Following is the speech (English only) by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, at the 2004 Prince Philip Scholarships Presentation Ceremony of the Friends of Cambridge University in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Bankers Club in Central this afternoon (September 8):
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great privilege for me to present the 2004 Prince Philip Scholarships and bursaries here today. This ceremony encapsulates so many of the things that make us proud of Hong Kong: the pursuit of learning and excellence, an international outlook, a willingness to embrace challenges, a commitment to serving the community, and an ability to create opportunity.
Hong Kong people take their education seriously, and the young scholars with us this afternoon are prime examples of that. The pursuit of learning is something that sets progressive societies apart. In Hong Kong, investment in education continues to be a top Government priority. Our education reform in primary and secondary education is bearing fruit, and the private sector is pitching in to make sure that we continue to have some of the best universities in Asia.
We have also focused on training and retraining so our people can compete in the knowledge-based economy. Today, school leavers have many more channels and opportunities for further education or job training than their predecessors once had. And we are helping those already in the workforce to upgrade their skills or to learn new ones. In addition, we want to encourage highly educated and skilled people to settle here and contribute to Hong Kong's growth. It is all part of our strategy of enhancing our human capital and, in turn, our competitiveness.
I mentioned the pursuit of excellence. This aspiration is common to all successful people, companies, cities and countries - and Hong Kong is no exception. Indeed, high quality is one of the core values in Hong Kong's positioning as Asia's world city. I want to tell our Prince Philip scholars that I'm delighted you will be able to further your education at one of the world's highest quality universities. You embody the very spirit of Hong Kong:
- Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city. Our people are outward looking, with an international perspective. I am sure this openness to new ideas is one reason you would like to go to Cambridge. It will serve you well during, and after, your studies there.
- Hong Kong is an entrepreneurial city - a stellar example, in fact, of what can be accomplished with a little resourcefulness, enterprise, imagination, enthusiasm and energy. Facing challenges is one of the things that Hong Kong does best. Leaving home, family and friends to strike out on your own is no easy feat. But I'm fully confident that the rewards will be worth the risk.
- And finally, there is service to the community. To find this quality, you need look no further than to Dr Li and his colleagues in the Friends of Cambridge University. They understand that with success comes a responsibility to give something back. In this case, their aim is to provide deserving students like you with a chance for a top-notch university education. The Russian author Leo Tolstoy wrote that, "The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity". Each of you will find your own way to do that, and the world will be a better place for it.
We sincerely hope that you will return to Hong Kong and China to apply your newfound knowledge and experience to continue to build your city and your country in the 21st century. Even if you decide to spend more time overseas after you graduate, you will always represent Asia's world city in many ways. And I know that you will make us proud.
But you can make a lasting contribution much sooner. As you know, I head the Constitutional Development Task Force, which is collecting people's views on how they would like to see our electoral process go forward. The public consultation period for the Third Report has been extended for one month, until September 30th, to give our citizens more time to express their views on how to amend the election methods in 2007 and 2008. In the past few months, the Task Force had also organized a number of forums, engaging more than 800 people from all walks of life, including youths and student representatives. Hong Kong's constitutional development is an important issue, and I assure you that your opinions count. We in the Constitutional Development Task Force value your views and will appreciate if you could spare some time to share them with us.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, Hong Kong is about opportunities. Today's ceremony is also about opportunities. Prince Philip scholars, I encourage you to take full advantage of this one. I'm sure you will. Not only will you be preparing yourselves for a full and fruitful life, you will be living such a life at Cambridge. Make the most of your days there, so you can look back on them fondly and proudly in the years ahead.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is my honour to present the 2004 Prince Philip Scholarships.
Ends/Wednesday, September 8, 2004