Lam Chiu Ying

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Lam Chiu Ying

Lam Chiu Ying.jpg
Director of the Hong Kong Observatory
In office
14 March 2003 – 6 April 2009
Preceded by Lam Hung-kwan
Succeeded by Lee Boon Ying
Assistant Director of the Hong Kong Observatory
In office
July 1992 – 14 March 2003
Personal details
Born 1949
Nationality Chinese (Hong Kong)
Alma mater King's College, Hong Kong
University of Hong Kong
Imperial College London
Princeton University
Profession meteorologist, civil servant
Lam Chiu Ying
Traditional Chinese 林超英
Simplified Chinese 林超英

Lam Chiu-ying (Chinese: 林超英; pinyin: Lín Chāoyīng), SBS, also known by the nickname 'Black Ying' (Chinese: 黑英; pinyin: Hēi Yīng),[1] is a Hong Kong meteorologist, bird-watcher, conservationist and blogger. He was the director of the Hong Kong observatory 2003 through 2009.[2] He is also an honorary fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society,[3] an Honorary University Fellow of the University of Hong Kong as well as the honorary president of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society.[4] Microplanet 64288 Lamchiuying is named after Lam.[5]


Early life[edit]

Lam was first interested in astronomy as a Primary 6 student.[6] In Form 2,[2] he decided that he wanted to enter the Hong Kong Observatory while completing a stargazing Boy Scout badge, although he later believed that the chances were slim. He obtained an A in Physics in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination, although the grade was not sustained in the A-levels, where he received an A for all other subjects he took up.[6]

He studied mathematics and physics at the University of Hong Kong.[7] He received a Commonwealth scholarship and went to Imperial College London, where he studied meteorology instead of physics for the fear that physics would lead to wars. After a few months, he decided to go to the United States. The lecturer wrote him a letter of recommendation, saying that he was his best post-war student. However, he had only studied at Princeton University for three weeks before dropping out, saying that he wanted to get a job instead of studying theories.[6]

Lam said in an interview by the Wen Wei Po that his interest in bird-watching started when he saw birds in the Hong Kong Cemetery at Happy Valley when he was around twenty.[8]


Lam joined the Observatory as a Scientific Officer[9] on 4 May 1974.[2] After being promoted to Senior Scientific Officer in October 1980, he went on to become the Assistant Director in July 1992.[6]


Lam became the director of the Hong Kong Observatory in March 2003.[10] He was said to promote a 'family-friendly' workspace for employees, encouraged employees to go home on time and organised activities where the family of employees could also participate.[7]

In 2006, Typhoon Prapiroon hit Hong Kong. The Observatory did not hoist a Typhoon Signal No. 8.[11] Some criticised this decision as being against the usual practice of the Observatory, while an astronomer criticised the Observatory's warning system, saying that the Observatory should also have taken into account the wind speed of the New Territories and outlying islands.[12] The Office of the Ombudsman received 140 complaints. Some even urged him to resign.[13] Lam defended the decision but altered the typhoon warning system.[14]

In July 2007, Lam fell from a horse in Mongolia and was seriously injured. He received a brain operation in September.[15] In July 2008, another incident occurred and he had to be hospitalised for a week.[16]

Soon after, Typhoon Nuri hit Hong Kong. The Observatory was criticised for hoisting a Typhoon Signal No. 8, which some considered unnecessary,[17] and hoisting it too late.[18] There was also confusion regarding the Chinese word '清晨', which Lam later explained.[19] Lam denied that the Observatory had underestimated the strength of the typhoon.[18] In response to claims that Typhoon Signal No. 8, Lam stated that at least two people had been killed by the typhoon. He also stated that Hong Kong had been 'incredibly lucky' that the destructive power of the typhoon was not as strong as predicted.[17]

Lam turned sixty in 2009. After six years as the Director, he retired. His pre-retirement leave started on 6 April, and his successor, Lee Boon Ying, was appointed 8 May.[9][20] He said that he would not do any work for pay after retirement, but would continue to accept invitations to share his ideas.[13]

Retired life[edit]

In January 2010, Lam criticised the government in his blog[21] for endorsing the building of houses in Long Valley by 'influential people' using the name of 'diversified development'. As a result, a legislator wrote to Carrie Lam seeking explanation. Carrie Lam ordered the Planning Department to contact him. On 4 February, Lam sent his position paper to departments of the Development Bureau as a resident, detailing arguments for the preservation of the Valley and raising questions about the government being 'soft' on 'influential people'. Carrie Lam dismissed it as 'absurd', while the Department implied that at least twenty out of eighty hectares of the Valley were used for building.[22]

Lam also hosted the Radio Television Hong Kong Channel 1 show Sentient Beings from 3 July 2010 to 25 December of the same year.[23] He is also an honorary fellow of the University of Hong Kong and lectures at the Geography and Resource Management Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.[1]

In November 2010, Lam, criticised the government's policy to cut classes in his blog. As the president of the King's College Old Boy's Association, he wrote that the government was cutting back the opportunity for upward social mobility of students from grassroots families.[24] Michael Suen, the Secretary for Education, replied that the chances would not be reduced as the total number of students were on a decreasing trend.[25]


Lam had been a sceptic of man-made climate change until 2001, when he read the Third Assessment Report about global warming from IPCC publishings.[2] In 2009, Lam, along with noted singer and environmental activist Lowell Lo, hosted '救亡16度', a documentary about global warming, for RoadShow.[26] Since retirement, Lam has given talks about the climate. As of August 2010, Lam has given 130 talks and 40 interviews.[27]

In 2013, Lam spoke out strongly against proposals to use country park land for housing.[28]


  1. ^ a b 政情:黑英獲頒名譽院士 (in Chinese). Hong Kong: Oriental Daily. 15 August 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  2. ^ a b c d Lam, CY; Lee, BY (December 2009). Director's Blog. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Observatory. pp. 124–127. ISBN 978-988-18-0422-8. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  3. ^ "Ex-Director Mr Lam Chiu-ying elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society of the United Kingdom". Hong Kong: Hong Kong Observatory. 18 May 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  4. ^ "Hong Kong Bird Watching Society" (in Chinese). Hong Kong: Hong Kong Bird Watching Society. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  5. ^ "Hong Kong's Heavenly Connection". Hong Kong: Civil Service Newsletter. July 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Starry, Starry Night inspires lifelong career". Hong Kong: Civil Service Newsletter. February 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  7. ^ a b 林超英 (in Chinese). Hong Kong: Equal Opportunities Commission. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  8. ^ 觀鳥不拍照 享受與雀四目交投 (in Chinese). Hong Kong: Wen Wei Po. 11 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  9. ^ a b "Appointment of Director of the Hong Kong Observatory". Hong Kong: Civil Service Bureau. May 8, 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  10. ^ "Director of the Hong Kong Observatory - retirement and appointment" (in Chinese). Hong Kong: Hong Kong Observatory. 23 February 2003. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  11. ^ "天文台難息市民怒氣 申訴專員接破紀錄140宗投訴". Hong Kong: Sun Daily. 6 August 2006. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  12. ^ "搜集證據踢爆謊言 市民斥玩數字遊戲". Hong Kong: Sun Daily. 6 August 2006. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  13. ^ a b 卸任在即 林超英稱沒有受各方影響專業決定 (in Chinese). Hong Kong: Radio Television Hong Kong. 3 April 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  14. ^ "林超英:根據程序發出暴雨警告" [CY Lam: rainstorm warning issued in accordance with procedures]. Hong Kong: Radio Television Hong Kong. 14 September 2006. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  15. ^ 死過翻生 林超英 (in Chinese). Hong Kong: Headline Daily. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  16. ^ Lam, CY; Lee, BY (December 2009). Director's Blog. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Observatory. p. 4. ISBN 978-988-18-0422-8. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  17. ^ a b Lam, CY; Lee, BY (December 2009). Director's Blog. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Observatory. pp. 53–59. ISBN 978-988-18-0422-8. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  18. ^ a b Siu, Beatrice; Ming Pao (25 August 2008). "Observatory defends timing of signals for Nuri" (in Chinese). Hong Kong: The Standard. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  19. ^ Ming Pao (25 August 2008). 林超英否認風球信息亂 指對「清晨」理解不同 (in Chinese). Hong Kong: Yahoo! News. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  20. ^ "任命香港天文台台長". Hong Kong: 香港特別行政區政府新聞處. 2009-05-08. 
  21. ^ "政情:林鄭避談准唔准塱原建屋" (in Chinese). Hong Kong. 22 April 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  22. ^ "新界東北比高鐵更惹火". Hong Kong: 太陽報. 4 February 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  23. ^ "香港電台第一台《天地有情》節目重溫". Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  24. ^ (15 November 2010). 官中逼縮班 教局違公義 (in Chinese). Hong Kong: MSN. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  25. ^ "Schools will not be `let off hook' in Form One cuts". Hong Kong: The Standard. 16 November 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  26. ^ 《 救亡16度 》首播 (in Chinese). Hong Kong. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  27. ^ 探射燈:退休後過度活躍 (in Chinese). Hong Kong: Oriental Daily. 15 August 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  28. ^ Lam, Chiu Ying (21 October 2013). "How ex-Observatory chief Lam Chiu-ying has become an unlikely scourge of the establishment". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 

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