Following is a speech by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Dr E K Yeoh, in attending the opening ceremony of the '8-Hour Elderly Famine 2002' today (May 28):
Professor Yuen, Dr Chan, Dr Chung, Mr Shiu, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to be here today to officiate at the Opening Ceremony of the '8-Hour Elderly Famine 2002'.
The '8-Hour Elderly Famine', which has been held for the past 13 years, is a very meaningful event that aims at raising funds for different emergency relief and education programmes, rehabilitation projects and community development. This year's theme is to raise funds to support the educational and medical care programmes for the Tibetan children in Yunnan. I am very impressed to learn that we have more than 2 500 elders taking part in this eight-hour fund-raising event this year. By going on a fast for eight hours, the elders taking part have demonstrated their concern and support for the needy children in Yunnan. This gesture underlines the important role our elders can play in the society nowadays - that of actively participating in the community, and extending assistance to the younger generation.
Our elders today are not the frail and dependent elders who have been traditionally depicted. Although the population of Hong Kong is ageing, with the proportion of the local population aged 65 or above expected to rise to about 24 per cent in 2031, statistics show that the majority of our elders are healthy and independent, and can remain in this condition if they maintain a healthy lifestyle, and continue to participate actively as part of the community. As individuals, our elders have much to give of their experience and knowledge of life.
For our population to age in a healthy and productive way, everyone in the community and different sectors, including the government, private and social institutions like the welfare sector, medical sector, employers, infrastructural sector like architects and planners, and the media, to name a few, need to work together to create an environment which allows our elders to age and live as active members of the community. This is a multi-dimensional topic which requires extensive discussion and great awareness in the society. To start focusing discussions and efforts in the community on population ageing, the Elderly Commission will be organising a symposium on "Challenges and Opportunities of an Ageing Population" on June 8, 2002 to stimulate discussions on population ageing.
In fact, the '8-Hour Elderly Famine' is a very good example of the opportunities that can be created by different sectors working together to underline the positive aspects of ageing. It has fostered cross-sectoral collaboration between different sectors of the society, including NGOs - e.g. the World Vision Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Baptist Hospital Au Shue Hung Health Centre, and the media - Radio 5, of the Radio Television Hong Kong. I would like to invite other sectors in the society to follow their lead and provide more opportunities for elderly members of the community to participate in similar meaningful events.
Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish today's event every success and my warmest regards to all of you.
END/Tuesday, May 28, 2002