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Speech by S for S at Ngong Ping Charity Walk 2008 opening ceremony

    Following is the speech by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, at the Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association 35th Anniversary - Ngong Ping Charity Walk 2008 opening ceremony today (January 20):

Mr Michael Wong, Chairman of the Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association, Mr John So, Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Ngong Ping Charity Walk 2008, fellow walkers, ladies and gentlemen,

     It is my great pleasure to be here today to officiate at the opening ceremony of the Ngong Ping Charity Walk 2008.  First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Chairman of the Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association for inviting me to this Charity Walk as the guest of honour.  I also wish to thank all the distinguished guests and each and every walker who honoured the association's call to support this meaningful event.  Special thanks go to the organising committee whose collective philanthropic spirit and love for nature led to this charity walk.

     The Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association was established in September, 1973.  Its noble objectives are to promote to all, and particularly to the younger generation, a love of and care for the countryside and local heritage.  The association also promotes health, recreation, team building and leadership training, and provides safe hostel accommodation to local and overseas hostellers.  

     As part of the events to celebrate the association's 35th anniversary, the organising committee has arranged this charity walk to promote healthy lifestyle, environmental protection and conservation amongst members of the community through hiking and other educational activities.  The walk indeed provides a golden opportunity for us, natural explorers who have an insatiable curiosity, to discover.  Our earth is made up of fascinating species that rely on natural environments for their survival.  Whether you love the ocean or feel most at peace in forests, a leisurely walk in the countryside allows you to appreciate the beauty of nature and the wide array of animals and plants that we all have the responsibility and ability to protect.

     Mankind is a part of nature and life hinges on the uninterrupted functioning of natural systems which ensure the supply of energy and nutrients.  Living in harmony with nature certainly helps build a sustainable living environment for all forms of life.  Such being the case, we must fully recognise the urgency of maintaining the stability and quality of nature and of conserving natural resources.  Working together in all endeavours offers the best future for our planet.

     Building a greener environment and ecological conservation is one of the major policy areas for the third term of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government.  For citizens to enjoy a quality life, countryside recreation areas are indispensable.  Despite our small area and dense population, protected green space still accounts for 40% of the land in our city, with country parks covering 417 square kilometres.  To step up our ecological conservation efforts and provide more open space, the Government, as undertaken in the 2007 Policy Address, has initiated the statutory procedures to designate our 24th country park which would be situated on Northern Lantau.  This would increase the total country park area considerably to 440 square kilometres.  The Government is committed to pushing ahead with greening work in densely populated urban areas and the countryside.  

     Turning to another raison d'etre of the Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association which is to provide simple and safe hostel accommodation for the young in their travels in Hong Kong and abroad: the proceeds from this fundraising campaign culminating in the charity walk will be used for the repair and maintenance of the association's hostels, in addition to supporting the association's youth development projects in environmental protection and cultural exchange activities.

     The association enables young people of differing nationalities, cultures and social background to meet informally, share experiences, learn about themselves, each other and their surroundings.  Its youth hostels provide a safe, clean and inexpensive accommodation for travellers who enjoy the company of others and the community spirit that the hostel embodies.  Understanding and gaining deeper knowledge of other cultures, ethnic groups and race are the basic tenets of the hostelling philosophy.  

     The turnout this morning speaks for itself.  The general public embraces the noble causes that the association has all along championed.  The response to the fundraising campaign has been remarkable.  I am deeply heartened by the large numbers that have joined us in today's charity walk to crown the charitable drive.  Thank you once again for your generosity.  I wish you all a pleasant and memorable walk.

Ends/Sunday, January 20, 2008
Issued at HKT 09:46


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