Speeches at Kai Tak farewell reception


Following is the full text of the speeches by the Director of Civil Aviation, Mr Richard Siegel, and the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Anson Chan, at the farewell reception to mark the closure of the Kai Tak International Airport this (Monday) morning:-

Mr Siegel: Good morning, everybody. My name is Richard Siegel. I am Director of Civil Aviation. Yes, this is good morning. It is well good morning. This morning, you and I and Financial Secretary and Chief Secretary for Administration have been privileged to witness the end of an era of civil aviation, an event which one rarely sees in one's lifetime. Tonight, we have moved the 13 million-passenger airport from Kai Tak to Chek Lap Kok and in five hours' time that airport will commence operation. Tonight, for the first time in nearly seventy years, Kai Tak is no longer a public transport airport and we have a new magnificent facility for Hong Kong. It's a very nostalgic moment for myself having been here 25 years. But not only for myself but for the rest of the Civil Aviation Department, the airlines, the handlers, the ramp organisations, maintenance, cargo, who together have made this airport one of the truly great airports in the world. And I have been very proud to be associated with it. But Hong Kong must move on. We must look forward and we must look forward into the new millennium. If Hong Kong is to progress economically we must have good communications and good communications mean good air communications and that means a new airport. Kai Tak couldn't give us that. But CLK will. So on that note, I'd like to thank you all very much for being here and I'd like to introduce Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Anson Chan, to say a few words.

Mrs Chan: Good morning, everyone. As Dick said, we've just seen the last aeroplane leave Kai Tak and a few of us were privileged to be in the control tower to see Dick Siegel turn off the lights at Kai Tak. And that marks, as it were, the retirement of Kai Tak. Kai Tak can be said to have completed its historic mission and how well she has acquitted herself. But in a few hours' time, we shall be beginning a new chapter in Hong Kong civil aviation history and that is the operation of our very new international airport at Chek Lap Kok. Those of us who watched the lights turn off felt a strong sense of poignancy and nostalgia. We remembered our association with Kai Tak over the 70 years of its existence. Over the years, the Government has put in considerable resources to extend the life of Kai Tak and she has really served Hong Kong well. Dick said to me just now that God has smiled upon Kai Tak but I think it isn't just divine providence that has enabled Kai Tak to operate so well. It is very much due to the professionalism and the dedication of successive directors of civil aviation, their staff, the airlines and their staff, the franchised operators and everyone who has worked day in and day out at Kai Tak. I think we can all be very, very proud of the fact that despite its increasingly incompatible locality and its compactness and smallness of size, she has nevertheless served Hong Kong so well and has indeed been Hong Kong's goodwill ambassador. All of us would have fond memories of Kai Tak. Each of us I think will miss Kai Tak in our own way. For the people who live in the vicinity, particularly in Kowloon City, I think they will probably miss the noise, and they will miss Kai Tak as a friend for many, many decades, for some of the families who have lived there over the last 30 or 40 years. For the staff, of course, they will miss working here because they have been here day in and day out. And for the pilots of aeroplanes, I think they will miss the challenge that this 43 degrees' turn to land at Kai Tak has given them over the years. But it has afforded all our travellers a panoramic view of Kai Tak and has given them a first, as it were, impression of Hong Kong's dynamism. So today, I think we can say a fond farewell to Kai Tak and in a few hours' time, we will all be at CLK to welcome the first passengers of the first flight at CLK. So I would like to propose a toast to bid a fond farewell to Kai Tak.

Note to Editors:

Please also see the full text of Mrs Chan's Chinese speech given at the occasion.

End/Monday, July 6, 1998.