The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, has praised the creative talent of writers and photographers who took part in a competition promoting Hong Kong as Asia's world city.
Mr Tsang was speaking today (January 29) at the prize presentation ceremony of the 'World City - My City' essay and photo competition jointly organised by the Information Services Department and the 'South China Morning Post' between November 1 and 30 last year.
The competition attracted an impressive 951 essays and 260 photos in junior (10-14), youth (15-18) and open (19 or above) categories.
Mr Tsang said he was very happy to see such a fantastic response from young people who submitted 880 essays and 163 photos.
He said he was captivated and 'moved to tears' reading the essays that also provided a useful snapshot of the values of the community.
"Among the themes most often mentioned were the many freedoms we enjoy, 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," he said.
"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."
The Chief Secretary for Administration also noted that other popular themes related to two of the most favourite pastimes in Hong Kong - eating and shopping.
"Many people wrote about how much they loved the great variety of food in Hong Kong," he said.
Mr Tsang said the photos submitted reflected the contrasts and quirkiness that could be found on every street corner - from trams to the Star Ferry; from modern architecture to Chinese heritage and culture.
"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," he said.
"This to me highlights the great depth of creative spirit that flows through our city, and the desire of our people to be progressive and innovative."
Mr Tsang said the main thing that impressed him about all the entries was that everyone who took part 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," he said.
"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."
South China Morning Post Group Editor-in-Chief, Mr David Armstrong said that the response to the competition was overwhelming.
"We were happy to support Brand Hong Kong in raising awareness of the idea of Hong Kong as a world city," he said.
"Hong Kong is a great city and place to live - and will continue to be a great city and place to live.
"It is a common observation that one of the main things Hong Kong has going for it is the energy and creativity of its people. It might be a common observation but, as the entries showed, it is true."
The winners and runners up of the essay and photo competitions received $7,000, $3,500 and $1,750 in the Open category; $5,000, $2,500 and $1,250 in the Youth category; and $3,000, $1,500 and $750 in the Junior category.
The winners and runners up in the essay competition were: Junior: Winner Olivia Cheung, 1st runner up Jamilla Li, 2nd runner up Thashbeeh Moosah; Youth: Winner Thomas Belfer, 1st runner up Wong Yung-tsz, 2nd runner up Kelvin Ho; Open: Winner Lai Pui-lim, 1st runner up Aster Elms, 2nd runner up Cecile Gamst Berg.
The winners and runners up in the photo competition were: Junior: Sunny Yip, 1st runner up Elaine Li, 2nd runner up Lee Lok-him; Youth: Winner Chu Lai-jing, 1st runner up Brian Li, 2nd runner up Yau Kwan-chiu; Open: Winner Mark Parsons, 1st runner up Chow Kai-tik, 2nd runner up Ginger Richardson.
The winning entries can be seen at: http://promotions.scmp.com/worldcitymycity/
Ends/Saturday, January 29, 2005