li, who will turn 90 in July, seemed lively and cheerful in his first public appearance since he officially handed over the witness of his flagship CK Hutchison Holdings and CK Asset Holdings to his eldest son, Victor Li Tzar-kuoi in May.
Even if I feel resentful and disillusioned by the growing sense of hopelessness in the world, I am still determined to put on a new armor every day
"Thirty-eight years ago, this site was desert land, the vision of building a school here was mocked as an impossible mission, but I firmly believed that only pushing education could meet [what I have been longing to do]"Li told the students.
"The mission of promoting educational reform in this beloved piece of land will pass to my son Tzar-kai [Richard] and the foundation."
The charity of the billionaire, the Li Ka Shing Foundation, has invested almost 8,000 million Hong Kong dollars at the Guangdong University, where Li was born before moving to Hong Kong.
In March, the school was accused of doing a bad job going down the line of the Communist Party and resisting illegal religious "infiltration."
Party inspectors urged him to monitor more closely the comments of students and teachers in class and on the Internet, to "improve the management" of foreign teachers, and to select academic leaders looking at their political backgrounds.
Every academic institution in China is controlled by a party committee that responds to senior cadres.
Li urged students who graduated to take the creativity and enthusiasm of the school to improve the world with them as they entered society and told them they should actively respond to the challenges of his generation.
"You must have the spirit to endure hard work, break the curse of fate and make impossible things possible," Li said, adding that it was also important to be humble and curious about the world.
I grew up in war and struggle, and I learned from life that a grateful heart always nourishes joy and hope
"I experienced being poor and sick when I was young, It gave me the valuable attitude of being grateful, "said the businessman, affectionately called" Superman "by Hongkongers, who has spent seven decades at the pinnacle of one of the largest corporate conglomerates in the world. "I grew up in war and struggle, and I learned from life that a grateful heart always feeds joy and hope"
"Many assume that, at my age, time is everything now. Even though I can not stop time, I still feel good about life, I still know what it is to dream a dream.
"When I look towards the night skies and feel my cosmic insignificance, even if I feel resentful and Disappointed by the brutal factors that contributed to the growing sense of hopelessness in the world, I remain determined to put on a new set of armor every day … to continue helping others achieve a full life. "
The speech Li was greeted by enthusiastic applause from thousands of students and family members who attended the two-hour ceremony.