The following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, at the 46th Speech Day of Bishop Hall Jubilee School today (November 7):
Reverend Tsui, principal Kwok, teachers, proud parents, and above all dear graduates,
The first thing I would like to say is thank you. Delivering a speech day address is a great responsibility and a great honour for me.On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I too have the fond memories of my own graduation in this very place of Bishop Hall Jubilee School.
I was admitted to BHJS in 1966 to study Form 1 in the English section. I graduated in 1971 and continued my six form education in BHJS in the following two years.All together, I have received seven years of continuous education at BHJS for which I will be forever grateful. I have learnt and benefited from every teacher who has taught me. The dedication, the love and professionalism they devote to all the students are simply immeasurable. I am thankful not only for the knowledge they have imparted us but ever more so the good personal examples they have set.
I was inspired by one teacher in particular who introduced me to the concept of situational ethics which demand decision making in a dilemma situation and in very trying circumstances. He cited a situation of a shipwreck and asked us to put ourselves as the captain of the ship and having to decide on who and what passengers to send onto the only lifeboat. It was a case of saving human lives and a test of human compassion against the lack of choice. I decided soon after that lesson to learn more about human nature and emotions. I did and got my Arts degree split between Psychology and English from the University of Hong Kong.
I joined the Government of Hong Kong in 1976 as an Administrative Officer and spent my whole career as a civil servant until last July when the Chief Executive appointed me to my present post of the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development.
Among my many responsibilities, policy and development of telecommunications services and the promotion of the wider use of the Internet also fall under my portfolio. No doubt you are all regular users of the Internet and social networking sites. Let me share with you a recent happening of mine which I hope is of interest to you.
A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting where we were talking about how the Government could make best use of tools like Facebook and Twitter.I confess I need to be educated about them. After about twenty minutes of the meeting, I realised how much I needed to learn and I exclaimed I need to go back to kindergarten to learn about this!
Of course this is not the first time in my career, I have felt the need to enhance my education. This is not a criticism of the education I received at BHJS. Quite the contrary – it is a sign of its success. Of course, many of the facts I learned at school have long been out of date. But the attitudes and skills I learned have served me well for many years. For me, the most precious things I learned at school were to be curious about the world, to seek out new knowledge, and to apply it for the benefit of the community.
I have been taught and learnt, for example that I should be attentive when people are talking to me and that I should always be patient; to listen and not just hear what others have to say even if I disagree with them. Also, I should always put myself in the shoes of others and try to appreciate others difficulties and be forgiving.
Coming back to the Internet, I certainly believe that the Internet is a fantastic tool for anyone who wishes to be an effective learner, not just at school but throughout our lives.
The Internet can bring instant gratification of our curiosity – especially now that we can access it from mobile phones. In the past, if we wanted to know all about something, we would need to wait for a convenient time to visit the library, or to find a knowledgeable person to ask. But often we would forget what it was we were curious about, and we would never find out. Nowadays, information is only a click away, and the rate at which we acquire knowledge can be immensely speeded up.
However, not all the information we find on the Internet is accurate. We need to assess critically whether information is credible or not. Being able to weigh up the evidence and form a reasoned judgment for oneself has always been an essential skill. In the age of the Internet, it has found new importance.
The Internet is not just about information, though. It is also about creating and enhancing communities. We are seeing communities of online learners helping one another; online communities of teachers working together to create new teaching materials; and in many schools, parents, teachers and students are all beginning to interact online.
I have heard the Internet likened to a city. It has wonderful libraries, art galleries and museums. It has places to shop and places to chat to friends. It has places for serious work and places for leisure. But like any city, it also has some more dangerous places. Like any city, we need to learn how to be safe and how to get the best out of the citys resources.
Without wanting to appear negative, let me give you some pointers about how to be safe on the Internet. First, remember that strangers you meet on the Internet are just as much strangers as those you meet in real life. But it can be easier for them to disguise their identity and be dishonest about who they really are. Some young people have got into serious trouble after arranging to meet strangers they first encountered on the Internet. Please never arrange a meeting with an Internet stranger and go to it on your own.Please always meet new friends in a public place, like a cafˆm. Dont go to a strangers home.
Second, remember that whatever you post on your Facebook account may be copied and cached, and may be hard to delete later. Some employers have taken to checking out potential recruits online. This may be an invasion of privacy, but it is also preventable by not posting material that you might later regret. Online social networks encourage us to live our lives in public, but please remember the importance of maintaining your privacy.
Third, remember that the people you interact with online are real people with real feelings. Because you cant see their reaction, it is all too easy to make someone seriously upset – or even to become a bit of a cyber-bully without meaning to. Equally, if someone upsets you online, remember that they may just have been careless with their words. And if you think they have done it deliberately, you can always unfriend them or direct their mail to your spam box.
Fourth, remember the possibility of Internet theft. One person I heard of always used the same username and password for every website. One day, a few hours after registering for a new site, he found his PayPal account had been hacked and money had been stolen.
I could go on. But dont let the dangers of the Internet city put you off from enjoying the good things. Your parents and teachers will often have less experience of the Internet than you do. But they have more experience of real cities. Good communication between the generations will enable younger people to teach adults about the Internet, and will enable adults to help young people work out how to use the Internet safely.
The school motto Non nascor mihi solum – I was not born to myself alone – was the ancient family motto of the Halls. I doubt that it was coined with the Internet in mind! But it is nevertheless a good reminder of some important aspects of the Internet.
It reminds us that we have a duty to do good to others, and that we are members of a community. The Internet helps us equip ourselves with the knowledge we need to serve others effectively. It also provides us with a means of doing good, using online communications to plan meaningful activities, or even to deliver online assistance to others.
As you go through your time at BHJS, please remember the school motto: not to be served but to serve. Please be inspired to use the Internet to support your lifelong learning. Please be inspired to help others, online and in the real world. Please help older generations go back to kindergarten to learn more about the Internet. And draw on their wisdom to help you work out how to be safe and productive online.
I wish you all happy surfing finding the knowledge you need and the fun to share!