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SCMA speaks at 44th Speech Day of Bishop Hall Jubilee School

     Following is the speech delivered by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at the 44th Speech Day of the Bishop Hall Jubilee School on December 1, 2007 (English only):

Bishop (Louis) Tsui, Members of the Council, Dr (KC) Wong, principal (Mr Peter Kwok), parents, teachers and fellow students,

     Isn’t it wonderful to be at the Speech Day?

     Let us give a further round of applause to the graduates, the parents and the teachers.

     I love coming to graduation ceremonies, and I love seeing young, youthful, hopeful faces. It brings back pleasant memories -- my own school days -- when I really enjoyed life and had very few worries. But as you grow older, you learn to live with worries. I should say it is a distinct pleasure for me to be able to join you on the 44th Speech Day of Bishop Hall Jubilee School.

     I actually have an indirect association with your school about 34 years ago. Back in 1973, when I was, like you, a Form Six student in Wah Yan Hong Kong, I was elected President of the Student Council. In that year, Wah Yan Hong Kong was invited to be one of the schools to organise the Sixth Hong Kong Secondary Schools Students Seminar. When we met with the Organising Committee for the Fifth Seminar, I discovered that among our predecessors -- the Organising Committee of the 1972 event, Bishop Hall Jubilee School was one of the three Organising Committee schools.

     In time, I came to know one of your remarkable students, Dr Glenn Lee, who graduated with flying colours for his A-Levels and was admitted by the University of Hong Kong to read Medicine. Dr Glenn Lee is now my family doctor. So Bishop Tsui, I should thank the Jubilee School for looking after me and my family in these three decades. Thank you very much.

Academic Pursuits & Extra-Curriculars

     I am very pleased to see that since the 1960s, over the last few decades, the Jubilee School has maintained the finest traditions of emphasising both academic pursuits and extracurricular activities. It is very encouraging to see that well over 80 per cent of your A-Level students have been admitted to universities in Hong Kong, and that four have been admitted through the “Early Admission Scheme”. These are results which teachers, parents and students have every right to be proud of.

     As for extracurricular activities, yesterday I perused this list of awards which you got in 2006/07. This is a remarkable list! And I am very pleased to see that the Jubilee School excels in badminton, swimming, track and field events, among other things. These were the events in which I had the honour of representing my school during my secondary school days.

    It is very important, I believe, for students to be exposed not just to academic pursuits, but to be given the opportunity to organise extracurricular activities. For it is through these efforts that our young people get to be accustomed to have to set objectives, to organise resources, to work with other people, and to deliver results. These are gifts and qualities which will guide you for many decades to come. During my days as a student representative, we had to organised things for the Student Council; we had to work with other students; and I would say that I have benefitted to this very day. This is the same approach we use in Government, to set policies and to make important decisions for the community as a whole.

    Thus, Bishop Tsui, Council Members, principal and teachers, I would like to congratulate you on maintaining the finest traditions of Bishop Hall Jubilee School and producing such a wonderful crop of young people for Hong Kong.

Competition, Globalisation & Careers

     Schools are here to prepare young people for the future. Back in the 1970s, competition for gaining admission to universities was very tight, very keen in Hong Kong. About one out of six or seven A-Level students would be admitted. Today, about 60 per cent of our young people in the relevant age group can either do university degrees or college diplomas. So, practically for anyone who wishes to pursue tertiary education, there would be an avenue open; and therefore, in that sense, your generation is more fortunate. But I should also say that you face a tougher and more competitive world than the one we faced in the 1970s and the 1980s.

     You see, when we graduated in the 1970s, the Hong Kong economy was taking off. There were ample employment opportunities and further room for growth. Now you face an era of globalisation. As and when you graduate, you will face competition from graduates of a similar vintage and background, from North America, from Europe, from the rest of Asia, from Australasia, and from Mainland China. You have to get yourselves geared up and well-prepared.

     On the part of the Government, we are taking initiatives; we are preparing Hong Kong’s future for your generation. For example, in the last few years, we have entered into a free trade agreement with Beijing. We call that the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. Through that agreement, products manufactured in Hong Kong can enter the Mainland Chinese market duty-free. Professionals from Hong Kong and service providers can operate in Mainland China subject to certain conditions. The third-term HKSAR Government are pursuing 10 major infrastructural projects. We want to build the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. We want to establish a fast speed rail link between Guangzhou and Hong Kong. We also want to promote Hong Kong as a global financial centre. In 2006, the Hong Kong Exchange, our stock market, raised over $300 billion in new capital for newly listed companies. This was second to London in the world and ahead of the New York Stock Exchange. This is the sort of major international metropolis which we in the Government want to build for Hong Kong, so that you will have a brighter future.

     But on your part, after leaving Jubilee School, you have a mission. You have to get yourselves well-qualified academically and professionally. This means that you have to understand your own strengths and weaknesses thoroughly. You have to set very clear personal goals, and you have to continue to make an effort to get yourselves well-equipped for the future. If you have the opportunity, beyond college diplomas and bachelor degrees, try to get yourself qualified at the master degree level or professionally. In an era of internationalisation and globalisation, it is very necessary to get yourselves well-qualified, well-equipped.

Civic Responsibility & Political Careers

     Coming back to my own policy portfolio, as the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, I oversee policies for elections in Hong Kong and Hong Kong’s constitutional future. So just in case some among our younger generation here are interested in pursuing a political career, I have some interesting news for you!

     During the election for the Chief Executive in March this year, Mr Donald Tsang promised the people of Hong Kong that in our new five-year term from 2007 to 2012, we wish to make best endeavours to secure consensus on the way forward for implementing universal suffrage for Hong Kong. That means electing the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council by universal suffrage. We have just completed, in mid-October, a three-month public consultation on our Green Paper on Constitutional Development. We are now consolidating the views received and we will issue a report fairly soon.

     Also in mid-October, I announced in the Legislative Council a set of plans for the Hong Kong Government to create two additional tiers of political appointment positions. Henceforth, in support of the Secretaries of the Government, we will have a tier of Under Secretaries and another tier of Political Assistants. These positions will be open to people from outside the Government who are not civil servants and who wish to join the Government to serve the people of Hong Kong. So one day universal suffrage will be implemented in Hong Kong; and fairly soon, I hope from next April onwards, we will have several dozens new and youngish political figures joining the Government. One day, Bishop Tsui, I hope some of these young politicians will come from Jubilee School.

     I wish to mention this just in case some of you have this interest. To those of you who do not have such a personal interest, please keep your minds open, just in case some of your former schoolmates wish to pursue a political career and wish you to lend him or her your support.

Chariots of Fire

     Aside from the affairs of this world -- pursuing a professional career or entering the politics of Hong Kong, there is one more important theme which I wish to share with you.

     I noticed that your school hymn is about “Jerusalem”. This reminds me of a film which I saw in the 1980s -- “Chariots of Fire”. This film is about a true story of two people -- two very different people. Someone called Harold Abrahams, a Jew from a rich financier family who studied in Cambridge and who ran 100 metres for the United Kingdom. The second person was called Eric Liddell, a missionary in China who returned to Scotland to read theology.

     In 1924, both of them represented Britain in the Olympics. Both were slated to run in the 100 metres finals. But Eric Liddell refused to do the finals event on a Sunday. He wanted to respect the Sabbath day. Even when the Prince of Wales came to talk to him, he refused to compromise.

     Eventually, through an interesting turn of events, Liddell was arranged to represent the United Kingdom in the 400 metres finals. Both Liddell and Abrahams won the gold medal, respectively for 400 metres and 100 metres. But after winning the gold medal, Harold Abrahams was in despair. He felt rather depressed, because his mission in life had already been accomplished and he had not much else to look forward to.

     But Eric Liddell was elated. He was jubilant, because he said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure in me. To win is to honour Him.” So Liddell set his sights not just on the achievements of this world, but on serving his eternal God.

     Liddell went on to resume his career as a missionary in China. He established the work of the church in our country, and he died in China.

     Your school hymn “Jerusalem” was featured in the story -- “Chariots of Fire”.

     I want to tell you this story because all of you have had the wonderful opportunity of receiving a Christian education at Jubilee School. Soon you will embark on your journey in life. Some of you are already Christians. Some of you have not yet acquired the faith. But whatever your personal situation is now, my hope is that as you journey through life, as you pursue your career, build your family, raise your children, there will be some moments when you might face personal crisis. If that moment should ever descend upon you, come back to what you have been taught by the teachers and chaplains in Jubilee School. Remember what the Bible offers you by way of guidance. His word is our light in the path of life.

     In many ways, Speech Day is about celebrations of achievements. But I wish to end this address by sharing one Bible verse with you.

     St Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have already made it; but forgetting what lies behind, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.” (聖保羅這樣說:「弟兄們,我不是以為自己已經得着了。我就是忘記背後努力面前,看着標竿直跑。」)

     I congratulate all graduates, teachers and parents for the achievements made over the years in raising this young generation for the community of Hong Kong. Continue to press towards the higher goal of serving the people of Hong Kong, and one fine day, your Lord in Heaven.

     Thank you very much.

ENDS/Saturday, December 1, 2007