151. Madam President, when we were reunited with the Motherland
in 1997, Hong Kong and other Asian economies were flourishing. In
my speech marking the establishment of the Special Administrative
Region, I mentioned that we had to be alert to the challenges that
lay ahead because I was already aware of latent problems behind
the facade of prosperity. At present, the world economy is deteriorating
rapidly and Hong Kong is experiencing its most difficult period
in years. But we must look at the other side of the picture, our
own advantages and our future prospects. We must have hope and confidence
152. In my speech today, I have spoken at some length on how we
will facilitate a smooth economic restructuring and relieve the
hardships of our people. I have also talked about social service
development and raising the standards of administration. This will
be the major thrust of our efforts for some time in the future.
153. Economic restructuring takes years. The recent cyclical slowdown
in the world economy and the terrible terrorist attacks in the United
States have aggravated the situation.
154. Hong Kong has weathered many crises in the past and since reunification
we have confronted many challenges. However, after the storms, we
have emerged with a new outlook each and every time. Although we
are still facing unavoidable hard times, our experience has reaffirmed
my belief in Hong Kong and my confidence in our future.
155. I have confidence because Hong Kong is endowed with distinct
advantages - natural advantages or those that are the result of
strenuous past efforts. Added to this is the firm support of the
Central Government. I have confidence because I know that the people
of Hong Kong have in past decades fought and overcome all sorts
of adversities and difficulties. We have developed determination,
indomitable strength and courage to take up new challenges. Therefore,
if we can unite and work together, reinforce our advantages and
invest in the future, particularly in education, we will overcome
adversity, maintain our leading edge after economic restructuring
and reap the benefits of the new knowledge-based economy.