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Magnificent China

Without King's College as Alma Mater, CY would be someone else.

I am thankful to my Alma Mater. The day before yesterday, I went back to join a celebration held by the old boys' association and the school principal, Mrs Chan, in honour of my being elected the next Chief Executive. In return for their kindness, I presented the teachers with a small token of thanks - an edition of Magnificent China, a great picture book that has a special place in my heart.

Photo Photo

I entered King's College in 1966 and it was Mr Chan who taught Chinese to Form 1 classes then. Mr Chan did not read from text books. Rather, he guided us with his imagination, as if we were already university undergraduates. He taught us the concepts of nation, people and society, and told us about the responsibilities of an intellectual. What fascinated me most in the first lesson was his mention of our school library's Magnificent China, which he encouraged us to read so that we would learn more about our country.

That day, after a quick lunch, I rushed to the school library to look for the book. But it was not on the shelf. Several classmates had already got there and were browsing through its pages.

In 1977 I was paid a salary the first time in my life, and with the money I went and bought a reprint of Magnificent China from the bookstore. Since then I have always had a copy of my own - a much-loved copy indeed.

This book has been with me for over 35 years. Since the reforms and opening-up of our country began, I have been visiting the Mainland to see for myself the famous landscapes and relics featured in the book. Making these trips has also made me think a lot about our country's past and future.

A simple thing once said by a teacher had a far-reaching influence on one 12-year-old. It has been a lifelong enlightenment indeed. I am greatly indebted to my Alma Mater for her nurturing. I recognise the importance of education and appreciate the contribution of teachers. I also understand that education is a sacred mission. I pay my respects to all the educators in Hong Kong!

May 14, 2012