The following is the speech (English only) by the Secretary for Works, Mr Lee Shing-see, at FAPECA and IFEC 2000 Conference today (Thursday):
Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be here today to open the Federation of Asian & Pacific Electrical Contractors Association (FAPECA) and International Form of Electrical Contractors (IFEC) 2000 Conference. I am glad to see that over 150 delegates from the electrical contracting associations of the Asia Pacific Region have gathered here to participate in this conference. The history of this conference dates back to 1986. This year, the Federation has also invited the electrical contracting business associations of USA, Australia, and Mexico to attend the meeting. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all of you to Hong Kong. I also pay tribute to the Federation for its strenuous effort in preparing for the conference. As in the past, I am sure that we are all determined to make this year's event a great success.
The Challenge for the Asian Pacific Region
Asia has seen better times than 1998 and 1999. In the last two to three years, the Asian financial turmoil has affected not just the Asian region, but its effect is felt all round the world. Three years on, economies are riding out of the storm. However, the recession has demonstrated the interdependence of the economies in the Asian Pacific Region. As the Region seeks to redefine itself in the context of globalization of trade, it is high time for key business and industry players to share their experiences and distil the insights for emerging business opportunities, framework and technologies.
Electricity and Electrical Contractors
Many centuries ago, mankind first recognized electricity perhaps in the form of thunder and lightning, which is a kind of hazard. With the advent of electrical power generation in the late 19th Century, we started to use this resource in our daily lives, thus turning the adversity into opportunity. Thanks to electrical engineers.
Today, the widespread use of electricity is more than a yardstick to civilization. Indeed, it is one of the key economic indicators of a society. It speeded up the pace of industrialization by allowing us to build factories, making automation and large-scale manufacturing possible. It changed the face of cities in terms of growth and population, enabled skyscrapers to be built through construction plant, and liberated people from the drudgery of manual chores and labour.
Now we are at the entrance of a new Information Age, featuring a knowledge-based economy. Advances in telecommunications, computer technology and information systems are making people closer and closer together. E-business is being conducted at the finger tips between countries that are geographically far apart. Electricity enables the global real-time network for communication, finance, and trade. This network is becoming not only the backbone of the global economy, but also a highway for developing nations to accelerate their way out of poverty.
Electricity-based development in Hong Kong
The electricity-based innovations have also boosted the development of Hong Kong in the past few decades. Without electricity, HK would not have been reputed as the "Pearl of the Orient", featuring the glamour scenic views at night. The past few years have also witnessed the completion of a number of mega infrastructure projects such as the Airport Core Programme. For the years to come, HK will maintain the momentum of infrastructure developments. We have embarked upon a series of projects including the West Rail, Science Park, and Disneyland Theme Park. All these projects will demand a pool of electrical expertise. We will continue complying with the level playing field principle, providing business opportunities on a fair basis.
Role of HKSAR Government
Electricity is the most widely used form of energy in Hong Kong. The electricity consumption in Hong Kong in the last ten years is increasing at an average rate of 5% per annum. The annual consumption in 1998 was close to 35,000 million kWh (kilo Watt hour) as compared with just over 22,000 million kWh in 1989.
In keeping with Hong Kong's free market economic philosophy, the Government of HKSAR intervenes only to safeguard the interests of consumers where necessary, ensure public safety and protect the environment. For example, the power generation companies in Hong Kong are not publicly owned and do not operate on a franchise basis. The Government's main energy policies are to ensure that the energy needs of the community are met safely, efficiently and at a reasonable price; and to minimize the environmental impact of energy production and promote the efficient use and conservation of energy.
We started the environmental protective initiative by encouraging people to consume less electricity. We have also implemented a number of schemes.
For example, we encourage all building developers, architects, property management agencies and other parties involved in the building and construction industries to use a building energy code for electrical installations. A registration certificate will be issued to the successful participants.
In addition, registered appliances are given an energy efficiency label to inform customers of the product's energy consumption and efficiency. This scheme now covers refrigerators, room coolers, washers, compact fluorescent lamps and cloth dryers, with over 400 labels issued.
We also commissioned a study to examine the potential use of renewable energy resources in Hong Kong, with special reference to photovoltaic technologies for small-scale power generation. This seeks to help reduce the reliance on traditional fuel sources and emission of air pollutants including greenhouse gases.
To ensure the workforce is adequately trained in the electrical installations, we have introduced the legal requirement for the registration of electrical contractors and workers. Under the legislation, all electrical contractors and workers engaged in electrical work on fixed electrical installations must be registered. The purpose is to ensure that electrical work is carried out by qualified electrical contractors and workers and thus to enhance the quality and safety of the electrical work. As at early this year, there were some 8,000 electrical contractors and more than 50,000 electrical workers registered under the scheme.
Use of Information Technology (IT) in the Construction Industry
I would like to talk briefly about the use of Information Technology in the construction industry. At present, the use of IT in the local construction industry is on the low side, as compared with other local industries and with the construction industry overseas.
With the increasing popularity and growing capabilities of IT, its wider application would benefit the local construction industry in terms of enhancing efficiency, promoting cross-discipline integration, facilitating construction workflow planning and forging a better match between client requirements and the finished product.
The Government of the HKSAR promotes the wider use of IT. Some of our recent initiatives in extending the use of IT in the construction field include the development of computer-aided drafting standards among works departments, standardization of the use of Geographic Information System and enactment of the Electronic Transaction Ordinance. In July last year, we formed a task force to formulate an e-tendering strategy for works contracts. We aim at introducing e-tendering next year.
Within the construction industry, there is general awareness of technical-oriented IT tools for specific tasks. Some major contractors are investing heavily on state-of-the art IT applications in response to clients' requirements on an ad hoc basis. The Government recognize that better co-ordination is required to bring together efforts made by different parties in order to drive the entire local construction industry forward. There should be greater emphasis on the application of IT in managing the project delivery process and turning round the management's perception of how IT could be used to enhance construction efficiency. We will embark on a consultancy study on these issues later this year.
Ladies and gentlemen, international occasions such as the FAPECA 2000 Conference bring together people and ideas and broaden our perspectives. They provide a friendly environment and congenial atmosphere for the sharing of past experience as well as vision for the future. These efforts will also allow us to generate new scenarios of joined work, to establish alliances and walk firmly towards progress and well being. I hope we will all benefit from this Conference.
End/Thursday, June 15, 2000