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Transcript of CE's remarks on arrangements for hotel accommodation

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, at a media session after the opening ceremony of Hong Kong Baptist University School of Chinese Medicine ˇV Lui Seng Chun today (April 25):

     Well, a few days ago I talked about the embarrassment and the difficulties officials often face when they are questioned by the media in a very provocative way, and I mentioned that although this was the case, it was important that we recognise the important function of the media in monitoring the work of the government.

     Well, only two days afterwards you really put me to the test, about the arrangements for hotel accommodation in my last visit to New Zealand and to Latin America. You know, first of all you have to realise that everything we do is according to laid-down procedures and to the needs of the location. The exact arrangements may vary from place to place, but there is one underlying principleˇXthat the accommodation arrangements must be suitable for us and at the same time it must perform its real function, to meet our needs, not excessive but important in meeting our needs.

     In my visit to New Zealand I was in Auckland and in Chile I was in Santiago. In both locations I was under the invitation of the respective governments, so the hotel selection was done by the governments and they met all my costs. Then we went to Brazil. In Brazil I visited two cities, Brasilia, the capital, as well as São Paulo. We stayed in each location only for one night. And again the detailed hotel arrangements were made according to the principle I just said: It was in accordance with our need, not more and not inadequate. There are laid-down procedures for it.

      But in the light of the comments of the media, as well as Legislative Councillors, and some views of the public, some supporting what we did, some criticising what we did, I've asked my colleagues to review our procedures and see whether they are ways in which we may improve upon them. And I've also invited the Director of Audit to look at existing procedures, the procedures for the Chief Executive visiting overseas, making official visits, and whether the present arrangements for his hotel accommodation was appropriate.

     There is something I must emphasise: Whenever we undertake overseas trips, this is serious business. We planned it in advance, we usually have a purpose and we have our own strategy, and I mentioned several times before, because of the very depressing economic situation globally, particularly in Europe and in United States, we must work hard on the Mainland market as well as emerging markets.

     As far as emerging markets are concerned, Latin America is a very important destination, and we chose, for instance, Chile and Brazil, for both of them, their number one trading partner is China. Chile's bilateral trade with China has exceeded US$30 billion, and for Brazil it is in excess of US$80 billion. But they have not fully made use of Hong Kong as the most important funds syndication, loans syndication centre in the East, and make use of our function as a clearing and settlement centre for renminbi. If we're able to capture some of that business, I'm sure it'll benefit our own economic prosperity, create more jobs in Hong Kong.

     Well, anyway, I must emphasise again, what we do as far as hotel accommodation is concerned, is in accordance with our laid-down procedures. We're usually very careful, and at the same time we have regard to our needs, our need for having internal meetings and our need for meeting media and so on. Thank you very much.

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

Ends/Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Issued at HKT 13:43


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