OHKF ‘INSIGHT FORUM’ Series
Webinar with Bernard Chan: ‘Promoting Cultural Innovation and Reshaping the Future of Hong Kong’
(23 October, 2020, Hong Kong) Our Hong Kong Foundation (OHKF) organised the 10th ‘INSIGHT FORUM’ webinar featuring keynote speaker Mr Bernard Chan, President of Asia Financial Holdings and Asia Insurance, and Convenor of the Non-official Members of the Executive Council of HKSAR. Bernard used to study arts and has been active in the political arena. With an artistic background, as well as experience in liberal arts education and cultural and creative industries, he unveiled some of his drawings publicly for the first time at the Forum, and discussed the source of inspiration behind his artworks. In addition to addressing political and social issues through these drawings, he also shared ideas on helping reshape Hong Kong’s future.
Applying Innovative and Artistic Thinking
At the Forum, Bernard reminisced about his university days in the US when he majored in Arts. He was trained to constantly explore ways to make himself stand out, and thus learned to self-innovate. He was able to nurture a unique personal artistic style by employing the pointillism technique to paint on black paper with correction ink. To him, the arts education that he received has made a profound impact on his professional work life. ‘Even though I did not become an artist eventually, I have been blessed with a creative spirit owing in no small part to my arts education. The training process has given me the ability to self-innovate in any industry,’ he said.
Responding to Society through Arts
Having served on a number of public official roles, Bernard acknowledged how arts has enabled him to observe the world from a humanistic perspective and respond creatively. At the Forum, he showcased several paintings, one of which was created in 2012 to reflect his view on ‘One Country, Two Systems’. According to Bernard, ‘One Country, Two Systems’ is functioning well in Hong Kong, as it renders Hong Kong a unique advantage. When introducing another drawing in respect of the National Education controversy in 2012 in Hong Kong, Bernard stated that national education is essential, providing citizens with an opportunity to understand more about our country, so it does not necessarily mean ‘brainwashing’.
Covid-19 Pandemic May Offer New Opportunities to the Arts Sector
The Covid-19 pandemic is bringing about a ‘new norm’ for all walks of life, triggering changes also within the arts community. For example, many arts exhibitions have migrated online where arts lovers can easily and remotely enjoy wonderful artworks. Bernard pointed out that the arts sector may therefore introduce novelty in terms of venues and forms of interaction such as adopting a blended online-offline model to attract new audience.
Hong Kong Will Benefit from the Greater Bay Area’s Development
Apart from bringing out social issues through his drawings, Bernard also responded to many latest trending topics among the younger generation such as cultural and artistic innovation, education, economy, Greater Bay Area (GBA) development, and politics. The GBA, he commented, is far from a brand new concept, as the Greater Pearl River Delta had been discussed more than a decade ago despite being only a regional developmental idea at that time. Today, the GBA is directed by the Central Government coordinating the division of labour and contradictions among the GBA’s nine cities and the two Special Administrative Regions. In particular, Hong Kong will benefit from the GBA, as the city may serve as the area’s locomotive for international finance and shipping. There are also going to be plenty of opportunities for scientific research collaboration.
Taking the First Step in Support of the Lantau Tomorrow Project
Bernard noted that many current social issues in Hong Kong are closely linked to an acute shortage of land supply. He considered ‘Lantau Tomorrow Vision’ an advantageous way forward, as developing new land through reclamation makes it easier to appease different stakeholders. Bernard is in support of building artificial islands and the related funding for feasibility study. He remarked that the scale of the project is still negotiable, yet taking the first step is imperative.