Following is the welcoming speech (English only) by the Financial Secretary, Mr Antony Leung, at the CEO Luncheon on Volunteer Movement today (Novemer 26):
Ms Coleman, Carrie, Dicky , Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have much pleasure in welcoming you all to this luncheon. This is not the sort of CEO luncheon that a Financial Secretary attends to discuss Hong Kong's economy and finances. But we are indeed gathering here this afternoon to talk about investment - a special kind of social investment that will yield high return not only to corporations but also to society or even the world at large. I am sure the presentation in a moment by Ms Coleman, an expert in the area of corporate citizenship, will give us insight into benefits of corporate volunteering.
I gather that this luncheon organised by the Subcommittee on Promotion of Corporate Volunteering is a further initiative to the "Forum and Exhibition on Corporate Volunteering" held in February this year. It is also one of the many events planned by the Steering Committee on the Volunteer Movement to celebrate this year being the International Year of Volunteers. The common theme of all these activities is to raise the awareness and motivation of corporations in joining volunteering. In my view, this luncheon is also most timely for a number of reasons.
Hong Kong has undergone some severe economic setbacks since the Asian financial turmoil. The Hong Kong community is facing a lot of challenges as the economy continues to restructure. Stresses on individuals and the family are great. It is during these difficult times that we should encourage all in our society to show their concern for the community through organising, participating in, or supporting different kinds of voluntary service. Corporations in Hong Kong and their employees have an important role to play in promoting volunteerism.
Corporate volunteering sends a strong and positive message to the community that the business sector does care for the community, and is a staunch supporter of community services in various forms. When bosses and employees, managers and frontline staff join hands in serving those less fortunate through voluntary work, each will see the worth of others. And together they will take the corporation to newer heights.
Several weeks ago, the Chief Executive delivered the 2001 Policy Address under the theme of "Building on our Strengths - Investing in our Future". He outlines the Government's social policies in a changing economic climate. He stresses that we need a caring society with a spirit of participation and dedication. This spirit is best represented and conveyed through voluntary work. The Government encourages the community to come together, pooling the wisdom and strengths of individuals, non-profit-making organisations and businesses, to develop the most effective approach to solve social problems.
Hong Kong shares the common characteristics of a cosmopolitan city. It has the advantages of cross-cultural influence in doing good deeds. While preserving the philanthropic tradition of the Chinese community, we also embrace the global view in humanity and equality. I commend those corporations in Hong Kong which make donations to support worthy causes and encourage and mobilise their staff to do voluntary work. These deeds create a close tie between the business sector and the community and bring benefits to both. Worthy to mention is that the number of participating organisations in the Volunteer Movement has doubled over the past year. There are now more than 720 organisations registered with the Movement, including those present here today.
This luncheon is also a milestone in volunteer development in Hong Kong, as I don't recall being asked to attend anything like this before when I was a CEO myself. Indeed we are making history of calling renowned corporations like yours altogether at one place to support and join hands in making Hong Kong a more caring and harmonious society to live. The credit for making this a reality no doubt goes to Mr Dicky Yip, Convenor of the Subcommittee on Promotion of Corporate Volunteering, and his Subcommittee members.
Finally, I must thank Ms Coleman for flying all the way from the United Kingdom to come share with us her expertise in corporate citizenship.
End/Monday, November 26, 2001