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Historical Figures - KE Lin

Last updated :2012-11-10

The Fine Example Set by KE Lin Lives Forever in the Hearts of People

KE Lin, who was born in the same year of the beginning of the 20th century, was a revolutionary, medical expert and educator. After liberation, he became president of the Medical College of Sun Yat-sen University and of the newly-form South China Medical College. In 1980, he resumed the presidency at the age of 80. He made distinguished contributions and meritorious service to the development of medical education in the university.

Engaged in secret work for the Party under cover of a doctor

As early as his high school days, KE Lin had become good friend of Peng Bai, famous leader of peasants’ movement and early leader of the CPC, working together in fighting Yuan Shikai and restoring the Republic. He joined the Chinese Communist Youth League in Guangdong Medical College (one of the predecessors of Sun Yat-sen University) in 1924, later the Communist Party. Being an active student leader, he was the secretary of the Youth League of the college. After graduation, he was once a military doctor at Ye Ting’s Coaching Brigade and Director of the Medical Department of the Fourth Army under the National Revolutionary Forces, and he participated in the renowned Guangzhou Uprising. Beginning from 1928, he was engaged in long-term secret work for the Party in Shanghai, Shenyang, Xiamen, Hong Kong and Macau under cover of a doctor. He was once involved in the action to rescue Martyr Li Shuoxun, father of former Premier Li Peng. He was alone in the heart of the occupied areas, and accomplished one after another tasks entrusted by the Party in the changeable, unpredictable and mixed environment.

Devoted to the cause of medical education

After liberation, Mr. Ke, who was director of Jinghu Hospital in Macau, received transfer order from the South China Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPC, asking him to assume position of Director of the Medical College. He moved to Guangzhou together with his family in spring, 1952.

China at that time was under reconstruction after years of war and natural calamities. Medical education left over by the old China was on a backward stage. Facing the new situation, Mr. Ke felt that his job was both glorious and heavy. He first handed over 100,000 HK$, the money he made in the past years, to the Party, half as the Party fee and half as contribution to the school. He also persuaded medical personnel of Jinghu Hospital to work in the Medical College of Sun Yat-sen University.

How to develop medical education in a faster way and cultivate medical personnel needed by the Nation faster and better? Mr. Ke thought that all the advantages, forces and intelligence should be united so as to achieve greater results, hence the Medical College of Sun Yat-sen University should be amalgamated with that of Lingnan University and Guanghua Medical College. His ideas was supported by the departments concerned in the Central Government, and the three school was consolidated into one in 1953 after repeated consultation and preparation.

He became the president and party secretary of the new college. Aiming at resolving the differences in the original political background, historical evolvement, academic schools and characteristics of the three medical colleges, Mr. Ke presided over several meetings with members of the colleges. He emphasized that all should be united for development of medical education in new China. He tried his best to consult all parties about the positions to be filled, and treated all on an equal base according to their abilities. In this way, the estrangement among the original schools disappeared gradually after the founding of South China Medical College; a batch of talented people with academic achievements, teaching experience and special clinical skills were brought out. Mr. Ke was good at mobilizing people, and had steady confidence in the intelligentsia. He seized the time in re-structuring the 33 teaching and research groups, emphasizing collectivism in organizing the groups. He openly supported the opinions of some senior professors, respected the teaching experience of experts, and advocated critical absorption of advanced technology where it comes from, while guarding against self conceit or underestimation of one’s own abilities.

In order to bring up talented young people with all-round developments in morale, intelligence and health, Mr. Ke laid special emphasis on cultivating the Communist moral and character. He stressed that it was an important issue related to the success or failure of education to combine theory and practice. He believed that, if clinical teaching was not carried out in practice, the students couldn’t master the needed skills and learn useful knowledge. In order to solve the problem that the hospital for field practice was very small, he worked together with other officials and set up the Guangzhou Medical Education and Sanitary Technology Cooperation Center and established a cooperative relation with 10 hospitals in the city, which provided 3000 beds for clinical practice.

In 1957, educators at home and abroad were thinking about curriculum combination and adjustment so as to improve the teaching quality. Mr. Ke took a cautious attitude toward this. He believed that changes in the curriculum had happened before due to different historical reasons and against different social background, and there were advantages and disadvantages, experience and lessons, hence it was inappropriate to take any hasty and reckless actions. He proposed that it must be carried out through planned and guided experiments. Thus, the teaching reform avoided negative effect, gained some experience and achieved better results under Mr. Ke’s leadership.

After 1958, there was a tendency in various parts of Guangdong to set up more medical schools. Ke Lin thought that it was of course a good thing to build more medical schools, yet it must be under overall scientific planning. He claimed that the just conglomerated forces should not be dispersed, instead, new schools should be opened when time is ripe. According to this principle, he sent some officials and teachers to open the Zhangjiang Branch College and train teachers for other schools. In this way, the College was able to preserve its faculty and also provide for setting new branches.

Good at uniting, relying, training and using intellectuals

Mr. Ke insisted on carrying out the Party’s correct policy concerning the intellectuals. He believed that it was an important issue in running a school to carry out the Party’s policy of uniting, educating and transforming the intellectuals in an all-round way. He continuously looked for and recommended senior intellectuals with specialty, ambition and patriotic enthusiasm to assume leading positions of all departments.

At the Conference on Science Work in 1962, Zhou Enlai, Chen Yi and Nie Rongzheng gave important instructions concerning Sun Yat-sen Medical College, which inspired greatly the intellectuals in the College. Of special importance are Premier Zhou’s instructions that most of the intellectuals in our country were already working people’s intellectuals, that science and technology played a major role in our construction for modernization. In view of the instances of the College, Mr. Ke didn’t conduct the debate on the relation between political correctness and academic excellency in a dramatic and showy way, rather, he conducted it in a mild and gently way and relied on the self-consciousness of people. Members of the Party Committee of the College were assigned to study groups and joined their discussion on persisting in truth and rectifying mistakes. They took measures in waiting and protecting those who couldn’t understand and accept the fact at the moment, and in helping those who couldn’t draw demarcations among political, ideological and academic problems. Some regarded intellectuals’ ambition in scientific research as seeking fame and profits, and used it as excuse to criticize them. Ke Lin stressed that the purpose in transforming the intellectuals lay in improving the ideology, rather than labeling them as counter-revolutionaries and criticizing them harshly. He firmly stopped the practice of “uprooting white flags” and didn’t arrest or lay off anyone with ideological problems.

Mr. Ke understood the intellectuals quite well. He knew well that their amour-proper was strong, worrying too much about not being trusted politically and valued academically. He thought that it was normal, understandable. They were not only the main force in teaching, treating patients and conducting research, but dared to air their opinions so that fewer mistakes were made. If we didn’t understand, trust, rely on and help them, what should we do to progress in medical education and research in the capacity of leading officials of the College? It was just because Ke Lin insisted on the correct policy on the intellectuals and established an harmonious relation between the officials of the College and the intellectuals that the initiative of the masses was brought into full display and fundamental guarantee was achieved for completion of various targets set by the College.

In the early 1960s, a lively and flourishing political situation appeared in the Sun Yat-sen Medical College, and the College’s Party Committee was wholeheartedly supported by the masses. A prosperous scene in teaching and learning was also seen on the horizon since the founding of the College, with teaching quality improving steadily. 70% of the faculties of the College participated in scientific research, and the academic, teaching and clinical levels were obviously raised during completion of tasks set by the nation. On the anniversary of the founding of the College in 1962, 319 papers were received, and 466 papers were received in the following year, 15% of which were up to the higher level in the nation.

Concerned about young students

On training young students, Mr. Ke proposed the requirements of cultivating socialist new style of learning, giving display to the fine traditions of hard working and simplicity, seeking truth from facts and becoming both politically correct and academically excellent. At that time, Tao Zhu and Fu Lianzhang once came to the College to inspect and deliver reports to the students, which inspired them a lot. Through a series of education activities and evaluation of excellent students and advanced classes, a brand-new atmosphere of learning appeared in the College. At the same time, Mr. Ke stressed the need of a relatively stable order for teaching and learning, the combination of ideological work with all teaching steps, an appropriate proportion and suitable measures between major education and physical education. He suggested that the faculty and students should be effectively organized to go into the mountainous areas or the countryside, that physical labour and life experience should be combined with study in the major; and he was opposed to the practice of canceling classes randomly.

During the “Four-clear Movement”, many college students were required to receive “re-education” in the countryside for as long as a year. Mr. Ke insisted that medical college students would have to shoulder the responsibility of treating the ill and rescuing the dying, and it was by mastering scientific knowledge could they serve the people well. He believed that medical students should be both politically correct and academically excellent, should not be empty talkers, that the normal teaching order should be maintained. Guided by his ideas, the students of Sun Yat-sen Medical College only went to the countryside during summer vacation, so that the students received physical labor while continuing their academic study. Through all these, the famous learning style of “Three Basics” and “Three Stricts” took shape in the College. (i.e. stressing basic theory, basic knowledge, study and training in basic skills; insisting on strict attitude, strict methodology and strict requirements in all teaching activities.)

Through Mr. Ke’s hard work and efforts of all faculty, staff and students over a decade, the achievements by the College were recognized by the medical circle at home and abroad, and reputation and credits were won. Zhou Enlai, Dong Biwu, Ye Jianying, He Long, Tao Zhu and other officials of the Central Government once received the officials of the College and praised their work.

Resuming the Presidency at the age of 80

During the “Cultural Revolution”, both KE Lin and Sun Yat-sen Medical College suffered great setbacks and damages. After the ten year’s turmoil ended, he was thoroughly rehabilitated and his reputation restored. In 1979, he was appointed consultant to the Ministry of Health. In May 1980, he was also appointed president of Sun Yat-sen Medical College. When he returned to the College at the age of 80, he was warmly welcomed by the faculty and students. He laid emphasis on carrying out the Party’s policies and revaluing the wronged cases, which resulted in rehabilitation and readjustment of jobs of large number of faculty and students. Sun Yat-sen Medical College embarked on a new road for prosperity since then.

In 1984, he no longer shoulder any position of the College because of his age, yet he gave firm support to the new leadership. He was really happy when he learned that Deng Xiaoping wrote the new name for Sun Yat-sen Medical University in calligraphy.

Mr. Ke died on September 23, 1991 of illness in Beijing at the age of 90. The great contributions of this revolutionary, medical expert and educator and his fine example will live in the hearts of the people forever.