Following is the speech by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho, at the 'Culture in Motion - the Philippines' show held at Chater Road Pedestrian Precinct today (February 20) (English only):
Mrs. Corazon Belmonte-Jover, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to declare open the inaugural show of our thematic Sunday cultural programmes: 'Culture in Motion', a series that will include music and dance performances, exhibitions, and other forms of entertainment to promote the cultural heritage of Hong Kongˇ¦s minority communities. The purpose of these events is partly to foster a sense of community belonging, and a sense of pride in presenting their heritage to the people of Hong Kong. But another important purpose is simply to entertain: above all, these events are intended to be fun.
We have invited the Filipino community - as the numerically largest of the ethnic minorities - to launch the series with today's programme 'Culture in Motion - the Philippines'. Filipinos have been part of the fabric of our society for over three decades and their contribution to our economic and social development has been enormous. Over 10,000 of them are permanent residents who have made Hong Kong their home. About 120,000 others work in the domestic sector. Together, they have enriched Hong Kong's cosmopolitan character and freed countless Hong Kong couples to join the job market to the economic benefit of us all. Earlier this year we publicly acknowledged that contribution with the award of the Medal of Honour to a Filipino citizen. Today, I take the opportunity to express our gratitude once again.
As I am sure you are aware, the Government is committed to the promotion of cultural diversity. Our desire is to ensure that the minorities and the local majority enjoy an easy co-existence of mutual respect and harmony. At the same time, we do not want to lose the richness that comes with diversity. It is with these things in mind that our policy is to encourage the minorities to integrate into our wider society while retaining their cultural identity.
Today's show is part of our cultural and educational programme and I am very pleased with the enthusiastic response. We are all anxious to get on with the show but before we do so, I want to say a very big 'thank you' to all the musicians, performers and other artists who have given up their time to be here today. And my special thanks also to the 140 Filipino volunteers who have worked so hard to make this show a success.
My very best wishes to all. Good health and great fortune in the year of the Rooster. Thank you.
Ends/Sunday, February 20, 2005