|The Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, addressing the developments of arts, culture and sports in Hong Kong.
Reflecting on his current position as the Secretary for Home Affairs (SHA), Mr Tsang Tak-sing readily acknowledges the breadth and diversity of his role and that of the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB). He also candidly admits that without the support of his civil service colleagues, much of what has been achieved to date would not have been possible and plans for the future cannot be realised.
“My role as SHA is indeed extensive,” states Mr Tsang. “It covers very diverse areas, from arts and culture to sports and recreation, from youth development to religious affairs, from the regulation of gambling to district administration. So, I rely heavily on the dedication and support of my invaluable civil service colleagues.”
Mr Tsang says his role as head of the bureau since his reappointment as SHA in 2012 remains largely unchanged when compared to his previous term. As SHA, Mr Tsang leads HAB to pull together its efforts to advance service provision in line with the overall direction of the present Administration, to articulate the policies of HAB, and to garner political support for implementing policies.
Working for the common good
Mr Tsang says firmly that his ultimate goal in this term of government is to make Hong Kong a better place.
“I genuinely hope that by the time I leave the Government, Hong Kong will be a better place,” says Mr Tsang. “I hope the city will become a place where every Hong Kong citizen can find their inspirations and aspirations in life and a place that every Hong Kong citizen can take pride in.”
“I have dedicated myself to serving the people of Hong Kong and the people of our country,” says Mr Tsang. “I made up my mind when I was young that I would not sell my talents just to make a living, but would work for an ideal and a cause I believe in. Now I can confidently say that one of my greatest achievements throughout my career is that I have indeed been faithful to myself and my aims in life. I have never sought to earn a living by sacrificing my principles. Until now, I am very proud that I still have a strong intent to work for the common good.”
Realising Hong Kong’s potential
Given the unprecedented changing political environment and social atmosphere in Hong Kong in recent years, the Government faces a broad array of new problems and challenges. Even though his greatest challenge is not one that can be easily solved within a short period, Mr Tsang has unyielding confidence that with the concerted efforts of civil service colleagues and Hong Kong people, the challenge faced can be overcome in due course.
“The greatest challenge is to let Hong Kong people, in particular the younger generation, realise Hong Kong’s potential and be able to work together for a better Hong Kong. It is indeed a great challenge, but I believe we can overcome the difficulties ahead of us and Hong Kong can move forward as a progressive city.”
Mr Tsang points out that one of HAB’s top priorities in this term of government is to provide support for constitutional development in Hong Kong, a major task faced by the Government.
“The Government is pressing forward with constitutional change in Hong Kong so that in 2017 the Chief Executive will be selected by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures,” explains Mr Tsang. “To face this task, we have to maintain a harmonious social atmosphere as a background for people to offer their sensible views and have rational debates. HAB definitely plays a strong role in this aspect.”
Dynamic art scene
On Hong Kong’s label as a “cultural desert”, Mr Tsang immediately shakes his head and goes into detail about how much is being done in Hong Kong to grow and consolidate its reputation as the arts hub of Asia.
“Hong Kong is definitely not a ‘cultural desert’,” says Mr Tsang. “Many people just do not realise how many cultural and arts activities are held in Hong Kong throughout the year. We continue to place great emphasis on cultural and arts development in Hong Kong. For example, Hong Kong has been chosen as the only Asian city to host Art Basel, an international art fair with the world’s leading galleries presenting the highest quality work of well-established artists and emerging stars. Art Basel in Hong Kong assumes a significant role in the international art scene and is a must-attend event for exhibitors and collectors alike from around the world. In fact, many talented international artists have been attracted to this city because of its unique and dynamic art scene.”
“Another iconic presence in WKCD will be M+, a new museum for visual culture in Hong Kong. Scheduled for completion at the end of 2017, M+ will be a world-class arts precinct unmatched anywhere else.”
Three-pronged approach to sports
Addressing the topic of sports development in Hong Kong, Mr Tsang says that he is very encouraged by the fact that more and more Hong Kong people are embracing a healthier lifestyle and engaging in sports. As Hong Kong continues to nurture its focus on sports, it also raises the issue of a shortage of facilities and venues, especially if Hong Kong is to promote elite sports.
“We have started 2014 on a very positive note with the recent opening of the Hong Kong Velodrome at Tseung Kwan O, which marks a milestone in the development of sports facilities in Hong Kong,” states Mr Tsang. “The newly opened Velodrome comprises a world-class cycling track and training facilities. Hong Kong now has a dedicated cycling venue of international standard that will not only provide the facilities needed by our existing medal-winning elite cyclists, but will also encourage future generations to aim for elite status in this sport.”
|Mr Tsang views the establishment of the Hong Kong Velodrome as a milestone of Hong Kong’s sports development.
“We have adopted a three-pronged approach to sports, namely community sports, elite sports and international sports events,” continues Mr Tsang. “In the past when we built sports facilities, we mainly catered for the recreational needs of local residents but not for elite sports. The Velodrome is a dedicated facility for elite athletes and for staging top-class events such as the Asian Cycling Championships. We have finally reached a stage where we do not only have community sports, but also have elite sports and the capacity to host international events.”
Promoting positive values in youth
HAB places great emphasis on youth development, with the aim of promoting positive values among young people, as well as encouraging their participation in voluntary and community work and broadening their international perspective.
“HAB is mainly involved in youth development outside the school,” says Mr Tsang. “A number of exchange programmes are currently in place, including the International Youth Exchange Programme, the Summer Exchange Programme and the Service Corps Programme.”
“The Service Corps Programme aims to promote youth development and provide assistance to those in need on the Mainland. It seeks to develop Hong Kong young people’s tenacity and potential, as well as encouraging them to serve others and contribute to the country.”
“HAB also pays special attention to uniformed groups, such as girl guides and boy scouts,” continues Mr Tsang. “Altogether there are about a dozen different uniformed groups that are currently active in Hong Kong. For example, there are groups like Hong Kong St John Ambulance Brigade, which teaches first-aid skills and offers assistance in public events. We also unreservedly support the ethnic minority groups to join these organisations, as it is yet another way we can help them integrate into the Hong Kong society.”
Mr Tsang stresses that the Government is aware of the latest channels of communication for young people, stating that the popularity of social media and the impact of wireless communication cannot be ignored.
“We have launched publicity drives on government websites and popular youth websites to recruit members to the Service Corps Programme. Our efforts in these areas have proved to be effective and rewarding.”
“We would like to convey a message to our young people that while one can chat, entertain or even shop on the Internet, some human interactions, such as help and assistance, cannot simply be delivered through the Internet,” explains Mr Tsang. “It is very important for our young people to be equipped with effective face-to-face communication skills.”
Life beyond the office
Mr Tsang reveals that one of the most rewarding aspects of his portfolio is the opportunity for him to foster an interest in all kinds of arts.