Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang at the Opening of the Hong Kong 2001 Stamp Exhibition today (February 1):
Mr Tay, Mr Kwan, Mr Luk, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here this morning to welcome you to the Hong Kong 2001 Stamp Exhibition - an important international exhibition that ushers in the Lunar New Year. So, it gives me much pleasure in wishing you all Kung Hei Fat Choi.
Stamp collecting has long been a popular hobby in Hong Kong. I remember the scenes outside the original Convention and Exhibition Centre for the previous stamp exhibition held four years ago. On that occasion, enthusiasts camped out overnight to be the first into the building to add to their collection.
Today, the craze for Hong Kong stamps and other memorabilia in the lead up to the Handover has gone. But over the years, Hongkong Post has developed a fine philatelic reputation for its ethical stamp issuing policies, product innovation, the quality of its stamps and a large and loyal customer base. I'm pleased to note that Hong Kong remains one of the world's major centres of philately. This exhibition alone is expected to attract up to a quarter of a million visitors.
Hong Kong 2001 is a venue for postal authorities, agents and their partners in the industry to meet and interact in the pursuit of the development and promotion of philately worldwide. It also provides a great opportunity for the keen philatelists and casual collectors to see some of the world's finest stamp exhibits and to experience the joy of stamp collecting. I am delighted to see more than 100 countries represented at this exhibition.
It is over 160 years since the world's first officially-issued postage stamp went on sale in Britain. And while that stamp - the Penny Black - is not on display here today, there are some equally rare examples including the 3-cent Chinese Red Revenue stamp of 1896, which I'm told could be worth several hundred thousand Hong Kong dollars! So philately is not only a hobby, but possibly a good investment as well.
No matter whether you are a stamp lover or someone looking for a good investment tool, I hope you will enjoy the exhibits here. I now have great pleasure in declaring that the Hong Kong 2001 Stamp Exhibition is open.
End/Thursday, February 1, 2001