On Monday, 11th March 2019 Hong Kong celebrated Commonwealth Day with a multi-faith service at St. John’s Anglican Cathedral and a reception, hosted by the Royal Commonwealth Society, at the Hong Kong Club, Central Hong Kong.
The cathedral celebrations included readings by Dr. Verner Bickley MBE (former Chair, RCS, HK Branch) and Dr. Gillian Bickley, and an address by The Revd Robert Martin, CMP, Cathedral Chaplain. A prayer for Peace and the Commonwealth was lead by The Revd Catherine Graham, Cathedral Chaplain and Mr. Peter Mann, Chair, RCS, Hong Kong Branch led the Act of Affirmation to the Commonwealth. Candles representing Faith, Hope and Love were lit by representatives of the Buddhist, Hindu and Zoroastrian communities in Hong Kong. Mrs. Joan Campbell, MBE, (former Chair, RCS, HK Branch) was responsible for the lighting of the Commonwealth Candle
At the Commonwealth Day reception the MC, Dr. Brian Brewer, welcomed the consuls-general, distinguished guests and the ladies and gentlemen attending, and added the following remarks:
The association we know today as the modern Commonwealth is 70 years old. It came into being in 1949. Membership today is based on the voluntary co-operation of 53 nations across all continents. It is home to a third of the world’s population and nearly 40% of its young people. Of course, Commonwealth membership does vary. In 2009 Rwanda and Mozambique joined the Commonwealth; in the past year The Gambia rejoined the Commonwealth and Zimbabwe has applied to be re-admitted.
The people and businesses of the Commonwealth enjoy the advantage of having shared legal systems, languages and values, making it easier for them to communicate, trade and cooperate with one another. Countries with diverse social, political, and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status and cooperate within a framework of common values and goals, as outlined in the Singapore Declaration issued in 1971. Such common values and goals include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism and world peace. These values and goals are promoted through multilateral projects and meetings such as the Commonwealth Games held once every four years.
The Commonwealth is often described as a ‘family’ of nations and peoples. This is apparent in the network of more than 80 societies, institutions, associations, organizations and charities that work towards improving people’s lives. Some, such as the RCS, have their origins well before 1949, others, have developed more recently in response to the needs and priorities of member states.
Commonwealth Day is held every second Monday in March each year. It is an opportunity to re-affirm shared Commonwealth values and to promote the association’s diversity.
Mr. Andrew Heyn, British Consul-general to Hong Kong and Macao read the Queen’s 2019 Commonwealth Day address, the text of which follows:
Commonwealth Day has a special significance this year as we mark the 70th anniversary of the London Declaration, when nations of the Commonwealth agreed to move forward together as free and equal members. The vision and sense of connection that inspired the signatories has stood the test of time, and the Commonwealth continues to grow, adapting to address contemporary needs.
Today, many millions of people around the world are drawn together because of the collective values shared by the Commonwealth. In April last year, I welcomed the leaders of our 53 nations to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and we all witnessed how the Commonwealth vision offers hope, and inspires us to find ways of protecting our planet, and our people.
We are able to look to the future with greater confidence and optimism as a result of the links that we share, and thanks to the networks of cooperation and mutual support to which we contribute, and on which we draw. With enduring commitment through times of great change, successive generations have demonstrated that whilst the goodwill for which the Commonwealth is renowned may be intangible, its impact is very real.
We experience this as people of all backgrounds continue to find new ways of expressing through action the value of belonging in a connected Commonwealth. I hope and trust that many more will commit to doing so this Commonwealth Day.
Mrs. Joan Campbell, proposed the toast to the Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty the Queen.
Shan-ling Wells proposed the toast to the President and the People’s Republic of China.
Mr. George Magnus, President of the Royal Commonwealth Society in Hong Kong, spoke about the president’s role that he has assumed recently, complimented the Chair on his fine work and outlined his wish to facilitate the development of the RCS in Hong Kong.
Mr. Peter Mann, the Chair of the Royal Commonwealth Society in Hong Kong spoke about the upcoming Commonwealth Branches conference on 14-17 March 2019, to be hosted by RCS, Hong Kong for delegates from 12 Commonwealth countries.