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Transcript of remarks at Policy Address Population Policy Press Conference (with photos/video)

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam; the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung; the Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr Paul Tang; the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok; and the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, held a Policy Address Population Policy Press Conference today (January 15). Following is the transcript of remarks at the press conference:

Reporter: Mrs Lam, so you've said that Hong Kong will continue to rely on the One-way Permit as a source of population growth, and there are other measures to let Mainlanders stay in Hong Kong more easily and measures to integrate education systems across the border. But then a lot of local young people are worried. They might not want independence, as C Y Leung has suggested yesterday, but they are worried that they don't want Hong Kong to become more and more like the Mainland or, in their words, "Mainlandised". How would you address their concern? And also, about the scheme to attract second-generation emigrants to return to Hong Kong, the historical background is that a lot of people moved overseas before the handover for fear that some of their rights and freedoms might be taken away under the Chinese rule. What makes you think that they or their children would want to return now, 17, 18 years after the handover, when China is actually exerting more and more influence on Hong Kong? Thank you.

Chief Secretary for Administration: Well, on the first question, as you can see from the statistics that I have shown you, over the past years or so, the increase in population as a result of One-way Permit holders is actually the major source of population growth in Hong Kong. And we mustn't forget that Hong Kong has always been a place of immigrants. Our elder generation actually came to Hong Kong and they settled down and integrated into society, and they are really the strength of making Hong Kong very competitive and very prosperous over the years. So I have every confidence that the new arrivals under the One-way Permit system, and we mustn't forget that they are coming here for family reunion. I gave you the figure of 98 per cent. Ninety-eight per cent of One-way Permit holders are coming to Hong Kong to join their parents, or they are actually the spouse of Hong Kong residents. So they will be a major factor of population growth and also will contribute to Hong Kong's labour force. Of course, we have a duty as a government to provide the needed integration services, education services, to enable them to integrate and adapt more readily into Hong Kong society. I believe that Hong Kong people are sensible and rational, and they will realise that they need this source of population growth while at the same time they will also appreciate that this is really what we always advocate as human rights for family reunion purposes.

     As far as the second question is concerned, I can share with you a little experience of myself. I have worked in London for about 18 months as head of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, and during that period I came across a lot of Hong Kong people who have emigrated to the United Kingdom for various reasons. There are in fact a lot of NT indigenous villagers who went to the United Kingdom to open up restaurants and so on. And they always appealed to me that they would very much like their younger generation to be able to come back to Hong Kong, because this is the place where they still have a lot of links, for example the second generation's grandparents may still be living in Hong Kong, and they also realise that Asia, and particularly China, is going to be the major economic growth area. So for their second generation who have acquired the skills and the professions, actually this place offers a lot of opportunities. So if there are special arrangements that will facilitate them to return to Hong Kong to find jobs, we believe that it will be sort of welcome. But, of course, at the end of the day we are offering an additional arrangement. Whether this will be taken up by a lot of people, we'll have to wait and see. And that's why the Secretary for Security was telling you that this is going to be introduced on a pilot basis.

Reporter: Mrs Lam, it seems that in the Policy Address little has been suggested to address the problem for those retiring across the border and how the Government would boost the silver market. I just wonder if you could explain to us why little has been suggested, and what kind of ideas you have in mind to develop the market.

Chief Secretary for Administration: May I invite the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, because we do have programmes about Hong Kong people retiring in the Mainland.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: First of all, we do have a Guangdong Scheme for Old Age Allowance. In fact, 18 000 Hong Kong residents now residing in Guangdong are getting the allowance now, and the Scheme is proceeding smoothly. Secondly, you are talking about silver hair market. We are actually, as I said earlier on in my slides presentation, we will be augmenting the $2 fare concession scheme (Public Transport Fare Concession Scheme for the Elderly and Eligible Persons with Disabilities). In fact, the whole idea is to promote mobility of our elderly citizens so that they can move around, they can have more social life. This will contribute generally to economic activities in the long term. And of course, voluntary work as well - we will also provide a platform for them to connect with the community. So, we have got multi-dimensional measures in hand. In fact, we need to promote more in the years to come on the silver hair market.

Reporter: Could you please elaborate on the advantages of the GEP (General Employment Policy) over the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme when it comes to attracting overseas investors? Also, could you please specify the considerations that will be taken into account in drawing up the talent list? What sort of challenges are you expecting?

Secretary for Security: I will answer the first question and I would like you to repeat the second one, OK? For the investment scheme under the GEP, General Employment Policy, any application that will bring substantive contributions to the economy of Hong Kong will be considered. But having gone through the review, we considered that we have to set out more specific criteria so that those who intend to set up business in Hong Kong know what major factors we will take into consideration. This is in line with major economies where they also set out these factors. Factors will include: the amount of investment, the investment plan, whether the applicant has previous relevant experience, how many new jobs he can create upon the establishment of the business. With more specific factors that are going to be announced, we hope that those who intend to set up business here in Hong Kong can have a more concrete idea of how to make up their plans to facilitate their applications. Statistical-wise, for the past three years we have approved about a thousand applications. We do believe that this is time to put in more effort on that, especially to those people who have good ideas but they are just starting up (their businesses) and they are lacking sufficient resources, provided that they got the support of recognised organisations, such as InvestHK's StartmeupHK scheme, Hong Kong Science Park's incubation programmes. They will also be taken into consideration. This is the first part of the answer.

Reporter: The talent list. What considerations and obstacles are you expecting in drawing up the list? Do you have a time frame?

Secretary for Security: As what I've earlier answered in Cantonese, this is not a simple job because it involves examination and collection of certain large amount of statistics to analyse what kind of occupations in the future that we are lacking. For example, in Australia there are a very large group of people under a special department who conduct this analysis and they consult the trade to seek their comments before they draw up their recommendations. So this is not a simple task of just pick and choose. We must be correct in identifying which kind of trade or occupation that in the future we are lacking sufficient manpower resources and that the local universities, etc, cannot provide us with the sufficient trainees to take up all these posts. At present, we do not have an exact timetable that at what time we can finish the job, but this is going to be done with full speed and whenever we reach a certain stage that we feel we should make certain announcements or consultations, then of course we will let the people of Hong Kong know that.

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

Ends/Thursday, January 15, 2015
Issued at HKT 20:05


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