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Speech by SLW at 100th Birthday Party of Mr Anthony Lawrence (English only) (with photos)

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the 100th Birthday Party of Mr Anthony Lawrence organised by the International Social Service Hong Kong Branch (ISSHK) today (August 13):

Tony (Mr Anthony Lawrence), C P (ISSHK Chairman Mr C P Ho), Stephen (ISSHK Chief Executive Mr Stephen Yau), Mr Wong (President of the Foreign Correspondents' Club, Hong Kong, Mr Douglas Wong), Consul-General (British Consul-General to Hong Kong and Macao Mr Andrew Seaton), Mr Williams (World News Editor, British Broadcasting Corporation, Mr Jon Williams), Martin (former Legislative Councillor Mr Martin Lee), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to join you all this evening to celebrate Mr Anthony Lawrence's 100th birthday. Tony has lived through a century of changes and witnessed many important developments in Hong Kong. With a wealth of lifetime experience, he has contributed greatly to our society not only on the journalistic front but also in the community service sphere.

     Since his retirement in 1973 from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as its Far East correspondent, Tony has been serving the International Social Service Hong Kong Branch as a volunteer for almost 40 years. He was Chairman of the ISSHK Advisory Committee from 1988 to 2003, and has continued to serve as a volunteer member. Under his leadership, ISSHK has introduced various pioneer services such as inter-country adoption service, cross-boundary casework service, support services for new arrivals, as well as services for elderly participants of the Portable Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme. With his total commitment and wholehearted support, ISSHK has gone through successful re-engineering and expansion. It is serving some 190 000 beneficiaries through its multifarious services in Hong Kong, on the Mainland and beyond.

     Tony has been playing a particularly significant role in advocating quality services for new arrivals of different nationalities. With his input, ISSHK has contributed greatly to the provision of essential support for asylum seekers and torture claimants in Hong Kong, including championing schooling for tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugee children during the 1980s and providing humanitarian assistance for some 5 000 needy asylum seekers and torture claimants each year.

     As we all know, Tony is also a highly respected veteran journalist and has been a leading light of the foreign correspondent corps in Hong Kong for decades. He came to Hong Kong in 1958 as the BBC's Far East correspondent. He was a founding member and former president of the Foreign Correspondents' Club, Hong Kong (FCC), and remains an active member. His work as a journalist and involvement with the FCC has contributed to Hong Kong's development as a media hub in Asia and as a bastion of the free flow of news and information.  

     I first came to know Tony in the early 1970s when I started my civil service career as a Government Information Officer. I often tuned in to BBC radio news for his incisive reports and insightful analyses. In fact, I was heavily involved then in briefing and showing foreign journalists how the Hong Kong Government tackled the influx of Vietnamese refugees.

     Having worked with ISSHK well beyond the normal retirement age, Tony also serves as a role model of active ageing, showing by example how the elderly can lead an active and meaningful life after retirement. It is most fitting therefore that, in recognition of his long and meritorious public service, Tony has been awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star (in short, BBS) by the Hong Kong SAR Government this year.

     Tonight's gathering is therefore a doubly auspicious and happy occasion. It celebrates not only Tony's 100th birthday, but also the richly deserved award of BBS to an outstanding foreign correspondent, an iconic volunteer and a bona fide Hong Kong belonger.

     May I wish Tony good health and every happiness.

     Thank you.

Ends/Monday, August 13, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:56


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