XRL plan has strong legal backing

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region welcomes the decision made by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) today, approving the Co-operation Arrangement between the Mainland & the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on the Establishment of the Port at the West Kowloon Station of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link for Implementing Co-location Arrangement signed between the HKSAR Government and the Mainland on November 18, 2017. This signifies the accomplishment of the second step in the three-step process to provide a firm legal basis for the implementation of co-location arrangement at the West Kowloon Station (WKS). I wish to take this opportunity to thank the State Council and the NPCSC for their support and the relevant Mainland authorities, in particular the Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office of the State Council for their thorough deliberations on the matter over a period of time.

 

Construction works of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) which started in 2010 are now roughly 98% completed. The Mass Transit Railway Corporation Limited is confident to commission this very important piece of railway project in the third quarter of 2018. Through some intensive publicity and public discussion over the past five months, i.e. since this term of the Government announced the proposed three-step process on July 25 this year, I hope, by now, there is no more doubt that co-location arrangement at the WKS to enable passengers travelling on the XRL to complete clearance procedures of both Hong Kong and the Mainland at the WKS in one go is the best way to optimise the transport, economic and social benefits of the XRL. Moreover, this arrangement has also received majority support in the community. Further, the NPCSC’s decision made today has not only removed any concern over the legal basis for the co-location arrangement, but has also provided strong constitutional and legal basis for its implementation.

 

While I will in a moment invite the Secretary for Justice to explain the legal position, let me first reiterate a few fundamental points:

 

1. co-location arrangement for the XRL at the WKS in order to fully unleash the high-speed rail’s advantages represents new circumstances in the implementation of “one country, two systems” and involves complex issues of applicability of Mainland and Hong Kong laws as well as jurisdiction matters, which could not have been foreseen in the drafting of the Basic Law. It is therefore understandable that there is no specific provision in the Basic Law that could directly respond to or accommodate such new circumstances. The Mainland and HKSAR authorities have therefore thoroughly deliberated and debated on the matter over a period of time with a view to finding the most suitable arrangement;

 

2. in so doing, the two sides have always worked from the common and unequivocal understanding that any arrangement must be consistent with the “one country, two systems” principle and must not contravene the Basic Law. In exercise of its powers and duties, the NPCSC made the decision today which approves the co-operation arrangement and clearly confirms that it is consistent with the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (the constitution) and the Basic Law. Such an act provides strong legal backing to the co-location arrangement, including the enforcement of Mainland laws by relevant law enforcement agencies within the Mainland Port Area at the WKS;

 

3. contrary to allegations that co-location arrangement undermines the HKSAR’s high degree of autonomy, the decision affirms that the conduct of consultations by the HKSAR Government with the relevant parties of the Mainland for making an appropriate arrangement on issues relating to the establishment of a port at the WKS and the implementation of co-location arrangement thereat is a clear demonstration of the exercise of a high degree of autonomy by the HKSAR in accordance with the constitution and the Basic Law;  

 

4. the NPCSC’s decision expressly states that the establishment of the Mainland Port Area at the WKS does not alter the administrative division of the HKSAR and does not undermine the rights and freedoms enjoyed by the residents of the HKSAR in accordance with law. Allegations that co-location arrangement involves a “cession of territory” or a breach of human rights are clearly unfounded; and

 

5. furthermore, the NPCSC’s decision specifies that the Mainland authorities stationed at the Mainland Port Area and their personnel can only perform duties and functions strictly within the confines of the Mainland Port Area, and they shall not enforce the law in any area outside the Mainland Port Area.

 

With the announcement of the NPCSC’s decision today, two steps of the three-step process have been completed, and the only remaining step is the local legislative process. We will not underestimate the challenge in making this final step. The HKSAR Government will strive to introduce the bill to implement co-location arrangement at the WKS pursuant to the NPCSC’s decision and the approved co-operation arrangement into LegCo no later than early February 2018. We must secure its passage before LegCo’s summer recess next year, so as to meet the target of commissioning the Hong Kong Section of the XRL in the third quarter of 2018. I sincerely hope that LegCo Members will scrutinise the bill in a pragmatic and rational manner.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks in a press conference on the Co-location Arrangement of Hong Kong Section of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link on December 27.

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Co-location plan lawful: SJ

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen

The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region fully appreciates that the Hong Kong community is concerned with the legal basis for implementing the co-location arrangement. This is why on different occasions in the past, I and other government officials have repeatedly pointed out that in the course of discussing co-location, it has always been stressed that the co-location arrangement should be consistent with the “one country, two systems” policy and shall not contravene the Basic Law of the HKSAR. Against this background, both sides proposed to adopt the three-step process to implement the co-location arrangement. The decision made by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) today has clearly stated that the co-location arrangement as provided for in the co-operation arrangement is consistent with the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the HKSAR’s Basic Law.

 

Both the NPCSC decision and the explanation made by Director Zhang Xiaoming (Director of the Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office of the State Council) have explained the legal basis for implementing the co-location arrangement in detail. I therefore think there is no need for me to repeat them here, but I would, however, like to highlight two main aspects, which I understand is of interest to the Hong Kong community. The first aspect concerns Article 18 of the Basic Law; and the other aspect concerns the questions such as which specific provision in the Basic Law can be invoked to implement co-location as well as questions of authorisation and relevant matters. The explanation has addressed both these two aspects, and I would like to draw your attention to the relevant contents, in particular the following points.

 

First of all, Article 18 of the Basic Law provides that “National laws shall not be applied in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region except for those listed in Annex III to this law. Laws listed in Annex III to [the Basic Law] shall be confined to those relating to defence and foreign affairs as well as other matters outside the limits of the autonomy of the [HKSAR] as specified by this law”.

 

The explanation explains that the co-location arrangement will not be in contravention of Article 18. The reason is largely two-fold:

 

(1) What Article 18 of the Basic Law stipulates is the extension and application of national laws in the entire HKSAR, including the relevant contexts and the route through which they become applicable. Put shortly, the area of application of the relevant national laws stipulated in Article 18 is the entire HKSAR. They are mainly implemented by the HKSAR and they are applicable to all persons in the HKSAR. On the other hand, as regards the application of national laws in the West Kowloon Station Mainland Port Area, their scope of application is only confined to the Mainland Port Area. They are implemented by the relevant Mainland authorities and they are mainly applicable to high-speed rail passengers present in the Mainland Port Area. The situation therefore is different from the case of application of national laws in the HKSAR under Article 18 of the Basic Law, and therefore there is no question of Article 18 of the Basic Law being contravened.

 

(2) The co-operation arrangement further expressly provides that for the purposes of the application of the laws of the Mainland and the delineation of jurisdiction, the West Kowloon Station Mainland Port Area will be regarded as “being situated in the Mainland”. A similar provision was also adopted in the Shenzhen Bay Port Area model. Upon approval of the co-operation arrangement and the making of the decision by the NPCSC, this would provide full and sufficient legal basis for the application of national laws solely in the West Kowloon Station Mainland Port Area.

 

On the other hand, the explanation also deals with the question of whether any specific provisions may be invoked to implement the co-location arrangement as well as the question such as authorisation. In the past, the HKSAR and the Mainland authorities repeatedly studied different proposals, including the proposal to invoke Article 20 of the Basic Law. However, both sides also notice that the Hong Kong community has many different views as to whether Article 20 of the Basic Law is applicable or whether it is the best option. As pointed out by the explanation, co-location arrangement is a new situation encountered in the course of implementing the “one country, two systems” policy. Therefore, the fact that the community has many different views is normal and understandable. Upon full consideration, the NPCSC decides that the more appropriate option is for the NPCSC to approve the co-operation arrangement.

 

The NPC is the highest organ of state power, whilst the NPCSC is its permanent body. The advantage of NPCSC’s aforesaid approach is that it resolved the issues from a constitutionally higher level, and can thereby avoid disputes such as questions of authorisation and the like, and can be regarded as a more prudent way of dealing with the matter. This also reflects the fact that NPCSC is willing to consider different views expressed by the Hong Kong community.

 

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen gave these remarks in a press conference on the Co-location Arrangement of Hong Kong Section of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link on December 27.

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More support for ethnic minorities

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

This is more than a carnival. It is a gathering to show and demonstrate Hong Kong’s social inclusiveness and of course our acceptance of respect for ethnic minorities. Let me remind everybody here no matter where you come from, from Pakistan, India, Nepal, Philippines, Africa and so on, if you make Hong Kong your home, you are part of Hong Kong. You are part of us. No different from any Hong Kong citizen, so you are part of Hong Kong. Treat Hong Kong as a home. 

 

The Government actually attaches great importance to the well-being of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. We have been investing more, in terms of education, employment, social services and also all sorts of support services for ethnic minorities. 

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at a poon choi feast and carnival held by the Hong Kong Community Network on December 23.

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Conservation showcasing Central

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

I’m really thrilled to be back to the Murray Building. Like many of my colleagues in the audience, I worked in the Murray Building twice in my public service career, first in the late 1980s, and then almost a decade ago. Somehow I always got this feeling that the beauty and the potential of this wonderful building has not been fully exploited. So, I am very pleased to be back, with this wonderful project completed today.

 

I always felt that this building still has huge potential, and I believe Central is a place where it still has huge potential, so in 2009 I – of course through hard work of my colleagues and the support of the then Chief Executive – implemented Conserving Central. Together with my colleagues, we sat down and tried to rethink about Central. How could we take Central to the next grandeur and newer heights? As a result of that deep thinking, we conceived Conserving Central.

 

The eight projects in Conserving Central are intended to showcase this new Central district to the people of Hong Kong, and to a lot of visitors coming to Hong Kong to work, to play, to enjoy. These eight projects comprise the Central Harbourfront, which is now a wonderful place for people to get together, to enjoy the summer festival, the arts festival, the Clockenflap music festival and so on. Two projects have already completed. One is the PMQ, from the Former Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters. It’s now a design hub for Hong Kong’s young designers. Since its opening it has already attracted three million visitors. The second project that has been completed, and is connected to this building, is the CGO, the Central Government Offices, which have now been renamed as the Justice Place to showcase the rule of law in Hong Kong, and occupied by the Secretary for Justice and his team. And then this is the third project to be completed, now called The Murray, which is a luxury hotel of 336 rooms.

 

Two other equally wonderful projects are under construction. One is the Tai Kwun, which is Central Police Station Compound, with a cluster of 17 historic buildings. I look forward to opening that Tai Kwun sometime next year, now working very hard by the team at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The other project under construction is the Former French Missionary Building, a beautiful monument along Battery Path, together with the West Wing of the CGO, and once completed that will enhance Justice Place to turn this whole precinct into a legal hub for Hong Kong.

 

Two projects have yet to (get) underway, in which I’m a bit disappointed. One is the Sheng Kung Hui compound, but I don’t blame the Sheng Kung Hui people because it’s a hugely complex project that requires a lot of government approvals. But the final project should actually have been completed a long time ago, which is the rejuvenation of the Central Market, and by the way that is the most difficult decision in Conserving Central, because that’s a multi-billion dollar site in Central that could be turned into a Grade A office tower. I did manage to save Central Market, not only because of the building’s history, but also in order to preserve a hangout area for white-collar people working in Central. Somehow it has taken much longer to deliver, but never mind, I’m sure all these other projects will come into place in time to come.

 

Now today, speaking as a new Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR, I feel Hong Kong is also – like eight years ago when I conceived this project – at the crossroads. We have just celebrated the 20th anniversary of “one country, two systems” and the reunification with China. But at the same time we are facing a lot of competition. Ahead of us there are a lot of opportunities but also a lot of challenges, so I hope that all of you will work with me and my term of Government to re-invigorate the legend of Hong Kong, to bring Hong Kong to even greater and grander heights. And that’s why these days, whenever I go out to promote Hong Kong, I said the best of Hong Kong has yet to come.

 

Now, coming back to this Murray, this is a unique project amongst the eight projects in Conserving Central, because of a number of reasons. First, it is the only commercial project because somehow, the Government is now quite worried of working with private sector partners. But for this one, it has to be a commercial project because I don’t think this Government is good at running luxury hotels. So this is the only commercial project in Conserving Central, whereas the others are either government project, or non-profit making projects. So I’m extremely pleased that this project, this commercial project, is not driven by profit.

 

And the third uniqueness about Murray is the developer is required not only to preserve the building, but also to preserve the connectivity that this building is so strategically located: connecting to CGO through a subway; connecting to the now Champion Tower through a pedestrian bridge; and connecting to the Hong Kong Park and also to the Peak Tram Station.

 

The third thing they need to conserve, with a bit of difficulty, is the tree – this pink and white shower. It’s over 100 years old. This tree was almost certified dead by my colleagues in the LCSD. I said, I will not give up on this tree because I worked in this building and I love this tree. So I brought in a whole team of tree experts with the support of Chi Lin Nunnery. I’m sure for those of you who have visited Chi Lin, they are so good at horticultural preservation. Pro bono, they sent me a team to work on this tree for over a month in order to preserve it. I’m very pleased now this tree should be in very good condition and will become the landmark of the new Murray.

 

This event to me is very much anticipated because in the last four, five years, I passed through this building every day, when I was heading back to Victoria House, or now heading back to Government House, so in a way, I’ve been monitoring the progress of the transformation of the Murray Building into The Murray.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the completion ceremony of The Murray on December 20.

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HK has key Belt-Road role

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung

Hong Kong is often described as having “the best of both worlds” under the principle of “one country, two systems”. Under “one country”, we receive trade access, preferential treatment and investment facilitation. Under “two systems”, we enjoy the autonomy to maintain our way of life and rule of law here. That is why Hong Kong has all along played an important role in linking the Mainland with other parts of the world, as well as serving as the gateway for overseas businesses to enter China and Asia for that matter.

 

While our economy has been performing well over the years, we are facing fierce competition from other economies – and the recent rise of protectionism in some economies. To meet these challenges, the current-term Government of Hong Kong is determined to develop Hong Kong into a high-value-added and diversified economy, besides strengthening our existing pillar industries. This embraces the development of new economic sectors such as innovation and technology industry, and creative industries, which will capitalise on the two mammoth national strategies. The Belt & Road Initiative covers more than 60 countries and 4.4 billion people that account for over 30% of global economic value, while the (Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao) Bay Area represents some 66 million people that generated a combined gross domestic product of US$1.36 trillion in 2016.

 

We attach great importance to both the Belt & Road Initiative and the bay area development project, for they will be the key engines for Hong Kong’s continuous growth.

 

Witnessed by President Xi Jinping on July 1 this year, our Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, signed the Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Co-operation in the Development of the Bay Area with the National Development & Reform Commission, Guangdong Province and the Macao Special Administrative Region to jointly kick off the bay area development.

 

Last week, another important document was signed with regard to the Belt & Road Initiative, namely the “Arrangement between the National Development & Reform Commission and the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for Advancing Hong Kong’s Full Participation in and Contribution to the Belt & Road Initiative” in Beijing.

 

The arrangement will allow us to give full play to our unique advantages under “one country, two systems” to contribute to the country, while at the same time seize those opportunities brought by the initiative to provide new impetus for our economic growth. The relevant measures will help reinforce and elevate Hong Kong’s position as international financial, transport and trade centres, promote partnership between Mainland and Hong Kong enterprises, spawn the demand for Hong Kong’s professional services and present our home-grown talents with promising prospects, thus enhancing the upward mobility of our younger generations.

 

Well-developed infrastructure is a critical factor enabling Hong Kong to capture opportunities arising from the Belt & Road Initiative and the bay area development to sustain our economic growth and strength. Enhancing Hong Kong’s connectivity with the Mainland will boost exchanges between Hong Kong and major Mainland cities and foster the development of complementary advantages.

 

Not only will our pillar industries like financial services and trading and professional services benefit, but some emerging sectors like innovation and technology, legal and dispute resolution services, creative industries, medical and healthcare services, as well as higher education will also benefit from tapping the rich resources of land, labour, capital, and research and development capability on the Mainland.

 

Three strategic facilities connecting Hong Kong and the Mainland will open in the coming year and half. They are the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, and the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point.

 

First, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, which will be ready for commissioning in the very near future, is a major infrastructural project to provide direct land transport connection between Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau. The project consists of two parts, namely the Main Bridge, and the link roads and boundary crossing facilities of the three sides. The 29.6km Main Bridge, including 6.7km of underwater tunnel, will be the longest bridge-cum-tunnel sea crossing in the whole world.

 

As a major cross-boundary project, the bridge is unprecedented in terms of shape and scope, in terms of scale and complexity. It is strategically important as well. Its commissioning will benefit various sectors in Hong Kong including tourism, commerce and logistics. It will also facilitate the further economic development of Hong Kong, Macau and the western Pearl River Delta as a whole by significantly lowering transport costs and time for travellers and goods on the road. The journey time between the Kwai Chung Container Terminal and Zhuhai will be reduced from the existing 3.5 hours to about 75 minutes, while the journey time between Hong Kong International Airport and Zhuhai will be substantially reduced from four hours now to just 45 minutes in future.

 

The bridge will also strengthen Hong Kong’s linkage with other parts of the Pearl River Delta as well as the wider bay area. The Western Pearl River Delta will fall within a reachable three-hour commuting radius of Hong Kong, enhancing the city’s position as a trade and logistics hub, especially in air and sea cargo throughput, for the western Pearl River Delta, western Guangdong and Guangxi. We can expect a faster economic integration of Hong Kong and other cities not only within the bay area, but also in neighbouring provinces.

 

Next, let me tell you more about the 26km Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL), due to open in the third quarter of 2018. The new railway will connect Hong Kong to key Pearl River Delta cities and the 22,000km national high-speed rail network on the Mainland, bringing Hong Kong closer to opportunities in cities within the bay area and countries along the Belt & Road.

 

The XRL passengers will be able to travel at ease from our West Kowloon terminus to major hub cities on the Mainland directly. This will no doubt consolidate Hong Kong’s position as a regional transport hub and create enormous economic and social benefits. Compared with the existing Intercity Through Train service, the XRL will take only about 14 minutes to reach Futian in Shenzhen, and will reduce travel time to Guangzhou from two hours to about 48 minutes, to Zhuhai from four hours to only 45 minutes, to Shanghai from 19 hours to eight hours, and to Beijing from 24 hours to just about nine hours. The convenience and connectivity offered by the XRL will bring significant and long-term benefits to tourism, and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions sectors, as well as retail, catering and professional services.

 

Guangdong is our largest and most important partner in the bay area development. We share the Guangdong border with Shenzhen and have already opened six land boundary control points (BCP) with this bustling city. Now a seventh BCP is coming up very shortly. The Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai BCP will be an important eastern corridor for over 600,000 daily commuters between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, and many others travelling further afield to Shantou, Shanwei, Chaozhou and Jieyang by taking the Shenzhen-Shantou Expressway, or Huizhou and Jiangxi by the Shenzhen-Huizhou Expressway.

 

This new BCP will be complemented by the 11km Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai link, including the 4.8km Lung Shan Tunnel, to connect with the Fanling Highway. When the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai BCP comes into operation next year, travelling between Hong Kong and eastern Guangdong will be much faster and far more convenient. This will provide a broader platform for Hong Kong-Guangdong co-operation. For example, the travelling time from Tai Po on the Hong Kong side to Longgang on the Shenzhen side will be cut from 53 minutes to 31 minutes, saving 21 minutes in total.

 

Hong Kong will have a lot to offer to the Belt & Road Initiative and the bay area development. Our strategic location at the Mainland’s doorstep, our level-playing field for all businesses, our favourable and predictable investment environment, our simple and low tax system, our superb infrastructure and free flow of capital and information are an unrivalled package that has enabled Hong Kong to act as a “key link” for multinational companies to enter the Mainland market and as a springboard for Chinese companies to “go global”.

 

We can also help advance the bay area as an innovation centre for the Belt & Road Initiative. Hong Kong has established extensive international market networks that can connect the bay area with global markets. Besides, Hong Kong is well versed in international technological trends and technical standards, and offers an enormous base of highly skilled workers, supported by many well-respected tertiary institutions.

 

With our unique advantages as an international financial and trading centre, a global offshore renminbi business hub and an international asset management centre, Hong Kong is well placed to meet the rising demand for fund-raising and financial management services for Chinese companies to take part in Belt & Road projects. Our professional services are renowned for high standards and familiarity with international practices. We can help companies from the Mainland explore the Belt & Road markets by offering a wide range of services, such as consulting, legal and arbitration, financing, insurance, project management and construction.

 

Hong Kong is therefore best positioned within the bay area to play a key role in turning the vision of the Belt & Road Initiative into real business opportunities. All these opportunities will translate the Belt & Road Initiative and the bay area development into tangible benefits for enterprises and professionals of Hong Kong, the Mainland and the world.

 

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung gave these remarks at the China Daily Belt & Road Networking Reception on December 20.

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HK to boost R&D investment

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

In my maiden Policy Address delivered in October, I emphasised the critical importance of innovation and technology to every aspect of our economy. And in visiting the Grand Award winners’ booths just a few minutes ago, I was delighted to see the application of Innovation & Technology realised not only by the winners of the Innovation & Creativity and Technological Achievement categories, but also by winners in other categories as well.

 

Design and creativity are also among my policy priorities, as I emphasised just 10 days ago at the opening of Business of Design Week. I believe in design and the creative industries in general – in their boundless ability to boost our economy, to add value to our products and services and the Hong Kong brand they burnish. Many of the winning entries tonight demonstrated creative excellence in their businesses, either in the products they’ve brought to bright life or in the services they’ve smartly packaged.

 

The winners of the awards this year reinforce my belief that Hong Kong has a lot of potential to excel in Innovation & Technology and in creativity industries. My Government will ensure that resources and measures are in place to help Hong Kong realise its potential.

 

I am personally leading a Steering Committee on Innovation & Technology and it has already commenced work earlier this month. The steering committee will oversee the Government’s work in eight areas I outlined in the Policy Address. Among others, we will encourage the private sector to invest more in R&D with the help of a tax incentive. Specifically, the first $2 million in eligible R&D expenditure will enjoy a 300% tax deduction, with the remainder at 200%. The Innovation & Technology Bureau is consulting stakeholders, many of you here included, on the details and its target is to introduce the bill into LegCo (Legislative Council) in April 2018.

 

Moreover, we will fund local companies to help them train their staff in advanced manufacturing. We have also rolled out a $2 billion Innovation & Technology Venture Fund Scheme. It’s designed to invest, on a matching basis, with venture capital funds in local technology startups. It is now open for application until the middle of January next year.

 

We’re also working on a $500 million “Technology Talent Scheme” and we hope to consult the relevant panel of the Legislative Council in March next year. In parallel, we plan to seek funding from the Legislative Council early next year in order to inject $3 billion into the Research Endowment Fund to aid local students admitted to research postgraduate programmes funded by the University Grants Committee.

 

As regards the support for the creative industries, we will inject $1 billion into our CreateSmart Initiative, and the Hong Kong Design Centre will be given additional resources to reinforce Hong Kong’s status as a city of design excellence in Asia. We will also work to boost ties between Hong Kong’s design industry and Shenzhen and other design centres in the Mainland and overseas. I’m confident that will open up new markets for Hong Kong.

 

Talking about new markets, Hong Kong products and services have long been renowned for their quality and market adaptability. I’m confident they can find success in new markets, especially those along the Belt & Road. I am pleased to tell you that, during my duty visit to Beijing last week, I have signed on behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government an arrangement with the National Development & Reform Commission on Hong Kong’s participation in the Belt & Road Initiative. The arrangement covers a lot of areas and will allow Hong Kong to give full play to its unique advantages under “one country, two systems” to contribute to the country, while at the same time seize those opportunities brought by the Belt & Road Initiative to provide new impetus for economic growth.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Hong Kong Awards for Industries Awards Presentation Ceremony & Gala Dinner on December 18.

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Gov’t to step up medical efforts

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

Hong Kong is very blessed with a high-quality, cost-effective medical and healthcare system. Over these next five years, I am determined to preserve and enhance it for the people of Hong Kong.

             

There is no shortage of issues we must face and solve if we are to maintain our standards and our international recognition. Our population is ageing, healthcare costs are rising, our public hospitals are overloaded and our healthcare staff woefully stretched. I saw the situation myself when I visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital during this July’s summer flu, just two weeks after my taking office. Prior to that, I also heard first-hand the grievances of our front-line public doctors who are members of the Election Committee.

      

Two months ago, I presented my first Policy Address as Chief Executive. In it, I shared my governance philosophy and addressed the policies and priorities to be tackled over the next five years. In healthcare, my Government will allocate resources to actively promote primary healthcare, enhance public health regulation and promote advancements in medical technology. I don’t think there is enough time for me to go through all the measures but just let me stress that they are conceived in accordance with my belief in the provision of social services: that we should promote cross-sector and cross-profession collaboration as well as public-private partnership to make better use of our resources and provide more comprehensive care for the needy in society. I also pointed out that as public resources are not without limits, the policies and measures for improving people’s livelihood are not merely a matter of supply and demand, but they also involve the issue of resource allocation which the community must not shy away from.

 

Gov’t to boost medical efforts        

Putting this belief in the healthcare sector, the Government is determined to step up efforts to promote individual and community involvement, enhance co-ordination among various medical and social sectors, and strengthen primary healthcare services particularly at the district-level. Through these measures, we aim to encourage the public to take precautionary measures against diseases, enhance their capability in self-care and home care, and reduce the demand for hospitalisation. A steering committee on primary healthcare development chaired by the Secretary for Food & Health was established last month to oversee our work in this area.

      

Pending a major shift to primary healthcare, and significant advancement in cross-sector collaboration and public-private partnership, we could not afford to turn a blind eye to the overloaded situation in our public hospitals. The Government will devote more resources to enhance the infrastructure and manpower to improve the public sector supply. In particular, we will introduce a new arrangement by undertaking to increase the recurrent funding for the Hospital Authority progressively on a triennium basis, having regard to population growth rates and demographic changes. On manpower, the Hospital Authority will fulfil my pledge to employ all qualified medical graduates and provide them with relevant specialist training. The HA will make every effort to retain existing and rehire retired healthcare professionals as appropriate. It will also proactively recruit qualified non-locally trained doctors through limited registration to provide clinical services in the public healthcare system.

      

On the regulatory and manpower fronts, one of the foreseeable enhancements will be in the form of the Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill 2017. After some intensive efforts made by the new administration, I am pleased to say that we have reached broad consensus with stakeholders in October this year on the composition of the Medical Council. Now that the controversies in the past months over amendments to the Legislative Council (LegCo) Rules of Procedure to mitigate filibustering have been settled, I hope that LegCo, through the Bills Committee chaired by the Honourable Tommy Cheung, will complete its scrutiny of the bill as soon as possible.

      

In recent months, I have been talking a lot about innovation and technology as a priority area for my Government. Indeed, application of innovation and technology to grow the economy and address social issues has no boundary and healthcare has been identified as one of our target areas. We believe there is great potential for Hong Kong in furthering the development of biomedicine technology. The convergence of biotechnology, information technology, engineering and nanotechnology offers more effective means for preventing, diagnosing, treating and monitoring diseases.

 

My Government is thus committed to developing innovative biomedical technology. We’ll do it by turning Hong Kong into a centre of innovation and technology. And we’ve made a good start at that, laying down a solid foundation. The Hong Kong Science Park is home to about 100 international and local biomedical technology companies. That’s nearly double the number in 2015.

      

From overseas, the Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine, the first offshore research facility of Sweden’s renowned Karolinska Institutet, is now into its second year in the Science Park. Karolinska is focused on research in stem-cell biology, biomedical engineering, biotechnology and regenerative medicine.

      

From the Mainland of China, the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine & Health has set up the Guangzhou-Hong Kong Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Research Centre at Science Park. And among the 16 Partner State Key Laboratories established in Hong Kong universities, nearly two-thirds specialise in biomedical technology and related areas.

      

Human trials conducted at our two teaching hospitals – Queen Mary and Prince of Wales – and the Hong Kong Eye Hospital can be used to support new drug applications to the China Food & Drug Administration. That, ladies and gentlemen, gives Hong Kong a singular advantage in the research and development of biomedical technology.

      

I am glad to note that, at the end of July, 430 applied R&D projects, with total funding of about HK$832 million, were approved by our Innovation & Technology Fund. They will support research ranging from molecular diagnostics and drug discovery and development, to medical devices, the modernisation of traditional Chinese medicine and bio-pharmaceutical manufacturing.

 

Biomedical tech holds promise      

In short, we’re fully engaged, because I believe this is our moment – Hong Kong’s time to tap into the vast promise of biomedical technology. If we succeed, it will not only help raise the healthcare standard in Hong Kong. It will also help us develop related industries and contribute to the human kind. There will be a lot of opportunities in front of us, especially in the context of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development – the most affluent region in the Mainland today where a growing middle-class population will have huge demands for quality medical services. I look forward to joining hands with our medical institutions and professionals in grasping these opportunities.

 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the “130 Years of Medicine in Hong Kong” Homecoming Dinner to celebrate the 130th Anniversary of the Medical Faculty of The University of Hong Kong on December 17.

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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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