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Speech by CS at "Hong Kong's Evolving Harbour" exhibition and travel fair (English only) (with photos)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the opening ceremony of the "Hong Kong's Evolving Harbour" exhibition and a travel fair in Malaysia today (June 4):

Distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

     It is a great pleasure for me to be here in Malaysia, my first official visit to this country. Thank you all for coming to this exhibition on "Hong Kong's Evolving Harbour". Welcome aboard!

     The design of this exhibition space is inspired by that of our new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal which opened last year. The maritime concept is very appropriate for Hong Kong, a city with deep historic connections to the sea through its vibrant working harbour.

     From the first trading ships that anchored in Hong Kong hundreds of years ago to the tens of millions of modern-day tourists we welcome to our city every year, Victoria Harbour is part and parcel of the Hong Kong experience and way of life, past, present and future.

     Even people who have never been to Hong Kong are often familiar with the iconic cityscape which has grown up on both sides of the harbour and provides a popular backdrop for amateur photographers and professional filmmakers alike.

     Just about everyone you meet in Hong Kong has their own story to tell about their experience of Victoria Harbour. Allow me to tell you my story, albeit a rather abbreviated version due to time constraints.

     I grew up in a tenement building literally by the harbourfront. From the front window of our unit, the views across Victoria Harbour were mesmerising. In the 1960s and 1970s, I was fascinated by the seemingly superhuman reclamation work along the waterfront. Results of this reclamation have since produced some of the world's most expensive real estate upon which sit modern office blocks, shopping centres, transport, civic and leisure facilities as well as the Government's new headquarters at Tamar.

     Since joining the civil service, I have, in various capacities, been involved in government policies and initiatives related to Victoria Harbour, from dealing with harbour activists in litigations to engaging the public on harbourfront enhancement, following a government commitment that no more reclamation will be carried out in Victoria Harbour upon completion of the final one now under way to put in place a major trunk road. This same topic brings us together today.

     Of course, you don't have to be a Hong Kong official to notice the new aspirations for the development of Victoria Harbour. Naturally, Victoria Harbour still has great commercial value as our city's most important natural resource. However, the question we are asking ourselves today is less about how much the harbour is worth in dollar terms, and more about how valuable Victoria Harbour is to our quality of life.

     With this in mind, and taking a cue from cities such as Singapore, Sydney, Auckland and Vancouver, we are designing Victoria Harbour as a unique and precious resource where people can relax and enjoy themselves right in the heart of the city.

     On Hong Kong Island, we are designing a New Central Harbourfront, which you can see from here, with a promenade stretching more than 5 kilometres from the Central Ferry Pier to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. Along the promenade, there is a maritime museum, a ferris wheel later this year and plenty of open space for people to walk, take in the great views of the harbour and enjoy various cultural and entertainment events. It will include Tamar Park next to the Central Government Offices, as well as an Arts and Cultural Precinct and a series of green corridors which will eventually link up to give people a memorable harbour experience.

     The historic Star Ferry continues to carry passengers to and fro across the water from piers in Central and Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island to Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, where more unique harbourfront experiences await.

     On the other side of the harbour, we are building a world-class arts and cultural quarter called the West Kowloon Cultural District, or WKCD. An area of 40 hectares of prime harbourfront land has been set aside for the WKCD which will include various performing arts venues, a modern M+ museum, a "City Park" and much more. The facilities will be completed in phases starting from 2015.

     No doubt, many of us have fond memories of Hong Kong's old Kai Tak Airport and the unforgettable experience of planes flying low over the tops of buildings and descending onto a narrow landing strip jutting out into Victoria Harbour. In 1998, a much larger Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok replaced Kai Tak, which has recently taken on a new role as a terminal for cruise ships. The first berth of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal opened a year ago and the second berth is due to open by the end of this year. The Kai Tak Cruise Terminal is a key part of our tourism infrastructure and will help us develop Hong Kong as a first-choice destination for cruises in Asia.

     The Kai Tak Cruise Terminal is part of the Kai Tak Development, which, together with the adjoining districts of Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay, will be transformed into another premier central business district of Hong Kong under what we call the Energizing Kowloon East initiative. Kowloon East will have a full range of offices and residential buildings as well as leisure, cultural, civic and transport facilities for a high-quality living and working environment. In fact, we are also planning a monorail to connect different parts of Kowloon East. That is why this morning I was taken to look at the monorail in Kuala Lumpur and I was quite impressed.

     Ladies and gentlemen, I have mentioned a few of the exciting developments for Hong Kong's evolving Victoria Harbour, and many others are covered in this exhibition. Please take time to look around. Through the displays you can learn more about our vision for Victoria Harbour and how we are working to maximise the potential of the harbour, not just from a commercial perspective, but more importantly, from a human perspective.

     I hope that the exhibition will inspire you to come and visit us in Hong Kong soon. You can come by plane or even join a cruise to our Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. Whether you come to Hong Kong for business or on holiday I am sure that Victoria Harbour will give you a personal and unique experience of a lifetime.

     So, enjoy yourselves. Have a wonderful evening. Thank you very much.

Ends/Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:57


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