Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung
It gives me great pleasure to join you all here at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Day.
I must declare upfront that I have been enjoying a happy and long association with the Hong Kong Jockey Club since 1996, when I was the Deputy Secretary for Education & Manpower. In the ensuing 20 years, my affection for the Jockey Club increasingly deepened as I moved on in my public service career to become Commissioner for Labour, Director of Education, Permanent Secretary for Economic Development & Labour and then Secretary for Labour & Welfare, before landing in my current position as Chief Secretary.
I am a bona fide admirer and a true fan of the Jockey Club not because I am fond of horse racing. In fact, I know little about horse racing and rarely go to the races. I am not even a member of the Jockey Club. I think highly of the Jockey Club simply because it is unambiguously committed to improving the well-being of the grassroots, the underprivileged, the disabled and the vulnerable. It is also serious about promoting education, welfare, health services, sports, arts, culture and heritage preservation. Its sense of mission in making Hong Kong a better place to live is felt across the length and breadth of this vibrant cosmopolitan and densely populated city.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club is therefore a shining example and a uniquely successful fusion, combining its role as a world leader in horse racing and a premiere charity and community benefactor. It is the only non-profit-making racing body committed not only to promoting horse racing per se, but also more importantly to building a truly caring, compassionate and cohesive Hong Kong.
The Jockey Club’s unwavering commitment to promoting the well-being of the community is widely known. Its long tradition of donating to charitable causes can be traced back to more than a century ago. Over the past decade, the Jockey Club has donated through its Charity Trust an average of over $2.1 billion a year to the community, supporting a wide range of projects for some 140 charitable groups and organisations. Arts and Culture, the theme of this year’s Community Day, is one of the 10 principal areas of civic and social needs served by the Charity Trust.
The Government’s vision is to develop Hong Kong into an international cultural metropolis with a distinct identity grounded in Chinese traditions and enriched by different cultures. We support the freedom of artistic expression and creation and efforts to foster the vibrancy and diversity of our arts and culture. We not only offer opportunities to promote public participation in arts and cultural activities, but also devote resources to help those with potential to realise their artistic talents. To create an environment conducive to the diversified and balanced development of arts and culture, government effort alone is never enough. We need the support of different sectors of the community. To this end, the Jockey Club has been a key and long-term partner of the Government in this respect.
The Jockey Club is a staunch supporter of Hong Kong’s arts and cultural development. As either an organiser or a sponsor, it spares no effort in funding and promoting a wide array of arts and cultural events. For example, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Le French May Arts Festival, and many major exhibitions. Most recently, it has pledged a hefty $3.5 billion to finance the capital cost of the proposed Hong Kong Palace Museum. As the current Chairman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, allow me to pay warmest tribute to Hong Kong Jockey Club for its generosity and unstinting support.
Nurturing artistic talent
Nurturing talent is the key to sustaining arts and cultural development. In this regard, the Jockey Club has provided funding support for numerous arts education and outreach programmes so as to bring arts to the whole community. One good example is the construction of the Wan Chai campus of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, which has become a leading tertiary institution in performing arts in Asia. Another example is the setting up of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Music and Dance Fund to offer talented young musicians and dancers opportunities to pursue further studies in Hong Kong and overseas.
Widely celebrated as Asia’s world city, Hong Kong is a place where the East meets the West, and Chinese traditions blend with modern international trends. As our community becomes increasingly aware of the importance of heritage conservation, we are most happy to see the Jockey Club’s active involvement in many of our heritage preservation projects, such as the revitalisation of the Central Police Station Compound – a cluster of declared monuments comprising the old Central Police Station, Victoria Prison and the Central Magistracy. In partnership with the Jockey Club, the Government has transformed the Compound into “Tai Kwun”, a vibrant centre for heritage, contemporary art and leisure facilities easily accessible to the public. The revitalisation and restoration work is in progress, and I very much look forward to the opening of this heritage crown jewel of Hong Kong.
Apart from “Tai Kwun”, the Jockey Club also provides much needed support for various projects under our Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme, such as the Jockey Club Mei Ho House Hong Kong Spirit Learning Programme and the Jockey Club Blue House Studio Cultural Heritage Education Programme. The conversion of the Sheung Wan Bridges Street Market into the Hong Kong News-Expo carried out by the Journalism Education Foundation Hong Kong is also one of the revitalisation projects sponsored by the Jockey Club.
To promote our heritage and culture, the Jockey Club has offered direct sponsorship to local communities and organisations to organise events celebrating the intangible cultural heritage, such as the Cheung Chau Jiao Festival and the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance. The Jockey Club’s support is of utmost importance in ensuring that Hong Kong’s cultural heritage can be properly preserved and passed on to future generations.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the Motherland and the establishment of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. A host of cultural and artistic activities have been and will be staged throughout the year, not only in Hong Kong but also in over 60 cities both on the Mainland and overseas. Our aim is to showcase Hong Kong’s creativity, artistic qualities and cultural heritage. In short, we wish to put over Hong Kong’s soft power.
Looking ahead, we will continue to solicit support from various sectors of the community with a view to further enhancing arts development and heritage preservation. We also look forward to future co-operation and partnership with the Jockey Club to foster the vibrancy of the local arts ecology and promote Hong Kong as a cultural hub of the region. Lastly, may I wish this year’s Community Day great success and every one of you a pleasant, rewarding, and prosperous afternoon. Thank you.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Day on April 23.