Email this article
Speech by SLW at Citi Community Intern Programme 2010-11 Recognition Ceremony (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the Citi Community Intern Programme 2010-11 Recognition Ceremony today (October 6):

Mr Zhang (Mr Shengman Zhang, Citi Country Officer for Hong Kong), Kennedy (Mr Kennedy Liu, Chairperson of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service), Christine (Ms Christine Fang, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service), ladies and gentlemen,

     I am honoured and delighted to be with you today. Let me first pay warm tribute to the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS) and the Citigroup in bringing together some 70 university students, the business community and 35 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under this inspiring and innovative Citi Community Intern Programme 2010-11.

     The Hong Kong SAR Government has been, and will remain, a major funding source for various welfare initiatives. Recurrent expenditure on social welfare in 2011-12 will rise by 11 per cent, representing the second largest increase among all policy areas.  An additional $4.2 billion has been allocated to social welfare spending, taking the total to $42.2 billion or 17.4 per cent of the Government's total recurrent expenditure, just second to education. This compares with the figure of $28.6 billion (or up by 47.6 per cent) a decade ago (in 2001-02) and $20 billion (or up by a hefty 111 per cent) in 1997-98.

     Whilst it is incumbent on the Government to care for the disadvantaged, the under-privileged and less fortunate among us, the business sector and the wider community, notably NGOs also have a key and complementary role to play. This is why the Government has been proactively promoting tripartite partnership in recent years in building a fair, compassionate and cohesive society.

     Let me cite three notable examples. First, we introduced the Partnership Fund for the Disadvantaged in 2005. The Fund, through funding support on a matching basis, promotes collaboration among the social welfare sector, the business community and the Government in helping the disadvantaged, thereby enhancing social cohesion. So far, over $180 million has been approved under the Fund, attracting a total donation of a similar amount from 790 business corporations to support 442 welfare projects. The total number of beneficiaries has already exceeded 800 000. To keep up the momentum, we injected an additional $200 million into the Fund last year.

     Another example is the initiative to set up the $300 million Community Investment and Inclusion Fund (CIIF) in 2002.  The Fund provides seed money to create social capital by fostering mutual support and assistance among people, developing cross-strata neighbourhood networks, and promoting community participation and cross-sector collaboration. So far, 240 projects have been approved under the CIIF and some 560 000 people from different age groups, social strata and cultural or ethnic backgrounds have participated in the projects.

     Business partners can also come in to be change-agents in tackling inter-generational poverty. We set up the $300 million Child Development Fund in 2008 to sponsor projects comprising three core asset-building components to empower needy children, namely a personal development plan, a mentorship programme and targeted savings for the participant. The object is to enable the child to build up personal, social and financial assets with a view to reducing inter-generational poverty. So far, 2 270 children have benefited from the first two batches of projects.  Around 2 000 mentors have been recruited to guide the children of the first two batches of projects and more than half of them come from corporations and organisations.  We plan to roll out two more batches of projects to benefit more children and teenagers. Our aim is to benefit 13 600 children under the pilot programme. We need businesses and students like you to be mentors to walk with our youngsters on their journey.

     As for businesses and our future business executives and entrepreneurs, when we talk about shared responsibility in contributing to our social well-being, what does it mean, and how do we get there?

     Here corporate social responsibility comes into play. But corporate responsibility does not mean mouthing platitudes. It is also more than good intentions.  It is certainly much more than simply businesses avoiding doing harm - it is about contributing to a better society.  

     In this respect, the Citi Community Intern Programme 2010-11 is a living and shining example. Under the programme, our students have been given the golden opportunity to apply their knowledge in a real-life situation. Through participation in the NGOs' corporate culture and mission - such as finding ways of attracting more donations - the programme helps groom a young league of "community connectors" with a business acumen and background.

     For the placement organisations, they also benefit from these gainful encounters with our high calibre business students.  In fact, many of our NGOs have increasingly appreciated the ingenuity and creativity of the private sector as more and more civic-spirited business executives engage in meaningful social welfare endeavours. Many practitioners in the welfare sector have become effective match-makers, connecting businesses to local organisations that need support.

     To conclude, I see the Citi Community Intern Programme as a commendable social capital investment initiative which will pay good dividends, come rain or shine. Whether you are "business connectors" or "community connectors", whether you are from a business or economic background or from the social welfare sector, the cement that binds you together, and indeed the whole community, is a strong sense of social responsibility and compassion. These common denominators and essential ingredients underpin a caring, fair and harmonious Hong Kong.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Thursday, October 6, 2011
Issued at HKT 13:49


Print this page