Speech by SED at the Croucher Foundation Presentation Ceremony (English only)

    Following is the speech by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, at the Croucher Foundation Presentation Ceremony today (March 27):

Professor Y W Kan, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

    I am delighted to be here this afternoon to present the 2008 Croucher Senior Research Fellowships. Gathered here today are renowned scientists who have made invaluable contribution to the development of science and technology.

    Research is by its nature an act of creativity, of going beyond established knowledge, of asking bold questions and devising ways to answer them.  In an increasingly globalised and knowledge-based economy, we must embrace a culture of research and innovation, so that we can enhance our productivity, maintain our competitiveness at the international level, and contribute to the development of science and technology.

    Thanks to the hard work of our tertiary institutions, researchers and scientists, we have laid a solid foundation for research in Hong Kong.  Our higher education institutions have achieved acclaimed international status in various research disciplines.  Many of our researchers, some of whom are present here this afternoon, enjoy a high reputation not only in Hong Kong but worldwide. Their remarkable achievements in various fields of research have placed Hong Kong in a more prominent position on the world map of research.

    While it is gratifying to witness the vibrant research culture that has been built up in recent years, we must, however, continue to work hard to make further advances.  This is why the Financial Secretary announced in his Budget Speech last month the proposal to establish an $18 billion Research Endowment Fund and to provide an additional 800 research postgraduate places.  The income generated from the endowment fund will replace and augment the funding that we currently provide to the Research Grants Council of the University Grants Committee every year.  By doing so, we hope to strengthen the research capacity of our tertiary institutions and nurture more research talents.  This is a substantial long-term investment for Hong Kongˇ¦s future and we believe that the creativity generated by our research will strongly benefit Hong Kong in the decades to come.

    Apart from the Government, the private sector also has an important role to play in the creation of more funding opportunities to support research.  In this regard, I must thank the Croucher Foundation for complementing the Governmentˇ¦s efforts in promoting science and research in the past decades.  The foundation has not only provided our researchers an opportunity to undertake their research work in greater depth, but has also helped enhance the international exposure of our scientists and researchers.

    I am aware that the selection for the Croucher awards involves a stringent assessment by some of the most reputable international experts from different scientific disciplines, drawn from more than 10 countries.  They have offered independent and professional peer opinions about the standards of the candidates in this competition.  Just as Hong Kong is recognised as a centre for finance and trade, in a similar way, and equally importantly, Hong Kong is gaining recognition as an international centre of excellence for learning and research.

    Scientists often work far from the public gaze.  They work quietly and diligently, exploring questions of quite staggering complexity; solving important problems which have the potential to change our lives.  We are all here this afternoon to pay tribute to those outstanding members in the scientific community for the time and effort they have devoted to research activities.  I am sure they will point the way for more scientists and researchers to strive for the attainment of the same level of success in their careers.

    Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, March 27, 2008
Issued at HKT 18:38