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Ma Kiam



  • Existence: 1882 - 1959


Ma Kiam (1883-1959), also known as 馬季明 (Ma Jiming) was a renowned scholar as well as educator who participated in the New Cultural Movement. Ma joined the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in 1936 and was the Professor of Chinese of the University of Hong Kong in 1948-1950. His son Ma Meng (馬蒙), following his father’s pathway, was also a professor of the HKU and later was made the Professor of Chinese as well. Ma Kiam’s youngest son Ma Lin (馬臨) was also an educator. He was the Vice-Chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1978-1987. In early years, Ma Kiam went to南洋公學 (Nanyang Public School) in Shanghai with his brother Ma Heng (馬衡) after passing their imperial examinations and became a student of Cai Yunpei (蔡元培), John Calvin Ferguson (福開森) and John Dewey. Being inspired by his teachers, Ma Kiam saw teaching as a way to save China. He then started his teaching career at 浙江兩級師範學堂 (Zhejiang) in 1907. Being recommended by his teacher John Calvin Ferguson, Ma Kiam later went to Peking Union Medical College (北京協和醫學院) and continue his teaching in 1916. In 1925, Ma Kiam left his family and went to the University of Columbia in the United States for his master studies, where he met John Dewey who was a famous philosopher as well as a renowned education reformer. John Dewey’s teaching had greatly inspired him and had strengthened his belief in “Education can save the country” (“教育救國”). Ma Kiam went back to China with his master degree in 1926 and started his teaching at the Yenching University (燕京大學). He later became the head of the Department of Chinese. At that time there were a number of scholars teaching at the Yenking University and they were together named “一錢二周三沈五馬” (members include 錢玄同, 周樹人, 周作人, 沈士遠, 沈尹默, 沈兼士, 馬裕藻, 馬衡, 馬鑑, 馬准, 馬廉), among which the “五馬” referred to Ma Kiam and his four brothers Ma Yuzao (馬裕藻), Ma Heng (馬衡), Ma Huai (馬准) and Ma Lian (馬廉). The Ma brothers all taught at the Department of Chinese at the Yenching University and were also named “鄞縣五馬” (The Five Professor Mas from the Yin County). In 1936, invited by Hsü Ti-shan (許地山), who was the Professor of Chinese at the HKU, Ma Kiam went to Hong Kong and started his teaching at the University. Ma Kiam has taken up many administrative duties and contributed a lot to the reform of the Department of Chinese. In late 1941, Japanese occupied Hong Kong. Ma Kiam as a profound intellectual who enjoyed high repetition in Hong Kong was targeted by the Japanese that the Japanese would like force him to take up the duty as Chinese representative (華民代表). With loyalty to country in mind, Ma Kiam decided to escape from Hong Kong with his family and got back to China. In 1942, Ma Kiam went to Chengdu. At that time, Yenching University which was located in Peking was destroyed by the Japanese. Some of the professors and students were even put to concentration camps. Hoping to carry on the education mission of Yenching University, members of the University thus decided to reestablish the University at Chengdu. Ma Kiam was invited to be the Dean of the Faculty of Arts as well as the head of the Department of Chinese of the Chengdu Yenching University. In 1945, Japanese surrendered. Ma Kiam went back to Hong Kong and continued his contract with the HKU in 1946. In 1948, succeeding Prof. Tschen Yin-koh (Chen Yin Ko, 陳寅恪), he was made the Professor of Chinese of HKU. Ma Kiam continued his teaching at the HKU till his retirement in 1951. He died of lung cancer at the age of 76 in 1959.