QES SPEECH DAY - 2020 and 2021

QES Speech Day 2021: Speech by Mr. Sek-Yiu Kwan 69FA

QES Speech Day 2021:  Principal’s Report 

QES Speech Day 2020: Speech by Mr. Heung San Tsoi 59FA


Text of Speech for Speech Day 2021 by Mr. Sek-Yiu Kwan 69FA

I am greatly honoured to be invited to serve as the Guest of Honour in today's Queen Elizabeth School Annual Speech Day. In fact, I consider that this is the highest honour of my lifetime. I left QES in 1971 after studying in the school for seven years. As I left my beloved mother school, I had a dream in my mind, a dream that one day I will stand on this stage and give a speech on an Annual Speech Day. I am just an ordinary person. How daring was I to have such a wild dream? How could I become fully deserved to receive such an honour. I decided to take a path to become an extraordinary ordinary person. I have patiently waited for this most important day for fifty years. Today my dream has come true. 


I remember that in the Golden Jubilee year of QES in 2004, Dr Arthur Hinton, the second principal of QES, gave a very touching speech on the Annual Speech Day. As soon as the music of the school song started, tears ran out of my eyes like a waterfall. I was unable to sing one single word. I looked straight ahead. It would be very embarrassing for others to see a weeping adult without self-control. As soon as the words "Re-echo, Queen Elizabeth School" ended, my tears disappeared suddenly, just as they had come. Afterwards, I realised that my passion for my mother school was even deeper than I thought. I am not sure whether I can hold back my tears when the school song is sung later, but even if I become the first crying Guest of Honour on a Speech Day, I will not feel embarrassed because that is my true self. 


My speech will consist of two main parts. In the first and longer part, I will talk about myself, so that you will know more about me, and how my passion and dedication to QES remained unchanged for 50 years(五十年不變). Of course the unchanged scope does not include development and advancement as we have to keep up with the wheel of time. I had exceptional experience. I took part in quite a number of activities which were held for the first time in Hong Kong. In the second part, I will talk about you, the current students of QES, my younger brothers and sisters.


Let me start with my days in QES. There were so many memorable events in the seven years. I can talk about them non-stop for hours, days and even weeks. I will only talk about those relating to the theme of my speech. In Form 2, I did a lot of service and answered many questions in class. At the end of the term, the remark given by my form master in my report book was "full of self-importance". It was very hurting to an innocent youngster who had a motivation to stand out through making contributions. Nevertheless, the remark gave me a very good lesson. Since then, whenever I tried to show my ability or my readiness to serve, I tendered my sincerity to avoid being seen as showing off. In Form 6, another teacher gave a remark of "has strong sense of responsibility" in my report book. This encouragement gives me propulsive energy even today. 


In Form 3, the first cross country race was held. It was actually an urban route round the school along Sai Yee Street, Argyle Street, Kadoorie Avenue and Prince Edward Road. I was somehow picked by the house captain to join the race although I had never run more than 200 metres. It turned out that I won the second runner-up award. My distance running ability was accidentally discovered. I began to join various distance running races. In 1977, I joined the inaugural open marathon in Hong Kong. I have been running full marathons annually since then. I am not sure whether I am the only one still running full marathons after 44 years.


I was lucky to reside near QES. I could afford the time to participate in many extra-curricular activities. When I was in Form 4, I was selected to join the school quiz team. I took part in the first ever inter-school quiz competition which adopted pressing buttons instead of raising hands. Besides, I have represented South House in all inter-house competitions except football and badminton. I won champions in table tennis and the Inter-school Folk Dance Competition. In form 6, I took up the role of Vice-House Captain. I was also elected the Chairman of the Club Chairmen Association, being the leader of all Club Chairmen and the co-ordinator of a majority of extra-curricular activities. The school gave free hand to the student leaders to organise all these activities and only lent a helping hand when necessary. My enthusiastic participation helped me to develop all-round abilities and an amiable character.


50 years ago in 1971, there were two inaugural events. Early in the year, the first Walk for Millions was held. I solicited sponsorship from the principal Dr Hinton and teachers and joined this innovative fundraising walkathon. I was the first to complete the 20 mile course. Since then, I have been joining Walks for Millions annually, first by myself, then with my wife and later with my whole family. During the summer holidays before I entered the university, I joined the first Tolo Harbour Swim. By now, I have been participating in about 100 distance swimming events over 50 years.


On my last school day, I made a special request to address my schoolmates on this stage. I made one special remark, "We are QES, and QES is us". Finally, I put up a large piece of cardboard paper with my home telephone number written on it. I stated that any schoolmate who wished to seek help might call me at any time. In subsequent years, a total of three schoolmates called me at different times. I can only remember one of the three cases. I used one month's salary to purchase a set of cooking utensils from a schoolmate so that he could keep his job. This set of cooking utensils is still being used today. I am not going to disclose my mobile phone number today. If anyone in this hall needs my help, it is very easy to find me through Facebook or other means. I guarantee that I will do my best.


After I left the school, I made many more speeches on this stage, twice a year. At every end-of-term concert, I came back to QES to talk to the current students about the latest situation of myself and the news of some other old students. After about ten years, my workload was too heavy. I could not afford to take a half-day leave. My bi-annual sharing was discontinued.


After graduating from the University of Hong Kong and working for two years, I considered that my work had become stable. I could spare some time to provide service by joining the Executive Committee of the Old Students Association. I was appointed the Hon Secretary. Since then, I have been serving in the OSA Executive Committee continuously, including two years as the Chairman. Currently I am serving my 46th term.


I never had the feeling that I have ever left QES. You see me quite frequently. I always turn up on important events such as the Speech Day and the Homecoming Day. Moreover, I lead my former classmates of the 69FA annually to participate in special relays in the Swimming Gala and the Sports Day. I also run with the staff, the parents and the students in the 5000 m race. I was always in the Organising Committees for the celebration activities of the anniversaries of QES every five years. I am still young at heart. I just feel that I am your elder brother.


I am very lucky to have been able to enter QES for my secondary education. I am grateful every moment as QES has given me a very meaningful life. The school motto "Prepare yourself that you may serve" is always on my mind. I always endeavour to put the school motto into practice with my utmost effort. I am double lucky to have got to know my lifelong partner in QES. With the education and training in QES, she has high wits and possesses all virtues one can expect. I always consider myself to be the luckiest person in this world and no matter how much contribution I make to the community, that is still not enough for repaying my fortune. 


There are a few more points about my relation with QES that I wish to highlight. I have served as the Chairman of the QES Parents-Teachers Association for two years. I am one of the two alumni who have served both as the Chairman of QESOSA and QESPTA. The other is Tong Wai Ki of the 58FA. About 25 years ago, I carried out a lot of research and compiled the history of the OSA, which was formed in 1957, a few months after the earliest graduates emerged. I then updated the history once every few years. I am honoured to be called the historian and the encyclopedia of the OSA. Besides, in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of QES, I took up the role of the Chief Editor and led a team to publish the book 《伊利沙伯.香港》. It turned out to be the greatest challenge in my life. The task was more difficult than any task in my career. The book has many chapters which outline the development of QES in relation to the development of Hong Kong. To any member of the QES family, no other book is more meaningful. You should try to get one if you are not yet in possession of one. There is another publication for the Diamond Jubilee entitled 《Tribute to QES 2014》. There is a special chapter designated for “Old Students with Outstanding Achievements in Science and technology”. The information includes the scientist in charge of the space project to Mars and the engineer of the tallest building in Shanghai. I am making arrangements with the OSA to extend the list and to compile information of prominent alumni in other fields. All my effort is intended to ensure that the heritage of QES would be timely and properly maintained.  


Now comes to my career as an engineer in the Water Supplies Department. Over the years I have won over 230 prizes of all kinds. Many were related to staff motivation schemes and sports. I won the Best Sportsman trophy 10 times, including the year in which I retired. Everyone called me Master Kwan(關師傅). Some colleagues even called me the walking encyclopedia of the Water Supplies Department. I also openly made a declaration that I would provide free lifelong service for all tasks executed by me. The final score of my career may be evaluated from the number of participants that attended my farewell dinner. The incomparable figure of almost 900 speaks for itself.


Regarding service and contributions to the community, besides 50 years of Walks for Millions which I mentioned above, I have completed the 100 km Oxfam Trailwalker 24 times. The total sum of funds I raised over the years for various charity events to help the underprivileged exceeds HK$ 5 million. 2021 is also my 50th year of blood donation. I recently made my 188th donation and have become the person with the highest number of donations of full blood in Hong Kong. Since my retirement, I have joined various organisations and participated in meaningful activities such as organisation of the Grand Parent Day, promotion of Chinese culture and fundraising marathons. I am also a co-ordinator in almost every organisation or group which I belong to, voluntarily taking up various responsibilities. All these are intended to fulfil the school motto of serving others.


It is time to talk about you, my young friends. You are very lucky to have joined the QES family, just like me. I wish to imprint on your minds four pairs of words. The first pair is “by choice” and not “by chance”. QES provides a perfect environment for you to learn and develop. It is important for you to well prepare yourself and learn to distinguish between right and wrong, and to make good judgement. Otherwise you may be misled by fake news and do bad things with a good will(好心做壞事). You are advised to set targets, preferably short-term, medium-term and long-term ones. You should make your choice of your own path and not let things come by chance.


The second pair of words that I would like to draw your attention is “constructive” and not “destructive”. Rome wasn’t built in one day but burnt in one. If you think that a system is no good, you should not try to destroy it because the situation would go backwards and become even worse. An ideal system would not appear automatically after the old one is destroyed. You should take constructive actions to improve the system and not destructive ones. On many occasions in my work, I found that the system was not working well, possibly because time has changed. I still abided by the rules because things will be in chaos if the system is not respected. I tried to officially change the system. For major issues, I submitted proposals to the Departmental Staff Suggestions Scheme, and even to the Civil Service Staff Suggestions Scheme. It takes time and effort to improve the system.


The next pair of words is “pleasure” and not “pressure”. For about thirty years of my career, I considered that the most important thing in my work was to serve the community, but that sometimes imposed pressure on me. One day an idea struck me. I started to tell my colleagues and subordinates that the most important thing for going to work is to be happy, because if one works happily, he can do a better job. Since then, I always found pleasure in my work. Even difficult tasks would not bring pressure to me. As students, you should be happy for your school, principal, teachers, schoolmates and the learning environment. If you enjoy coming to school, you are bound to learn faster and improve faster in whole-person development.


The final pair of words is “head” and “heart”. To practise the school motto, in preparing yourself, use your head; to serve others, use your heart.


It is now time to conclude my speech. I have a thankful soul at all times, particularly to QES and for my fortune. I have a loving thought for my family, my school, my community, my country and the world. Today my shining dream has come true. I have established an image of dedication, sincerity, perseverance and reliability. I have tried my best to prepare myself and to serve, and to make the world a little bit better for others. I have made a lot of achievements, but I am only a tiny drop in the ocean. However, union is power. If my spirit can be shared and practised by most people, we can join hands to make the world better.


My dear younger brothers and sisters, I believe a few of you are talented and will perform outstandingly in your career, just like the old students in charge of the project for the Mars adventure and the engineer for the highest building in Shanghai I mentioned earlier. However, most of you are ordinary persons like me. Every person has different background and different abilities. You can base on your own strengths, choose your own path, always be constructive, do your best and become exceptional ordinary persons through visualising the school motto. I hope that the four pairs of words will be useful to you when you come to crossroads in the future. A meaningful life and a bright future are waiting for you.

Member Area: