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FS' speech


Following is a speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr Antony Leung, at the Quality Award Dinner organised by the Hong Kong Management Association (HKMA) at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong tonight (July 4):

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you David (David Li, Chairman of the HKMA) for the very kind introduction. Thank you for inviting me to the HKMA Quality Award Dinner. It's a slice of heaven to be here in this welcoming environment, and saluting these outstanding examples of leadership in the field of management.

Tonight I assume it's appropriate for me to speak about quality. High quality is one of the core values that underpins Hong Kong's brand positioning as Asia's world city and embodies what we offer the world.

As I said in my maiden budget speech last year, the key to success in business is either a competitive price or product differentiation. Given Hong Kong's costs, even though they are lower now, we have to establish competitive edge through differentiating our products or services. This calls for market-driven, customer-oriented services and products delivered or made with quality, speed and creativity. These three attributes are essential for any industries. In my speech that day, I cited Hong Kong's world-renowned restaurants and our dynamic garment industry as examples of the kind of quality that raises the bar. And it doesn't matter whether you're big or small, local or international, you can aim to reach that level.

These attributes of quality, speed and creativity are the way we add value. That's what Hong Kong does best and must keep doing, i.e. moving up the value chain, particularly in our four fast-growing sectors of financial services, logistics, tourism, and producer and professional services.

The importance of quality within a company is equally, if not more, important. Excellence in management involves a vast range of issues, including leadership, strategic planning, adaptability, creativity, and the ability to think critically and seize opportunities in a timely fashion. It means increasing productivity by taking advantage of new technologies in supply chain management, data analysis and process management. All the award winners today, as well as previous winners, have put in tremendous efforts to achieve topmost quality in their companies. I hope you all become ambassadors to promote the culture of quality, which is so crucial to our economic success.

I'd like to take this opportunity to discuss quality as it relates to Hong Kong's battle against SARS and our ensuing recovery from the crisis. Our medical professionals are undoubtedly of the highest quality in the world. I am truly thankful for their selflessness, dedication and courage in our battle. They were nothing less than top-notch. We also witnessed quality in the responses of the restaurant, retail, tourism and entertainment sectors. They took the necessary precautions -- whether it was wearing gloves and masks or distributing disinfectant wipes -- and responded positively to the market demand for better hygiene. We also saw some companies grab the new business opportunities that arose, in such areas as cleaning services and video-conferencing.

As we put the SARS outbreak firmly behind us and reflect back on it, what strikes me is how the crisis thrust Hong Kong's strengths into the spotlight. It highlighted the professionalism of our health-care workers and the quality of our people. It showed the world how transparent our government is, and how free and independent the press is here. And it brought out the community spirit, the compassion and the generosity of Hong Kong people that was always there but really had a chance to shine during our recent difficulties.

Notwithstanding our success in combating SARS, we shall continue to be vigilant. At the same time, we are putting forward an all-encompassing economic relaunch programme to rebuild confidence, stimulate consumption, promote tourism and attract investment.

We are being proactive in spreading the message, both to our community and to the rest of the world, that Hong Kong is a safe place to visit and is worth a visit. That message is getting through. We can see that the number of visitor arrivals is growing gradually and steadily. Just two weeks ago, the Hong Kong Tourism Board launched a global tourism marketing campaign in both short- and long-haul destinations. We aim to put Hong Kong firmly back on the tourist and business travel map. Concurrently, a series of investment promotional programmes are being launched worldwide to re-assert Hong Kong's position as the most strategic two-way platform for engaging the massive Mainland market. The action at home will be just about non-stop, with high-profile events in the sports, entertainment and cultural fields augmented by various promotions and extravaganzas for tourists, shoppers and diners.

To reinforce the basic note of revitalizing our economy, we have recently reached a landmark agreement with the Mainland on the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, commonly known as CEPA, that will open enormous business opportunities for the international and local business community present in Hong Kong. I do not think I need to repeat what has been widely reported in the media in the past few days.

Suffice for me to underline that CEPA is of high quality in terms of meeting the requirements of WTO rules and the principle of "One country, Two systems". CEPA provides a platform for Hong Kong to restructure the economy. To fully reap the benefits provided by CEPA, our business community must seize the opportunities and upgrade the quality of our products and services. The Mainland market will be open for global competition eventually, and it is only through quality that our businessmen could compete with the rest of the world and remain in the leading position.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to commend the Hong Kong Management Association for its fine work in striving to improve the quality of management in Hong Kong. And congratulations to the winners of these prestigious awards. You epitomise the high quality that is a core element of Hong Kong's positioning as Asia's world city. Keep up the good work.

Thank you very much.

End/Friday, July 4, 2003


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