Jump to the beginning of content

border image


border image
SCMA speaks at International Islamic Society’s Eid-ul-Fitr Celebration Luncheon (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at the Eid-ul-Fitr Celebration Luncheon of the International Islamic Society on October 4:

Mr Uddin [President], Doyen, Consuls General, President Jasper Tsang, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

    I really feel very honoured and quite excited to be able to join you for this special celebration after you have experienced Ramadan. I heard so much about Ramadan, but this is the first time in my life to be able to join the tail-end of this celebration with a Muslim community. Colleagues of the Hong Kong Government place a very great deal of importance on this. We have representatives from the Hong Kong Police Force and our Director of Protocol. Let me make use of this occasion to extend my heartiest greetings to all of you, “Eid Mubarak” (meaning “may you enjoy a blessed festival”, a traditional Muslim greeting for the occasion). I am sure the pronunciation was not perfect, but the hearty congratulations were 100 per cent.

     Your society has the commendable aim of uniting Muslims from all walks of life in Hong Kong, and assisting and taking care of one another. Your work has been exemplary. On this very special occasion, I would like to congratulate Mr Uddin for being elected as president of the society. I wish you and your executive committee every success in the years ahead.

     On this very auspicious occasion, I would like to share with you three messages. First of all, you have all seen on television and experienced the National Day celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. I would like to convey to you and affirm to you that China has always been a multicultural society. There are 56 ethnic groups within China. When I and my colleagues and friends from Hong Kong were in the Great Hall of the People, were in Tiananmen Square on September 30 and October 1, we saw all these ethnic groups, some dressed like you, celebrating China’s National Day together with us. Mr Uddin, you were invited there not just in your personal capacity, you were there as a representative of the ethnic groups in Hong Kong. China is an all-embracing society. Throughout the ages, we have valued the contributions of different ethnic groups within China and from the west of China. So it is very important that we continue to draw on the potentials of the ethnic groups in Hong Kong.

     This brings me to the second message that I would like to share with you this afternoon. Hong Kong is a place where different ethnic groups can grow, can prosper and can develop. This is a truly multicultural and multi-racial society. On the one hand, we would like to promote racial harmony. On the other, we would like to facilitate integration of different ethnic groups into Hong Kong society. In this process, we would like to be able to encourage and to help all of you retain your distinct cultural and ethnic origins. All these elements add to the success and the ability of Hong Kong to move forward as an international financial, trading and shipping centre. And that is why I was very pleased to hear from the Doyen end that he and other friends from the Muslim world would welcome Hong Kong to develop Islamic finance. It is very important for Hong Kong to be able to continue to broaden our frontiers, so that even though we are just a relatively small community of seven million people, we always punch above our waistline in dealing with international finance and international commerce. Over the decades, many of you here have contributed to this.
     The third message that I would like to convey to you is that we, as the Hong Kong Government, would like to build a stronger foundation for inter-racial harmony in Hong Kong. That is why in 2008 we enacted the Race Discrimination Ordinance, and in the summer of this year this Ordinance was brought fully into force. And also to complement the implementation of this Ordinance, we have given new resources to the Equal Opportunities Commission in Hong Kong. To implement this Ordinance, they have prepared guidelines and codes of conduct to ensure that employers in Hong Kong will treat people of different racial origins equally in providing employment and in providing services.

     On behalf of the Government, we have also provided new resources to make sure that we make progress in enhancing inter-racial harmony. We have provided $8 million to establish four ethnic minority support service centres throughout Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories. We are providing $16 million to these centres to provide services to our ethnic minorities and the services will include interpretation to ensure that they can gain good access to schools, to hospitals and to other services. These centres will also provide a full range of activities after school for children and during the day for mothers and parents.

     So, it is very important in Hong Kong that we bring together all of you so that our children and your children can grow up together as Hong Kong’s children. I have every confidence, Mr Uddin, that with the support of you, your colleagues and your friends here, we can jointly build Hong Kong to become an even better place for generations to come. Thank you very much.

ENDS/Sunday, October 4, 2009