Speech by Mr Rafael Si-Yan Hui, Officating Guest
 
Sir Run Run, Professor Yang, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here tonight to honour this year’s Shaw Laureates on behalf of the Chief Executive. The Chief Executive is now in Beijing attending a number of national functions. He has asked me to extend his apologies for not being able to attend this distinguished event, and deliver this speech on his behalf.

Though only into the second year of its existence, the Shaw Prize has become widely recognised as the “Nobel Prize of the East”. It exemplifies Hong Kong’s commitment to excellence. It also speaks for our international outlook. The Shaw Prize targets the global community of scholars, and tonight guests from the four corners of the world gather here to celebrate the outstanding achievements of the four Shaw Laureates this year.

I am truly thrilled to be in the company of the four distinguished scientists we are honouring on this occasion, Professor Marcy, Professor Mayor, Professor Berridge and Professor Wiles. In the footsteps of our forebears in the scientific arena, the four professors have extended the frontier of knowledge. They are each the pride of his specialised field. Collectively, their achievements are a source of inspiration and encouragement for aspiring scientists and mathematicians.

In only a few centuries, we have seen our world rapidly transformed by the accelerating pace of technological advancement and scientific breakthroughs. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of scientists, yesterday’s dreams have become reality today. How then can we nurture future scientists in our community?

Quality education is the starting point. Education means more than just passing on knowledge. It is a road to freedom, opportunity, personal growth and service to mankind. The Hong Kong community places great emphasis on education, and the Government has over the years invested heavily in it. We have implemented major reforms in our education system in recent years to improve quality. In addition, we have embarked on a fundamental review of our academic structure. Through these initiatives, we strive to ensure that children coming through our system will be effective learners at school, and will continue to be critical, inquisitive, reflective and independent thinkers after they have left school.

The Government is committed to developing a strong research culture in Hong Kong and to fostering collaborative research at the highest international level. This focus on scientific research has further provided a favourable environment for our fledgling scientists to develop and to flourish. Through financing research activities and upgrading the research capacity of our tertiary institutions, we are beginning to receive handsome dividends as our local researchers achieve outstanding results in their work. To quote a recent example, our universities and biomedical researchers were among the first in the world to track down the SARS virus in 2003. Both the World Health Organisation and the international community have hailed the contributions of Hong Kong’s researchers to the global fight against the epidemic.

As Hong Kong transforms into a knowledge economy based on innovation, we look towards continued strong support from our community for education and research. Sir Run Run Shaw is a forerunner in this regard. Thanks to his vision and generosity, the Shaw Prize has powerfully complemented the Government’s efforts in promoting science and research. I hope more of our community leaders will follow Sir Run Run’s fine example.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to heartily congratulate the four distinguished professors coming from a highly competitive selection process to be named Shaw Laureates this year. They exemplify the promise of education and its ability to help us discover the world of knowledge, to find opportunity, to gain personal growth, and to contribute to a better world.

Thank you very much.
 

2 September 2005, Hong Kong