One man. Two cities. Fifty shades of Hong Kong in the 1950s.
A photo exhibition featuring 50 black and white photographs by the late Singapore-born photographer Lee Fook Chee was launched yesterday evening at The Arts House by visiting Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
"This exhibition not only conveys the photographer's keen creative eye and interest in his subject, it also captures a time when Hong Kong was entering a period of huge post-war transformation," said Mrs Lam. She arrived here yesterday for a two-day visit - her first official overseas trip since taking office on July 1.
"His photos from 1950s Hong Kong convey the can-do spirit of people of all backgrounds who helped to build our city: the values of hard work, creativity and determination that we all share," said Mrs Lam, the first woman to become Hong Kong chief executive.
The exhibition was presented by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Singapore and the Photographic Heritage Foundation to mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China.
Mr Bernard Chan, patron of the foundation, said Mr Lee's story is shared by the millions of ordinary people in Asia who struggled to rebuild their lives after World War II.
Born in Singapore's Victoria Street in 1927, Mr Lee was given up at birth for adoption. He became a seaman and settled in Hong Kong.
He taught himself photography and earned extra money by taking tourist portraits and selling pictures of Hong Kong street scenes.
Mr Edward Stokes, founder of the Photographic Heritage Foundation, discovered Mr Lee's collection of 600 vintage photographs after a chance encounter in 2010 at The Peak. The foundation later worked with Mr Lee to digitise the photos.
In 2011, the project came to the attention of Mrs Lam, then the secretary for development. She introduced Mr Stokes and Mr Lee to billionaire Charles Yeung, who funded a photo book about Mr Lee's life story published in 2015, three years after Mr Lee's death.
He leaves a son, a daughter and three grandchildren. His niece, 39-year-old shipping company manager Iris Lee, who was at the exhibition, said it was sad that he could not be there, but "we are all happy because we believed it is something that he wanted".
Mrs Lam also toured the Asian Civilisations Museum and the National Gallery Singapore yesterday. She was hosted to dinner last night by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.
Today, she will visit the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Civil Service College and GovTech Hive.
She will also meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.