Opening remarks by SHA at press conference on youth development initiatives in 2015 Policy Address (with photo/video)

     Following is the English translation of the opening remarks by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, at the press conference today (January 15) on education and youth development initiatives in the Policy Address 2015:

     Young people are the future of our society. The Chief Executive has mentioned a number of times that manpower is Hong Kong's most treasured asset, so nurturing the next generation and fostering the full development of our young people are always our top priorities. In yesterday's Policy Address there are many paragraphs which refer to youth. For instance, paragraph 3 is about diversification of industries, so that a more prosperous economy will be provided to create more opportunities for young people; and in paragraph 102 on land development, it is also stated that forums will be organised in which young people will participate. The Home Affairs Bureau will co-ordinate with other departments in achieving good results in work on youth development.

     The Secretary for Education has just introduced the chapters in the Policy Address on education initiatives. The Home Affairs Bureau will focus on youth development outside the classroom. We hope to help young people to broaden their horizons by continuing to increase the funding for existing exchange and internship programmes, and in addition we will introduce new schemes. For example, the Home Affairs Bureau will work hand in hand with three volunteer agencies (the Agency for Volunteer Service, the Hong Kong Volunteers Association and the Peace and Development Foundation) to launch a Hong Kong United Nations Volunteers programme with the United Nations Volunteers this year. It is planned that under the new programme, local university students will participate for periods of six months as volunteers with organisations under the United Nations in South East Asia. It is the first time for the Government to co-operate with the United Nations Volunteers. We will proactively promote the Service Corps Programme and strive to identify more service locations and develop new service programmes.

     We will continue to raise finances for the Funding Scheme for Youth Exchange and the Funding Scheme for Youth Internship, both of which are on the Mainland. With the increased allocation, it is expected that the number of young people covered by the two schemes will rise to 19,300 in 2015/16 from 8,400 in 2013/14.

     In the Policy Address, the establishment of a $300 million Youth Development Fund was announced to support innovative youth development activities. We are open-minded about the operation of the fund and will engage young people and various sectors in the community in deciding the details. The fund may cover support for community organisations or NGOs that will encourage young entrepreneurship. Echoing the graphics I just showed you, we hope to solve the young people's problem of not having enough money to put their good ideas into action.

     The Youth Hostel Scheme is still on our agenda. The four current projects are handled by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, the Hong Kong Association of Youth Development and the Hong Kong Girl Guides Association. These projects are progressing well in accordance with established procedures. This afternoon, Dr Lee Shau-kee has just announced his donation of a piece of land in Ma Tin Pok in Yuen Long to Po Leung Kuk for the construction of a youth hostel with over 1,200 units. We welcome the move and will help implement the project. Indeed, the Government encourages other interested NGOs to launch more youth hostel projects.

     I have outlined our work in youth development, and there are also paragraphs in the Policy Address about the HAB portfolio in the areas of culture, sport and district administration. I'll be happy to take your questions.

Ends/Thursday, January 15, 2015
Issued at HKT 18:56