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Preserving heritage amid change

August 02, 2017

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

This exhibition not only conveys the photographer’s keen creative eye and interest in his subject, it also captures a time when Hong Kong was entering a period of huge post-war transformation. Back in the 1950s, Hong Kong had a population of just over two million; the city was gaining a reputation as a manufacturing hub, and Cantonese opera was a popular source of family entertainment.


Fast-forward to the present day: Hong Kong is home to more than seven million people, over 90% of our GDP is derived from services and we are fully plugged in to the digital era. This year, we are also celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s reunification with China, the most significant transition in our city’s history.


Guided by the enduring principle of “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong has emerged as a global business and financial hub. We stand tall – alongside Singapore – as a leading international city in Asia.


Looking ahead, Hong Kong is poised for a new growth spurt. Massive cross-boundary infrastructure projects – including a huge bridge linking Hong Kong with the western part of Guangdong and an Express Rail Link that will connect Hong Kong with Mainland China’s high-speed rail network – will be completed within the next two years, creating new opportunities for progress. We are also devoting more space and resources for commercial, residential, sports and cultural development.


While embracing change, we also preserve our unique cultural heritage. Among other initiatives, a brand new Xiqu Centre for Chinese opera will open next year. The Xiqu Centre will be a key component of our large-scale West Kowloon Cultural District, which is opening in phases to promote various forms of arts and culture.


Events such as this exhibition also serve to nurture and preserve our collective memories. Born in Singapore and finding his creative calling in Hong Kong, Mr Lee, through his life and artwork, echoes the strong bonds between the people of Singapore and Hong Kong.


His photos from the 1950s Hong Kong convey the can-do spirit of people of all backgrounds who helped to build our city: the values of hard work, creativity and determination that we all share. I have had the privilege of meeting the late Mr Lee and reviewing the well-preserved negatives of his high-quality photos. His modesty and positive attitude have left a strong impression on me.


I am sure our friends in Singapore will enjoy this exhibition, and I hope that the images from a bygone era will inspire more people to visit Hong Kong to see first-hand the progress that our city is making.


Finally, I want to congratulate our Economic & Trade Office in Singapore and Mr Edward Stokes of the Photographic Heritage Foundation on staging this exhibition together. It is a fascinating and appropriate event on our programme of activities marking Hong Kong’s 20th anniversary.


I am confident that the close economic, creative and cultural bonds between Hong Kong and Singapore will help to foster even stronger friendship and collaboration between our two communities.


Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the opening reception of the photo exhibition "Lee Fook Chee - Son of Singapore, Photographer of Hong Kong" in Singapore on August 2.

West Kowloon Cultural District