The following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, at the opening ceremony of the International Conference on Construction this (June 19) morning:
Vice-Minister Zheng, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to join you at the Opening Ceremony of the International Conference on Construction. May I extend to you my warmest welcome to Hong Kong. It excites me to be among professionals who specialise in turning abstract ideas into tangible objects; who physically "construct" the landmarks and monuments in cities around the globe.
For those of you who visit Hong Kong for the first time, I hope you will tour our city and appraise our wide variety of world-class infrastructure, architecture and engineering products - all within a small area in our compact city. Needless to say, the construction industry has been instrumental in creating the Hong Kong that we know today. Our soaring skyline and ever-changing cityscape are perhaps the most powerful manifestation of the city as a busy metropolis with a vibrant population of less than seven million.
For Hong Kong, continuous construction work has been part of life. To maintain our status as Asia's World City, we are committed to a massive infrastructure development programme, relying on a close partnership between the public and private sectors. Every year, the HKSAR Government spends over US$3 billion on public works. Mega-projects completed in the last decade, such as the Tsing Ma Bridge and the Hong Kong International Airport, have received worldwide commendation. We are determined to keep up with the construction momentum. Hundreds of hectares of land are on the drawing board for turning into new towns. We are also shaping the future with exciting projects such as the Science Park, Cyberport and Disneyland.
In an international city where efficiency is the key to success, a modern and reliable transport infrastructure is a natural target of investment. The six railway projects we have embarked on will spend a total of over US$ 12 billion. On top of that list, we have also laid down a blueprint for the next phase of railway expansion to meet Hong Kong's future needs.
In a typical "Hong Kong style", major infrastructure projects are often turned from visions on the Government's drawing board into reality by the private sector. The Government adopts a consistent policy of involving the private sector in the construction and subsequent management of major infrastructure projects. To mention but a few examples, the Tate's Cairn Tunnel, Tai Lam Tunnel, and all the three cross-harbour tunnels were constructed under the "Build, Operate and Transfer" arrangement. The six-berth Container Terminal No. 9 is a more recent but equally renowned example of private sector participation. Our construction industry has a proud record of thriving in a market-driven and highly competitive environment, making remarkable contributions to the betterment of our city.
The theme of the International Construction Conference today, "Construction for Tomorrow's City", strikes the right chord in my view with the people of Hong Kong. We believe passionately in growth and development. As we stride into the 21st Century, the construction industry will continue to play a pivotal role in delivering engineering projects that are safe, innovative, modern, and environmentally friendly.
This Conference brings together members of the construction industry from all over the world. It provides an excellent opportunity for the sharing of experience and exchange of expertise. I hope that over the next couple of days, your interaction and discussion will inspire innovative solutions to address the many challenges facing the construction industry in the world today. I wish the conference a great success, and all of you a very rewarding experience.
End/Tuesday, June 19, 2001