Following is the speech by Postmaster General, Mr Allan Chiang, at the "Hong Kong Currency" Special Stamps Issuing Ceremony today (September 2):
Mr Yam, distinguished guests and friends from the media,
Welcome to the issuing ceremony of "Hong Kong Currency" Special Stamps. First of all, I am obliged to thank Mr Yam for taking time out of his busy schedule to officiate at today's ceremony. I am also indebted to Mr Cheng, a veteran numismatic collector, and the staff of HKMA for offering generous assistance and guidance during the production of these stamps.
We are living in the digital era, and yet, we can't live without daily necessities like bank notes, coins and stamps. For instance, we all carry cash in our wallets even though credit cards and Octopus cards are wildly popular. Similarly, email and SMS may be the dominant means of communication, but they lack the sense of human touch that gives a handwritten letter much of its power and intimacy. This is why Hongkong Post has to handle a daily traffic of more than 3.5 million items, which can only mean that physical delivery still has an important role to play.
As some of you may know, Hongkong Post issues new definitive stamps to meet market needs from time to time. The design and security features improve exponentially with every release as we strive to get all the details right and perfect. It is simply a reflection of our commitment to excel through innovation. I have heard that the much-anticipated new $1,000, $50 and $20 notes will be issued next month. I am most certain we can expect the same exceptional quality in them.
The very first stamp in the world, the "Black Penny", was issued in UK in 1840. It was remembered as a significant breakthrough in the postal history as it resolved a daunting problem that had hindered the development of postal service ever since its conception: Should the sender or the receiver of an item be responsible for paying the required postage? The brilliant solution to that was the establishment of a prepay system: Whoever wants to send an item has to pay the full postage by means of stamps. It is no overstatement to say that the birth of stamp marked an important milestone in the development of the postal industry. In the same vein, currency revolutionises the way we do business. Our ancestors exchanged goods and services by bartering. It was not until primitive currencies, such as shell money and copper pieces came along that business started to thrive and prosper. In fact, stamp and currency are natural outcomes of social development. They carry not only monetary values but also reflect the social and economic states of the society at a particular point of time. It is no wonder that they have been the favorites of collectors, not to mention that their values increase over time.
This set of special stamps tracks four stages of currency development in Hong Kong, spanning from the colonial days to the handover in 1997 over a 100-year period. It takes us back in time and lets us marvel at the great stories told by these charming, little stamps. When it comes to stories, I am sure Mr Yam has some fascinating tidbits about the featured currencies to tell in just a moment.
Ends/Thursday, September 2, 2004