Speech by Director of HKETO in Singapore at Hong Kong Business Association Vietnam 15th anniversary and Christmas dinner (English only) (with photos)

     Following is the speech by the Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Singapore, Mr Fong Ngai, at the Hong Kong Business Association Vietnam 15th anniversary and Christmas dinner in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam yesterday (December 17):

Michael (Mr Michael Chiu, Chairman of Hong Kong Business Association Vietnam), ladies and gentleman,

     Good evening. I am honoured to attend the Hong Kong Business Association Vietnam (HKBAV) 15th anniversary and Christmas dinner.  

     I hope the "Sandscape" video shown just now has brought you fond memories of Hong Kong. If you have not visited Hong Kong for a while, perhaps it is time to go, in particular during this festive season and cool and dry weather.

     I wish to congratulate the HKBAV on the 15th anniversary of its establishment. I said it before and I will say it again: HKBAV is one of the most active and cohesive Hong Kong business associations in the region. We need to thank the group of core members who have unfailingly and wholeheartedly contributed to the association over the last 15 years. Let's give them a round of applause.

     Perhaps I should say a few words about the recent occupy movement in Hong Kong. Two days ago, the Hong Kong Police cleared all protest sites in Hong Kong, and ended the more than two months long illegal occupy movement in Hong Kong. The clearance of the Admiralty and Causeway Bay sites has been peaceful and orderly. The life of ordinary people in Hong Kong could finally return to normal. There have been some adverse impacts on the local economy, in particular retail and F&B in the vicinity of the demonstration areas. But Hong Kong will bounce back quickly with its trademark resilience.
     The occupy movement was triggered by the constitutional reform which will make Hong Kong more democratic, i.e. selecting the Chief Executive by one person, one vote. The issue at stake is over the nominating process. Nevertheless, the Government will continue to press ahead with constitutional development by garnering the support of the people and two-thirds of the legislators to effect constitutional reform, which will give 5 million eligible voters the right to vote for our leader (Chief Executive) in 2017.

     Besides constitutional reform, the protests have highlighted a number of issues including housing affordability, social mobility and youth expectations. The Government is determined to sincerely address all these issues.

     On youth expectations, the benefits of exposure in studying and working in a foreign culture provided an opportunity for me to expand my horizons to look beyond our own domestic problems. It helped me put my expectations in a more balanced perspective. That is part of the reason why I initiated the ASEAN Internship Scheme last year to provide internship opportunities for Hong Kong university students to work in a foreign culture for some two months during our summer vacation. In the inaugural round in 2014, some 100 students from Hong Kong took up internships in seven countries in ASEAN. For 2015, we have already received 250 offers including some in Vietnam. We hope companies here tonight will consider joining the scheme. You only need to provide internships with proper coaching; an honorarium is optional and all other logistics will be handled by universities/students.

     Last but not least, as Christmas is around the corner, may I wish you all love, peace and joy whatever you do and wherever you go in the New Year of 2015.

     Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Ends/Thursday, December 18, 2014
Issued at HKT 22:40