HENRY Tsang Siu-lung finishes his second bowl of Chinese breakfast congee in a Hong Kong hotel and warms to his favourite theme. The Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney, who three decades ago left his Tsuen Wan home to begin a new life Down Under, is an unabashed multi-culturalist. 'All my life I have been trying to promote East-West understand-ing,' said the 52-year-old architect. 'For Australia to be a harmonious society, it depends on how well new immigrants are fitting in with the mainstream society. 'Having new immigrants can actually result in better diversity and excitement.' Tsang's visit to Hong Kong came after he flew from Sydney to Beijing late last month on a flight relaunched by Qantas several years after being scrapped. The flight bore symbolic value because it reflected the growing importance of trade ties between Australia and China, says Tsang. And his presence on it was also symbolic. For Tsang, devoting time to the benefit of Australian residents is good for showing that immigrants such as himself are not only after a comfortable life, but are also eager to give something back to the society they live in. The former Hong Kong resident has been in Sydney since 1961 when he arrived as a student. His deep commitment to Australia has been well-proven, as is his support for multi-culturalism. A prominent advocate for a non-discriminatory policy in Australia, his long years of service to ethnic communities have earned him recognition from the Federal and State Governments. He has received the Order of Australia, a gong roughly equivalent to the MBE (Member of the British Empire) for his outstanding community service. After forging close links with ethnic minorities living in the core of Australia's biggest city, he joined the Australian Government's Multi-cultural Advisory Council last year. His ethnic background also led to his membership of the Australia-China Council, which promotes trade. He speaks earnestly about an upcoming international event, the Global Cultural Diversity Conference, to be held next week in Sydney, which will be attended by the United Nations Secretary-General Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Tsang, looking younger than his 52 years despite the greying of his hair, is to speak on his familiar, favourite topic - the design of a multi-cultural society. Racial tensions are likely to be touched on only lightly in his speech. The man is a self-proclaimed optimist. 'New immigrants are usually made the scapegoats in times of economic depression,' he says. 'But in Australia, the economy is already improving - the unemployment rate has fallen below 10 per cent.' Totally at ease with his life in Australia, he is frank about his political goals. 'It's only a matter of time before I become a member of Parliament,' he declared. 'It depends on the circumstances if I'll run or become one at the federal level. But I'll try my best. 'I have a proven track record. Many people have high expectations for me.' But another test of hard-earned popularity will come first. His term of office as Deputy Mayor will expire by the end of this year and he is determined to seek re-election. He is confident of retaining his seat, albeit only at the municipal level. But, as he so strongly believes, an even more prominent public role could come later. Lately, his desire to enhance the public image of Chinese immigrants has prompted him to raise funds for a Chinese garden to be built inside a planned, huge children's hospital in Westmead in Sydney. The money will be drawn from the Chinese community, promises a confident-looking Tsang. He is sure to get the cash needed. After all, it was the Chinese vote which put him into office in 1991. Beaming, he said that he has stayed on as Deputy Lord Mayor due to the continuous backing of the council's six other aldermen. The only major political setback for this University of New South Wales-trained architect is his failed bid to be elected mayor in 1991. 'I missed out by one vote. One fellow councillor changed his mind at the last minute,' he said in a tone tinged with a degree of bitterness. His wife Donna, originally from Taiwan and a former music teacher, runs Sydney's East-West Philharmonic Orchestra, a favourite with new immigrants including some from Hong Kong. Interestingly, Tsang has previously used a Chinese garden to impress other Australians with Chinese culture. He recalled with delight his being commissioned to design the famed Sydney Chinese Gardens off Darling Harbour. The design was called for as part of Australia's bicentennial celebrations in 1988. 'Too many people think of Chinese culture as Chinese food. As shown by their interest in gardens, Chinese like to be part of nature, too. Culturally speaking, they are as diverse as the Australian community,' he said. Looking satisfied, Tsang said the Labor Party-ruled Australian Government had become sensitive to immigrant issues after the years of hard lobbying by community leaders like himself. A lobbyist-turned Labor Party member, Tsang now spends most of his working time at his Sydney Town Hall office, leaving his long-established architectural firm business to his two partners. One is a long-time friend dating back to university days. To find time to implement his growing political aspirations he has cut down on business pursuits. But it was a lifestyle change he had been planning for even before he contested the city council seat when he juggled the roles of a businessman, investor and campaigner for local interests. 'I suffered a heart attack and was admitted to hospital,' he recalled of the 1991 jolt shortly before his election. 'While lying in a hospital bed one begins to think what you want to make out of your life. 'I began to question if I should devote my time to only making money.' Nevertheless, he is still leading an equally hectic lifestyle - except that most of his evenings now are taken up by public social functions. 'I need to stay in touch with people at various levels, from grassroots representatives to officials, dignitaries,' he said. 'You know, for some functions, very few Asians are invited to attend, and I think I have to show up. I bring along my wife to some.' Time with his two teenage sons, Derwent and Clement, his parents, who are living with him, and other members of the Tsang clan, are reserved for Sundays. When he is free, Tsang drives his wife to her orchestra's office, or practises his culinary skills at his sprawling house in the suburbs. Natives of Jiangxi province, the Tsangs fled to Hong Kong in 1949 as refugees. Less than 10 years later, they witnessed the unexpected riots after police pulled down Kuomintang posters and banners in Shekkipmei. Tsang was a secondary student at Wah Yan College in Kowloon at the time, but a desire to move abroad had taken root in his family. Tsang became the first to go, leaving for studies in Australia in 1961. Australia proved to be a place with much to offer. 'You can have an exciting life if you are involved in community affairs. You can be volunteers and get to meet different people, or pick up new interests,' he said. 'You can do many things that may be considered trivial or impractical in Hong Kong, like deep-sea diving, or rock-climbing. 'Immigrants don't have to do exactly what they have been doing in Hong Kong, like going for yum cha every day.'