3 July 2009 (Friday)
Annual Speech Day of
Daughters of Mary Help of Christians Siu Ming Catholic Secondary School
Speech by Mr Michael M Y Suen, GBS, JP
Secretary for Education
Rev Sister Tso (Supervisor), Mrs Siu (Fung Kwan – founding sponsor), Mr Tso (Kai Lok, MH – honourable guest), Rev. Sister Liu (Provincial of DMHC), Mrs Chan (Principal), Distinguished Guests, Parents, Teachers, and Students,
It gives me great pleasure to share this joyous moment with you all.
First and foremost, congratulations to all the graduates. You have completed your secondary school education, a key stage in your life. You have grown up to become young ladies who will soon be entering into adulthood. I have no doubt that the knowledge, skills and values you learned in Siu Ming have laid a firm foundation to help you face the future.
Today is the ideal occasion for you to say thank you to your parents, family members and teachers who have supported you and given you wise counsel over the years. Your achievements owe much to their tender love and care.
I don’t think I need to convince you that education is much more than imparting knowledge for the purpose of earning a livelihood. Of course, we stress the importance of teaching our younger generation knowledge and skills, we also place an equal emphasis on values and attitudes so as to equip them to live a meaningful life and to face the challenges that come with it.
It is very evident that advances in technology have caused unprecedented changes to the ways in which we study and work. The society is getting more and more complex and one finds oneself being faced with ever-changing issues everyday. One may come across ideas which appear to be contradictory to each other and may also come under unfair or even unsubstantiated criticisms occasionally, making it difficult to conceive whether there is a set of universal standards for morality and righteousness. These are indeed real life issues which you have to face from time to time. But do not lose heart, you can deal with all these challenges if you only incubate proper values and develop the right attitude in your mind frame.
I am going to tell you some important virtues that you and I and indeed everyone should treasure, whether we are at school or at work or even leading our daily life. These are Integrity; Empathy; Care and Love.
First of all, let me share with you the example set by two great persons who testified to these virtues and made the world a better place.
The first one relates to Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States of America . President Lincoln was known by the nickname “Honest Abe”, mainly because he was a man of integrity. He stood up for his beliefs in human equality. He fought for the abolition of slavery, at the expense of a civil war by the Southern states that supported slavery. President Lincoln insisted on what was right and enacted his famous Emancipation Proclamation, ending slavery and bringing equality to all. His refusal to surrender to power and authority, reflected his determination to follow the principles and values which he believed to be righteous and true.
And then, there is Mother Theresa. Mother Theresa was full of compassion, with a wealth of love and empathy. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for the magnificent work she had done serving the poorest of the poor in India with charity, unselfishness, love, empathy and humanity. Mother Theresa won not just the Nobel Prize but also won over the whole world with her sense of mercy and humanity. Her life reflects the truth that the most powerful tool to change the world does not lie in power or money, but in Love and Care.
I have been working in the Government for more than forty years. I have dealt with many issues which involved the interests of many different stakeholders in the community. Very often, we are dealing with conflicting interests, the resolution of which is made difficult because there is no clear indication or consensus as to there being a majority view. There is no right or wrong answer, and it is a matter of striking a delicate balance amongst the different views and opinions in the best public interest of the community as a whole.
In this connection, President Lincoln once said and I quote : “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm”. It underlines the importance of integrity in the decision making process because it guarantees that the best public interest of the community is being upheld. So, do not let yourself down or lose your determination during tough times. There may be lots of temptations around you and sometimes you may get lost as to what your right paths should be. Always uphold your quality of honesty and stay firm, and then you will not stray away from truth.
Apart from the above, I truly believe the importance of showing empathy in listening to and understanding the views reflected to me. By putting myself in another’s shoes, I could appreciate others’ feelings and situations. Even though I may not be able to accede to all the requests put forward to me, the showing of empathy has helped me in explaining my decisions and promoting a better understanding amongst the doubters and dissenters. This way, you gain more friends then make enemies.
I am happy to note that Siu Ming has put much effort to enhance students’ social awareness and civil responsibilities. A wide range of current local and international issues are selected as learning materials to draw students’ concerns for others and help them develop positive values and a sense of civic responsibility. Students are offered abundant opportunities to learn inside and beyond the school, like organizing talks and discussion forums with leaders and volunteer workers.
The lively learning experiences you gained from your School have not only widened your scope and broadened your horizons, but also prepared you to act as empathic and caring citizens. Poverty, economic setbacks, disputes, drug and sex problems, wars and disease make headlines everyday. You should all do something about that. You should start by applying what you have learnt to the real life situations. Caring for the needy is a life long commitment for all walks of life, irrespective of the different economic conditions of various societies. With an empathic and compassionate heart, you can make the world a better place.
Over the years, Siu Ming has been nurturing public-spirited citizens and leaders of Hong Kong . I was told that students here address themselves “SIUMINGIANS”（蕭明人）. In a clever way, it makes an acronym, giving yourselves a sense of identity, emphasizing your own unique quality and values, which are Sympathetic, Integrated, Understanding, Motivated, Industrious, Noble, Grateful, Innovative, Audacious, Natural and Share.
The success of education does not lie in chalk and talk. It depends on the role models around our students to be emulated. So let me take the opportunity to show my heartfelt thanks to the members of the School Management Committee, Principal, teachers and staff for their unfailing efforts in nurturing a new generation of young fair ladies with a positive attitude of life, and a strong sense of commitment and responsibility to Hong Kong , our country and the world. May I also extend my gratitude to all the award winners today.
I wish the graduates every success in your further pursuits; happiness and good health to everyone here today. Thank you.