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Transcript of remarks by SCED (with video)

     Following is the transcript of remarks (English portion) made during a media session by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the Central Government Offices today (June 28):
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development: Good afternoon. I am very honoured and grateful to the Chief Executive for nominating me to the Central People's Government for appointment as the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development. I know that with this great honour comes great responsibility. I pledge my utmost effort to diligently deal with the many issues under my portfolio to serve the best interests of Hong Kong. And I shall be guided by the Chief Executive's policy of placing the interests of Hong Kong people as top priority.

     Among many responsibilities, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau oversees Hong Kong's external economic relations. With the rapid growth of the Mainland economy, accelerating economic integration between Hong Kong and the Mainland, and the active exploration of new markets, there is much work to be done, and I am looking forward to tackling these issues. When I assume office, I shall continue to work together with colleagues in the bureau and related departments to review our work and set our priorities for the remainder of this Third Term Government.

     I will try my utmost to maintain close links with various political parties, members of the Legislative Council and District Councils, business and professional bodies and various sectors of the public to advance Hong Kong's interests in commerce, trade and industry, tourism, innovation and technology, as well as creative industries.

     I wish to thank my two predecessors in the current term of government for their many contributions to CEDB's multi-faceted areas of work, and for the solid foundation that they have laid. I am confident that with the excellent and efficient support of my civil service colleagues, we shall be able to achieve our policy objectives.

     Finally, I would also like to take this opportunity to wish Mrs Rita Lau a full and speedy recovery.   

     Thank you very much.

Reporter: Greg, congratulations on your appointment. I asked a question earlier and I am sure you would remember. Let me keep that in mind and come back to it. The question is this: You are appointed to this task. You now have two key vacancies beneath you, two officers beneath you. In addition to that, you have got only one year in this position assuming the life of the Administration. So the question is, What will the priorities be? Without two people beneath you, unless you are planning to fill those positions in some way, how are you going to be able to manage that workload over the coming period of time?

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development: That is an excellent question. As you know, the breadth of our policy portfolio is very wide. The first task I am going to do is really to do a stocktake of all the work that we have under our current term. And with the time that we have and the timeline, we have got to carefully plan our course of action. In terms of prioritisation, of course we would be very practical in what can be achieved within a 12-month period and prioritise accordingly, and also according to the impact that will make to the best interest of Hong Kong as a whole. So that would be my priority and I would schedule and strategise our work accordingly. Of course, there are areas that may not be controllable to the Administration in terms of requiring other sectors to co-operate. But I am going to try my best to liaise with various interested stakeholders and to prosecute the work so that we could finish what we have on our plate.

     I may get back to your question earlier posted to CE and myself in terms of validating the political appointment system. Personally I don't think of validation in that term. I simply, at a personal level, think about how I could contribute to the system at whatever position or capacity I would be serving under. If I were an Under Secretary, I would think about how best I would do under that job. And now that I assume the office of the Secretary, I will then act accordingly. I don't think about whether that would be validating myself or other people but I am a strong believer in the political appointment system. I think this is one incident when you can see that in the event that the Secretary can no longer, due to various reasons, continue her or discharge her office, then somebody else would step up in an acting position or otherwise to stand in the gap and serve the public. In that way, it points to the strength of the political appointment system.

Reporter: How can you support that system if you get two vacancies beneath you and then you have nobody to step up?

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development: If there are suitable candidates available, I am sure the Administration will then make a decision on appointment. But from my perspective, given the human resources I will have in the bureau and as the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, it is my task to see under what resources I have to discharge all the tasks that I have in the remainder of the term.

Reporter: What are you going to do with the Competition Bill?

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development: We have a limited time frame within which the Competition Bill will have to be vetted in Legco before the resumption of the second reading. There are many issues that have been raised in the Bill which my colleagues are working very hard to answer. For example, it was asked what the guideline would look like and my colleagues have produced the major points which we thought that the guideline eventually would contain and that to a large measure I think would have alleviated some of the concerns or uncertainty about how the Bill is going to work. Of course there is an existing mechanism under how the Bill is structured that builds in a lot of certainty to have public education promotion, and making clear how the Bill will work in the future. We also hear from various stakeholders how they would like the bill to go in that direction. For example, the business sector has some demands or the consumers have other demands. We have to balance the interests of the various stakeholders. But my main consideration is the overall well-being, the benefit of the community and how to balance these interests and come up with a bill that will serve the interest of Hong Kong.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Issued at HKT 19:48


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