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The 38th Speech Day of SALEM-Immanuel Lutheran College

Address by Professor Paul LAM Kwan-sing, President

25 June 2022


Supervisor Mr (Albert K P) Szeto, Principal Ms Wut (Pui Fun), distinguished guests, teachers, parents and students,

First, I would like to thank Principal Wut for inviting me here to share the sense of joy and achievement on this happy occasion.

Congratulations to all the students, parents and teachers.

Upholding the school motto of “Wisdom, Truth, Virtue and Love to all”, SALEM-Immanuel Lutheran College seeks to provide a healthy environment for students to develop their potential, so that they can excel intellectually, physically, socially and spiritually, and prepare themselves for the challenges in life.

You are very lucky to be students of this School.

Taking part in this ceremony reminds me of my own secondary school days some 40 years ago.

I made many friends, and many of us became lifelong friends. A good part of our friendship actually developed through participating in extra-curricular activities and preparing for public examinations together.

That relationship is unique and valuable. So treasure your friendship, and stay connected with each other.

Forty years on, I hope that the important culture in all “good” schools I just described has not changed.

Of course, I know that many things have changed, and we must adapt to these changes.

To cite just one example:

About 10 years ago, a survey conducted at a university in the US was designed to find out how students spend their time in a typical day.

The students were asked to indicate the amount of time they allocated to various activities, including sleeping, watching television, listening to music, surfing the internet, using their mobile phone, attending classes, eating, working and studying.

As you can imagine, the results were very interesting and revealing. Today, I would like to concentrate on just one aspect of this survey.

When I added up all the time allocated to the activities in a day in the US survey, it came to 29 hours.

Clearly, the students sometimes did several things at a time. For example, they could be eating, surfing the net, listening to music and watching television at the same time. They were multitasking and online most of the time.

One thing is clear – we live in a “Digital Age”. The vast amount of information that is available, particularly online, is one issue that we should be concerned about.

There are many examples to demonstrate that much of the information on the internet or in the public domain and many of our “common beliefs” are simply not true.

Let me give you one example, which is related to my research area.

Very often, we hear “experts” on television news or in the newspaper say that one of the catastrophic consequences of global warming is a rise in sea level caused by the melting of glaciers and ice sheets. This is a common belief.

However, recent reports suggest that thermal expansion of seawater will be responsible for between 70 and 75 per cent of the sea level rise in the future.

Of course, there is still a lot more work to be done, but thermal expansion is clearly an important, if not the most important, contributor to rising sea levels.

It is therefore important that we make sure that the information we obtain and use is comprehensive and accurate.

But even if the information is accurate, we still have the challenge of interpreting the information appropriately.

I believe the way to achieve that is to examine the facts with an open mind and consider objectively both sides of an argument. This sounds logical and simple, but many of the problems we face today stem from us adopting a different approach.

We tend to formulate a conclusion first and then look for “evidence” to substantiate our beliefs.

In this “information age”, we can always find enough “evidence” to substantiate our belief, even though it may be unbelievable, illogical or just simply wrong.

Perhaps a good education will help us make sound judgements and good decisions.

Another message I have for the graduating class is that if you work hard and pursue your dreams, you will succeed.

Having said that, certainly not all of us can be rich, famous and successful.

But every one of us can be happy and contented, and live a meaningful life.

Whether you are rich, famous or successful is a judgement to be made by other people.

Whether you are happy and contented, and live a meaningful life is something you can judge for yourself.

At this point, I would like to say something about Hong Kong Metropolitan University.

In the late 1980s, the Hong Kong Government established our predecessor, the Open Learning Institute, to offer open, flexible and high-quality education for Hong Kong adults who had left school to join the workforce. This was achieved through the “distance-learning” mode.

Because of this flexible and effective mode of delivery, the Open Learning Institute, which later became The Open University of Hong Kong, was able to provide prisoners, for example, with an opportunity to receive university education. Over the years, over 1,000 inmates have enrolled in our programmes, and currently we have around 250 inmate students.

Our institution is today a modern comprehensive university, which offers Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degrees. We have about 11,000 full-time students and around 8,000 part-time students.

In September last year, The Open University of Hong Kong was retitled Hong Kong Metropolitan University.

The change of university title has not changed our commitment to offering innovative, affordable, high-quality education to all members of our community through distance-learning and face-to-face programme offerings. That is a role I am very proud of.

Indeed, if we can bring happiness and a sense of satisfaction to other people and help them live a meaningful life, we will have reached another level.

On a final note, I would like to congratulate all the graduating students, your parents and family members who have supported you all the way, and your teachers for helping you on this journey.

Good luck and thank you.