As we approach the half-way point of 2020, countries all around the world are, to varying degrees, emerging from the depths of the COVID-19 crisis, and people are wondering what the world post-COVID-19, or the “new norm”, is.

Nowhere is this sense of uncharted territory felt more acutely than Hong Kong, where, apart from the COVID-19 crisis, Hong Kong has also been rocked by political turmoil over the past year or so, and is currently being affected by the tensions between the US and China. Hong Kong may be in a privileged position to emerge from COVID-19 earlier than others, having been successful in its initiatives to contain the spread of the pandemic and to protect its residents, but things are anything but “normal” as we resume our daily lives here.

The Hong Kong which I, and many other OWs from Hong Kong, know and grew up in is disappearing. It is not uncommon to walk down the street and to see shops and restaurants, some of which have been around for decades, vacated and boarded-up. The retail and food and beverage sectors have of course been hit hard by recent events, so such closures are not unexpected, but the prevailing feeling is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Having worked through the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, SARS in 2003 and the Global Financial Crisis in 2007, I have witnessed Hong Kong rebound each time in a short space of time. But even those of us who are used to the idea of Hong Kong’s resilience are thinking that things may be different this time around. If big changes are coming, one thing I believe will survive those changes is the long-standing and special relationship which Hong Kong has with Winchester College.

In an age where international schools have proliferated in Asia, including some very well known peers of Winchester College, and some might perceive it as a practice of the past to send their children to the UK, as an OW, I find it the idea that an education at Winchester College today is probably similar to the education that I received at Winchester College some 30 years ago to be reassuring. It is something which is both unique and enduring.

The local media is awash with talk of an exodus of talent from Hong Kong, a so-called "brain drain". We have heard this before, in the run up to the handover of Hong Kong in 1997. And yet, the OW Hong Kong Guild today has over 200 members, many of us born and bred in Hong Kong and having returned to Hong Kong after pursuing our studies abroad. We are a diverse mix of business leaders, professionals and entrepreneurs.

I think about the next generation of Hong Kongers who are currently studying at Winchester College or at university, and who may join our ranks when they return to Hong Kong. These young men will likely face challenges which we have not faced before.

The OW Hong Kong Guild is above all else a fraternity. We look forward to welcoming the next generation back and will endeavour to support them, both professionally and socially, as best we can. In turn, we hope to see these young men help to shape the future of Hong Kong. Amongst others, Winchester has given the UK its Chancellor of the Exchequer. In time, Winchester may provide Hong Kong with its future crop of leaders.

Please note:
The OW Hong Kong Guild provides an opportunity for OWs to network. If you would like to join the Guild please email Alex Kaung.


Alex Kaung June 2020


by Alex Kaung (A, 1986 – 91)

Alex studied law at UCL before returning to Hong Kong to practice as a solicitor specialising in commercial litigation. He was a partner at Richards Butler in Hong Kong for over 10 years and is now a partner at Minter Ellison in Hong Kong.

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