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Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs speaks on Sichuan Reconstruction (English only)  
   

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at the Launch Ceremony of the South China Morning Post “Homes for Hope” project this evening (March 19):

David (Pang), CK (Lau), friends, ladies and gentlemen,

It actually gives me and my colleagues tremendous honour and pleasure to be able to join you tonight. Over the years, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) has been well established as an institution in the media world of Hong Kong. But what is more interesting is that in recent years, you have done much to promote community service.

During the reception just now, I asked SCMP colleagues what results you have engendered for "Operation Santa Claus" last year, and you have got $11 million. Amidst the financial tsunami, that is a significant achievement.

In dealing with Sichuan's reconstruction, the earthquake in May last year evoked a tremendous response from among Hong Kong community and the people of Hong Kong. With the support of the legislature, different sectors and individuals, we have obtained financial approval for HK$6 billion to finance over 120 projects in Sichuan, comprising many schools, hospitals, clinics, community service centres, and the reconstruction of the panda reserve in Wolong.

As the Government, we believe it is very important to engage the community. We want to bring the best of Hong Kong to Sichuan, including the financing of hardware reconstruction and Hong Kong's software professional support. And this is where NGOs can contribute. We have set aside from among the allocation of $6 billion a total of $250 million for NGOs with worthy projects to come forth and to apply for. Amongst the first lot of 12 projects which we announced and approved last December, we have various forms of organisations promoting physiotherapy, establishing schools. Now today, we have the SCMP "Homes for Hope" proposing to reconstruct homes for the people of Sichuan and to lay down essential infrastructure in two townships.

The important thing about these initiatives is that we bring to the people of Sichuan not just hardware, but software, skills, and most importantly -- the hearts and care of Hong Kong people. So we are very pleased to announce that, on behalf of the HKSAR Government, we wish to contribute $10 million to “Homes for Hope”.

We believe this gives an important start. And CK, I hope, like "Operation Santa Claus", "Homes for Hope" will go from strength to strength. And with that strength, we all help Hong Kong to participate in the rebuilding of Sichuan.

Thank you very much.

Ends/Thursday, March 19, 2009
Issued at HKT 21:45

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