SCMA speaks at ceremony to announce funding grants

     Following is the transcript of the remarks made by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at a ceremony to announce the granting of funds for four non-governmental organsiations to establish and operate four support service centres for ethnic minorities, held at Government headquarters this (April 7) afternoon:

     Since we have a few members of the ethnic minority groups among us, I believe I should repeat some of these central points in English.

     Hong Kong is Asia’s world city, it is a cosmopolitan society. Among the local population of seven million people, we have about five per cent who are ethnic minority groups’ members. But even though they belong to different ethnic groups, they are very much part and parcel of Hong Kong community, and therefore, in the course of the last year we did two things :

     First, we enacted the Race Discrimination Ordinance to supplement the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and the Basic Law’s protection for these ethnic minorities.

     Secondly, we decided that in order to strengthen the support which we provide to ethnic minority groups we should establish four community service centres, firstly to provide a telephone interpretation service for all ethnic minority members who need such a service, and secondly to organise more community programmes and language training courses for mothers, parents, young children.

     We believe that these four community centres will play a critical and essential role in gathering the members of the ethnic minorities into our midst.

     We have made a provision of $16 million to meet the annual operating costs of these centres. We have also specially provided this year a sum of $8 million to help finance their set-up costs.

     I am very pleased to welcome Hong Kong Christian Service, Christian Action, International Social Service Hong Kong Branch, and Yuen Long Town Hall Management Committee Limited who have succeeded in gaining approval for their applications to establish these four centres.

     And finally, I would like to emphasise that we have already gone past the 11th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty. In the course of the last decade, we have had to deal with many issues, internal to Hong Kong and external to our community. It is high time for us to strengthen our support for the ethnic minorities among Hong Kong community so that more than ever before they can feel that they are part of Hong Kong society. Thank you very much.

Please also refer to the Chinese speech.

Ends/Tuesday, April 7, 2009