Following is the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, at the Opening Ceremony of Savannah College of Art and Design Hong Kong this afternoon (October 21):
President Wallace, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed a great pleasure to join you to celebrate the official opening of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Hong Kong.
President Wallace, a very warm welcome to Hong Kong ˇV or perhaps I should say, welcome back to Hong Kong.
I understand that you have made several trips here from the US in taking forward this exciting project. No doubt, you will become even more familiar with our city as this first Asian campus of SCAD takes off.
I have just had the opportunity to tour SCADˇ¦s brand-new facilities within these historic walls, and talk to some of your students.
I still vividly remember that I was shown here as a very young boy by my father, who was a policeman working as one of the court police officers of some of the court rooms. I was scared about what was happening there. That was a very different building. Same floor but scrubbed off into a new shine. It brings the building back to life. That to me means that you have instilled a certain spirit into this district and bring it to life again.
I am impressed by the revitalisation of this historic building, which is an important part of Hong Kongˇ¦s built heritage.
We meet here in what used to be a courtroom of the former North Kowloon Magistracy. I am pleased that the main facilities of the building, including the jail cells, have been given a new lease on life.
The creative use of space has enabled this old building to come alive again.
In recent years, we have placed strong emphasis on protecting Hong Kongˇ¦s built heritage and revitalising our old buildings so that they can continue to benefit future generations and preserve the diversity of our city.
It is a huge investment. We were rather, as a government, hesitant about this investment in the beginning because building and land assets are perhaps the most valuable things we have in Hong Kong. Turning these assets into something which are not profit making always scares us a bit, for capitalistic people like ourselves are brought up in a different setting. But now I believe we have done something right.
This is the first project to commence and be completed under the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme, an initiative announced in my Policy Address in 2007.
Eight more projects under the Scheme are now in the pipeline. Each historic building ˇV to be revitalised by an NGO selected through a highly competitive process ˇV will have a fresh function and new place in our community.
I take this opportunity to thank the Advisory Committee on Revitalisation of Historic Buildings under the chairmanship of Bernard (Chan) for its work in selecting these projects.
This particular building was once a symbol of law and order. It had served Sham Shui Po and the surrounding districts for nearly five decades until 2005. Today, it has been transformed into a respected place of learning, where creative endeavours will be nurtured by the convergence of young and creative minds.
Creative industries and education services are among the six areas that the Government identified for priority development, to sustain our economic success.
The diversity of visual arts and digital media courses that SCAD Hong Kong offers is most timely.
By nurturing our local creative talent and drawing in students from around the region, SCAD Hong Kong will also help to reinforce our position as a regional education hub, with an international learning environment.
At the local level, this project will also benefit the district of Sham Shui Po. Together with other revitalisation projects in the vicinity, such as Mei Ho House next door, locals and visitors will be able to rediscover the history of this neighbourhood. I am sure the Chairman of District Council will be proud of this, bringing Sham Shui Po to a new horizon, a new focus of attention for people of Hong Kong.
They will also have the opportunity to experience art through the many different community involvement programmes that SCAD Hong Kong has planned. I just learned about a book they are going to publish about Sham Shui Po. I think it will make Sham Shui Po a very different place. We now rediscover our own soul, our own spirit in this.
Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to join me in welcoming the Savannah College of Art and Design to Hong Kong and in wishing the college, its staff and its students a very successful and creative future.
Ends/Thursday, October 21, 2010
Issued at HKT 15:19