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SHA's speech at the Asia Cultural Cooperation Forum


Following is the welcoming speech by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho, at the open forum of the Asia Cultural Cooperation Forum held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre today (September 29): (English only)

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the Asia Cultural Co-operation Forum - first open forum.

Culture relates and unites. Culture gives us joy and meaning in life. It enlivens our cities, activates the economy and creates jobs. It gives depth and breath to our public policies.

In the wake of globalisation and a knowledge-based economy, culture and creativity is increasingly seen as an engine for growth and civic pride.

Creativity is a vital ingredient of all aspects of human endeavors. It adds value to our products, to our services, to our environment, and to the quality of our lives. Although creativity is frequently mentioned in the same breath as arts and culture, it is also an essential part of other fields of human activities: such as technological creativity, economic creativity, aesthetic creativity, political creativity, social creativity and so on. Creativity involves lateral thinking, involves seeing things from an unusual and frequently neglected angle or perspective, involves acting outside of the norm or paradigm and finding solutions and answers.

Creativity is often referred as the economic force of the 21st century and drives economic growth. But I am convinced that creativity drives not only economic growth, it is the engine that propels human civilisation to a new stage of development, or perhaps an awakening of modern humanity. Some people refer that to another Renaissance.

In the forum this afternoon and tomorrow morning, we shall examine one key challenge we face today: how to better harness the creative capital of our communities without compromising that cleverness, imagination, and talent? Or how can we marry creative brainpower and business investment know-how without it ending in a messy divorce and a fight over the kids? How can we encourage people to think more about the business end of creativity, and the creative end of business? We shall learn from the good practices and successful stories of our neighboring economies and reflect on our own experience.

The business world is also changing fast, so is the business of culture. A few decades ago, Walt Disney made use of German folktales to make cartoon stories, and then the Disneyland was built, with the American West, German castles and African jungles. Later, branches of Disneyland were opened in Tokyo and Paris, and one will be opened soon in Hong Kong. The MacDonald's sell hamburgers. The Pizza Hut and the Starbucks serve Italian food with American mood. And recently, cultural managers like the Guggenheim museums run their cultural cities all over the world. The film "Matrix" mixes Chinese Kung Fu with computer technology. The content of these creative industries is European, Asian or African, but it is after all products of western countries or economies. Obviously globalisation has come to the cultural business. Culture moves across the border together with capital. With globalisation, curry is no longer just Indian, Thai, Malaysian, or Indonesian, but also Cantonese, Japanese or even English. They may all share the very same basic ingredients, but the cultural image and experience differ. And above all, they charge differently.

Seeing all these is exciting but also puzzling. The message is clear enough: the creative business is a global business with local flavours. And by global, we mean we should first start with our good neighbours at our doorsteps. And as a hub of Asia to the world, the door of Hong Kong is always wide open.

With that remark, I would like to pass the podium over to our moderator for this afternoon's and also tomorrow's sessions, Mr Christopher Cheng, who is the former chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce. But first let me kick off the Forum by asking Mr Cheng: what is creativity to him?

End/Monday, September 29, 2003


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