Following is a speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Rafael Hui, at the Annual Speech Day of Queen¡¦s College this evening (December 9):
Mr Li, Fellow Guests, Parents, Teachers, Graduates and Students,
As a product of this distinguished institution, it gives me great pleasure ¡V and much pride ¡V to stand before you today and deliver this address. It seems unbelievable to recall that the last time I made an appearance on this very stage was thirty eight years ago, when I myself was a Form Six graduate.
Instead of a microphone now in front of me, I then had my future before me, and you will perhaps forgive me for saying that, at present, I would happily change places with anyone of you students or graduates.
An even earlier appearance on this stage ¡V no less than forty years ago ¡V saw me doing Jacques¡¦ soliloquy in Shakespeare¡¦s play ¡§As you Like It¡¨. I can still recall my lines from memory, and in particular ¡§All the world¡¦s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.¡¨
How very true. Like players, we each have our entrances and our exits. But the importance is what happens in between. We all have our roles to play, and it¡¦s up to us to make the most of them.
Queen¡¦s College has prepared us all for great things, but our schooling here can only carry us so far, after which we must each take the initiative to grasp the opportunities it has laid open to us.
This school has a very special place in Hong Kong¡¦s history. I need hardly remind you that it began life in 1862 as the first secondary school ever established in Hong Kong. And, today, the Government is still trying to solve the problem of the old walls of the original Central College, which is now the site of the old Central Police Quarters, where, incidentally, a certain man called Donald Tsang grew up. But Donald did not go to Queen¡¦s College; unfortunately he went to another school. But that is another story.
The very first Chinese school magazine in the world was published in Central College in June 1899, under the title of The Yellow Dragon, and if you look through your honour rolls, you will find the names of many who have figured prominently in the annals of our society.
Queen¡¦s College was modelled on the typical English public school of its time, whose values, ideals and traditions have since been widely admired, embraced, envied and copied in much of the world, even though its apparent elitism remains so prone to scorn and derision nowadays.
The liberal education I acquired here was one that I still hold dear, for it reinforced those foundations for analytical and balanced judgement and independent thought that are imbued in the character of us Hong Kong Chinese.
One of this institution¡¦s earliest graduates was of course Sun Yat-sen, founder of modern China. More recently we have the most popular Principal Official, our Secretary for Justice and ¡§the Dragon of Queen¡¦s College¡¨ Wong Yan Lung, who is the youngest of all at the top level of the government. Incidentally, you should know that I did suggest to your Principal to invite to this occasion Mr Wong, who is much younger than an old timer like me. Unfortunately, Yan Lung has today an official meeting in Shenzhen that he must attend. So Queen¡¦s College will just have to wait for at least another year.
But I must not stray too far from the well-established tradition which dictates that speech day addresses should aim to be inspirational, so let me try.
You students may wonder why it is that those of us who comprise your Alma Mater become misty eyed at the memory of our years here. The answer is too diverse, intangible and all-embracing to define in a single sentence. I can only say that I am reminded of the opening verse of that famous old student hymn ¡§Gaudeamus Igitur; Juvenes dum sumus¡¨.
Translated from the original Latin, the words roughly mean ¡§Let us rejoice while we are young, for old age comes too soon upon us¡¨.
It isn¡¦t just your youth for which we envy you. It is for the future unfolding before you, when we, who have long left these hallowed halls, have so much of our past trailing behind us. It is said of the old that they increasingly hoard their memories. Perhaps they do ¡V but if so I believe it is principally in consolation for the loss of their unexplored possibilities.
You, on the other hand, have all of that to look forward to. Those of you who are about to graduate from QC are emerging into the dawn of an especially promising new age. An age in which an awakened China is defying the clock by showing the world that something almost inconceivably old, counted among this planet¡¦s longest surviving civilisations, can return to centre stage as something entirely and astonishingly new.
Yours is the moment. Yours is the day to seize. And this new world opening before you is the oyster that will surrender your pearl. So it is little wonder that we envy you ¡V while at the same time we look to you to bear the torch that we must one day yield.
You carry with you not only your own potential ¡V the germinating seed of your contribution to Hong Kong¡¦s, and indeed China¡¦s future ¡V but also the burden of our expectations. More than that, you are the inheritors of a glorious tradition that is Queen¡¦s College.
Your education will not end with what you have learned here. For if I may but slightly misquote those words Shakespeare so long ago placed upon my youthful lips, ¡§all the world¡¦s a school, and all of us men and women merely students.¡¨
Life always has something new to teach us, and those who will most succeed are those who are quickest to learn. I truly believe the one factor that has contributed most to Hong Kong¡¦s success has been our readiness to learn, to adapt and, if necessary, to start afresh.
In the past, our success owed much to our industrious workforce, but times and trends and economic forces have changed. In the future, we can no longer only depend on our traditional strengths but must find also new skills, new ways, new recipes for success. You will be part of that exciting quest, and if I were to restrict myself to just two sentences in imparting my advice to you, those words are ¡§Be Adaptable. And stay alert¡¨.
The long or full version of our Q.C. song, which in turn was adapted from the Eton College school song, reminds us that ¡§Time speeds along. Soon our schooldays are ended. Comes the sad hour when from thee we must part!¡¨ For those of you about to quit these corridors of learning, here comes that hour.
Just remember that - whatever you do and wherever you go ¡V if learning is never a closed book, neither will your future prove a straight road. So keep your eyes peeled, your hands on the wheel and watch out for the corners. It may at times seem a bumpy ride, but never let it throw you.
And draw strength and inspiration from the fact that Hong Kong has not only survived ¡V but has prospered beyond all expectations ¡V along a much more tortuous trail. Quite simply because we never lost our adaptability, our flexibility and our willingness to learn.
Let us not forget that the end of our classroom days brings both release and triumph, alloyed with renewed resolve and a swelling pride in the school that has done so much to enrich our lives.
So I wish you well, and I wish you all illustrious careers that will help carry Hong Kong to greater things.
This is where you are on your own, and can finally live up to the call resounding in the final chorus of our school song: ¡§Sons of Cathay, raise your voices in thunder!¡¨
And I¡¦ll be listening. And so will the rest of Hong Kong.
Ends/Friday, December 9, 2005
Issued at HKT 19:19