Following is the full text of the speech (English only) by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang at "Success in Corporate Volunteering" Forum cum Exhibition today (February 17):
Dear Carrie, Mr [Dicky] Yip, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join you today at this meaningful forum for sharing the secret of success in Corporate Volunteering. I am delighted to see that many of you, while busy and hectic in your business involvement during weekdays, are willing to sacrifice your precious Saturday afternoon to take part in this Forum.
Volunteerism is a wonderful manifestation of the philantropic nature of man. The movement, dated back to the 1870s and originated in the West, has since spreaded worldwide, extending charitable actions to every corner of the world. Volunteerism is also gaining increasing recognition, not only amongst individuals. Many corporations have responded enthusiastically with donations in cash or in kind, knowing that they could bring a whole world of difference to the people in need.
At the same time, corporations gain immense benefit in return through servicing their beneficiaries. By encouraging and facilitating their employees to take part in community services, corporations are demonstrating their commitment to a community they hold dear to.
More importantly, corporations which go through the sweats with their employees in volunteering services are rewarded with higher staff morale and stronger sense of belonging. With higher job satisfaction, employees achieve better teamwork and higher productivity. I know many of you have already experienced the satisfaction and joy of volunteering. I am sure you would have much to share with the newcomers on how they could contribute to making our community more compassionate and loving, and bring people together towards worthy causes.
It was this sense of togetherness, and the resilience of the Hong Kong people and our corporations that have held us together in riding through the storms of the Asian financial crisis. Thanks to the hard work and the enterprising spirit of our corporates and people, our economy has bounced back with vigour. The latest testimony of our recovery is the upgrading of Hong Kong's credit ratings and rating outlook by two major international agencies. This is a welcomed recognition of the efforts that our community has made since the Asian financial crisis.
The United Nations has proclaimed the year 2001 as the International Year of Volunteers. I know that the Steering Committee on Volunteer Movement has already lined up a series of programmes to mark this occasion. The objective is to spread the good deeds done by volunteers and to recognize their contributions for the betterment of mankind. This Forum, the Exhibition and the Corporate Volunteering Mentor Scheme are just a beginning.
It is a propitious time for you to consider setting up a voluntary programme that best suits your company if you have not already done so. The public sector has already responded enthusiastically to the Volunteer Movement. More than 300 public sector organisations and Government departments have formed volunteer teams since the inception of the Volunteer Movement in 1998. The beauty of corporate volunteerism is that it befits Hong Kong's style of finding solutions through enterprises and respecting the contributions of individuals and not the Government. Corporate volunteering gives all parties a chance to involve in things that mean a lot to the community.
I am confident that with all the renowned speakers here today, this Forum will provide many useful ideas for us all to promote Corporate Volunteering in Hong Kong. I take this opportunity to thank the Subcommittee on Promotion of Corporate Volunteering under the leadership of its convenor Mr Dicky Yip. I wish the Subcommittee every success in this Forum cum Exhibition and its future endeavours in the International Year of Volunteers.
End/Saturday, February 17, 2001