Following is a speech by the Postmaster General, Mr Luk Ping-chuen, at the "140th Anniversary of Hong Kong Stamps" Exhibition today (December 6):
Mr Kwan, Mr Bennett, distinguished guests and friends from the media,
40 years ago, a Centenary Stamp Exhibition was held at the Hong Kong City Hall. Today, it is at this very same place that an exhibition celebrating the 140th Anniversary of Hong Kong Stamps is being held. And, to witness the transformation - most remarkably, the great leap in each and every aspect, from the design and decoration of the venue to the exhibits now being shown - makes me realise how time truly flies.
It has been 140 years since Hong Kong introduced its first set of definitive stamps - the "Victoria" Definitive Stamps, which saw their first light on December 8th, 1862. In the one-and-a-half century that followed, Hongkong Post has given birth to 14 sets of definitive stamps, including the 2002 Hong Kong Definitive Stamps issued just a couple of months ago.
These sets are, in essence, used as a means for senders of letters and packages to pay for their postages. However, they also reflect the social changes that occur over time and history. For example, when the "Victoria" set was first issued 140 years ago, there were only six denominations; for the set we are using now, there are 16.
There is also the change in the themes being depicted: definitive stamps used before 1997 were to feature motifs around the image of the British sovereign. However, after 1997, these sets are all infused with distinctive themes that best reflect Hong Kong. With this, the definitive stamps have now become cultural ambassadors in themselves.
To mark the 140th anniversary of Hong Kong Stamps, Hongkong Post today issues a commemorative cover, a special postmark and a cachet. Throughout the three-day exhibition which starts today, visitors could have their covers stamped with that specially-designed cachet - and the colour of ink used will be different for each of the three days. The exhibition itself will also feature a preview of the stamps to be issued by Hongkong Post in 2003 and information regarding the HONG KONG 2004 Stamp Expo. I hope you will enjoy the presentation of all these very interesting material.
Finally, may I thank Mr Kwan and Mr Bennett in organising this event and wish the 140th Anniversary of Hong Kong Stamps Exhibition every success - may it be more successful than the Centenary Stamp Exhibition, and have at least 40 times - if not 400 times - the number of visitors as for its former occasion 40 years ago.
End/Friday, December 6, 2002