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Civil Service Newsletter
July 2009 Issue No.75
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  Hong Kong’s Heavenly Connection
 
  Hong Kong Economy – freest and highly competitive
   
IN June 2008, the Civil Service received a piece of good news. A minor planet had been named after Lam Chiu-ying, the recently retired Ex-Director of the Hong Kong Observatory. The International Astronomical Union citation referred to Mr Lam’s now-former official position, as well as his efforts in promoting public awareness of climate change. This acknowledgement was not only a compliment to Mr Lam as an individual, but was also a recognition of his official duties and an honour for the Civil Service as well
Hong Kong’s Heavenly Connection
Leung Wing-mo,
Assistant Director of the Hong Kong Observatory
(Radiation Monitoring and Assessment),

Hong Kong Observatory
 
 
IN June 2008, the Civil Service received a piece of good news. A minor planet had been named after Lam Chiu-ying, the recently retired Ex-Director of the Hong Kong Observatory. The International Astronomical Union citation referred to Mr Lam’s now-former official position, as well as his efforts in promoting public awareness of climate change. This acknowledgement was not only a compliment to Mr Lam as an individual, but was also a recognition of his official duties and an honour for the Civil Service as well.
 
 
 

The minor planet named after Mr Lam was discovered in 2001 by the well known Hong Kong amateur astronomer, William Yeung Kwong-yu, at his observatory in Arizona, United States. The minor planet was given the number 64288, and named Lamchiuying in 2008. In July, it moves eastward against the background stars at about 6 degrees a month near the constellation Gemini. While its position does not change rapidly, it is not easily located because it is very dim. In astronomical jargon, its absolute magnitude is 16.3, or 10 million billion times dimmer than our Sun. Needless to say, it is impossible to observe it with the naked eye. Even with the aid of an astronomical telescope, an experienced stargazer would have difficulty spotting such a faint object. As such, the significance of Lamchiuying lies not in the physical object itself, but rather the spirit it represents, which is also the spirit of the Civil Service.

Over the past six to seven years, I had the opportunity of working closely with Mr Lam and got to know him well. He has a positive attitude to life and through his work, he realised his full potential and made a positive impact on colleagues working with him. When commenting on a memo, a proposal or a scientific paper submitted to him, he always made an effort to explain why he had suggested any changes, so that the colleague concerned understood his rationale. Despite the pressure experienced from working with such a demanding boss, colleagues always valued any opportunity to interact with him. As the head of a scientific department, Mr Lam excelled in overseeing vigorous scientific research, as well as organisational management. He was a living example of “working with joy and dedication” – one of the core values of the Hong Kong Observatory and also the Civil Service.

 

Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Commerce, Industry & Tourism), Yvonne Choi Ying-pik presenting a retirement souvenir to Mr Lam
Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Commerce, Industry & Tourism), Yvonne Choi Ying-pik presenting a retirement souvenir to Mr Lam.
   
Mr Joseph Liu pursues his lifelong passion – astronomical observation in the backyard of his home in California
Mr Joseph Liu pursues his lifelong passion – astronomical observation in the backyard of his home in California.

 

Coincidentally, my other former boss, Joseph Liu, the first Chief Administrator of the Hong Kong Space Museum, was also honoured in 1994 by two Japanese astronomers, Endate and Watanabe, who named another minor planet numbered 6743 “Liu”. One quality shared by both Mr Liu and Mr Lam was their love of work and demand for high standards. There was a story told at the time Hong Kong was accepting delivery of the city’s first star projector that Mr Liu had requested the manufacturer to adjust the brightness of a relatively faint star of magnitude 3 or 4 — a star barely visible to the naked eye out of thousands of stars projected onto the dome-shaped screen. The authenticity of this story is difficult to confirm as it took place some 30 years ago, however, Mr Liu’s uncompromising attitude towards perfection still lives vividly in the minds of those people who had the good fortune of working with him.

To have their names elevated to heavenly heights is indeed a rare honour bestowed on both of these civil servants. In the Civil Service, there are many dedicated high calibre colleagues who devote their lives to passionately serving the public. The honour of having minor planets named Lamchiuying and Liu is both an honour for these individuals and recognition of the high standards of the Civil Service.

In the sky, Lamchiuying and Liu are close neighbours. From their perspectives, this blue planet where we live is one that is always changing and lively and is one of the most fascinating planets amongst its sisters in our solar system.

 
The position of the minor planets Lamchiuying and Liu in July 2009