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STH's speech at opening ceremony of "Hong Kong -- Maritime Focus" roving exhibition (English only)

    Following is the speech by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, at the opening ceremony of the "Hong Kong -- Maritime Focus" roving exhibition at Exchange Square, Central today (October 2):

CC (CC Tung), Mark (Mark Whitehead, Executive Director of Hong Kong Land), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to be with you all this evening to officiate at the opening of this magnificent "Hong Kong -- Maritime Focus" roving exhibition, jointly organised by the Hong Kong Maritime Industry Council and the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. Also, I am most delighted to meet the deck and engineer cadets, our future leaders in the maritime workforce, and to present to them the rewards that mark the successful completion of months of intensive training at sea.

     The exhibition is a celebratory event for the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong SAR, as well as celebration of a decade of success for our maritime industry.

     With a history of over 160 years, we are now the world's seventh largest maritime centre. Our ship-owners own, manage, or operate over 1,200 ships, amounting to over eight per cent of the world's merchant fleet in terms of deadweight tonnage. Hong Kong is now among the world's top five shipping registers with over 35 million registered tonnage. Our natural deep-water harbour, world-class infrastructure, a simple and low tax regime, a clean and efficient government and a business-friendly environment have worked together to make us one of the most competitive shipping hubs in the world.  

     Our success would not be possible without the support of our industry and a group of high-calibre home grown maritime professionals. To maintain our position as an international maritime centre, we launched a Sea-going Training Incentive Scheme in 2004 and helped cultivate a new generation of seafaring professionals. A total of 68 young people have taken up this challenging career. Today, we are delighted to see that over one-third of our cadets have already obtained their first professional qualification.  

     To maintain our industry's competitive edge, we have also established the Hong Kong Maritime Scholarship to encourage the best and brightest individuals from Hong Kong and the Mainland to join the maritime sector. In addition, we have been working with international bodies such as BIMCO to organise different training programmes in Hong Kong.  

     Ladies and gentlemen, riding on a decade of success, and with Mainland China's economic powerhouse steaming forward, we foresee a bright future for the maritime industry. I am confident that our strong Government-industry partnership will enable us to seize the exciting opportunities ahead of us.

     In closing, I would like to thank the Hong Kong Maritime Museum for putting together this beautiful exhibition. My thanks also go to Hongkong Land for making available this first-class venue, the Rotunda, for our exhibition.

     I wish you all an enjoyable evening and, for the cadets, a successful maritime career. Thank you very much.

Ends/Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Issued at HKT 19:56


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