The Hong Kong Maritime Museum fund-raising party was attended by leaders in the industry and officials in related departments, led by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who was smartly attired in red and black.
Lam noted that the shipping industry has been emphasizing revenue, not only volume, in its development over the years.
She spoke for 15 minutes without notes, and the guests were impressed as she must have had to prepare for many speaking engagements at receptions during the Chinese New Year period.
Shipping, one of our three founding industries, has made Hong Kong well-known internationally.
The event was conducted in English and the entertainment was exciting. An Italian trio won rounds of applause for their singing.
An auction by Christie's toward the end saw SJM Holdings director Ambrose So Shu-fai enthusiastically bidding for a white jade plaque, bringing the exercise to a high point.
Administrations have always been supportive of the trade, and many officials turned up, including Observatory director Shun Chi-ming, Insurance Authority chief executive John Leung Chi-yan and Commissioner for Tourism Joe Wong Chi-cho.
Wong has been in the post for just over a month, but has familiarized himself with various issues already, including the Kai Tak cruise terminal, often criticized for being underused.
He said the public's impression has been unduly affected by Ocean Terminal, which is always crowded. In fact, cruise terminals in many countries are busy only when ships come in to dock, and are relatively quiet at other times.
Figures show the number of cruise ships using the new terminal rose to more than 180 last year. Many of them were sizable, and their heavy passenger flow could present difficulties for Ocean Terminal to handle alone.
The development of the sector is not in any way inferior to neighboring regions, Wong said, and he would, of course, hope the new terminal would be as busy as Ocean Terminal in time.
Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily