Following is the speech (English only) by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, at the Opening Ceremony of the 11th World Congress of the International Society for Prosthetics & Orthotics (ISPO) at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this afternoon (August 1):
Mr Heim, Professor Mak, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
You have honoured me in asking me to open the Eleventh World Congress of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics.
Let me extend a warm welcome to all the speakers and delegates, especially those who have come from overseas and the Mainland. We're delighted that you've chosen to hold this important triennial event in Hong Kong. You have also created what I regard as a wonderfully apt Congress logo, which blends the Chinese character for innovation, with a universal symbol for disability and the letters I-S-P-O. The logo cleverly embodies the very spirit of innovation of this Congress.
As an international trade and financial hub, Hong Kong's forte is providing services, a sector that accounts for 88 per cent of our GDP. We're all about adding value, which is precisely what the members of this Organisation do when you use technology to improve people's lives.
The theme of this Congress, 'Innovation for Quality Living', fits Hong Kong to a tee. We emphasise innovation as a means of rising to the challenge of global competition. Hong Kong might have more experience in re-inventing itself than any other city in the world. As for 'quality living', high quality is one of the values that underpin Hong Kong's position as a world-class metropolitan. And we want people with disabilities to participate in our modern lifestyle as much as possible.
Indeed, the Hong Kong SAR Government is fully committed to building an inclusive society. Public educational institutions assist people with disabilities to learn in a mainstream setting. Employers in the public sector, and increasingly in the private sector, strive to accommodate employees with disabilities. Updated building codes, coupled with the entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector, have enabled people with disabilities to enjoy much greater access to buildings, travel, recreation and life-enriching services. The creation of accessible Government web pages is helping people with disabilities gain equal access to public services.
We are making progress in your specific field, as well. Back in the 1960s, Hong Kong established local training for prosthetists and orthotists. Later, we supported the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in establishing Asia's first university honours degree course in prosthetics and orthotics. Some of you will have the opportunity to visit our hospitals, universities and non-government organisations during your stay. You will see many of our graduates in prosthetics and orthotics working diligently in these institutions to provide world-class service and achieve remarkable results.
Speaking of remarkable achievements, ladies and gentlemen, it is most fitting that the music performance we will hear in a few minutes is dedicated to the Honorary Chairman of this World Congress, Professor Sir Harry Fang, who unfortunately cannot join us. Sir Harry has long been a beacon of inspiration and leadership in the world of rehabilitation. He has earned our admiration for his immense contribution to improving the lives of people with disabilities.
Lastly, I would like to congratulate the organising committee for putting together this significant event. I wish all of you a productive Congress, and our overseas visitors an enjoyable stay in this Asia's world city.
Thank you very much.
End/Sunday, August 1, 2004