Gov’t an education sector partner

Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung

The Open University’s roles and responsibilities, not to mention its size and ambitions, have grown remarkably since its establishment in 1989, as the Open Learning Institute of Hong Kong – the first university that offered open and distance education in Hong Kong. In less than a decade, it enjoyed full university status and was retitled in 1997 as the Open University of Hong Kong.

 

Today, the university provides about 220 programmes to over 9,500 full-time students and 9,500 part-time students in an impressive range of offerings, from sub-degree to postgraduate. Among others, healthcare has been among the university’s signature programmes since its Division of Nursing & Health Studies was established in 1994. The division offers 12 programmes for more than 3,200 full-time and part-time students. It has proudly groomed more than 7,000 nurses, serving in more than 50 hospitals and other healthcare organisations across Hong Kong and around the world.

 

Today’s groundbreaking ceremony makes it abundantly clear that we can expect a great deal more from the Open University and its Division of Nursing & Health Studies. Thanks to the generous donation of $281 million from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Jockey Club Institute of Healthcare which is scheduled to open in 2020 will rise as another major milestone for the Open University and Hong Kong. About 1,200 students will benefit from the 13-storey complex that will feature state-of-the-art healthcare training facilities and purpose-built laboratories for students of different disciplines including nursing psychology and physiotherapy. The new Institute will be the new home for various healthcare programmes including five proposed new ones under planning, covering early childhood education, mental health and psychology, physiotherapy, dietetics and occupational therapy.

 

Given the rapidly ageing population and the long-term demand for healthcare services in Hong Kong, we definitely need to nurture more expertly trained professionals to respond to public expectation arising from these demographic changes. I know that we all much look forward to the opening of this brand new institute. 

 

Indeed, the self-financing post-secondary education sector has been a very close partner of the Government in realising our vision of providing diverse and quality education options to young people. In particular, the Open University has long responded to our calls for programmes that address the significant manpower needs of specific industries and areas. In return, the Government has spared no effort in making those programmes a reality in various ways, including the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors. It provides an annual subsidy of up to $70,000 for students to pursue select, self-financing undergraduate programmes to boost talent in designated fields. This year, more than 300 new students are benefiting from the scheme in four Open University programmes, including general healthcare, mental healthcare, animation and visual effects as well as testing and certification. In the 2018-19 academic year, we will provide subsidies to students in 12 Open University programmes and two of which are nursing programmes that will provide 340 subsidised places. The construction of this new complex is therefore timely to complement the university’s efforts in strengthening education and training in the healthcare sector.

 

The Government’s commitment in supporting the self-financing, post-secondary education sector is further illustrated by the fact that, despite the current state of play in the Legislative Council, we are seeking approval from its Finance Committee for Open University of Hong Kong’s application for a $400 million interest-free loan from the Government’s Start-up Loan Scheme for developing the Jockey Club Institute of Healthcare. Another prominent example is that we have implemented the non-means-tested subsidy scheme for students pursing self-financing undergraduate degree programmes in Hong Kong to enhance support for students of self-financing institutions. The task force led by Prof Anthony Cheung is now reviewing how the Government can better support the sector to ensure its healthy and sustainable development.

 

Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the Open University Jockey Club Institute of Healthcare on December 15.

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HK can welcome more travellers

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

In recent years, we have witnessed a monumental shift of hospitality business to Asia. Our increasing popularity as a tourist destination is attributable to many factors. Apart from the traditional, welcoming and vibrant oriental culture, the credit should also go to, for example, more airline options and better flight deals, more advanced airports, more developed city infrastructure, enriched attractions and, of course, nicer hotels. Here in Hong Kong, our city’s close connection with Mainland China has enabled us to enjoy a share of its remarkable growth and prosperity. As an event capital of Asia, Hong Kong is well positioned to ride the wave and welcome more travellers from around the globe. However, it would not have been possible without the concerted efforts of the hospitality industry and academia.

 

For over 35 years, the School of Hotel & Tourism Management of Polytechnic University has been committed to achieving global excellence in hospitality and tourism education. Now it is a symbol of excellence well recognised regionally and internationally. We take pride in PolyU’s achievement as one of the first education institutions to receive the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s TedQual Certification, which is a clear assurance and endorsement of high-quality tourism education, training and research. Starting as a diploma-conferring department, the school is now proudly ranked the world’s best by the ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2017. It is also among the top three “Hospitality & Leisure Management” institutions globally in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017.

 

In 2012, the school made a wise move to establish its own hotel, the Hotel ICON, which has become the heart of the school’s innovative approach to hospitality and tourism education, and an anchor to its leadership role in hospitality research. In recognition of the breakthrough it has made in both teaching and research, the school has been bestowed the McCool Breakthrough Award by the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant & Institutional Education.

 

Today, we are gathered here to witness another historic moment of the school. This building we are in now will take on a new title to become the Mr & Mrs Chan Chak Fu Building. The naming of the building after Hong Kong’s pioneer hotelier and the school’s benefactor illustrates the strong synergies and close partnerships between the school and the industry that form the key to their shared success. In fact, such close ties with the industry and the community as a whole are probably the most important success formula of PolyU as it fulfils its vision of becoming a leading university that excels in professional education, applied research and partnership for the betterment of Hong Kong, the nation and the world.

 

However, to sustain the success, it is imperative to always gear up to meet the changing challenges and needs of our society. This also echoes the fundamental principle that the Government holds to spearhead our city’s progress. The Chief Executive’s inaugural Policy Address has outlined our vision to develop a high value-added and diversified economy while strengthening the traditional economic pillars in the face of fierce competition from our counterparts. We will press ahead with the development of Hong Kong into a world-class premier tourist destination. Apart from maintaining a steady growth in visitor numbers, we will spare no effort to attract more high-yield overnight visitors to ensure the balanced, sustainable development of the industry. Travellers will look for good hotel services and facilities, so on this front we count on your continuous support.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the naming ceremony of Polytechnic University’s Mr & Mrs Chan Chak Fu Building on December 15.

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Innovation keeps HK competitive

Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung

In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2017-18, which came out in September this year, Hong Kong was ranked the world’s sixth-most competitive economy, up from ninth place the year before. And, more good news, we topped the world in physical infrastructure. A major reason for our improved standing was a leap in the innovation pillar. We are now ranked 26th in innovation worldwide, and given the current-term Government’s strong emphasis on innovation, technology and creative industry, I am confident that we are on track to boosting our competitiveness in every sector and industry, including construction.

 

In her inaugural Policy Address in October, the Chief Executive Mrs Carrie Lam made it abundantly clear that innovation and technology would drive Hong Kong’s future – not as a single industry but as “a new model of development”. To tie in with this thinking, the Chief Executive will chair the new high-level Chief Executive’s Council of Advisers on Innovation & Strategic Development, as well as the internal Steering Committee on Innovation & Technology to contribute ideas on future innovation and our strategic positioning in the future global economy.

 

There is an old saying that we cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them. It speaks eloquently of the critical value of innovation in tackling challenges, large and small. In the construction industry, three challenges come immediately to mind: surging costs, environmental impact and construction-site accidents. I am hardly alone in such thinking, as the theme of this year’s Innovation Award – “productivity, sustainability and safety” – has made it clear. In fact, there will be a press conference this afternoon on smart city to be led by the Secretary for Innovation & Technology Mr Nicholas Yang. This is a very important step forward – smart city, liveable city.

 

For the next few minutes, I would like to share my thoughts on how innovation can make a difference in these three critical and important areas.

 

Innovate for productivity

In response to skyrocketing costs, we are looking at automation to replace labour-intensive tasks, a wider adoption of digital technology in construction, as well as robotics and prefabrication to enhance productivity and cost control. Without doubt, design is central to the efficient, cost-effective delivery of a project. New tools are emerging that can generate innovative design at a snap of your fingers. Building Information Modelling, or BIM, is one such tool. BIM enables visualisation of design in a virtual environment. This can avoid conflict during the construction process, reduce risks and bring clarity to project costs.

 

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government is determined to take the lead in adopting BIM in major capital works projects. Starting from 2018, more than 30 projects in the pipeline will adopt BIM in their design and construction stages. I am delighted to note that following the award ceremony and luncheon today, the CIC (Construction Industry Council) will organise the BIM conference this afternoon which makes a welcome statement about the CIC’s commitment to BIM’s industry-wide adoption. I believe that it will also signal to the private sector that the time to transform and apply new technology has come.

 

New Engineering Contract, or NEC, is another innovative approach to boosting construction productivity. Public work projects adopting NEC have enjoyed some success arising from the collaborative partnership between government works departments and their contractors that shared the common goal of completing the projects effectively. To date, more than 80 works contracts have adopted the NEC approach, including the Happy Valley Underground Stormwater Storage Scheme. Piloting the open-book target cost option under NEC, it has enabled such cost-saving innovations as alternative foundations with subsoil drainage systems. The Storage Scheme was completed in March, one year ahead of schedule, and with savings of some $60 million. I would say that makes a compelling statement.

 

On top of the Government’s pioneering efforts, the grand opening of the Construction Innovation & Technology Application Centre last month marks a milestone in the construction industry’s efforts to promote interdisciplinary research and application, especially among small and medium enterprises. With the CIC’s leadership, and the support of industry stakeholders, I am confident that the construction industry will take up the challenge of improving productivity through innovation.

 

Innovate for sustainability

Climate change is another issue – a growing challenge for every economy and every industry in the world. Buildings, as you well know, account for 60% of Hong Kong’s carbon emissions. Curbing those emissions demands innovative technology in building design and management together with energy-efficient equipment.

 

More buildings in Hong Kong are now being built with such innovative features as green walls and sun-shading fins. But how green are they? The BEAM Plus certification scheme can offer a comprehensive report on the environmental performance of such buildings. It can appraise site and material aspects, energy and water use, indoor environmental quality and more. The steady increase in the number of BEAM Plus projects in recent years is encouraging.

 

The BEAM Plus system continues to evolve with updates reflecting the needs of our society and technology advancements. In updating assessment criteria, the BEAM Plus system serves as a driver to encourage the adoption of innovation and technology. The Government is considering requiring new development projects to reach a certain level of environmental performance as a condition for granting gross floor area concessions for amenity features.

 

Let me add that our embrace of green buildings does not end with construction. We are determined to minimise our carbon footprint at the maintenance stage. That represents about 90% of a building’s life cycle. In this regard, the Electrical & Mechanical Services Department of the HKSAR Government has developed a Building Energy Management System to boost energy performance through the interface and integration of control systems and legacy meters to allow efficient data analysis for greener operation and benchmarking of energy usage.

 

Innovate for safety

Safety, too, impels us to adopt innovative construction methods. Hong Kong’s infrastructure continues to enjoy recognition as world-class because of our strong workforce behind the scenes. That said, I am concerned about the fatal construction accidents that have occurred this year, despite continuous improvements in Hong Kong’s overall occupational safety and health.

 

Construction processes are sophisticated and complicated, and they can vary greatly from one project to the next. While the industry is working diligently to build a safety culture, the Government has a role to play in ensuring the safety of construction workers. That is why this year’s Construction Safety Week carried the theme of “Workers’ Behaviour”. Apart from nurturing a safety culture in workers, we are looking into adopting prefabrication as well as automation and robotics that can provide a safer environment for construction workers.

 

The Development Bureau is also studying the adoption of Modular Integrated Construction for the construction industry. Under this construction method, the conventional labour-intensive and cluttered on-site operations would be completed in off-site prefabrication yards like industrial manufacturing. By adopting “factory assembly followed by on-site installation”, Modular Integrated Construction would boost productivity and quality. No less important, it would enhance construction safety through a better working environment and reduced working at height. The Government will, of course, remain open to all innovative ideas that can help realise construction safety.

 

Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the CIC Construction Innovation Award Presentation Ceremony & BIM Conference 2017 on December 15.

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Gov’t vigilant against natural disasters

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

The year 2017 is a memorable year for us as we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. As festivities and celebration events are coming to a close, I am pleased to join you at this Slope Safety Summit today which marks the 40th anniversary of the Hong Kong slope safety system, notably with the setting up of the Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO) 40 years ago. I wish to commend the Civil Engineering & Development Department for its initiative in hosting this summit together with the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers for us to reflect on our past successes and to prepare for the future. I wish in particular to welcome many distinguished experts who have contributed so much to our slope safety system over the years, including Prof Norbert Morgenstern, Prof John Burland, Dr Suzanne Lacasse and Prof Dave Petley. Each one of them has played critical roles in our GEO – both in terms of its establishment and its continuing evolution.

 

Their geotechnical expertise and experience, their extraordinary commitment to slope safety, helped build the global city that Hong Kong has surely become over the past few decades. To be sure, it has been a long uphill – or should I say, downhill – struggle. Let’s turn the clock back to some 50 years ago. Hong Kong’s population soared from some three million in 1960 to more than five million in 1979. That population surge placed tremendous pressures on Hong Kong, particularly on our social welfare and housing systems. A number of tragic landslides, culminating in the Sau Mau Ping disaster of 1976, led to the establishment of an Independent Review Panel on Fill Slopes.

 

Prof Morgenstern was a member of that trailblazing review panel. In a foreword to the review panel report’s later republication, he paints a poignant picture of that heart-rending time. Allow me to quote him here: “It is hard to recapture the sense of urgency that surrounded the preparation of this report. At the time of the Sau Mau Ping disaster in 1976, Hong Kong was in the midst of an enormous public housing undertaking. The Sau Mau Ping landslide raised questions regarding public safety associated with this housing programme, and I still vividly remember Sir Murray MacLehose, then Governor of Hong Kong, asking, ‘Do I have to evacuate several thousand people each time it rains?'”

 

The answer was no, because that report prompted the birth, in 1977, of the Geotechnical Engineering Office – or the Geotechnical Control Office as it was initially called.

 

For more than a decade, Prof Morgenstern also led the Slope Safety Technical Review Board. The board was established in 1995 in the wake of the Kwun Lung Lau landslide of 1994 to advise the Government on technical aspects of slope safety. In doing so, he helped bring to life the celebrated slope safety system we recognise with pride today.

 

As for Dr Suzanne Lacasse and Prof Dave Petley, they are current members of the Technical Review Board, offering Hong Kong expert advice and valued international insight. I know that first-hand. As Secretary for Development from 2007 to 2012, I met with Suzanne every year, getting her invaluable advice on slope safety management.

 

Indeed, as Secretary for Development, I supported the launching, in 2010, of the long-term Landslip Prevention & Mitigation Programme by the GEO. The programme systematically tackles landslide risks linked to both man-made slopes and natural hillsides – both of which we have in perilous abundance. I still vividly remember that in the first couple of months of my taking up the position of the Secretary for Development, the then head of the GEO, Raymond Chan, came to see me presenting graphs after graphs to illustrate that while Hong Kong has done a lot in stabilising our man-made slopes, we must not lose sight of natural slopes, which are everywhere with our topography. Without asking any further questions, I gave policy support and secured the new resources for this programme which was rolled out in remarkable expediency. It is gratifying to note that this is an area where there is no room for complacency; the Government is still spending HK$1 billion every year on slope upgrading and mitigation works under the programme.

 

This morning, in my new capacity as Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, I’m here to applaud the extraordinary work you’ve all done over the years, and to reaffirm Government’s commitment to maintaining the highest standards of slope safety in Hong Kong to protect people’s life and property.

 

There is much to applaud. Evolving in response to experience, continual improvement initiatives and technological advancement, we now have in place one of the best slope engineering and landslide risk-management systems in the world. Indeed, the risk of landslides from Hong Kong’s man-made slopes today is down some 75% from the 1977 level.

 

But landslide risks will never drop to zero given that the majority of Hong Kong’s land area is hilly terrain. Today, we must also contend with the acute challenges of population growth, slope degradation and, most notably, climate change. Climate change is already affecting us. And there is the very real likelihood that climate change will result in more frequent, more extreme rainfall, triggering deadly landslides from our mountainous landscape.

 

Typhoon Hato, in August, highlights the impact of extreme weather. Hato, Hong Kong’s first No. 10 typhoon signal since 2012, injured at least 129 people here. It felled some 5,300 trees and resulted in flooding and coastal-area damage. It was indeed a powerful reminder that we must be prepared to deal with extreme weather; that we must maintain the highest landslide vigilance.

 

The Government has in place a Contingency Plan for Natural Disasters, created to ensure that we respond to emergency situations quickly and effectively across the whole of Hong Kong. In this, the GEO plays a vital part. It maintains a 24-hour, year-round landslide emergency service, advising government departments on action to be taken in case of landslide danger. I understand that, in recent years, they have been using sensors to detect landslides by monitoring changes in conditions of landslide-resisting barriers. This is a good example of how we embrace technology to achieve greater efficiencies in city operations, which is a key part in our ongoing quest to transform Hong Kong into a smart city.

 

The GEO has also stepped up public awareness measures, producing a variety of publicity messages and educational activities promoting slope safety. This public awareness programme reaches into every sector of our community including schools. The exhibition outside this hall, organised under a “public education on slope safety” theme, makes a clear and compelling statement of our community-wide resolve.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Slope Safety Summit 2017 on December 11.

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Education a significant investment

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

Originated in Hong Kong, the Yidan Prize is the largest recognition of achievement in the field of education in the world, thanks to Dr Charles Chen’s extraordinary commitment and laudable vision to create a better world through education.

 

I’m particularly proud for Hong Kong as this is already the third prestigious international accolade based in Hong Kong, preceded by the Shaw Prize recognising distinguished individuals in the fields of astronomy, life science and medicine and mathematical sciences and the Lui Che Woo Prize awarded to individuals or organisations that have made remarkable contributions to the welfare of mankind. I have the honour of presiding over the annual awards of those two prizes in my new capacity as the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the past two months, and tonight, I am much delighted to witness the inaugural presentation of another prestigious award, dedicated to an area which is very close to my heart.

 

Talent is the most important element in Hong Kong’s continued development, and education is the key to nurturing talent. I said therefore in my Election Manifesto that government expenditure on education is the most significant investment for our future. And I practice what I preach: in the first month of my taking office from July 1 this year, I obtained approval from the Legislative Council to allocate an additional $3.6 billion to our recurrent budget on education, to put in place various improvement measures in kindergarten, primary, secondary, university as well as special education.

 

The goal of our education policy is to nurture future generations to become citizens who are socially responsible and equipped with a sense of national identity, a love for Hong Kong and an international perspective. But I believe education should be led by experts and professionals, certainly not bureaucrats; the role of the Government should be one of creating a stable, caring, inspiring and satisfying teaching and learning environment for students, teachers, principals and parents. The success in education, however, requires the collaborative efforts of all who care about our next generation.

 

The founder of Yidan Prize, Dr Charles Chen, is definitely one of those who cares about our future generations. As a co-founder of Tencent, Charles took what many would regard as early retirement to focus his attention on charity. He founded the Chen Yidan Charity Foundation in 2013 and launched the Yidan Prize in 2016 with a $2.5 billion donation. Tonight we will congratulate the two inaugural laureates for the Yidan Prize, Prof Carol Dweck and Vicky Colbert, and have the opportunity to listen from them their respective vision for quality education.

 

While my Government will continue to invest in education, we must at the same time prepare our young people for the many challenges in a rapidly changing world that will be very different from the one we faced when we were young. We must ensure that education is inclusive and accessible to children regardless of race, nationality, gender, religious belief or means. This is where one of our inaugural laureate Vicky Colbert from the Fundacion Escuela Nueva has pioneered through innovative education models. Pioneering research is of course the hallmark of our other inaugural laureate Prof Carol Dweck. Her work on “growth mindset” has instilled among many people – students as well as businessmen – the motivation to succeed. I just hope, Carol, we could learn how to apply this within the Government with a view to fostering greater success in my efforts to better our society.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Yidan Prize Inaugural Award Presentation Ceremony on December 10.

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HK a gateway for foreign companies

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

Since the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 20 years ago, Hong Kong has demonstrated to the world that the unique and unprecedented “one country, two systems” has been working well. The rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong continue to be cherished, the rule of law and judicial independence firmly upheld and the open market economy well preserved. We have been making great strides in our economic development. All these nurture a favourable environment and a level playing field for foreign companies, including Canadian companies, to expand or establish business in Hong Kong.

 

Canada and Hong Kong have enjoyed close trade and economic ties. Canada was Hong Kong’s third largest trading partner in terms of trade in goods in Americas in 2016. Reciprocally, we are one of Canada’s important export markets in Asia, in particular for frozen beef, fish and seafood. We also have a vibrant Canadian business community in Hong Kong. We are home to more than 100 Canadian companies who have set up their regional headquarters, regional offices or local offices here and Sin Life is one of them. Their businesses span various industries, from banking, financial services to information technology, transportation and professional services.

 

Hong Kong continues to be an ideal gateway for foreign companies, including, of course, Canadian companies, to tap the fast-growing and dynamic Greater China market. Coupled with our Closer Economic Partnership Agreement with Mainland China, which is nationality-neutral, as well as our new free trade agreement with the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations just signed this November, Hong Kong’s active participation in the major initiatives being actively pursued by our Motherland including the Belt & Road Initiative and the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area further reinforces our important status as the springboard to the flourishing markets on Mainland China and ASEAN countries. I encourage Canadian enterprises to partner with companies in Hong Kong to explore new business opportunities offered under these initiatives.

 

Business aside, Hong Kong and Canada, though far apart geographically, are closely-connected socially and culturally. On people-to-people ties, apart from the substantial population of Canadian passport holders in Hong Kong and Hong Kong immigrants in Canada. No less important, Canada is also a popular destination for our young people – be it studying or participating in the Working Holiday Scheme. I am most thrilled to learn that Hong Kong Airlines has started the new non-stop daily service between Hong Kong and Vancouver in June this year. Cathay Pacific also stepped up the frequency of its flights connecting Hong Kong and Canada in the past few months. Ties between us will only bring our two places even closer.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the Canada 150 Celebration@Ocean Park on December 9.

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HK to be Asia’s cultural hub

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

For a few years now, much has been talked about the Belt & Road Initiative and many conferences have been held in Hong Kong harping on this important theme. But placing “culture” as the theme of a Belt & Road conference is quite pioneering and commendable. It is definitely something to be welcome by my Government for a few reasons.

 

First, as I have mentioned in my speech at the Asia Cultural Co-operation Forum 2017 Gala Dinner held last week, culture has been given increasing prominence by government leaders, including our Chinese leaders. I quoted from General Secretary Xi Jinping’s 19th Congress Report delivered on October 18 this year that culture is a country and a nation’s soul and the country of China will thrive only if the Chinese culture thrives, and our nation will be strong only if our culture is strong. It is therefore acknowledged in his report that we must provide our people with rich intellectual nourishment to meet the people’s new aspirations.

 

Secondly, the Belt & Road Initiative is not only about trade and business. One of the five main areas of connectivity which this initiative sets to boost is people-to-people bond. In this area, as mentioned by the Chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee Zhang Dejiang at the inaugural Belt & Road Summit held in Hong Kong in May last year, Hong Kong has been an important window for cultural exchanges between the East and the West given our open and inclusive cultural atmosphere.

 

Thirdly, culture occupies an important place in my vision for Hong Kong as portrayed in my maiden Policy Address delivered on October 11 this year. My Government will continue to provide the policy and resources for transforming Hong Kong into Asia’s cultural hub and taking (advantage) of our cultural foundation to promote people-to-people interactions along the Belt & Road.

 

As the senior civil servant responsible for cultural policy a decade ago for four-and-a-half years, I can promise you that culture will be very close to my heart as the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

 

This is not the first time that Zuni brought us such important global or regional connections. Zuni initiated a Greater China cultural conference in 1998, a year after the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. That conference’s focus, then as now, is on the artists and cultural professionals of four Greater China cities: Shanghai, Shenzhen, Taipei and Hong Kong. That is the reason why it is commonly referred to as the 4-City Conference.

 

As (Zuni Artistic Director) Danny (Yung) has said of Hong Kong’s return to our motherland China, it “would be a cultural opportunity to initiate an important discourse on Chinese culture, Chinese and foreign cultures, as well as Eastern and Western cultures”.

 

The City-to-City Conference has brought that “opportunity” to creative life. And we are all the better for it. Each year, critical developments in arts and culture are discussed, together with broader issues such as creativity, arts education and cultural challenges. The mission is laudable: to champion and promote the sustainable development of arts and culture in the participating Chinese cities. And, no less important from my Government’s perspective, to showcase the role of Hong Kong as a regional cultural capital.

 

This year, given the widespread interest in the Belt & Road initiative, Zuni has expanded its ambitions by running back-to-back cultural events, beginning with the 4-City Conference, which ended yesterday, and continuing these two days with the first Hong Kong Belt-Road City-to-City Cultural Exchange Conference.

 

That decision has been well received, with more than 70 arts and cultural practitioners, cultural policymakers and scholars from all over the world here in Hong Kong to share their vision and their experience under the theme of “Cultural Exchange & City Branding”. This welcome occasion presents an excellent opportunity for cities along the Belt & Road to build connections, and for their cultural leaders to create opportunities. It offers as well the promise of greater co-operation between the cultures and creative industries of East and West. This is indeed an essential aspect of the Belt & Road Initiative: the building of connectivity, not only in infrastructure and commerce, but in culture and the arts, thereby creating ties and enriching people-to-people bonds.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Hong Kong Belt-Road City-to-City Cultural Exchange Conference 2017 opening ceremony on December 9.

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VTC nurtures youth skills

Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung

For 35 years, the Vocational Training Council has been devoted to providing flexible and diversified study choices for secondary school leavers and working adults as well as nurturing the requisite human capital in support of the development of Hong Kong. Those choices can be life-changing. They offer knowledge, values and skills and thereby enhancing employability and offering the prospect of lifelong learning.

 

The VTC’s mission began in 1982 when the Government established it as a statutory body dedicated to vocational education.

 

Today, the VTC provides training courses to more than 250,000 students a year through its 13 member institutions, playing a pivotal role in ensuring skill-based training for our workforce. That, ladies and gentlemen, is an achievement worthy of our applause and our gratitude.

 

The theme of tonight’s 35th anniversary celebration, “Creating Value, Perfecting Skills,” highlights the ongoing mission of the VTC. It underscores, as well, the key to Hong Kong’s longstanding success. And that, of course, is a quality workforce. The people of Hong Kong will always make the difference.

 

The VTC creates value for its students and our society, aligning vocational and professional education and training services to the ever-changing needs of industry. It enhances apprenticeship training and, through its “Earn & Learn Pilot Scheme”, attracts young people to industries with a keen demand for labour, while providing apprentices with first-hand experience in the workplace.

 

The VTC also creates opportunities for our young people to participate in international skills competitions, widening their horizons and boosting their confidence. At the 44th WorldSkills Competition held in Abu Dhabi in October this year, the 22-member Hong Kong team took home one bronze medal and seven medallions of excellence, tying for the 25th place with New Zealand and Sweden and beating larger countries like the US and Spain. Also, the 30-member IVE SOPHIE Team was the 4th team to cross the finish line in the challenging Cruiser Class at the World Solar Challenge 2017 held in Australia in October, outperforming strong contenders from the US, Australia and Singapore. I would like to commend the Hong Kong team, VTC Council members, management and teaching staff for a job well done!

 

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government attaches great importance to vocational and professional education and training. We have put forth a number of policy measures in this respect, including regularising the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions & Sectors from the 2018-19 academic year onwards with an increase in the number of subsidised places to about 3,000 per cohort and continuing the industrial attachment projects to improve students’ employability. We also fully support the VTC to further enhance its infrastructure, as demonstrated by our support for it to develop a modern and multi-disciplinary campus in East Kowloon and develop the Aircraft & Marine Engineering Centre within the IVE Tsing Yi campus.

 

To diversify our talent pool to sustain Hong Kong’s long-term competitiveness, as pledged by the Chief Executive in her inaugural Policy Address announced just two months ago, the Government will carry out in-depth reviews on eight key areas of education, including a review on how vocational and professional education and training can be better promoted to cater for students’ diverse abilities and interests and to foster closer business-school collaboration to meet the manpower needs of Hong Kong. On this initiative, we welcome the views and suggestions from VTC and its partners.

 

To ensure that VTC’s programmes remain relevant and responsive to market needs, the Government’s effort alone is not enough. The achievements that VTC has made in the past 35 years would not have been possible without the staunch support from its partners including alumni, industrial partners and the community. Apart from course planning and curriculum design, partners of the VTC also provide valuable learning opportunities to our next generations with scholarship sponsorships, industry attachment and job placements that have enabled VTC students to fully unleash their potential and pursue their aspirations.

 

Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the Vocational Training Council 35th Anniversary Dinner on December 8.

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Funding dedicated to uni research

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s journey started eighty years ago in a modest, two-storey building on Wood Road in Wan Chai. It was Government Trade School back then, the first publicly funded, post-secondary technical institution in Hong Kong offering courses in mechanical engineering, marine wireless operating and building construction. With the remarkable efforts of its management, staff and students, that trade school has become the PolyU that we all know and admire, an internationally renowned university – innovative, ambitious and endlessly evolving.

 

PolyU excels in professional education, in applied research and community partnership, all for the benefit and the progress of Hong Kong. Its pursuit of excellence has been applauded internationally. In this year’s QS World University Rankings, eight PolyU disciplines were ranked among the world’s top 50. The university also climbed to 17th place in Asia this year under the Time Higher Education University Rankings. These cheering results reflect PolyU’s longstanding promise: “Opening Minds, Shaping the Future.” They also underscore the remarkable development of Hong Kong’s higher education sector over the years. Indeed, in this year’s QS World University Rankings, five Hong Kong universities placed in the top 100 globally.

 

In recent years, PolyU and other post-secondary institutions are busily and profitably tapping into the opportunities presented by Mainland China, by Asia in general, and by the world at large. There will be plenty of such opportunities in the future, as the visionary Belt & Road Initiative turns into reality. The Belt & Road Initiative links more than 60 nations on three continents through infrastructure development and in a wealth of other areas, from expanded trade and political ties to culture, education and people-to-people bonds.

 

Our universities will have a big part to play if we are to take full advantage of the Belt & Road’s boundless promise. In this regard, I am very pleased to note that PolyU has very strong regional and global connections, and is committed to weaving an effective global network which further facilitates educational and research development, as well as enhancing academic and cultural exchanges. PolyU was one of the first universities to co-found the University Alliance of the Silk Road in 2015. The alliance now comprises 124 universities from 32 countries or regions, and has been actively organising a range of activities to broaden students’ horizons and enrich their understanding about the Belt & Road regions. More recently, PolyU established the Belt & Road Centre in September 2017. This think tank will pool the interdisciplinary research strengths of the university to work with the public and private sectors, professional bodies and other universities on Belt & Road-related initiatives, as well as integrating them into university curriculum. It is encouraging to see PolyU progressing and contributing so remarkably in these aspects.

 

But it is nearer home, in the Gaungdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area that Hong Kong universities including PolyU will play a pivotal role in our ambition to develop in the bay area an international Innovation & Technology Centre, and in fulfilling my blueprint for I&T development with a view to help diversifying Hong Kong’s economy and creating more quality jobs for our next generation. I know such an ambition has to be supported by additional resources in research and development (R&D). Thus, in my maiden Policy Address delivered on October 11, I announced that Government will set aside no less than $10 billion as extra funding for university research. I also propose a tax incentive to encourage enterprises to spend more on R&D. Given PolyU’s achievements in applied research, I am confident that it will make excellent use of these additional resources.

 

I take heart as well in PolyU’s emphasis on service-learning, knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship. PolyU is the first university in Hong Kong to include service learning as a compulsory component for all students under the four-year curriculum. I am delighted to learn that PolyU students have contributed some 400,000 hours of services to the Hong Kong community through service-learning programmes. PolyU is also among our first higher-education institutions to offer funding and support to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among students, academics and alumni. With the establishment of the PolyU InnoHub earlier this year, I am confident our young innovators and entrepreneurs will expand their co-operation and exchanges with their counterparts in the nearby regions.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Polytechnic University 80th Anniversary Celebration Dinner on December 7.

via Moroccan Trader Funding dedicated to uni research

Boosting HK’s IP regime

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

Welcome to the seventh Business of Intellectual Property Asia Forum. The theme of this year’s forum is “IP & Innovation – Propelling Change, Growth & Connectivity”.

 

The stress on innovation is timely for each and every one of us here as government leaders, company owners and managers, academics and researchers, NGOs and service providers, intellectual property owners and users, buyers and sellers. In a fast-changing world, we are all, and have to be, innovators in order to meet the challenges ahead of us.

 

This forum is equally timely for Hong Kong and for my new Government. We believe in innovation and technology, and we are determined that it will drive our future success. Which is why, in my first Policy Address delivered in October this year, I highlighted eight areas of our I&T agenda over the next five years, ranging from increasing research and development expenditure to nurturing talents. Work has already started in many of the areas, and I will personally chair an internal Steering Committee on Innovation & Technology to ensure that the various I&T initiatives will be taken forward expeditiously. This committee will meet for the first time tomorrow.

 

We are also committed to strengthening our creative industries, particularly design, to diversify our economy and meet our growing social needs. Indeed, I came here straight from the opening of this year’s Business of Design Week, which has become Asia’s major annual event for design, innovation and brands over the years and features design leaders and innovators from all over the region and around the world.

 

But let’s be clear on this: I&T, and the creative industries, won’t go far in Hong Kong, or anywhere else, without a strong IP protection regime. In this regard, Hong Kong enjoys a significant edge, as our IP protection regime is recognised and well regarded internationally. In the latest World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report published in September, Hong Kong ranked ninth in IP protection among the 137 economies covered by the report.

 

Couple that solid IP protection with our sound legal and financial systems, our business-friendly environment and world-class business and professional services, and you would know why Hong Kong is fast emerging as the region’s IP trading hub. It helps, too, that our economy is increasingly connected with that of Mainland China. The Mainland is now a major IP powerhouse. In the year 2015, the Mainland of China became the first economy to receive more than a million patent applications in one year, as many as Japan, the Republic of Korea and the US combined.

 

No doubt, the Mainland will continue to be a leading player in the global IP arena given the strategic position accorded to IP and innovation in the 13th Five-Year Plan on National Economic & Social Development. It should also be noted that the Belt & Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development, two visionary national strategies, will offer unprecedented opportunities, IP trading included. Under both strategies, Hong Kong will serve both as a sophisticated intermediary and a hub for fund-raising and professional services of all kinds.

 

Last month, Hong Kong signed an agreement on intellectual property co-operation with the nine IP offices of the pan-Pearl River Delta region. The agreement will promote the continuous deepening of regional IP co-operation and facilitate economic and cultural exchanges with countries and regions along the Belt & Road, thereby fostering joint economic development in the region. Also in the last month, we signed a free trade agreement and related investment agreement with the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The agreements will generate new opportunities for business with ASEAN, already our second-largest trading partner. They will also strengthen Hong Kong’s position as an international trade, commerce and financial centre, creating fresh impetus for IP trading throughout the region.

 

IP is gaining unprecedented momentum around the world, spurring innovation and creativity, transforming commerce and reinventing the way we live, work and interact with one another. Consider the example of 3D printing technology. As noted by the World Intellectual Property Organization, 3D printing is streamlining design and manufacturing, affording greater design freedom and complete product customisation, reducing costs and material wastage and forging greater designer-client ties. But let’s not forget that a full 3D printing system would not have been possible without IP rights. They include patent rights in 3D printing components, processes and raw printing material, copyright in controlling software programmes and trademarks of 3D printer products. In short, the commercialisation of IP rights encourages both co-operation and ground-breaking innovation.

 

Indeed, IP is the very engine powering innovation. It is the principal means of establishing and protecting creations of the mind and providing a legal foundation for innovation and the advances it enables.

 

As IP becomes more and more important to us all, so too do the standards and the regulations that govern its creation and commercialisation. In Hong Kong, we are enhancing our IP regime to meet the needs of society and the global economy. We are, for example, developing an original grant patent system to support Hong Kong’s rise as a regional I&T hub. We are working to implement the international trademark registration system, under the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning International Registration of Marks. This will save companies time and money in obtaining and managing their international trademark registrations. My Government, taking on the role as a facilitator and a promoter, will also take forward various measures to strengthen Hong Kong’s position as the IP trading nexus in Asia. We hope that these efforts would build a more solid ground for Hong Kong to drive the development of innovation and technology.

 

The Business of IP Asia Forum, launched in 2011, is a major component of our efforts, and we take pride to see that the forum has risen to become a flagship event for IP in the region. We treasure the presence of over 80 renowned speakers worldwide who would share their insights and experiences on a myriad of current IP issues.

 

Innovation is the talk of the day, but is not something easy to achieve. With Hong Kong’s unparalleled advantages, our can-do attitude and enterprising spirits, I have every confidence that we could brave our way down the innovation path for a better future. At the same time, Hong Kong fully recognises the role and value of the IP system at the centre of economic growth driven by I&T. We will harness its powers. Tapping the opportunities arising from IP trading will benefit Hong Kong and, surely, all of us.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Business of IP Asia Forum on December 7.

via Moroccan Trader Boosting HK’s IP regime