Speech by FS at 2016 Harvard Book Prize and Scholarship Award Ceremony (English only)(with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the 2016 Harvard Book Prize and Scholarship Award Ceremony this evening (May 27):

Brother Steve, Calvin (Lee), Renee (Boey), distinguished guests, parents, teachers, students, ladies and gentlemen,

     A very good evening to you all.

     I must, first of all, tell you that I am both a proud Lasallian and a graduate of Harvard University. So it should not surprise you that I am delighted to take part today in this very special award ceremony organised by the Harvard Club of Hong Kong, at my alma mater in Kowloon.

     You may be interested to know that when I was a student here, quite a while ago in this august institution, I had classes in the solemn and hallowed halls of the original buildings that awed and humbled occupants that were there. I did not actually enjoy the modern facilities that you have now on of this amazing campus, but I am totally familiar with the new school that we are in, and I shall tell you why. Every Saturday for the past three decades that I had been back to Hong Kong, I have been coming here to train members of the La Salle College fencing team. So I really know this place well even though I did not attend classes here at all. In many ways, this institution has very special meanings to me. It has been a big part of my own personal development, and for that I remain grateful.

     Anyway, let me start by thanking the Club for organising this award scheme to recognise the academic and personal excellence of our secondary school students. The scheme - which has been running for a decade now - is worthy of our accolades because it encourages our young people to strive for excellence. A noble cause. I understand that last year, some 150 schools and 460 students participated in the scheme.

     Last year, the Scheme scaled up in a big way, with scholarships given to four top students to join summer school at Harvard for seven weeks. Members of the Harvard Club also designed an innovative mentorship programme, pairing scholarship finalists with Harvard alumni, and providing these final-year secondary school students with this support and advice. These are truly meaningful developments.

     I shall be handing out the Scholarship Awards to the four winners who will have the opportunity of going to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a taste of the life at Harvard. You have demonstrated your merit, and my heartfelt congratulations go to all of you. I am sure your experience at that great hall of learning in Cambridge will not only enrich your life, but also incentivise you to reach for even greater heights. It could turn out to be a game changer for you all.

     This year's book prize that has been mentioned earlier, is an excellent book on creativity by Dr Shelley Carson, entitled "Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity and Innovation in Your Life", and that explains in a step-by-step manner how everyone can work to enhance their creative potential.

     And that reminds me of Hong Kong somehow. Hong Kong is no stranger to creativity and innovation. Hong Kong people have a proven capability to adapt to changes and thrive on challenges. This city, our home, is itself an amazing testament to creativity unleashed. Imagination made concrete. And challenges overcome.

     Over the past few decades, Hong Kong has reinvented itself time and time again. Dramatically on occasions. We have come a long way from a sleepy fishing village, to a manufacturing centre, then to become a global financial centre, a glittering world city that never ceases to amaze and inspire.

     George Bernard Shaw could have been talking about Hong Kong when he said, "Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will."

     Ladies and gentlemen, I see in front of me eager young faces poised for the future. I cannot predict the future. But having been ageing for some decades, I can probably give a bit of advice on how we can welcome the future. So, let me close with a few takeaways.

     Be constant learners. Be self-directed. Never confine learning to classrooms. Make the world your classroom. And think global.

     When you come to school, pack your bag with your passion, your determination, your dreams. There is no limit to the heights your potential can reach. Don't be afraid to explore and to experiment. Don't be afraid to fail.

     Most importantly, don't forget to take time out to chill. Enjoy the journey, and smell the roses along the way.

     I am confident that you will all contribute in no time to make this city of ours, our society as well as the world a better place to live.

     Thank you and enjoy the evening.

Ends/Friday, May 27, 2016
Issued at HKT 20:48