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Appreciation by CE at memorial service for Sir Jack Cater (English only)

Following is the appreciation delivered by the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, at the memorial service for Sir Jack Cater at St Johnˇ¦s Cathedral today (October 21) (English only):

Lady Cater, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to be part of todayˇ¦s commemoration ˇV to pay tribute to Sir Jack Cater in the presence of his family and all of us who were blessed with his friendship and counsel at one point or another in our lives.

Born on 21st February 1922, the son of a London policeman, Sir Jack arrived in Hong Kong on 19th November 1945. He joined the Hong Kong Government shortly afterwards and worked in the public service for nearly 40 years.

In the early part of his career, Sir Jack worked hard to improve the livelihood of those in the fishing and farming communities. He helped set up the Fisheries and Vegetable Marketing Organisations, he served as Hong Kongˇ¦s first Registrar of Co-operative Societies in 1950, and he was the first Director of Agriculture and Fisheries in 1964. He earned the respect, trust and affection of those he served with his head as well as his heart. A letter jointly written by some 20 fishermen associations to the then Governor on 8 August 1955 is a testament to the high standing in which he was held. I quote ˇV

ˇ§For many generations we and our ancestors have lived in Hong Kong, earning our living through fishing.  Throughout much of this time, we have been looked down upon and despised by the land people, possibly because we were poor and uneducated. This was the position when Mr Cater became Officer-in-charge of Fisheries.  Since that time he has become Registrar of Co-operatives and Director of Marketing, and through his able and kind administration the status of the fisherfolk has continually improved and the prejudice against us has disappeared under his benevolent, democratic and altruistic policies.  Under Mr Caterˇ¦s guidance and with his assistance, our fishing industry has prospered and developed. The continuous increase in fish landing; the mechanization of the fleet; the starting of co-operative societies amongst us; the establishment of the many schools for fishermenˇ¦s children. All these things and many more are proof of the benefits which we fishermen of Hong Kong have received under his able administration.ˇ¨

In 1968, Sir Jack was seconded to the newly established Trade Development Council as Executive Director. For two years, he applied his usual zeal to the job, which put the council on the firm footing it needed to promote Hong Kongˇ¦s trade interests. He returned to Government service as Director of Commerce and Industry in 1970 and represented Hong Kong in a series of important negotiations to protect Hong Kongˇ¦s textile industry. He was appointed Secretary for Information in 1972, and additionally Secretary for Home Affairs the following year. During that time we launched two important community-wide campaigns ˇV the Clean Hong Kong Campaign and the Fight Violent Crime Campaign. Sir Jack spearheaded these efforts with innovative and highly effective publicity drives, and by mobilising full-scale community efforts at the district level. Needless to say with Sir Jack in charge both campaigns were a resounding success.

In 1973 Sir Jack took up a daunting task of being the founding Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. His grit, determination and integrity during some of the most challenging times in government laid the foundations for the world-class anti-corruption agency that we have today. Today, the ICAC and its work is part of the fabric of our society. We pride ourselves on our level playing field ˇV a corruption free business environment and a corruption-free government. Those of us old enough to remember know full well that this was not the case in the 1960s and early 1970s, when corruption threatened to ruin our economy and law enforcement agencies. Sir Jackˇ¦s outstanding leadership helped us turn the tide. To many people in Hong Kong, Sir Jack was and remains the personification of anti-corruption.

Sir Jack once said: ˇ§ ˇK there can be no real victory in our fight against corruption unless there are changes of attitude throughout the communityˇ¨. Thanks to Sir Jackˇ¦s valiant efforts and dogged determination our community achieved a victory over corruption.

Sir Jack served as our top civil servant, the Chief Secretary, from 1978 to 1981. This was a time of rapid change in society. With influence from abroad, and an increasingly affluent population, there were demands for more, and for better, in almost all facets of life ˇV housing, welfare, healthcare, education, transport, and so on. With his wealth of experience in public administration and, as always, with the interests of Hong Kong people at heart, Sir Jack welded different government branches and departments into coherent and effective units with clear aims to rise above the various challenges, and to foster change and reform. During his tenure as Chief Secretary, Hong Kong witnessed the first influx of Vietnamese refugees in 1979, and coped with its aftermath. The ˇĄtouch baseˇ¦ policy for illegal immigrants from the Mainland was terminated in 1980. And in that same year Hong Kongˇ¦s first Mass Transit Railway line came into operation, and our 100th public housing estate ˇV On Ting in Tuen Mun ˇV was completed.

After his service as Chief Secretary, Sir Jack moved on to represent Hong Kongˇ¦s interests in the United Kingdom as the Commissioner of our London Office from 1981 to 1984. He lobbied the UK Government to accept more Vietnamese refugees from Hong Kong. He represented our interests in regard to the Hong Kong Act 1985, which paved the way for Hong Kongˇ¦s reunification in 1997. He never missed an opportunity, whether formal meetings or social gatherings, to promote and, where necessary, defend Hong Kongˇ¦s interests. He was a true Hong Konger.

Sir Jack formally retired from public service in 1984. He and Lady Cater chose to remain in Hong Kong and continued to serve the people of Hong Kong in other capacities. In addition to taking up positions in the private sector, Sir Jack remained actively involved in community work. He served on the Board of Governors of the Hong Kong Baptist College from 1990 to 1994, and on the Court of the Hong Kong Baptist University from 1995 to 1998. He was also a Director of the Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong from 1989 to 2000, and campaigned for the establishment of the College in Sha Tin.

Sir Jack was a man of unbending integrity, fairness, intellect, foresight and determination. He set high standards but was also generously accommodating. He was a modest man, very approachable and possessed a keen sense of humour. Those who had the privilege of serving with him speak fondly of him to this day. Let me quote one anecdote recounted by a colleague: ˇV

ˇ§On first acquaintance, to us junior officers, Sir Jack appeared as a relaxed and approachable man. He was easy-going and considerate. But you had only to see him on the squash court, however, to realize that Dr Jekyll had his Mr Hyde ˇV he was an absolute demon, chasing down every ball, swiping at it - and you - if you happened to be too slow to get out of the way. Utterly relentless.ˇ¨

Sir Jack was an unassuming man, who enjoyed walking along the streets and mingling with the people. He was often recognised on these walkabouts and had no hesitation to stop and chat with a stranger. Indeed, he was a man of the people. Whatever he did, he did it for the people of Hong Kong, never losing sight of their needs and aspirations. He will always be remembered for this.

With similar humble beginnings, I have tried to follow his moral paths.  Most of all, I often recall his perseverance and humanity whenever adversity and trial come my way.  I admire him greatly, and I remember him fondly.

It has been said that behind every successful man, there is a good woman. I know Sir Jack would wholeheartedly agree. Lady Caterˇ¦s steadfast support was a crucial and integral element of his success, and the contributions that both he and Lady Cater made to our community. Peggy, Sue, Jacqueline and Richard, no words from me, nor from any other mere mortal can fill the void that Jackˇ¦s passing has left in your hearts. Though your sorrow may persist, I hope that you can take some comfort from the love and respect - the eternal gratitude - that generations of Hong Kong people will always have for Sir Jack Cater. His legacy lives on. And it will long be treasured and remembered. May he rest in peace.

Ends/Saturday, October 21, 2006
Issued at HKT 12:24