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CS's speech in London


Follows is a speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, at the Gala Luncheon of the Hong Kong Festival in London, Claridge's Hotel (July 4, London time):

Your Royal Highness, Ambassador Ma, my Lords, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

It is a great pleasure to join you all today for this Gala event to launch the Hong Kong Festival in London. I am extremely happy that His Royal Highness has taken such a great interest in Hong Kong and has joined us today as our guest of honour.

The Hong Kong Festival in London marks the 5th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It showcases the dynamism and energy of Hong Kong - a city of constant change and renewal; a city where East and West blend seamlessly; a progressive, free and stable city; a city of enormous opportunity where quality is premium. We call it Asia's world city.

Three days ago President Jiang Zemin joined us in Hong Kong for similar celebrations. Five years after Reunification, Hong Kong remains an open, vibrant and plural society under the rule of law.

The unique and visionary concept of 'One Country, Two Systems' is working well in Hong Kong.

The historic Sino-British Joint Declaration laid out the framework for us to maintain our way of life after the return to the motherland.

That framework is enshrined in the Basic Law that strengthens our rights and freedoms, and allows our entrepreneurial and industrious people to pursue their dreams and build a better life for themselves and their families.

Underpinning these freedoms are the institutions and principles on which our society has been built, and which are a legacy of our shared history. The rule of law upheld by an independent judiciary, a level playing field for business, a clean civil service and the free flow of information. These foundations remain as relevant and important today as they did 5, 10 or 50 years ago.

On July 1, our Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, was sworn in for a second five-year term. On the same day, a new Ministerial-style system was inaugurated to help us provide a more open, accountable and forward-looking government.

Our new team will function much like Cabinet Ministers under the Westminster system. It will be responsible for setting the government's policy agenda and building a consensus for these policies within the community.

After 35 years as a civil servant, I have left the civil service to take up the appointment as Chief Secretary for Administration, who is the captain of this team. It's a bit like Humphrey Appleby stepping into the shoes of Jim Hacker.

It also means that our top civil servants will no longer need to play the political role of setting policies at our legislature and taking a lead in defending them in public. The new system will allow us to develop a truly professional, politically neutral and permanent civil service, working in partnership with the politically-appointed Principal Officials.

We are building a home-grown system of administration that will make our government more attuned to the needs and aspirations of the community. In other words, a system of government 'Made in Hong Kong'.

As we celebrate our 5th Anniversary, we look forward to what the next five years may hold. The continued opening up of the Mainland China market presents enormous opportunities for international companies. This will underline the importance of Hong Kong as an international financial centre, steering our economy on an accelerated course up the higher value-added chain.

British businesses know that Hong Kong is and will remain the premier international business city of Asia, as well as the best launching pad into the Mainland market.

Nowhere else in Asia offers the access, experience and services that we do in Hong Kong. And I want you to know that we are doing an enormous amount of work in Hong Kong to ensure that we not only retain that role but enhance it.

Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen, there are very strong and warm links between Hong Kong and the UK, not just in trade and commerce, but also in areas such as tourism and education, in government-to-government links and between friends and relatives.

Our Economic and Trade Office here in London has put together an interesting programme over the next three months to showcase our great city, in one of the world's greatest cities.

I hope that you will all be able to spare some time to experience what is on offer during the festival, and to gain a better insight into the charms and excitement of Hong Kong, Asia's world city.

Thank you.

End/Thursday, July 4, 2002


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