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Speech by SLW at "FAMILY: A Jockey Club Initiative for a Harmonious Society Annual Symposium" (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the "FAMILY: A Jockey Club Initiative for a Harmonious Society Annual Symposium" today (November 7):

Brian (Mr Brian Stevenson, Deputy Chairman, The Hong Kong Jockey Club), William (Mr William Yiu, Executive Director, Charities, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust), Professor Tsui (Professor Tsui Lap-chee, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Hong Kong), Professor Schwarzer (Professor Ralf Schwarzer, Freie Universitat Berlin), Dr Viswanath (Dr Vish Viswanath, Harvard School of Public Health), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     I am honoured to be here for this annual symposium which focuses on an issue dear to all our hearts - the family.  Let me first extend a very warm welcome to you all, especially those who have travelled from overseas to participate in this symposium.

     The theme of today's symposium - "Multidisciplinary Collaboration to Promote Family Health, Happiness and Harmony" succinctly highlights the importance of adopting a multi-disciplinary approach in empowering families. It takes us all - experts from the health, social, psychology and policy sectors - to explore and share the best practices to promote family and societal harmony.

     The past year or so was indeed a trying time for Hong Kong.  The financial tsunami which battered us in end-2008 was followed by human swine influenza which erupted in our community in April this year.  All Hong Kong families were hit.  This double jeopardy reminds me of the saying that it never rains but it pours.  Despite these twin blows, we managed to weather the storm and keep Hong Kong on an even keel.  In confronting these dual challenges, and indeed, in times of adversities, families play a pivotal role in maintaining social cohesion.  The family is a haven of hope and support, a beacon of compassion, a place where one can confide, confess, consult and communicate candidly and openly.  This explains why a problem or broken family, more often than not, breeds social problems, ranging from juvenile delinquency, domestic violence to marital breakdown, abuse of children and the elderly, and various forms of emotional problems and mental illness such as depression and suicidal tendency.  It is therefore no cliche that the family is the most important fabric weaving our community together.

     However, families of Hong Kong are facing structural changes, and relationships among family members have also changed.  Some of the traditional core values to uphold family solidarity are being eroded.  Traditional functions of the family as a support system to individuals have also changed.  An increasing number of working parents and single parents also means an increasing demand for family support and child care services.

     So, what should be the role of the Government vis-j-vis the family?  We see the role of the Hong Kong SAR Government as an enabler.  We are committed to providing enhanced support to empower families and facilitate the building of more caring social networks.  The Family Council, chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration, will launch a territory-wide "Happy Family Campaign" to further promote family core values, and to appeal to the public to build HKSAR families (i.e. Happy, Kind, Supportive, Appreciative and Responsible families), and to foster a culture of loving families.  The Chief Executive has tasked the Family Council to develop policy options to alleviate the various social problems confronting us at the family level.   

     Through the Family Council, the Home Affairs Bureau will co-ordinate and liaise with all relevant stakeholders in setting up a "Happy Family Info Hub"- a multi-sectoral and interactive support network and platform for exchange of information.  The provision of family support work spans various bureaus and departments and calls for concerted efforts.  Like multi-disciplinary collaboration within the administration, tripartite partnership between the Government, the private sector and the civil society, charitable bodies such as the Hong Kong Jockey Club is crucial for taking forward initiatives for happy families and harmonious society.  This symposium provides a timely platform to discuss and explore best practices to achieve sustainable efforts to empower families.  I commend the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust for conceiving this most worthwhile project and staging this prestigious event.

     Let me conclude by wishing this symposium every success.  In family matters, love is the best policy.  Only when the community harnesses the power of love together with individual families to overcome adversity can the "three Hs" - health, happiness, harmony - flourish and help us all grasp new opportunities.  Thank you.

Ends/Saturday, November 7, 2009
Issued at HKT 10:01


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