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Speech by CS at completion ceremony of Old Wan Chai Revitalisation Initiatives (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the completion ceremony of the Old Wan Chai Revitalisation Initiatives this afternoon (March 6):

Martin (Cubbon), Barry (Cheung), Stephen (Ng), distinguished members of the Wan Chai District Council, ladies and gentlemen,

     It really gives me great pleasure to join Martin and the guests here to officiate at the completion of these Old Wan Chai Revitalisation Initiatives. I have to be very honest with you that since taking up the position of the Chief Secretary for Administration, as somebody who is very reminiscent of her former capacity as the Secretary for Development, I have been resisting a lot of temptations of being invited to go back to my own projects to either witness the success of those projects or to do some officiating and things like that. But this one, although you would excuse me for saying this, not big in scale, is something I find very difficult to resist. It's a huge temptation for two main reasons.

     First, to those who know me, Wan Chai is very close to my heart. I was born, brought up, in this district, and went to school for 13 years right down the road. And I'm still coming back every Sunday for my Sunday mass in the very lovely little church just on Star Street. So I have been witnessing the transformation of these two very interesting public open spaces for the last 24 months.

     And the second reason is because this idea of revitalising an older part of Wan Chai is one of those elements in the then new heritage conservation policy announced by the Chief Executive in the 2007-08 Policy Address. So apart from putting more emphasis on preserving and revitalising historic buildings, we wanted then to pilot an approach which is trying to preserve an area, or in Chinese they call it "點、線、面". So it's not just preserving individual buildings, but also an historic trail and also maybe a precinct where there is a cluster of historic buildings and some very interesting local cultural features like the Tai Yuen Street open-air bazaar and some very nice but modest open space.

     So it is for these two primary reasons that has brought me back to officiate at this afternoon's event, and I hope the current Secretary for Development, Paul (Chan), will forgive me for taking over his role. But I am sure Paul is as happy as I am to see the completion of these initiatives. And I also want to come back to thank personally a lot of people who have been involved in making this a reality. Notably will be the Wan Chai District Council, especially the old Wan Chai revitalisation advisory committee chaired by Stephen Ng, and other members of the Wan Chai District Council for their support and, of course, the architectural team.

     The reason why I need to thank so many people is because this is no small thing. At that time, one of our main worries is PPP. Although public-private partnership has been an acronym for years in Hong Kong, but actually to try out PPP, and that is collaboration between the Government with a private developer, is quite a challenge in Hong Kong, especially given the current political situation where there will be a lot of speculation whether we are colluding with developers, we are making life easier for developers, and so on. But I truly believe that through PPP we could find win-win, or even win-win-win, solutions, and this is where we have seen such a private-sector participation has given us the needed products for revitalising the older parts of Wan Chai.

     Another very interesting part is, although 46 per cent of Hong Kong's land is covered by country park, there's a lot of open space. But I truly believe that it is in a place where people work, people walk by every day, people go back to home, that we need more quality open space. And we have seen the Dominion Garden being transformed into one of those, and also the Kwong Ming Street leisure garden of LCSD (Leisure and Cultural Services Department). So I hope, as Martin said, and I hope Swire will continue to take the lead and participate in other district or area revitalisation projects all over Hong Kong so that people of Hong Kong could continue to enjoy both the city life and also the green and the clean air as well as the quality open space that will be produced as a result of this partnership.

     So, finally, may I take this opportunity to thank Swire again for your initiative, for your investment, for your innovation, and also I hope that we will have more such opportunities in future. This is a lovely afternoon, and I would invite all of you just to spend 20, 30 minutes to walk round this very interesting area of Wan Chai, and I will promise you that more excitement will come with the completion of the Viva Blue House and also the other projects undertaken by the URA (Urban Renewal Authority) in the vicinity.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:10


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