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Speech by FS at HKIE


Following is the full text of the speech (English only) delivered by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, at the 26th Annual Dinner of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers tonight (April 11):

Dr Luk, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening. I am delighted to join you tonight on this special occasion, marking the 26th anniversary of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, and to be dining with the people who have helped, and are continuing to help build Hong Kong as Asia's world city.

The word Engineer is such an all-embracing term I'm not quite sure if I should refer to you all as a single profession. Your expertise - ranging from electronics, chemical, civil, information technology and so on - is so wide-ranging that it is no exaggeration to say you have embraced just about every stratum of the professional world. And yet you remain so coherent under the umbrella of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers. Indeed, Dr Luk, let me tell you that I have been exceedingly careful in according the maximum respect to engineers since 1997 because I have always reminded myself that both the President Jiang Zemin and our Premier Zhu Rongji are engineers.

With so many of you here tonight, I was wondering what the collective noun was for such a large and diverse gathering of engineers. I didn't come up with an answer in the dictionary. I was struck, however, by something I read recently - written by an Englishman, of course - that purported to show the character of the French, and French engineers. The writer recalled that at a gathering of French engineers - who were discussing a particular innovation - were challenged with the question, "Well it may work in practice, but does it work in theory?"

So I don't want to make myself completely persona non grata. I would like to adapt words from American jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, who once said - Every calling is great when greatly pursued. And I know all of you here tonight have applied that philosophy in pursuing your calling in the engineering profession.

When the Engineering Society - the precursor to the Institution - was formed in 1947, there were probably few who thought the organisation would grow to the extent it has. Today your 9,400 members encompass some 16 engineering disciplines. In bringing these disciplines together, the Institution is in a prime position to facilitate dialogue and exchange to 'engineer' projects with a greater degree of collaboration and efficiency.

For example the integration of electrical installations with building services, the application of IT in all business sectors and the introduction of environmental and sustainable developments in the engineering process. Such inter-disciplinary collaborations are vital to the competitiveness of the profession, amid the challenges that a globalised, technology-driven environment has posed. And the engineering industry does not walk alone in its endeavours. You can always find in the Government a partner and a facilitator.

The veterans among you would have experienced how Computer Aided Drafting and computer modelling boosted the efficiency of your work. And, of course, in recent years, the Internet has injected a new impetus in shifting the focus of IT development to electronic collaboration. Now the government's Works Bureau is implementing "electronic tendering" for works contracts. This initiative should be completed by mid 2002, and to further achieve cost-savings for the profession, the Bureau is formulating the electronic services delivery (ESD) in public works projects with a focus on e-collaboration. The ESD will lead to the development of platforms for the electronic exchange of complex and voluminous technical information throughout the whole project cycle.

By continuing to 'oil the wheels' of your project cycles, I am sure you will be better positioned to seize the opportunities available both within Hong Kong and across the boundary. We have made provision for an average annual spending of between 26-and-27 billion dollars on public works projects for the next five years. And our total estimated expenditure on the Public Works Programme - which covers 1,500 projects in a longer timeframe - reaches $300 billion. The Disney Theme Park, the South East Kowloon Development, as well as the Central and Wan Chai Development and a number of key road and rail networks are among the projects in the pipeline. They will give engineers of every discipline a part to play in continuing to build Hong Kong.

At the same time, I urge you to closely explore the opportunities that will come with the Mainland's accession to the World Trade Organisation and the development of the Western Region. Your professional services will have a dual role - promoting the nation's development and tapping a largely untapped market for business expansion. In this regard, I am pleased to note that the Institution has been eager to strengthen ties with Mainland bodies. The presence of Mr Sun Da-yong, the Vice-President of the China Association for Science and Technology here tonight is evidence of the growing ties. I understand that you are working on mutual recognition for your senior members. And this is great. And you have taken part in symposiums with Mainland participation to enhance communication and exchanges between various institutions. On our part, we will continue to work closely with the industry to provide market information and address the concerns of the profession. The high-level mission I will lead to the Western Region in May serves this very same purpose, and I am pleased that your President, Dr Luk, has agreed to join this delegation.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers has made significant strides in the past 54 years. And judging from the successes of the past, I have every confidence that you will continue to have success in meeting the challenges of the future.

Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand and join me in drinking a toast to The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers. "THE HONG KONG INSTITUTION OF ENGINEERS"

End/Wednesday, April 11, 2001


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