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The Enduring Cosmos

 

I shall soldier on ...

 

Sandy Chan
Chief Executive Officer

On 26 December 2004 an earthquake-triggered tsunami took countless lives in South Asia, and the whole world mourned. The government of the HKSAR immediately dispatched a hundred-strong team of civil servants to search for missing Hong Kong residents in the afflicted regions. In addition, with the help of tour leaders and guides familiar with the devastated areas, volunteers from many non-governmental organizations also set out to provide assistance.

At the same time, the Central People's Government sent its medical and rescue teams and tons of relief supplies to support the rescue and reconstruction tasks.

Like many other Hong Kong citizens, I was deeply saddened by what I saw on the television. It was the disaster of the century, and its catastrophic impact may only be alleviated when people join hands in cooperation and help each other.

Both Mr Zhu Rongji and Mr Wen Jiabao quoted Lin Xezu's famous lines when they were in office as Premier: "I will do whatever it takes to serve my country, even at the cost of my own life. I have no regard for fortune otherwise and shall soldier on." Note 1 They must have anticipated the immense difficulty of their tasks ahead. Nevertheless, they confronted the challenge without reservation and the impassioned words they quoted rightly illustrated this spirit. I believe that this spirit is a manifestation of true human nature and, in fact, is common in all people. Challenge only serves to motivate citizens to work harder.

Although the tsunami took place in South Asia, the impact can be felt in Hong Kong because it was our neighbours who were devastated. Many people headed to the afflicted regions to take part in the relief and reconstruction effort regardless of the potential danger and hardship even the threat of epidemic and further tsunamis. Most are only ordinary people, but their acts of selfless contribution are just as heroic as those of national leaders.

Life is never predictable, but love is always alive in the world as can be seen in the enthusiastic response to the fund raising campaigns. I know that many local agencies had held fund-raising campaigns for the tsunami victims. I have also witnessed practitioners donating generously. We greeted each other warmly, treasuring the good fortune we had. In fact, whether we are leaders in charge of the relief effort, rescue workers, or artists performing for charitable purposes, as long as we perform our duty, we make a major contribution to the relief effort. Just as in our lives, even the commonest tasks and lowest positions can become extraordinary and dignified, and the tiniest action can demonstrate significance and influence in a world beset with problems.

In his recent government work report to the National People's Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao pledged more support for the needy, the farmers and the poor children in poverty-stricken rural areas. His speech has reminded me of Professor Xu Jialu, Vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Professor Xu has been promoting the development of the west and an active supporter of poverty alleviation as well as a major advocate of formal education for young people in destitute areas. During his meeting with the EAA and industrial representatives when he visited Hong Kong at the end of 2004, he reminded us that Hong Kong should take advantage of its professional expertise and keep in pace with China's economic development. More importantly, we in Hong Kong should treasure our heritage, understand our history, and develop greater care and concern for our fellow people.

Let us hope we may find our places between Heaven and Earth, and lead lives that are appropriate to our callings.

Note 1: The lines: "I will do whatever it takes to serve my country, even at the cost of my own life. I have no regard for fortune or otherwise and shall soldier on." were cited by Lin Zexu, a senior court official in the Qing dynasty, when he was banished to Xinjiang after banning the opium trade.

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