Speech by SLW at Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Day (English only)

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Day today (June 22):

John (Chan) (Hong Kong Jockey Club Chairman), Winfried (Engelbrecht-Bresges) (Club CEO), members of the Board of Stewards, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon. I feel deeply honoured to be invited to officiate at the fourth Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Day. This is an annual event to celebrate the successful partnership between the Hong Kong Jockey Club and its charity partners from various sectors of the community, as well as to welcome so many distinguished guests here today.

The Jockey Club has a long tradition of charitable contributions since the 1950s. Indeed, to demonstrate its strong commitment to welfare for the Hong Kong community, the Club specifically set up the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust in 1993 to administer donations for charity and community projects.

But even with such resources, the Club cannot do it alone. We are very fortunate to have so many community organisations which possess the same heart and compassion to bring better quality of life to the people of Hong Kong, and which have the expertise, knowledge and network to take forward the projects and provide the services as partners of the Club. A few examples come to mind: the provision of wheelchair-accessible hire car service for people with disabilities; the Jockey Club Anti-Drug Prevention Education Centre; fitting out of the new integrated service centre for strengthening the community's efforts in preventing family violence; modernisation of Integrated Children and Youth Services Centres operated by non-government organisations (NGOs) for enhancing their services; the Jockey Club Youth Enhancement Scheme; and the Jockey Club Arts for the Disabled Scheme.

The Club also proactively identifies and works with NGOs on projects gearing towards future community and social needs. For example, in response to the needs of the local community for more community services, the Club and the Lotteries Fund of the Social Welfare Department jointly donated $8.6 million in November 2007 to support the establishment of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals' Jockey Club Tin Shui Wai Integrated Services Centre. This centre, converted from the top floor of an underutilised car park block at Tin Heng Estate, provides community programmes and services tailor-made for the needs of the youth and families in Tin Shui Wai.

Similarly, the Club responded swiftly to calls for more job opportunities for residents in Tin Shui Wai by committing to set up a "Telebet Centre cum Volunteer and Training Centre" in the carpark block at Tin Heng Estate. The centre will provide about 2,500 much-needed jobs in Tin Shui Wai. I understand that preparatory work for setting up the centre is in full swing and it will come on stream early next year.

Jockey Club's dedication to participate actively in providing timely and multifaceted support for evolving social welfare needs is beyond doubt. Through its diverse range of charitable contributions, the Club seeks not only to address the needs of Hong Kong today but also invest in the future of Hong Kong which facilitates the promotion of a caring and responsible society.

At our end, the Government has also been proactively tackling the problem of unemployment in distant new towns. Some job seekers may lack vocational skills or fall short of educational attainments necessary for certain jobs. To address the problem, the Labour Department has launched client-focused employment programmes for youths, the middle-aged, the difficult-to-employ and persons with disabilities to help improve their employability. With a view to promoting youth employment, we also join with NGOs and other partners to provide a wide range of pre-employment training and personalised career guidance services to youths. Through cross-sector collaboration, the youth employment programmes of the Labour Department have trained some 130,000 young people over the years.

Whilst on employment, let me take this opportunity to appeal to you to help a particular disadvantaged group in our community - persons with disabilities. Although they are handicapped in some ways, they are usually highly loyal and appreciate very much the opportunities offered them by their employers to lead normal, productive lives. They are wonderful employees in the current tight labour market. I strongly urge you all to consider increasing placements for them. I am sure that you will be amply rewarded by their dedication and commitment.

Thank you.

Ends/Sunday, June 22, 2008