|The Honourable Dato Seri Paduka Sir
|Life Member of the Court of HKU|
18 December 2001
Serving with Sir Yuet-Keung Kan, Dr. Rayson Huang and Dr. Victor Fung
|Chief Justice of Hong Kong|
|Preceded by||Sir Denys Roberts|
|Succeeded by||Sir Noel Power (Acting)|
|Unofficial Member of the
|Chief Executive||Tung Chee-Hwa|
|Convenor||Sir Sze-Yuen Chung
30 June 1929 |
Shanghai, Republic of China
|Spouse(s)||Tam Oi-lin (aka Eileen Barbara Tam; died 24 June 2006); two sons|
|Alma mater||Soochow University (Suzhou) Law School
LLB (University College, London)
|Honorary Degree||Hon LLD (CUHK)
Hon DLitt (HKU)
Hon LLD (PolyU)
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The Hon. Dato Seri Paduka Sir Ti-liang Yang, GBM, JP, LL.D, DLitt (Chinese: 楊鐵樑爵士; born 30 June 1929) is a retired senior Hong Kong judge. He was the Chief Justice of Hong Kong from 1988–1996, the only ethnic Chinese person to hold this office during British colonial rule.
He was a candidate in 1996 Hong Kong chief executive election, where he lost to his opponent Tung Chee-Hwa. After the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong, he was appointed a non-official member of the Executive Council by Tung and retired in 2002. In retirement, he mainly focuses on writing and teaching English. In September 2003, he became the host of a RTHK radio programme, Yang Ti-liang Mail Box (楊鐵樑留言信箱), teaching English grammar.
Yang was born in Shanghai on 30 June 1929 to an influential family which had roots in what was Nanguan in Xiangshan County of Guangnan East Circuit (now Zhongshan, Guangdong Province) since the early twelfth century, although they had resided in Shanghai since the early nineteenth century. His pre-12th century ancestors were officials in Guangling, now Guangling District, Yangzhou, whose roots going back to the Sui dynasty.
He is the youngest of four siblings. Their great-grandfather, Yang Guixuan, and grandfather, Yang Meinan, were trading partners with Swire in Shanghai. His father, Yang Shaonan (楊少南), was a Swire manager who later co-founded a shipping company with Swire. His mother, Chun Sinyu (陳蒨如), was educated at St. Mary's Middle School in Shanghai. Her father and grandfather, Chen Xuejie (Chun Shut-kai) and Chen Keliang (Chun Ko-liang), respectively, were trading partners with Swire.
Yang Ti-Liang attended St. John's Middle School (same foundation as St. John's University) in his early years and read law in the Comparative Law School of China in Soochow University (Suzhou) from 1946–49. Due to the Chinese Civil War, he moved very briefly to Hong Kong before graduating. Then he moved to England to read law at University College London, where he graduated with an LLB with honours in 1953. In 1954, he was called to the bar with honours at Gray's Inn. After studying in England, Yang returned to Hong Kong in 1955. Initially, he worked in his father-in-law's barrister chambers. During that time, there was no vacancy in the government legal service, but Yang was interviewed by the then Chief Justice Sir Michael Hogan.
In June 1956, after a long wait, the government offered him a post in the magistracy as magistrate. Yang soon took the post and was promoted as senior magistrate in 1963. Shortly after the promotion, he received a scholarship and became a Rockefeller Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London from 1963 to 1964.
Yang was acting District Judge from 1964 to 1968. During that period, he was chairman of the Kowloon Disturbances Claims Assessment Board and following the 1967 Leftist Riots, he also presided over the Compensation Board. In 1968, he was appointed District Judge of the Victoria District Court and was made a member of the Chinese Language Committee and president of the Legal Sub-Committee in 1970. Later in 1971, Yang was the presiding judge of the "Poisoned horses case" and was for a brief period acting Puisne Judge in the same year.
In 1972, he was appointed Commissioner of Inquiry into the Rainstorm Disasters. On 17 February 1975, he presided over the trial of Peter Fitzroy Godber, a former Kowloon Deputy District Commissioner of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force who was charged with corruption. The trial lasted for only 6 days and Godber was sentenced to four years in prison. That same year, Yang was promoted to Judge of the High Court of Justice of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong. In 1976, he chaired the Commission of Inquiry into the Leung Wing-sang Case, in which a Station Sergeant, Lau Cheong-wah, allegedly induced Leung to confess to wounding another person by paying him HK$10,000. In 1980, Yang was chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into Inspector MacLennan's Case, investigating the dubious suicide of the homosexual Police Inspector, John MacLennan. He was also a member of the Law Reform Commission and chairman of the Sub-Committee on Law Relating to Homosexuality in 1980.
Yang was appointed a Justice of Appeal in 1981. In 1987, he was appointed Vice-President of the Court of Appeal. In March 1988, Yang was appointed Chief Justice of Hong Kong following recommendation of the Governor Sir David Wilson. This was the first time an ethnic Chinese had held this office. Prior to the appointment, he also received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year Honours List. According to customary practice, Chief Justices of Hong Kong would also become Chief Justice of Brunei Darussalam. However, Yang's predecessor, Sir Denys Tudor Emil Roberts continued to serve as Chief Justice of Brunei Darussalam after his retirement. Sir TL was instead appointed as president of the Court of Appeal of Brunei on 24 May 1988. He resigned this post on 16 May 1993 and was succeeded by Justice Kutlu Tekin Fuad, a retired Hong Kong Court of Appeal judge.
As Chief Justice of Hong Kong, he initiated a series of reforms to the local Common Law system to face the challenges after the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997. In 1995, he broke the 152-year-old judicial tradition of Hong Kong by introducing the use of Cantonese by the judiciary; accused persons and witnesses had long been able to use Cantonese.
In 1996, he contested the first ever Chief Executive election and submitted his resignation to then governor Chris Patten. In addition, he renounced his British citizenship and wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth II to give up his knighthood. Before the election, he organised a series of campaigns, including visiting public housing estates, and travelled on the MTR for the first time in his life. The election for Chief Executive was held on 11 December 1996. Yang was defeated by Tung Chee Hwa, a shipping magnate who received 320 votes out of 400 votes from the Election Committee; Yang came second, with 42 votes.
Despite losing in the CE election, Yang was appointed a Non-Official Member of the Executive Council by Tung soon after the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. During his tenure in the Council, he was chairman of the Exchange Fund Investment Ltd from 1998 to 2002 and was responsible to the management of the Tracker Fund of Hong Kong. From 1999 to 2004, he was also chairman of the ICAC Complaints Committee.
During 1981–84, he was chairman of the University and Polytechnic Grants Committee. From 1985–2001, he was chairman of the University of Hong Kong Council. He was also Pro-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong from 1994 to 2001. In 2000, during his Pro-Chancellorship, he was designated by the university to investigate the Public Opinion Programme Disputes.
From 1998–2012, he was chairman of the Hong Kong Red Cross; in June 2012 he assumed the honorary position of President. In 1988, he was elected an Honorary Bencher of Gray's Inn. He served as President of the Bentham Club at University College London in 1991.
Contributions to education
After retiring from Executive Council, he spent much of his time teaching English grammar and etiquette. In September 2003, he hosted a RTHK radio programme, Yang Ti-liang Mail Box (楊鐵樑留言信箱), teaching English grammar to the audiences and answering questions on his website.
He has been honorary professor of Chinese at the University of Hong Kong since 1998. In 2005, he was appointed honorary professor and chairman of the Executive Committee of the School of Law by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He lends his name to the School of Law society for all undergraduates and postgraduates. And in 2006 he was made honorary professor of Social Sciences at the Open University of Hong Kong.
Yang married Eileen Barbara Tam at Caxton Hall in London in 1954. Eileen was the daughter of the Hon. William Ngartse Thomas Tam, OBE, JP, a lawyer, magistrate and one time Legislative Councillor in Hong Kong before World War II. The couple had two sons. Lady Yang died on 24 June 2006, aged 74, predeceasing her husband.
Yang's niece is the Grammy Award-winning pianist Gloria Cheng, who won the 2009 Best Instrumental Soloist Performance.
As a renowned translator, Yang has translated numbers of famous Chinese classics into English, they include:
- General Yue Fei, 1995 (《說岳全傳》)
- The Peach Blossom Fan, 1998 (《桃花扇》)
- Officialdom Unmasked, 2001 (《官場現形記》)
He was knighted in 1988. He was appointed a Justice of Peace on 1 July 1998. He was awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal by the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 1999 to acknowledge his contribution to legal justice and higher education in Hong Kong. In 2002, he retired from the Executive Council.
- Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hon. LLD, 1984)
- University of Hong Kong (Hon. DLitt, 1991)
- Hong Kong Polytechnic (Hon. LLD, 1992)
- Yang Ti-liang never took an English name for himself, believing it to be unnecessary. He once stated that Sun Yat-sen didn't have an English name either, so he was "as famous as Sun". (得失之間 楊鐵樑, 壹週刊時事專訪, 7 August 2003)
- The London Gazette: . 30 December 1987. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- Although he could have returned his insignia and ceased to use the title by doing so, officially he was still recorded as being a knight. Honours are only removed via forfeiture procedures. Therefore, from the law's perspective, he never actually renounced his knighthood.
- Yang and Dr Anthony Neoh SC at the helm of the CUHK Law School, CUHK, 30 March 2005
- The London Gazette: . 13 December 1988. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
- Former Chief Justice warns not to let language deteriorate, Pensioners' Corner, Civil Service Newsletter Editorial Board, retrieved on 1 September
- The Hon. Sir Ti Liang Yang, GBM, JP Curriculum Vitae, Hong Kong Red Cross, 2005
- Information Paper for the Joint Meeting of the Panel on Security and Panel on Health Services to be held on 29 April 2003, Hong Kong Legislative Council, retrieved on 1 September 2007
- HISTORY, Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam, retrieved on 1 September 2007
- American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 116, No. 3 (Nov 2010) pp. 1046–1052 by Barbara Celarent
- Sir TL's Website by RTHK (in Chinese)
- CV of Sir TL Yang, Hong Kong Red Cross
- Yang, Sir Ti-liang, address from HKU
Sir Albert Maria Rodrigues
|Chairman of the Council of the University of Hong Kong
Dr Victor Fung
|Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong
|Order of precedence|
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
|Hong Kong order of precedence
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal