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CS speaks at the Federation of Hong Kong Industries Annual Dinner 2006 (With photo)

    Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Rafael Hui, at the Annual Dinner 2006 of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries (FHKI) at the Island Shangri-La Hotel this (March 2) evening:

Chairman, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening. It's a privilege to be invited to speak at the annual dinner of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries. Hong Kong would not be the prosperous and modern world city it is today without the invaluable contributions made over the years by this Federation and its members. All of us in Hong Kong should be thankful for the leadership you have provided in our economic development.

     As you probably know, the Academy Awards will be handed out next Monday morning, and Chinese around the world will be following the show with extra interest to see how Mr Ang Lee fares. If there were an Oscar for most successful economy, Hong Kong would be a strong contender. And the Oscar for best actor would surely go to Hong Kong's business community. I don't think the HKSAR Government would qualify for best director honours, given our principle of "Big Market, Small Government", but we could share producer credits.

     The Federation of Hong Kong Industries' starring role is well known. Industrialisation was the driving force of Hong Kongˇ¦s economic development in the decades immediately after the Second World War. The expertise of the first batch of industrialists from the Mainland, and later our home-grown entrepreneurs - together with a large, hardworking and skillful local labour force - provided a perfect combination for our industrial sector to take off. When the Mainland began opening up in the late 1970s, it provided the opportunity for Hong Kong industries to expand their horizons. Lately, from across the border, our manufacturers have spawned new operations and services higher up in the value chain, thereby continuing to fuel Hong Kong's economic growth.

     Thanks to the entrepreneurship, diligence and astute business sense of our people, Hong Kong has impressed the world by turning this one-time fishing village into Asiaˇ¦s world city ˇV a leading international business hub and financial centre. China's accession to the World Trade Organization, our growing economic co-operation with the Mainland, and the introduction of CEPA have all contributed to our current economic success. Last year, Hong Kong's total merchandise exports surged 11% to more than HK$2,000 billion. We welcomed more than 23 million visitors from around the world, providing a nice boost to our retail and other service sectors. The unemployment rate has fallen to 5.2%, the lowest level since 2001, and direct investment continues to flow into Hong Kong, reaching about HK$208 billion in the first three quarters of 2005.

     Business has always played a leading role in Hong Kong's economic development. But lately, Hong Kong enterprises have begun to focus on more than just the bottom line. Increasingly, they are also assuming other principal roles in corporate and social responsibility.

     I would like to touch on three areas of social responsibility, the first being the environment. Some of our trading partners, for instance, have pushed for more eco-friendly modes of production of the goods they import. While the Government fully supports such green initiatives, we cannot take them forward without the support of everyone in the community. I am grateful that the Federation has initiated and participated in many projects to promote green awareness in both Hong Kong and our manufacturing hinterland. The effort you make now will help sustain the growth and development of Hong Kong.

     Second, I know you are already active in social services. Under the Caring Company campaign launched by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, for example, business organisations, including the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, have demonstrated their commitment by establishing a strategic partnership with the social service sectors and we hope that there will be more active participation by small and medium enterprises, which form the majority of our business establishment. After all, it is always beneficial to have your brands or names associated with a good cause, which the community at large appreciates and remembers.

     Finally, I would like to talk about your role in constitutional development. Traditionally, Hong Kong business people have left politics mainly to others to sort out. Recently, though, the business community has become more proactive in making its views known. For example, in the recent debate on the electoral methods for 2007 and 2008, several business chambers expressed their support for the Government's proposed package ˇV notwithstanding some initial reservations about enhancing the role of District Council members. I applaud this more proactive approach. For democracy to mature, it requires deeper and wider engagement by all sectors of the community, including business. Only then can we build a consensus on taking Hong Kongˇ¦s constitutional development forward.

     At present, Functional Constituencies represent various business, professional and labour groups in the Legislative Council, including one member elected by the Federation of Hong Kong Industries. So, for now, you have a voice in LegCo. On the road to universal suffrage, however, Functional Constituencies will have to evolve. It is therefore of paramount importance that the business community continues to closely and actively participate in the process.  

     To ensure that your interests will continue to be addressed in the legislature to be formed by universal suffrage, I suggest you participate on three fronts. First, take an interest in the Chief Executive Election in 2007 and the LegCo Election in 2008. These will affect Hong Kongˇ¦s political direction. Second, contribute to the discussion on the future composition of LegCo. The Chief Executive has tasked the Commission on Strategic Development to formulate a roadmap for attaining universal suffrage, and we plan to conclude the discussions early next year. And third, whether individual business people stand for election or not, I believe the business community can play a larger role in nurturing and supporting political talent and parties. In business, capturing and increasing market share are essential for growth. Likewise, in politics, one must strive to obtain public support. I urge the business community to engage in shaping our constitutional future. I hope that over the next few years, I will see many of you getting immersed in elections or supporting candidates and political parties.

     Ladies and gentlemen, our business community has played the starring role in Hong Kong's phenomenal economic success. The time has come for you to expand your roles in environmental protection, social services and constitutional development. Increased community involvement by the business sector can only help Hong Kong maintain and surpass its economic accomplishments to date.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Thursday, March 2, 2006
Issued at HKT 20:39


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