Following is the speech by the Commissioner of Correctional Services, Mr Pang Sung-yuen, at the ceremony for the launch of "Continuing Care Project", the setting up of "CSD Rehabilitation Volunteer Group"' and the appointment of "'Rehabilitation Ambassadors" today (April 27).
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the ceremony. Among our guests are representatives from non-government organisations, community leaders, professionals and vigorous college students. We have also among us our top athlete Mr Wong Kam-po who just returned from Shanghai for the occasion. Your presence not only brightens up this ceremony but also shows your recognition of ''Support for Rehabilitated Offenders'' activities. First of all, I thank you for your contribution.
You may agree that the ultimate aim of detention of offenders is to prepare them for reintegration into society as law-abiding citizens. Cases of successful rehabilitation will help lower recidivism and the huge cost originally earmarked for crime prevention, apprehension of offenders, criminal prosecution and the execution of court orders by the Correctional Services Department can be spent on other public services or infrastructure work to benefit the whole community.
However, efforts by the government and rehabilitated offenders alone are not enough, so community acceptance and support is of paramount importance to the comprehensive and effective implementation of the 'Community Support for Rehabilitation of Offenders' project with successful and good results. Therefore, CSD is committed to encouraging the public and various organisations to actively take part in all rehabilitation services, seeing to it that prisoners and rehabilitated offenders alike will have better opportunities in reintegrating into society. The 'Continuing Care Project' and the setting up of 'CSD Rehabilitation Volunteer Group' are two of our newest attempts in this regard.
The 'Continuing Care Project' was launched in February this year as a whole whereby supervisees who need continual counselling services after the expiry of the statutory period and are willing to join the project would be referred to seven designated non-government organisations for follow-up actions. A number of organisations have shown keen interest in the project, of which seven, namely Caritas Hong Kong; Hong Kong Christian Services; the Society of Rehabilitation and Crime Prevention, Hong Kong; Caritas Lok Heep Club; Barnabas Charitable Service Association; the Jockey Club Home Circuit; and Methodist Centre, have agreed to be the receiving organisations for such referrals. It is the great fortune of rehabilitated offenders to have the above organisations' support and participation.
The 'CSD Rehabilitation Volunteer Group' was set up in early 2004 with the help of the Agency for Volunteer Service. It comprises mostly college students and serving teachers. At present, about 43 volunteers who have just completed training are conducting courses in languages, computer studies and other cultural pursuits for over 250 adult prisoners in 14 penal institutions. Some of the volunteers also take part in our 'Options in Life' roving student forums which are being held in various districts. Their selfless dedication and commitment in supporting rehabilitated offenders deserve our highest respect.
In addition, CSD appoints celebrities as 'Rehabilitation Ambassadors' every year to help spread the 'Community Support for Rehabilitated Offenders' message and encourage public support for and acceptance of rehabilitated offenders. Famous artiste Mr Andy Hui has kindly agreed to be our 'Rehabilitation Ambassador' for 2004. In order to tie in with this year's publicity theme for the 'Community Support for Rehabilitated Offenders', i.e. to live a healthy life, we have invited four well-known athletes and artistes, namely Mr Wong Kam-po, Mr Lee Chi-wo, Mr Alex Fong and Ms Rebecca Chiu, as our 'Rehabilitation Ambassadors'. Mr Wong Kam-po, while fully engaged, has returned from Shanghai to join in this ceremony. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate him on his winning the Men's National 180 km-Speedway Cycling Championship in Shanghai on 22 April, 2004. Unfortunately, the three other new ambassadors will not be present in the ceremony, but they will meet us through video to convey the message. I trust that through the firm support of Mr Wong Kam-po and other ambassadors, the community in response to their calls will better understand the needs of rehabilitated offenders and support their course in returning to society.
Last but not the least, I sincerely extend my gratitude to all of you. Your presence not only tells prisoners and rehabilitated offenders that they have not been forgotten or abandoned by society, but also makes an example for other people to follow by contributing themselves to the rehabilitation work.
I hope everyone of you will continue to support our further enhancement and development of rehabilitation services so that rehabilitated offenders can successfully reintegrate into society as ordinary citizens for building a stable community altogether. Thank you.
End/ Tuesday, April 27, 2004