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Transcript of remarks by CE at question-and-answer session of Joint Business Community Luncheon 2017 (1) (English only)
     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at the question-and-answer session of the Joint Business Community Luncheon 2017 held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre today (January 26):

Moderator (Chairman of Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Professor Daniel Cheng): If you wish to ask a question please raise your hand. When our staff give you the microphone, please first identify yourself and keep the question to a concise manner. Okay, let’s start. Okay, I see the number 29 over there.

Attendee: Thank you. Thank you Daniel and thank you CE for presenting us, you know, your Policy Address. We really appreciate, you know, the Government in helping our industry for exploring the opportunities for this Belt and Road Initiative. My question is - would the Government still, you know, give us more opportunities like, adding more, making another one of these initiatives- funding initiative for us? You know, some funding or extending our BUD Fund, or even more, maybe a tax deduction when our Hong Kong enterprises go into this Belt and Road Initiative countries? Thank you.

Chief Executive: I think the short and simple answer is all of the above. I believe government should consider taking on new roles in addition to the ones that you mentioned. I think we should. I know there’s limited time left in the term of this government but I think Hong Kong itself, Hong Kong Inc. if you like, should look at other possibilities in addition to what you have just mentioned. I’ve been hearing friends in the manufacturing sector saying that the Hong Kong Government should participate in the investment in business parks or industrial parks outside of Hong Kong in some of the Belt and Road countries, it’s one of the things I think we should consider. It’s not so much a question of looking for direct financial return from such investment. It is a fact that Hong Kong SAR Government being one of the shareholders in the company that invests in such parts of an overseas country would mean something to investors in the business sector from Hong Kong, and it also means something to a host country, so I think we should stretch our minds. You know I don’t entirely agree with the past approach of positive non-interventionism when it comes to Hong Kong government’s relationship with the business sector both in Hong Kong and overseas. Outside of this notion, or even doctrine of what should the Hong Kong Government do, what should be its role, new role, additional role? I think all these are open questions.
Moderator: Okay, number 30.
Attendee: For the past four to five years, Mr Leung, you have introduced a series of policies and measures for “re-industrialisation” and development of innovation technology, but I have a couple of observations. The adoption of new innovation and technology in Hong Kong, seems that it is kind of relatively slow as compared to our competitors in the region. The second one is that we are still facing a lot of challenges and one of the biggest challenges for industrial development is the shortage of industrial talent and labour in Hong Kong. So, sir, in your view, what can the government and other sectors do together to address these issues? Thank you.
Chief Executive: As I said in my address, we should move labour relations forward. If there is shortage in our labour sector, we need the labour side to agree with the employer side, and also the government side, to do something about importation of labour. Over the past decade or so, we have not moved our labour relations forward. By moving our labour relations forward, I mean, in addition to addressing questions of “offsetting”, for example, this is one of the difficult items uppermost on the agenda of the labour sector; we should also look at the question of shortage of labour, particularly in view of one very clear trend, and this is the fact that Hong Kong would become officially an ageing society come 2018. From next year onward, our labour supply, our workforce will go south. We don’t know when it will sort of curl back up again. So that’s one thing that we need to address. On the question of talents, I believe that actually plenty of talents also in the innovation and technology sector, who are now, in my view, many of them are well-educated in Hong Kong universities and overseas universities. They are now misplaced in sectors that they are not trained for, in sectors that they do not have the real career aspirations for. So I agree with you, I think we need to connect the dots. I said it a few times both publicly and also internally to my colleagues, the resolution of the question of ownership of Lok Ma Chau Loop only provides a necessary aid, necessary condition. It doesn’t provide all the sufficient conditions for us to develop I&T there. We need other things, we need, I said in my address, we need talents, we need capital, we need markets and so on. And we’re just taking one baby step in that direction. We need the whole of Hong Kong, including Hong Kong government, the universities which I mentioned in my address and the manufacturing sector to pull in the same direction.
Moderator: Okay, Thank you. Number 31.
Attendee: Chief Executive. I am Raymond Leung of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce. First of all, I’d like to thank you for your hard work and try to get the things done during the last four years. We totally appreciate the difficulty that you face in obtaining land and getting through the difficult hurdles in LegCo. Your persistency is definitely undeniable and appreciated. My question on behalf of our chamber is - in having the Hong Kong/Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop, surely this will help the “re-industrialisation” of Hong Kong and attract international business communities to come to Hong Kong. Does the Hong Kong Government have any long-term plan on the future development of our technology industry with consolidation that combines the advantages of Hong Kong and Shenzhen so that we can create an innovation and technology base for the Pearl River Delta basis? Thank you.
Chief Executive: The Park, the Innovation Technology Park, which will be built on the Loop, will occupy a land area of 87 hectres, 0.87 square kilometres on the south side of the Shenzhen River. On the other side of the Shenzhen River, there is something we also announced in the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) that was signed with the Shenzhen on the third of January- (there) will be another park, vis-a-viz Shenzhen Park. And the site area of this Shenzhen Park is about 3 square kilometres. If you want a physical description or physical illustration of the “super-connector” role between Hong Kong and the rest of China, that I keep putting on my lips, this will be one, in a few years’ time. We will leverage on our “one country, two systems” combined advantage. Shenzhen will have their own advantages, and the two sides of the river will work very well.  We will be able to attract, for example, foreign talents, foreign investment, leveraging on the international lifestyle, we have rule of law and so on. And then Shenzhen could offer low production cost. I mentioned in my (Policy) Address the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) “Innovation Node” which they are setting up in Hong Kong - the first outside of Boston. When they announced the setting up of this “Innovation Node”, they said an hour’s drive from Hong Kong – and before that they described all the attributes of Hong Kong - and they said an hour’s drive from Hong Kong is Shenzhen, which would give you the fastest prototyping in the world, and the rest of the Pearl River Delta will be able to provide the quantity manufacturing. So it is very much Hong Kong plus Shenzhen plus the rest of the Pearl River Delta. We have been receiving quite a few of enquiries since we set up the Innovation and Technology Bureau in November 2015 from foreign countries and also from the cities and provinces on the Mainland. And they very much would like to use the platform in Hong Kong. Not just for co-operation between us and other countries, not just between us and Guangdong or Hunan or Shanghai, but for tripartite collaboration - Hong Kong, foreign countries and the Mainland. So I am hopeful, but as I said, we are just taking a baby step as far as the Loop is concerned. We have other irons in the fire, as it were - we have Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai for example which is again on the border. It’s another business park with manufacturing capabilities and so on. As far as the Loop is concerned, we have taken a baby step. I think in the right direction. It’s a breakthrough. That piece of land has been lying there for 20 years and now we have decided to do something about it because we have now resolved the ownership issue between us and Shenzhen. So, Raymond, answering your question, yes, I am confident, but it is not just a government’s or the Chief Executive’s job to make sure that we accomplish our mission. We need government, the universities, industry and all the research bodies that we have in Hong Kong.
Moderator: Okay, thank you. I see a hand on table 6.
Attendee: Mr Chief Executive. Leland Sun, representing the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce.  On behalf of the Chamber, we commend and we recognise and do appreciate your efforts these past four and a half years. But there is one point that you raised in your opening remarks that maybe we would just like a little bit further clarification.  With respect to the MPF “offset”, I think the employers generally do feel a symbiotic relationship with the employees. Employers do needs employees, but employees also need employers for companies to provide work. If the MPF “offset” would be implemented as you said, undoubtedly it would put a tremendous strain particularly on SMEs, which are the vast majority of the employers here in Hong Kong. And we would just like to know from that stand point what impact do you think that would have on Hong Kong’s economy, you know, the labour pool, as well as future investment. Really, the major brunt will be impacted on the SMEs. Thank you very much.
Chief Executive: The Government is fully aware of the additional financial outlay if this proposal is adopted, particularly the additional burden on the shoulders of the SMEs in Hong Kong.  And that’s why the Government is committing its own financial resources to help out.  So it will be a tripartite solution. As to the exact formulation of the solution, we are in a listening mode.  We have three months to work out something together. I, together with my colleagues, attended a meeting with several employer and business organisations yesterday and we agreed that we should move the dialogue forward.  It was a very useful meeting that lasted an hour or so.  And I think we should continue to engage each other in our dialogue, and maybe with the labour bodies as well.

(to be continued)
Ends/Thursday, January 26, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:06
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