The following is the speech given by the Postmaster General, Mr Allan Chiang, at the "Hong Kong, China - New Zealand Joint Issue on Rugby Sevens" Special Stamps Issuing Ceremony today (February 25):
Mr Masters, Mr Wilson, Mr Molloy, distinguished guests and friends from the media.
Good morning. Welcome to this ceremony which marks the release of our "Hong Kong, China - New Zealand Joint Stamp Issue on Rugby Sevens". Our special thanks must go to the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union for their contributions to the stamp design and production, and to Air New Zealand, New Zealand Tourism Board and Apple Daily for sponsoring the lucky draw to promote the stamps.
Today's stamp issue represents Hong Kong's fifth in a series of joint stamp issues with other postal administrations. We are very pleased to be able to partner with New Zealand Post on this occasion.
Rugby Sevens is no doubt a very popular international sport. We are fully aware of New Zealanders' strong passion for the game and that their team's exceptional reputation worldwide is a huge source of pride for the nation. Here in Hong Kong, the sport has been gaining popularity every year, and the home for the Hong Kong Sevens Tournament has necessarily moved from the Hong Kong Football Club to the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium. It is no coincidence therefore that our two administrations have chosen the Rugby Sevens as the theme for the joint stamp issue.
A special feature of this high-powered, high-paced and high-impact sport is the high level of team work and cooperation. This bears close resemblance to the spirit of solidarity with which postal administrations work together in facilitating global communication. In particular, it is in keeping with the specific corporate purpose of both Hongkong Post and New Zealand Post, that is, linking people through post. Naturally, today's joint stamp issue on Rugby Sevens should serve to mark the very close and amicable relationship we have with New Zealand Post in the exchange of mail and to promote the goodwill between the people that our two postal administrations serve.
Legend has it that in 1823, a school boy's fault of holding the ball and running with it during a soccer match gave birth to the sport of rugby. Today, creative marketing strategies have transformed the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens from a local expatriate-focused event to a high-profile international sport extravaganza, with tens of thousands of international players and fans flocking to the games each year. The key to these successes has been innovation, a quality Hongkong Post attaches great importance in "delivering business". Innovation is our main tool in rejuvenating the image of stamp collecting. If playing soccer with hands can add more fun to the game, surely we can be more creative in our stamp designs to boost our appeal. Hence we have been revolutionizing our stamps by using flock paper, adding embossing effects or even personalising stamps for our customers. Our stamps also come in different shapes: rectangle, circle, triangle, pentagon and to tie in with today's rugby theme, oval.
I trust the stamps we issue today will appeal to both philatelists and rugby fans. But Hong Kong and New Zealand have a lot more attractions than just rugby. So when these roving ambassadors travel far and wide on letters and parcels, I hope they will also inspire holiday-makers and businessmen from all parts of the world to visit the two places to experience their charm and vigour.
Ends/Wednesday, February 25, 2004