Nurture young talent for our future Upgrade skills for a bright career
Stop all acts of violence Build a platform for dialogue
1 September 2019
Nowadays, skilled blue-collar workers compare favourably with their white-collar counterparts in terms of career development. As the Chinese saying goes, "one may distinguish oneself in any trade". So long as you acquire a skill, set your goal and strive to achieve it, your efforts will always be rewarded.
The 24 young competitors who represented Hong Kong in the 45th WorldSkills Competition recently held in Kazan, Russia are the best example. They obtained outstanding results in the competition, living up to our expectations and making history for Hong Kong. By total point score, the Hong Kong team ranked 26th, up six places when compared with the last competition. The team also won 11 Medallions for Excellence. The young competitors representing Hong Kong are students or graduates from vocational training schools under the Vocational Training Council, the Clothing Industry Training Authority or the Construction Industry Council. With determination and hard work, they have realised their ideals, fulfilled their potential and taken up challenges in the international arena. This is indeed encouraging.
The Worldskills Competition, hailed as the "Skill Olympics", attracted around 1 300 competitors from 67 countries and regions to compete in 56 skills across a wide range of industries. Hong Kong participated in the competition for the first time in 1997.
This year, the Hong Kong team competed in 22 skills and won Medallions for Excellence in 11 skills, viz. Electrical Installation, Graphic Design Technology, Mechatronics, Mobile Robotics, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning, Visual Merchandising, Web Technologies, Jewellery, Cooking, Pâtisserie and Confectionery, and Hairdressing, with outstanding performance.
The motto of the WorldSkills Competition is "Skills Change Lives". I would like to advise our young people that their future lies in their hands and acquiring a skill can change their lives. In a cosmopolitan city like Hong Kong, there are opportunities for people to stand out in various trades and industries. The inspirational stories of young contestants in the Competition who have made remarkable achievements through their hard work will encourage other young people to keep on learning and develop a positive outlook on life.
Tomorrow is the first school day, and every student should embrace the new school year with energy, positivity and enthusiasm. It is extremely irresponsible for some people to advocate a class boycott, which goes against the fundamental principles of education. I reiterate that the Government firmly opposes the boycott of classes. Schools are where students learn, and in no way where people express their political propositions or aspirations. Education is education, and politics are politics. Once again, I call upon students not to participate in the boycott, and appeal to teachers to fulfil their duty of ensuring that teaching activities and school operation will not be affected. I hope that all sectors will make it their foremost priority to protect our children and let them have a safe, harmonious, stable and hassle-free learning environment.
Young people are the future of Hong Kong. Every one of us living here has a responsibility to provide them with a safe and peaceful society to live and work, where the rule of law is respected and upward mobility is possible, so that they can realise their dreams through hard work, just as the participants of the WorldSkills Competition did. To enable over seven million people to live and work in a safe environment, we must replace violence with peace, and engage in dialogue instead of confrontation.
Yesterday, some protesters participated in unlawful assemblies and the radical ones among them even set barricades on a number of major trunk roads. They seriously blocked road traffic by marching to the Central Government Offices, Legislative Council Complex and Police Headquarters respectively. The fact that the radical protesters continuously escalated their violence is indeed infuriating. Only did they hurl bricks and miscellaneous objects at the police cordon lines, but also assault police officers with corrosives and petrol bombs, burn water barriers at the cordon lines and commit arson in multiple public areas, posing threats to the lives and property of citizens. Such protesters who had become increasingly violent were blatantly defying the rule of law and seriously disrupting public order in reckless disregard of public safety. I would like to call upon all sectors of society to sever ties with violence and condemn the acts of the violent protesters in the strongest terms. The SAR Government will fully support the Police in its strict enforcement of the law to bring all lawbreakers to justice.
The recent social incidents have dealt a heavy blow to different trades in Hong Kong, especially the tourism, retail and hotel industries, and seriously damaged the international image of the city. Latest figures showed that the value of total retail sales in July was provisionally estimated at $34.4 billion, i.e. a substantial decrease of 11.4% when compared with the same month in 2018. The provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales also decreased by 13%, hitting a three-year low.
Ending the violence and restoring peace are of utmost importance right now. At the same time, the Government is actively exploring ways to engage all social sectors in building a diversified and extensive platform for dialogue. We will listen to the views of people from all walks of life through candid and sincere communication, with a view to resolving conflicts, finding a way out of the current impasse and getting Hong Kong back on track.
Violence should never be encouraged, while dialogue and communication are indispensable. We must stop the use of violence and restore peace and order without hesitation. I truly hope that all sectors of the community will join us in working out pragmatic solutions to the deep-rooted problems of society.