12 December 2000

Thank you all for being here today. At the last Open University convocation, I was very moved by the determination and will power of the many students who were making use of their spare time to further their education. It was because of this that I initiated a donation of $44 million to build this learning centre. I am very pleased that this centre is now completed and ready for use, and I take this opportunity to convey my gratitude and congratulations to all those involved in this project.

The sounds and laughter of grandchildren have filled my home in recent years. To communicate with my grandchildren, every now and then I read fairy tales and fables. I never had this luxury when I was young as I was poor. Only now have I discovered that a child’s world can be such an inspiration. I remember having read a storybook entitled The Knight in Rusty Armour that’s full of philosophical thoughts. The protagonist is a kind, loving, and brave knight, who slew many dragons and rescued many damsels in distress. He was highly regarded by everyone, and even the King bestowed upon him a suit of shining armour. The years passed, and the knight grew accustomed to success. He did not notice that his shining armour was beginning to rust. Nor did he realize that even though the armour was a symbol of his success, it was the man inside the armour that created the success. One day, the knight was shocked to find that the armour had grown so rusty that he was unable to take it off. It had become a burden. The knight knew he was in serious trouble, but even though he was not the brightest of men, he had the courage to face up to the new challenges. He sought help everywhere, and looked for new ways, and acquired new knowledge. He drummed up the will power and the courage to overcome his fear. Finally, he was able to rid himself of his burden and discover his true self.

Hong Kong’s success over the years is the result of the hard work of many generations. Our achievements are recognized the world over. But the global competition we face in the areas of knowledge and the economy means we must enter a new cycle. The globalization of the economy has forced upon us competition from different countries and different regions. We compete with developed countries in education, trade, tariffs, and markets; we must also compete with the low cost labour provided by developing countries. In our fast-changing world, we are always competing with time. Our past successes may not have any relevance to our present situation. Abundance of capital or natural resources are no longer sufficient. To achieve a breakthrough we must also utilize advanced technology. The information revolution has been the focus in the past decade. The next decade may be dominated by the fields of biotechnology and nanotechnology. The only thing that will keep us in step with the times is our eagerness to learn. The will to learn drives forward social development, and knowledge is the light that leads the way. A society that values knowledge will naturally nurture top-class people. Our past successes have given us considerable advantages. We are not afraid of competing with others, but being able to adapt to a myriad of situations will be an important factor in keeping our armour shiny. Like the knight in the story, we must identify our difficulties wisely and objectively, and then muster the courage to face these challenges, and summon the will power and the determination to overcome all obstacles. We must encourage and support each other, and continuously acquire new knowledge in order to create a harmonious, healthy and valuable society and a new Hong Kong miracle.

As we prepare to ring in the New Year, I commend all of you who are continuing your studies even in the face of mounting pressures from work and life. Thank you.