MOST Hong Kong people know who Mrs Anson Chan Fang On-sang is - Hong Kong's first female Chinese Chief Secretary. But how many get to hear her scarcely-reported history and personal philosophy from the women herself? The girls of St Paul's Secondary School had just that unique opportunity when, as guest of honour, Mrs Chan addressed the school during its annual Speech Day. Speaking impromptu, Mrs Chan began by recalling how she and her family, natives of Shanghai and Tianjin, moved to Hong Kong in 1940. ''It wasn't easy shifting to an entirely new environment and speaking Cantonese,'' said Mrs Chan. When she was 10, her father died, leaving her mother with eight children to raise. ''We went through a very difficult period emotionally and financially. I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth,'' she told her audience. ''This period of hardship, however, helped form my character. It gave me strength, a sense of the true meaning in life, and the values I ought to adopt.'' She wanted her audience to realise one thing: ''My achievement is entirely within the realm of possibility of each of you here.'' She said: ''Each person has his own potential. The trick in life is to learn to build on your strengths and to minimise your weaknesses.'' She attributed her success to God, her teachers, colleagues and friends, as well as her own hard work and perseverance. ''All these factors combined have enabled me to get very near to the pinnacle of a career in the administrative service. I'm very proud of that achievement and am determined to carry out the duties attached to the office of the Chief Secretary with the greatest honour and a sense of commitment to the people of Hong Kong.'' Before concluding, she left the students with some final advice. ''Learn the importance of developing and upholding values and principles, particularly integrity. When you come to work in the wider society, you will find it extremely important to be able to distinguish between what is right and wrong, and what is honourable and dishonourable,'' she exhorted. ''Secondly, you should adopt a positive attitude towards life. Be brave, face all challenges, and when you've done your best, you owe yourself and others nothing. ''I've learnt from my own experience that life is a learning process. The aim of education is simply to teach you how and where to look for knowledge. It enables you to discharge your obligations to yourself, your family and the community at large. ''Above all, bear in mind that although we live in this world because we would like to be loved, we should also love others and have a sense of service and commitment to our fellow-citizens and society.''