Following is a speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr Antony Leung, at the Opening of the Hong Kong Photo Exhibition in Dublin, Ireland, today (November 29, Ireland Time):
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to visit the youngest and greenest member of the European Union.
As I near the end of my all-too-brief visit to Ireland I must say that I have been very touched by the warm welcome we have received, and the renowned hospitality of the Irish people.
This morning, I called on the Taoiseach and had a good meeting with the Tanaiste. I also had a luncheon with business community leaders to launch the Ireland Hong Kong Forum, and visited Trinity College to witness the conclusion of a pioneering partnership arrangement with the Chinese University in Hong Kong. It has been a very productive, as well as a very enjoyable visit.
Now, I am delighted to join you for the opening of this photo exhibition. The photos you see are the work of a leading Belgian photographer, Jean-Dominique Burton, who has vividly captured the spirit of Hong Kong in the lens of his camera: the street life, the vibrancy, the mixture of old and new, the fusion of East and West.
I would guess that most Irish people would regard Hong Kong as fast-moving and crowded place dedicated to capitalism. And while that is certainly true, there are other parts of our city that many people would not normally associate with Hong Kong: beautiful scenery, long, sandy beaches, large tracts of parkland, ancient villages and quiet temples. In fact, about 40% of Hong Kong is country park. This is pretty remarkable considering we have a population almost twice that of Ireland living within just 1,100 square kilometers of land, or less than one-sixtieth of the area of Ireland.
And, within our community there is also a growing Irish presence and influence. In decades past, Irish missionaries founded some of our best schools in Hong Kong. Irish expats still serve in our Police force, helping to maintain our reputation as one of the world's safest cities. In recent years we have seen more and more Irish pubs spring up - and they all seem to be doing quite well too if the Friday night crowds are anything to go by! And there have also been growing links on the business and technology fronts.
The more contacts, the more exchanges the better. An old Chinese proverb says: "Travelling ten thousand miles is more useful than studying ten thousand books." I am a great believer in travel to broaden the mind and horizons. So I am delighted that, in a few minutes, Cathay Pacific will present tickets to the first group of Irish Youth to visit Hong Kong under the Youth Exchange Programme.
I strongly support youth exchange programmes such as this. The young people of today are the leaders of tomorrow. And by establishing contact with other cultures early in life we can help build a more open and tolerant world in the future.
I am sure that your young Irish Ambassadors will have a great time in Hong Kong. And whether you are young or old I extend my sincerest invitation to you all to come and visit us in Hong Kong, Asia's world city!
Thank you very much.
End/Saturday, November 30, 2002