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Speech by S for S at Launch Ceremony of "Safer
Living - Reducing Natural Disasters"


    Following is the speech by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, at the Launch Ceremony of "Safer Living - Reducing Natural Disasters" today (March 5):

Chairman of the Organising Committee, Mr Mak Shu-hei, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

    The theme of this event is "Safer Living - Reducing Natural Disasters". It brings back memories of the havoc wrecked by the typhoons that hit Hong Kong in the 1960s and 70s. I believe friends of a mellower vintage will still remember the wrath of Typhoon Wanda and Typhoon Rose, which left in their trails serious casualties and damage. The costs of the subsequent rebuilding and refurbishments were staggering. The horrific downpours on June 18, 1972 were the reason behind two massive landslides in Po Shan Road at the Mid-Levels and Sau Mau Ping, and they claimed more than 100 souls. Typhoon Ellen in 1983 and, more recently, Typhoon York in 1999 also brought heavy loss of life and property.

    The typhoons I have just mentioned may sound unfamiliar to the younger generation, but they must have heard of announcements of "Landslip Warning" and "Lower Area Floodings" during or prior to torrential rain. The Government aims to reduce loss and damage brought about by bad weather, by means of advice given to members of the public to stay alert and take precautionary measures.

    The recent tsunami in South Asia claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and incalculable economic loss to the region. This unthinkable damage has reminded us of the vulnerability of man in the face of natural disasters notwithstanding the advances in material society. Life is precious and fragile. We cannot afford to be complacent. We ought to think ahead and be vigilant to avoid being caught unawares by natural disasters.

    We are kicking off this day a year-long public education project on "Safer Living". The Security Bureau, the Civil Engineering and Development Department and the Hong Kong Observatory have been planning for the events since last September.  The campaign is also jointly organised by the Drainage Services Department, Information Services Department, the various Government Emergency Response Units and the Hong Kong Red Cross.

    Through the "Safer Living" campaign, we wish to promote public awareness of natural disasters, encouraging members of the public to join in the effort to take precautions against natural disasters. A series of activities will be organised throughout the year, including Tropical Cyclone Naming Contest, Slogan and Bookmark Design Contest, drills, public lectures, exhibitions and seminars, together with publicity and documentary television programmes. We hope to enhance knowledge in the community about this important issue.

    I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a healthy and prosperous year of the Rooster.

    Thank you.

Ends/Saturday, March 5, 2005


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