2009-10 Policy Address by Chief Executive (11)

D. Progressive Society

81. The progress of a society is measured not just by its affluence, but also by its core values, which include kindness, care for others, mutual support, civic-mindedness and respect for traditional values.

Family Values

82. Many social problems, including juvenile drug abuse, prostitution and the neglect of elderly people and children, can be traced back to the family.  Better family relationships mean fewer social problems.  I will ask the Family Council to focus on these problems and find new policy options to alleviate them at the family level.  The Family Council will launch a Happy Family Campaign to promote family core values.  Its activities include liaising with stakeholders to establish an inter-disciplinary and interactive information and support network.

Anti-Drug Policy

83. Recognising the urgency of the juvenile drug abuse problem, I have mobilised the community to campaign against drug abuse.  We should all do our best to nurture and support our young people.  The positive response from the public is encouraging.  The Home Affairs Department has spearheaded youth anti-drug abuse community programmes in the 18 districts to mobilise stakeholders to cultivate positive values among youngsters who are at risk, or who have fallen prey to drugs.  We will arrange for mentors to provide guidance to these young people.

84. We should strive to foster a drug-free campus culture and strengthen the resolve of the vast majority of students to stay away from drugs. We should act fast to help those students with a drug problem to quit drugs.  To achieve these aims, we will launch the Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing in Tai Po later this year.  I am grateful to various sectors of the community for their support.  They have discussed the scheme seriously and put forward valuable suggestions to improve it.  We will review the trial scheme in due course and consider implementing drug testing more generally in schools.

85. To make available another effective drug-testing tool, the Government Laboratory will take the lead in bringing in hair drug testing, with a view to transferring the technology to the industry.

86. We will provide more rehabilitation facilities for young drug abusers.  We have been closely liaising with anti-drug organisations to formulate new and effective modes of service and treatment programmes.  We will invite suggestions in due course.

87. Drug testing is just one aspect of the anti-drug campaign. The Government is firmly committed to fighting drug abuse by tackling it on all fronts, including education and publicity, treatment and rehabilitation, legislation and law enforcement, external co-operation, and empirical research.  We are joining hands with the Mainland's public security authorities to combat cross-boundary drug abuse and trafficking.

Social Mobility

88. Personal factors aside, young people may feel lost amidst the strong social undercurrents.  In the 1960s and 1970s, opportunities abounded for young people to climb the social ladder.  Those who worked hard stood a good chance of success.  In a mature economy like ours, opportunities for upward mobility tend to be increasingly tied to academic qualifications. Many young people are therefore under enormous pressure. Those who have experienced frustration in formal education or public examinations feel particularly helpless and depressed.  I understand the pressure and their helplessness.  Competition is fierce in Hong Kong.  Many parents make careful arrangements for their pre-primary children, hoping they can move upward through education.  Such competitive pressure persists from primary to secondary and tertiary education.  It seems that whether a young person aged 16 or 17 can gain admission to a university or degree programme of his choice will determine his path for the next 30 to 40 years.  We can imagine how much pressure our young people have to bear.

89. The Government has been reforming the education system, including launching the new academic structure for senior secondary education and higher education this year.  There will be one less public examination under the new structure.  A diversified new senior secondary curriculum will help students realise their potential to meet the different needs of society.  To support the development of cultural and creative industries in Hong Kong, we need highly versatile people with a broad knowledge base.  Conventional education equips students with basic knowledge and the ability to pursue continuous learning.  The Government will keep providing opportunities for continuing education for young workers to broaden their knowledge and skills, so that they may better their career prospects and pursue their interests. Only then can we meet the human capital needs of a knowledge-based economy.  My proposal to develop the cultural and creative industries will provide young people who are not interested in formal education with an alternative to build a career with their creativity.

90. To help our younger generation cope with the change in academic structure and the advance of a knowledge-based economy, parents should adjust their attitude and approach to the education of their children.  Parents should maintain good communication with their children, understand their interests, abilities and needs, and develop their strengths in different areas.  Moreover, parents should have reasonable expectations of their children.  With the encouragement and support of their families, the younger generation will better understand themselves and develop more self-confidence.  They will be able to find their way forward.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Issued at HKT 12:15