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Speech by the Secretary for Justice


Following is the speech delivered by the Secretary for Justice, Ms Elsie Leung, at the Civil Service Management Forum today (August 27):

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Civil Service Management Forum - A world-class government for Asia's world city.

This is one of eight management forums being held this week. By the end of Thursday, more than 14,000 of your civil service colleagues will have taken part in this innovative exercise. I am sure you will find it an interesting and worthwhile undertaking.

The emphasis today is on communication. The forum has been designed to facilitate and stimulate discussion among participants. So please, speak openly and freely and share your experience and ideas with those around you.

I would like to say from the outset that I believe we have a world-class government. But at the same time the world is changing so fast, which means that we have to constantly review and upgrade what we do to make sure that we always will have a world-class government.

Today, you will examine some of the challenges facing Hong Kong as we strive to achieve our goal to become Asia's world city. You will also examine how these challenges affect the work you do as civil servants. By the end of the session it is hoped you will have a deeper and common understanding of how a world-class government underpins our world city efforts. We can't have one without the other.

As you will have seen from the short video presentation just now, we must work in partnership within and outside government to achieve our goals. We do face some difficult tasks, but I am sure that by working together with our colleagues, with the private sector, NGOs, legislators and members of the public, our fine civil service will manage to overcome these challenges with their trademark dedication and drive.

Over the past five years the civil service has played a vital role in implementing 'One Country, Two Systems' and the Basic Law. I think you have done a very good job at managing these momentous and historic changes.

Now, just two months after the 5th Anniversary of the HKSAR, we are looking forward to what the next five or 10 years may hold. There are many forces of change impacting on Hong Kong and our government. China's entry to the WTO, greater flows of people and goods into the Mainland, increasing population, economic restructuring. All of these, plus many others, will have some effect on your work as civil servants and the services you provide to the community.

Today, you will discuss a wide range of political, organisational and management issues. Some of them may have a direct bearing in your work; others may affect the work of colleagues in your discussion group. Within my own area of responsibility I would like to make a few observations that might be useful during your deliberations.

When looking forward, I believe we should remember the fundamental strengths that have helped us to deal with challenges in the past, and will help us to deal with the challenges of the future:

* Our legal system, underpinned by the rule of law, and an independent judiciary, is the cornerstone for Hong Kong as a world city.

* The common law legal system is enshrined in the Basic Law, which provides that the legal system shall remain unchanged under the concept of 'One Country, Two Systems'.

* At the same time, since the common law evolves with the passage of time by reflecting the social, economic and cultural changes of the community; hence it is a living law and will not be overtaken by the development of the fast-moving world.

* Therefore, it is imperative that we must uphold the Basic Law, maintain the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, and must be sensitive to the progress and development of our community in order to maintain our position as a world city.

* Of vital importance to the civil service is that we continue to remain one of the cleanest administrations in the world, with a strong commitment to the level playing field and zero tolerance of corruption.

* We should respect the rights and opinions of others and make our decisions based on fair and honest assessment and criteria. We should treat all people with dignity, good manners, tact and, where necessary, compassion.

The civil service is facing increased demands from the public and as a result increasing pressure on time and resources. Sometimes I feel frustrated that I can't do more with the limited resources available. I am quite sure that many of you also feel likewise. This is only natural. The most important thing is that you keep trying to do your best and that you be fair and equitable in your daily dealings with the community we serve and the colleagues you work with.

Instead of grumbling about polarization in the society, the restraint in resources and the uncertainty of an ever-changing world, I believe that a civil service career is a worthy undertaking. If we make best use of the training and development opportunities made available by the government we can equip ourselves to make people feel that we serve them, we facilitate their activities and that we are an indispensable fabric of our society.

The next few years are going to be very interesting in Hong Kong. Today's discussions will help you all to visualize the challenges and opportunities that are heading this way. And I hope they will also stimulate a lively flow of views that will lead to innovative and practical ways in which we can tackle these issues as individuals, and as a government.

Thank you.

End/Tuesday, August 27, 2002


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