The Policy Address 2000

IV. The People - Our Most Precious Asset

A. Our Social Policy - A Statement

47. Madam President, the work we do as a government is to help people achieve their goals and is for the benefit of the community generally. To advance, we need to embrace economic, social and cultural change. And we have spared no effort in providing that little extra boost to improve our economic development. Last year, I spoke about the role of the Government in our economy. We remain firmly committed to upholding our system of free enterprise and will adhere steadfastly to the philosophy of small government with prudent fiscal management. In pursuing economic development, we attach great importance to enhancing the well-being of every member of the community so we can build a society in which we can all live together in harmony.

48. We are committed to creating a favourable environment in which all citizens have the opportunity to realise their personal goals through hard work. We believe in allowing everyone to compete in a fair manner. Our social mobility is among the highest in the world. For those who have suffered setbacks, they should be given further opportunities to succeed. We should also assist those who have been adversely affected by the sudden economic downturn by giving them the necessary support to help themselves. Greater support should also be given to the younger generation brought up in disadvantaged circumstances so that they will have better chances to succeed in life.

49. Four areas of equal importance lie within the Government's responsibility for social development. First, we have to create an environment where participation and fair competition are open to all, with special emphasis on the education and healthy development of the young, as well as upgrading the knowledge and skills of the workforce. Second, we have to put in place a well-resourced basic safety net to look after the physical and psychological well-being of the elderly, the infirm and the disabled. Third, we have to assist the disadvantaged, the poor and the unemployed with an emphasis on enhancing, not impeding, their will to be self-reliant. Fourth, we have to encourage those in our society with sufficient means to show their concern for the community by organising, participating in, or supporting different kinds of voluntary work so as to build a harmonious and energetic society.

50. Such a social policy, which stresses good will and equal opportunities as its fundamental values, is complementary to the laissez-faire economic policy we follow. Both policies share the belief that self-motivation is the basis for both individual and societal progress. They also stress that government's primary task is to create the conditions necessary to foster, maintain and enhance self-motivation. In fact, this is the philosophy underlying all our relevant policies and measures. These include our efforts on education and initiatives to help the poor, which I will discuss in a moment. But first to education.

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