Following is the translation of the opening remarks by the Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, at a press conference held at the Central Government Offices this afternoon (March 10).
Fellow citizens, friends,
An hour ago, I tendered my resignation as Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to the Central Government.
Eight years ago, I was appointed by the Central Government as Chief Executive of HKSAR. Together with the Hong Kong people, I embarked on a road never travelled before - the implementation of "One Country, Two Systems", "Hong Kong People Running Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy.
During this time, we have successfully implemented the "One Country, Two Systems" principle. For the first time in our history, Hong Kong's citizens began to take charge of their own affairs. Together, we have ensured that Hong Kong remains a free and pluralistic society under the rule of law. We have protected the rights and freedoms of our people. We embarked on a steady and deliberate path towards greater representation and democracy as outlined in our constitutional document, the Basic Law.
During this time, we have worked closely together with the Central Government to implement policies that have allowed Hong Kong to fully leverage the rapid growth of Mainland China. These measures have provided the impetus for Hong Kong's economic restructuring and sustainable development. Our country continues to grow and prosper. It continues to play a more central role on the world stage. It remains socially and politically stable. Today, the people of Hong Kong increasingly identify with China and our Chinese heritage.
During this time, we have together overcome enormous challenges. We faced the bursting of the asset bubble, the pain of economic restructuring, and the SARS outbreak. Throughout the difficult times we faced over the past eight years, I have shared your pain and anguish. Not one day passed when I did not work to ease your suffering, and address your needs. I understood your concerns and aspirations. The people of Hong Kong drew on their courage and wisdom to face challenge after challenge. I will forever appreciate and remember your determination, patience and understanding over the past years.
Through the hard work of Hong Kong people, and the support of the Central Government, Mainland provinces and cities, the Hong Kong economy is now well on its way to recovery. The political and social environment of the entire community has stabilised. Since the third quarter of last year, I began to notice a steady decline in my general health, due to long working hours in recent years. On the other hand, greater effort is still needed to consolidate and develop the recent gains in the economic and social areas. Taking into account the interests of Hong Kong, I considered tendering my resignation to the Central Government. I felt this was the responsible thing to do for Hong Kong and the country. Indeed, I have reflected my views to concerned departments of the Central Government.
I have been nominated as a candidate for Vice-Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. I appreciate the trust placed upon me by the Central Government with this nomination, and want to thank them sincerely. After careful consideration, I have tendered my resignation as Chief Executive. I hope that the Central Government will understand my own circumstances and the overall situation and approve my request.
Fellow citizens, I believe Hong Kong today is in a pretty good position. I now have even higher hopes for Hong Kong's future. After eight years of challenges and restructuring, Hong Kong is now better equipped to sail into the future. "One Country, Two Systems" will prevail. "One Country, Two Systems" has also given Hong Kong unrivalled competitive advantages. These competitive advantages, now properly nurtured, will continue to become more evident and play an increasingly important role in our continued development. Perhaps most importantly, Hong Kong people - always dedicated, diligent, resilient, and motivated - will together create an even better tomorrow.
I am privileged to have served the people of Hong Kong and my country as Chief Executive. It has indeed been a unique honour. I am grateful for the opportunity given to me by the people of Hong Kong, and the trust placed upon me by the Central Government. I thank my colleagues for their tireless support and encouragement, and I thank my family for their unending care and concern.
(to be continued)
Ends/Thursday, March 10, 2005