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Speech by SFST at Opening Ceremony of 39th Joint School Science Exhibition (English only)

    Following is a speech by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Frederick Ma, at the Opening Ceremony of the 39th Joint School Science Exhibition today (August 25):

Distinguished guests, young scientists, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. It is my great pleasure to be here today. I am most happy to see so many brilliant young scientists from Hong Kong and overseas at this Opening Ceremony of the 39th Joint School Science Exhibition.

     The Joint School Science Exhibition is an important occasion for students from Hong Kong and other places to share ideas and exchange thoughts. This exhibition has inspired thousands of young people in its almost 40 years of history. It offers students a precious opportunity to showcase their achievement which can motivate them to further their pursuit of scientific knowledge. Here, I would like to express my deep appreciation of the efforts of the Joint School Science Exhibition Preparation Committee which has made this event an overwhelming success.

     The theme of the Exhibition this year is "Science Unlimited, Health Potentiated" which aims at enhancing students' awareness of health in view of recent issues such as urban pollution.  

     Science has an important role in improving our life. Scientists have been looking for ways to enhance productivity. Many great inventions like aircraft, the light bulb, telephone and internet have changed the way we produce and live. However, rapid economic development comes at a cost, notably concerns about pollution.  

     A pollution-free environment is something that every city wishes to enjoy. This is also a common goal of Hong Kong people. As an international financial centre, Hong Kong possesses various strengths and advantages including our rule of law, free economy, well-established and advanced financial infrastructure and effective regulatory regime. Talents and investors are attracted to Hong Kong from all over the world. Yet, to maintain Hong Kong's competitiveness and attractiveness to investors and talents, we need to attach great importance to upgrading the quality of our living environment.  

     Concerns have been expressed by some in the financial services industry about the pollution level in Hong Kong, noting that the issue may prompt fund managers currently based here to move over to some other international financial centres. While Hong Kong cannot afford to ignore such concern, it is reassuring to note that Hong Kong's fund management business is in a growing trend. According to the findings of a Fund Management Activities Survey released recently by the Securities and Futures Commission, Hong Kong's combined fund management business in 2005 amounted to HK$4,526 billion, an increase of 25% from 2004. Compared with 2003, the year in which registered institutions began to participate in the survey, the combined fund management business registered a two-year growth of 54%, representing an average growth of 27% per year.

     One of the key factors for the promising development of the fund management business in Hong Kong is our rich pool of talent. However, whether we can retain and further attract more talent to support the future development of our financial services industry depends very much on the quality of our living environment. We must spare no effort in upgrading the quality of our living environment to make our home a better place to live in and work, and a world city that continues to draw talent and investment worldwide. I can assure you that the Government is taking positive measures and initiatives to reduce pollution in the city. One example is the launching of the Action Blue Sky Campaign, which aims at enhancing community awareness and participation in combating air pollution.

     The theme of today's exhibition is timely, bringing us to the right focus of science today:  How can science help create a better environment that is now being threatened by pollution?  

     Ladies and gentlemen, science can change our future; and the future of our society lies in the hands of aspiring young people like you. Young people who can innovate, cooperate with others, and stay resilient would be able to rise up to the challenge and make our earth a better place. I wish you all the best in your adventure in the world of science. Thank you.

Ends/Friday, August 25, 2006
Issued at HKT 15:15