Following is a speech (English only) by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, at the International Social Services HK Branch (ISS-HK) Annual General Meeting 2002 today (November 29):
Mr Lawrence, Mr Yau, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to have been invited by ISS-HK to attend its Annual General Meeting 2002 and speak a few words on this occasion.
Since 1958, ISS-HK has played an important role in making children, individuals and families and migrants across countries live in dignity and harmony and become contributing members of society. It is also committed to making Hong Kong a more caring and compassionate society.
In particular, ISS is dedicated towards delivering quality and customized services to new arrivals from Mainland China and to non-Chinese ethnic minority groups in Hong Kong through its international network in over 100 countries and its expertise in handling cases requiring intercountry coordination. The ISS-HK Annual Report 2001/02 approved by the AGM just now speaks for the diversity and significance of the services provided by ISS-HK.
Of course, ISS-HK would not have been able to make such tremendous contribution to Hong Kong without the chairmanship and leadership of Mr Anthony Lawrence. Mr Lawrence has a wealth of rewarding experience, which all of us would look on with admiration - having been a journalist, military captain, editor, writer, lecturer, volunteer and last but not lest, the Chairman of ISS-HK since 1998.
Mr Lawrence not only led the ISS-HK through 1997 but also into the new millennium. Being an adamant advocate for the needy in the community, Mr Lawrence has played a most prominent role in developing new services for Vietnamese refugee children and new arrivals to Hong Kong.
In particular, the proposed Anthony Lawrence International Refuge for Newcomers, which will provide free temporary accommodation to displaced individuals and families who encounter difficulties in their first year of settlement in Hong Kong, is just a telling example of various down-to-earth measures under Mr Lawrence's initiative to help those genuinely in need. I am sure that all of you would agree with me that Mr Lawrence is an exemplary personality of volunteerism and civil spirit.
Like Mr Lawrence, the Government spares no efforts in addressing the needs of the under-privileged in the community. In the midst the current economic challenges, the Government continues to invest in the people and the community. Despite budgetary constraints, both the Government and the welfare sector have made a strenuous effort to re-engineer, re-structure and re-focus our limited resources and introduce new delivery models to re-target our services to those in need. It goes without saying that sustainable progress can only be made by close partnership between the Administration and all welfare stakeholders including the ISS-HK.
Lastly, I wish Mr Lawrence would continue to support our work upon his retirement. I also wish ISS-HK every success in its future endeavours under its new chairmanship.
End/Friday, November 29, 2002