Press Release



The use of IT for the local construction industry


The following is the speech (English only) by the Secretay for Works, Mr Lee Shing-see, at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Symposium on Science and Technology today (Monday) :

Ir. Leung, Professor Chan, Mr. Yu, Ladies and Gentlemen :

I am most honoured to be the Guest of Honour of this Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Symposium on Science and Technology.

The Prime Minister, Mr. ZHU Rong-ji, has said during his visit to the United States of America and Canada earlier this year that Shanghai is the New York of USA and Hong Kong is the Toronto of Canada. No doubt, Shanghai and Hong Kong are two very important cities of China. Due to their special historical background and their strategic geographical locations of being financial and economic centres, they have all along been playing an important role in driving the economic development of China and its Special Economic Zones. The continued co-operation of these two "dragon heads" especially in the aspects of economic development and technology exchange will certainly benefit the economic growth of the two places and will gear up the development of inland provinces.

Shanghai, the largest city of China, is the most important industrial and commercial centre of Mainland China. It is also one of the biggest and busiest ports in China. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the Gross Domestic Product of Shanghai in 1998 has contributed nearly 5% of the National total, amounting to some RMB 370 billion.

To pave the way to be an international financial and trade centre in the next century, Shanghai has in the past ten years invested heavily in its infrastructure. A number of major works projects have been completed such as the Inner Ring Elevated Road, North-South Elevated Road, Nanpu and Yangpu Bridges, Metro 1, Yanan Dong Road Cross-river Tunnel, the Shanghai-Hangzhou and Shanghai-Ningbo Expressway. All these provide Shanghai with an effective road network that an international city should have. Probably by the end of 1999, the commissioning of the new Pudong Airport will mark another new page of the infra-structural development of Shanghai.

On the other hand, benefited from the unprecedented rate of economic growth that the Mainland has experienced in the past two decades of economic reform, Hong Kong has also undergone rapid economic development and become one of the world's leading financial and international trade centres. Its economic success is attributed to its well-established infrastructure, socio-economic systems, and its productive and flexible human resources. Although Hong Kong has already completed its Airport Core Programme and now has one of the world's premier airports, Hong Kong will continue to invest some $235 billion in the coming five years in its infrastructure including several major railways development and a number of strategic highways projects in order to sustain economic growth and to maintain Hong Kong's competitive edge.

Hong Kong has all along been playing an important role as the bridge between the Mainland and the world enabling many inland cities and provinces to access the world markets, and to attract investment to support their development. Although Shanghai is already one of the major economic partners of Hong Kong, the ties and co-operation between the two places should be further strengthened. In fact, Shanghai and Hong Kong both have a wealth of experience and knowledge acquired during their course of development which they can share with each other, especially in the application of science and technology. Indeed, technology exchange is increasingly important as it often stimulates and accelerates further advancement, and helps bring about much greater economic growth.

With only a little more than a hundred days to the end of 1999, we are practically already standing at the threshold of the new millennium. Innovation and technology development have become the major strategy for economic development of many Asian countries, especially after the onset of the Asian-economic turmoil last year. The reason is simple: innovation and technology can add value to economic activities through enhancement of productivity and efficiency. They are, therefore, essential for promoting competitiveness and hence economic growth. Hong Kong SAR Government has taken innovation and technology as a major development strategy and is committed to developing Hong Kong as the technology centre in Asia.

All along, the industry of Hong Kong generally lacks scientific research because of cost considerations. Local universities concentrate mainly on academic research rather than practical needs of the industry. To address these issues, the Chief Executive's Commission on Innovation and Technology urged for enhancement of technological collaboration between Hong Kong and the Mainland and the co-operation between the industries and the universities. The Works Bureau has also made use of the opportunities during the Third Ministers' Forum on Infrastructure Development in Asia-Pacific Region in May this year to urge for creating a suitable environment for technological collaboration in the region.

Consistent with these lines, the Works Bureau has worked closely together with Mainland's Ministry of Construction in assisting the University of Hong Kong in setting up the Jockey Club Research and Information Centre for Landslip Prevention and Land Development. The Centre which is now in operation is a milestone for the collaboration between Hong Kong and Mainland scientists and researchers. Its formation will certainly help consolidating and advancing the expertise in these fields for their application in the industry.

Concerning the construction and related sectors, the Works Bureau has been well aware of the benefits and importance of promoting exchange and mutual understanding between counterparts in the two places and has played an active role in organising a number of seminars and visits in recent years, the latest example, being a seminar organised with the Beijing Academy of Building Research and the University of Hong Kong in June this year to exchange experiences in the various aspects of tall buildings design and development.

As we gather today at this Symposium for technological collaboration, I wish to express my appreciation of the foresight and efforts of both the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and the Shanghai Association of Science and Technology in fostering a formal and important exchange between the two places. I am pleased that the two organizations have already established bilateral co-operation arrangements some three years ago, and that this year's Symposium is the second of its kind with the first one being successfully held two years ago in Shanghai.

I understand that there are two topics of discussion scheduled for this year's Symposium - one on "Civil, Environmental and Building Services Engineering" and the other one on "Electrical, Electronics and Information Engineering". I would like to take this opportunity to outline briefly the Hong Kong SAR Government's work in relation to the use of IT for the local construction industry. At a seminar on this subject organized earlier this year by the Works Bureau for government works departments and representatives of the industry, participants requested the Government to implement electronic tendering for public works contracts. As we all know, tendering is quite a complicated process which could involve a large number of parties. Very often, it will also involve the exchange of volumes of bulky documents and consolidation of complex technical and cost information. The use of IT will help streamline the process and achieve savings in cost of manpower and production of hardcopies of tender documents required for the existing manual process.

To this end, the Works Bureau has conducted a preliminary assessment on electronic tendering. Our initial thinking is that the scope should cover distribution of tender documents and submission of tender returns. There should also be effective interfaces for exchanging data between the electronic tendering system and other systems involved in the project delivery process, including systems used for design, contract preparation, tendering and contract administration. At this preliminary stage of study, there are anticipated legal and technical issues which have to be resolved before conclusion can be drawn on the feasibility of implementing electronic tendering. In this respect, the Construction Advisory Board has decided to set up a task force comprising representatives from government works departments and the industry to further explore the issue.

Ladies and gentlemen, you have a very tight schedule of discussion ahead. But I am confident that your frank and free exchange of experience and expertise in this Symposium will again make it a very fruitful one.

Finally, I wish the Symposium a good success. For those participants from the Mainland, I wish you a very nice stay in Hong Kong. Thank you.

End/Monday, September 6, 1999