Hs­ing Kung: Giv­ing to com­mu­nity has re­wards BIO

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By QI­DONG ZHANG in San Fran­cisco kel­lyzhang@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

When for­mer pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton came to Sil­i­con Val­ley for fundrais­ing in 2004, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tapped Hs­ing Kung to host the event at his Los Al­tos Hills home. He and his wife Mar­garet had al­ready hosted fundrais­ers for Sen­a­tors John Kerry and Dianne Fe­in­stein, as well as nu­mer­ous com­mu­nity lead­ers. The San Jose Mer­cury News once de­scribed him as “one of Sil­i­con Val­ley’s most un­der­stated power bro­kers”.

On March 17, the City of Cu­per­tino hon­ored Kung as Cit­i­zen of the Year for his com­mu­nity ser­vice and also for serv­ing as pres­i­dent of the Cu­per­tino Ro­tary Club in 2013.

Sit­ting on the boards of more than a dozen non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions and schools, Kung has de­voted him­self to build­ing bridges be­tween the Asian com­mu­nity and the main­stream to un­der­stand Asian needs bet­ter, and bring more Asians into main­stream civic par­tic­i­pa­tion. He founded grass­roots or­ga­ni­za­tions such as Vi­sion New Amer­ica to de­velop the next gen­er­a­tion of Asian lead­ers en­ter­ing the po­lit­i­cal arena.

Born in Tai­wan and get­ting his bach­e­lor’s of sci­ence de­gree at Na­tional Cheng Kung Univer­sity, Kung earned a mas­ter’s of sci­ence from the Univer­sity of Texas and a PhD from UC Berke­ley in 1974. He started his en­gi­neer­ing ca­reer in fiber op­tics at Hewlett-Packard and was soon in­flu­enced by the boom­ing en­trepreneur­ship cul­ture. In 1983, he started SDL, which went IPO in 1995 for $200 mil­lion, and was ac­quired by JDS for $41 bil­lion in 2000.

Cur­rently a part­ner in the Acorn Cam­pus high- tech in­cu­ba­tor, Kung is known as “God­fa­ther of Fiber Op­tics” for nur­tur­ing nu­mer­ous startup ven­tures over the past two decades. Be­ing some­one who has been in high tech, seen it, done it and come out a suc­cess, Kung mod­estly at­tributes his suc­cess to the boom of the In­ter­net. “As long as there is an In­ter­net, band­width is needed and the fiber op­tics in­dus­try is driven,” he said.

His lead­er­ship in com­mu­nity ser­vices has a broad reach, from Monte Jade, one of the largest Chi­nese-Amer­i­can high-tech as­so­ci­a­tions in the US, to the Cu­per­tino Ro­tary, the United Way, Amer­i­can Lead­er­ship Fo­rum, the San Jose Reper­tory The­ater, and many oth­ers. His pas­sion for com­mu­nity came when he first ar­rived in Sil­i­con Val­ley in the 1970s.

“I found most of the Chi­nese Amer­i­can pro­fes­sion­als lacked in­ter­est of par­tic­i­pat­ing in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics,” he said. “I heard a lot of com­ments like ‘pol­i­tics is com­pli­cated’ and ‘pol­i­tics is ugly’, and many were ig­no­rant about the ba­sics of lo­cal Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. Many Chi­nese Amer­i­cans did not like to serve jury duty so they shied away from voting be­cause they thought they could avoid jury duty by not reg­is­ter­ing to vote. They didn’t know jury mem­bers were selected from driver’s li­censes. I de­cided to make an ef­fort at en­cour­ag­ing Chi­nese Amer­i­cans to vote, which is an ed­u­ca­tional process to start.”

In the 1980s, when he learnt a Chi­nese Amer­i­can named Ch­ester Wang was in­volved in or­ga­niz­ing a small out­reach team to get Chi­nese Amer­i­cans to vote, Kung jumped in to help. In 1985, when his friend Tommy Shwe ran for Cu­per­tino el­e­men­tary school board as the first Chi­nese Amer­i­can in the city, he be­came an ac­tive vol­un­teer. His ex­pe­ri­ence with Fre­mont Union High’s school board elec­tion, how­ever, greatly shaped his thoughts.

“I vis­ited the main­stream Amer­i­can vot­ers, com­mu­ni­cated with lo­cal com­mu­nity lead­ers, and sat down with elected of­fi­cials to un­der­stand lo­cal leg­is­la­tures. I came to re­al­ize how lit­tle we know about Amer­i­can so­ci­ety and pol­i­tics and how lit­tle they un­der­stand us as Chi­nese Amer­i­cans,” he said.

“I de­cided to make an ef­fort to bridge the two com­mu­ni­ties and get the mes­sage across borders, and run­ning a cam­paign as a Chi­nese Amer­i­can was the best way to en­cour­age voting, which changes the de­mo­graphic map of vot­ers and plants the roots in un­der­stand­ing,” said Kung.

Ac­cord­ing to Kung, Asians grew faster than any race in the US from 2000 to 2010, ris­ing by 43.3 per­cent, more than four times the over­all growth rate. Sil­i­con Val­ley has felt this im­pact deeply, but this growth has not been re­flected in the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship.

In Santa Clara county, Cau­casians make up about a third of the pop­u­la­tion but hold three-fourths of city coun­cil seats. Only three of the county’s 15 cities have non-white may­ors. When he first came to the South Bay in 1974, how­ever, there were none at all. His ef­forts in voting have paid off.

Hs­ing’s fa­ther, who had worked in govern­ment to re­claim Tai­wan from half a century of Ja­panese rule, and later served as mayor of Ping­tung city, died of cancer when Hs­ing was only 11, and his brother was nine. His mother de­voted her life to rais­ing her two boys.

“She was a good role model and taught us how to be good people, hum­ble, hard­work­ing and to not take any­thing for granted,” said Hs­ing, who of­ten re­minds him­self of these virtues and his so­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

In 1995 Kung joined the Ro­tary Club and has re­mained ac­tive in it ever since. “I was im­me­di­ately wel­comed by the Ro­tary fam­ily. I still re­mem­ber the first Christ­mas party at the club, my un­easi­ness was show­ered by the hos­pi­tal­ity of the club mem­bers and I re­al­ize how much sim­i­lar­ity we have in both Chi­nese and Amer­i­can cul­tures and how ea­ger the Amer­i­cans were to un­der­stand Chi­nese cul­ture and Chi­nese Amer­i­cans,” he said.

His phi­los­o­phy of life has been shaped by Hu Shi, the mod­ern Chi­nese ed­u­ca­tor and philoso­pher. Kung be­lieves a life goal of mak­ing the best one can in one’s own en­vi­ron­ment. De­scrib­ing him­self as eas­ily con­tent and very op­ti­mistic on hu­man­ity, Kung said his ad­vice to Chi­nese-Amer­i­can im­mi­grants is to gain rights by voting, and par­tic­i­pate in com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties to help merge the Chi­nese com­mu­nity with the main­stream to achieve un­der­stand­ing.

“The only way to in­flu­ence is to par­tic­i­pate,” he said. “Only 20 years ago, Chi­nese Amer­i­cans had no elected of­fi­cial in the South Bay (Santa Clara County), let alone any in­flu­ence. To­day we have had forty to fifty elected of­fi­cials, school board di­rec­tors, city councilman and par­tic­u­larly in Cu­per­tino. As first gen­er­a­tion Chi­nese Amer­i­cans, we are so proud of our own cul­ture, we are mod­est, hard­work­ing, and will be rec­og­nized if we com­mu­ni­cate with the main­stream and get rec­og­nized,” said Kung.

Kung’s daugh­ter An­gela, who ma­jored in po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at UC Santa Bar­bara and now works at AT&T in San Fran­cisco, is also an ac­tivist in lo­cal com­mu­nity ser­vice. His wife Mar­garet whom he met in Austin, Texas, works in ac­count­ing and fi­nance and is a strong sup­porter of Kung’s pas­sion for com­mu­nity ser­vice.

When Mike Honda was elected to Congress, Hs­ing part­nered with him to boost the Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­nity na­tion­ally.

“Tra­di­tion­ally, politi­cians have seen Asian Amer­i­cans in gen­eral as a place to tap for money. But the is­sue for lo­cal groups and Hs­ing Kung is we don’t want to be the people you just come to for money. We have re­sources for pol­icy. We un­der­stand tech­nol­ogy and do­mes­tic and for­eign af­fairs, and it’s a com­mu­nity with a deep well of talent,”

HS­ING KUNG

Man­ag­ing part­ner at Acorn Cam­pus Ven­tures

Age: 69 • MBA, Santa Clara Univer­sity (1979) • PhD, Elec­tri­cal En­gi­neer­ing, Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Berke­ley (1974) • MS, Univer­sity of Texas at

Austin (1969) • BS, Na­tional Cheng Kung

Univer­sity (1967) • Man­ag­ing part­ner, Acorn Cam­pus Ven­tures (2006-present) • Chair­man, In­noLight Tech­nol­ogy (2006-present) • Se­nior vice-pres­i­dent,

Op­next Inc (2003-2005) • Co-founder and CEO, Pine

Pho­ton­ics (2000-2003) • Founder and chair­man. LuxNet Cor­po­ra­tion (1999-present) • Vice-pres­i­dent, AXT

(1997-1999) • Co-founder and VP Man­u­fac­tur­ing, SDL (1983-1996) • Project man­ager/R&D en­gi­neer, Hewlett Packard (1974-1983) said Honda.

For new im­mi­grants who come to Sil­i­con Val­ley and US in gen­eral, Kung has some heart­felt ad­vice: “In­te­grat­ing into the main­stream is a ma­jor chal­lenge for many new im­mi­grants.

“As long as ev­ery­one re­minds them­selves of their so­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, makes an ef­fort to achieve that from reg­is­ter­ing to vote, gets in­volved in po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns and even­tu­ally par­tic­i­pates in elec­tions, it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore that in­te­gra­tion will be achieved. The more you give to your lo­cal com­mu­nity, the more you will re­ceive even­tu­ally.”

QI­DONG ZHANG / CHINA DAILY

Hs­ing Kung has de­voted him­self to build­ing bridges be­tween the Asian com­mu­nity and the main­stream to un­der­stand Asian needs bet­ter.

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