Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, at the prize-presentation ceremony for the Brand Hong Kong - SCMP 'World City - My City' essay and photo competition at the Conference Hall, Central Government Offices New Annex, this (January 29) morning:
David [Armstrong], prize winners, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to join you today for this prize-giving ceremony. The subject of the competition is one dear to my heart. Like all of you, this great world city is my city too. I grew up here, married and had kids here, and have made my career here. One of my most enjoyable jobs is to promote Hong Kong as Asia's world city through our Brand Hong Kong programme. So I am very happy to see that this competition generated such a fantastic response, especially from our young people who will guide the future of our community in the years ahead. I am sure we are in capable hands indeed.
Reading through the essays yesterday, I was captivated, moved to tears. Writing flair apart, many exude deep feelings and understanding of the place that I love so much. I also found several recurring themes. They provide a useful snapshot of the values of our community. Among the themes most often mentioned were the many freedoms we enjoy - in particular the freedoms of speech and thought and choice - the international flavour of our community, respect for people of different nationalities, or for those who hold different beliefs, and the perseverance of our people to overcome difficulties, as was seen during the SARS outbreak in 2003. It is heartening, and heart warming, to see that these values are considered to be part of what makes us tick; that people identify freedom, plurality, tolerance and tenacity as part of the essence that makes Hong Kong our home, as well as a world city.
Other themes that popped up relate to two of the most favourite pastimes in Hong Kong - and of course, I'm talking about eating and shopping. Many people wrote about how much they loved the great variety of food in Hong Kong - some of them even listing all the different types of restaurants they could find in their neighbourhood. Judging by what was written, bo lo baau, laai cha and dim sum remain firm favourites with Hong Kong people - and that most definitely includes me! So food is obviously an important part of our culture and what defines us as a world city.
The same can be said for shopping - many people spoke about how much they loved to rummage through the street markets to find a bargain, or an unusual item, but also just to experience the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong in this way. At the same time they mentioned how fortunate Hong Kong was to have such a wide selection of top, international brand names to choose from if your budget stretched that far. So again it is the contrast of local and international that appeals to people so much. It all adds spice to the great variety of life we experience every day in Hong Kong.
The photos submitted also reflect the contrasts and quirkiness we can find on every street corner - from the 'ding ding' to the Star Ferry; from our double-decker buses to the ubiquitous mini-buses and red taxis; and to the sleek efficiency of our MTR. Architecture, street life, the tranquillity of our country parks, and our magnificent harbour all featured prominently. Many photos captured our Chinese culture and traditions. But what was evident in nearly all the photos was that photographers tried very hard to be innovative in their composition and framing - they tried to make the familiar look new, or to make those viewing the photos stop and think about why it was taken in such a way. And this to me highlights the great depth creative spirit that flows through our city, and the desire or our people to be progressive and innovative.
Ladies and gentlemen I do not want to speak for too long. I have been greatly impressed by the quality of all the winning entries. The main thing that impresses me the most is that everyone obviously put a lot of time and effort into trying to define what makes Hong Kong such a great city. The entries were all straight from the heart. And, as I have said on many occasions, the beating heart of our city is most definitely our people - people like you who make Hong Kong Asia's world city - your city, my city, our city.
Congratulations to all of you. Good luck in the future and of course, all the very best for the Year of the Rooster. If the essays are anything to go by I know what most people will do with their prize money - go shopping and eating!
Ends/Saturday, January 29, 2005