Speech by SLW at Celebration Dinner for Special Olympics Hong Kong 40th Anniversary (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the Celebration Dinner for Special Olympics Hong Kong 40th Anniversary tonight (November 28):

Mr David Ip (President of Special Olympics Hong Kong), Mrs Laura Ling (Chairperson of Special Olympics Hong Kong), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to join friends and athletes from within Hong Kong and all over the world to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Special Olympics Hong Kong, commonly known by the acronym SOHK.

     I would like to offer my warmest congratulations and commendation to SOHK for its 40 years of sterling contribution and dedicated commitment in developing Olympic-type sports games and a broad spectrum of physical activities for people with intellectual disabilities.

     As one of the very first organisations to join the international Special Olympics movement started half a century ago, SOHK's unfailing hard work goes a long way in nurturing an inclusive culture for Hong Kong and the broader global community.

     SOHK's track record of promoting sports amongst people with intellectual disabilities over the past 40 years is most impressive. It has so far groomed 6 000 athletes and participants and offered up to 15 Special Olympics events. The overwhelming turnout of 400 athletes from five regions across East Asia at the SOHK-organised Invitation Games this year is another shining example of SOHK's inspirational leadership in celebrating the vast diversities in talents and achievements of mankind.

     Throughout the years, SOHK has been a staunch supporter of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government in helping to build a caring and supportive community for people of all abilities.

     The objective of the Government's rehabilitation services is to help persons with disabilities develop their physical, mental and social capabilities to the fullest extent. Joining hands with our community partners such as SOHK, other non-government organisations and the business sector, the Government has been striving to build a barrier-free Hong Kong. We are also striving to make Hong Kong a place of equal opportunities whereby persons with disabilities can have access to support services, education, training and job opportunities to enable them to integrate into society and lead a gainful and meaningful life.

     The Government is committed to building a caring and fair society. Of the Government's recurrent expenditure for 2016-17, almost 60 per cent or HK$198 billion will be channelled to the three major livelihood areas of education, social welfare and medical and health services. Recurrent expenditure on social welfare will reach a high of HK$66.2 billion, second only to education, and accounting for 19 per cent of the total, whilst medical and health service comes third, at HK$57 billion and accounting for 16.5 per cent. Moreover, our overall recurrent expenditure on rehabilitation will amount to HK$30.1 billion for 2016-17, representing an 81.3 per cent increase from that of 2007-08 (HK$16.6 billion).
     Ladies and gentlemen, we must not let our differences in abilities hinder us from celebrating the diversity, courage, sportsmanship and remarkable achievements exemplified by the Special Olympics movement, competitions and games.
     On this note, I wish SOHK a most memorable and happy 40th birthday and every success in the many years ahead. Thank you.

Ends/Monday, November 28, 2016
Issued at HKT 20:21