The following is the opening remarks by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Anson Chan, at the media briefing today (Tuesday) at Government House on the plan for building a Disney theme park in Hong Kong:
On behalf of the Special Administrative Region Government and the Walt Disney team, I am delighted to welcome you all here today and to share with you our plans in partnership with The Walt Disney Company for the creation of a Disney theme park destination at Penny's Bay on Lantau Island.
This project has been 12 months in the making, for it is just over a year now since we started discussions with Disney executives on the idea of having a Hong Kong Disneyland. Negotiations began in earnest nine months ago. They have been difficult negotiations as both parties attempted to hammer out a deal that they can respectively recommend to their authorities.
One year from conception to agreement is a measure of the seriousness of intent - and goodwill - both parties brought to the negotiating table. We have forged a partnership between two of the world's best-known brand names - Hong Kong and Disney.
The result is an exciting project which I am confident will capture the hearts and minds of the Hong Kong people and millions of others beyond our shores.
In a moment, the team from The Walt Disney Company will take you through their vision of Hong Kong Disneyland. I think you will be exhilarated and enchanted by what you see.
Before that, however, I would like to make a few points on behalf of the government.
Firstly, the deal we have struck with Disney is, we believe, a very good one. We also feel confident in recommending it to the Executive and Legislative Councils, whose approval we need before we can proceed. We also feel confident in commending it to the people of Hong Kong, whose support is essential.
Hong Kong Disneyland will be a marvelous asset to Hong Kong. It will provide a tremendous boost to the repositioning of our tourism sector, a strategy to which we attach the greatest importance. It will enhance our reputation as a world-class city with world-class attractions.
It will attract millions of visitors, provide tens of thousands of new jobs, enrich our commercial culture and business practices and introduce new cutting-edge technology at a time when we are positioning ourselves as a centre for innovation and technology.
Secondly, it is a huge vote of confidence in Hong Kong and our future by a global corporate icon. This should be a mutually beneficial and rewarding partnership both for Hong Kong and for The Walt Disney Company.
Thirdly, we believe this is a sound investment in our future and one we can afford. Government's spending is HK$22.45 billion, including infrastructure works, equity and loans. We will be able to earn a reasonable return on our equity whilst loans will be repayed with interest. Further, our subordinated shares representing the land premium can be converted into ordinary shares.
The economic benefits flowing back to the community over the next four decades will amount to some HK$148 billion at today's prices. That is good news for our economy now and in the longer term. You cannot put a price on the message that The Walt Disney Company sends to the world in choosing Hong Kong for its third international theme park destination.
There will be ample time at our two-day series of briefings to answer the questions that will arise about this dynamic project and its financial and economic implications. Above all, we want the Hong Kong public to understand what is involved and what it means for us as a community. This project belongs to the people of Hong Kong and we would want the community to take ownership of it.
With these few remarks, I have pleasure in handing over to Judson Green, Chairman of Walt Disney Attractions and the executive in charge of the development.
End/Tuesday, November 2, 1999