As Chairman of the business-in-community project “WeCan,” I religiously preach the “three O’s” – open your eyes (to see new things), open your mind (to accept them), and open your heart (to embrace them)! My audience is teenage students from under-privileged families, to help them prepare for life after leaving school. Less than 2% of them go on to university.
As Chairman of HKGCC, I have been a beneficiary of the three O’s myself. The office has decidedly opened my eyes, my mind and my heart – not only in business, but also in life.
Your Chamber’s AGM on 18 May will bring to a close two enlightening years for me as the 87th Chairman of Hong Kong’s longest established, most dynamic and busiest business chamber. I have made many friends and have learnt a great deal from them. After serving for 16 years, I will also leave the General Committee.
I would like to thank you all for giving me the chance to serve you and to learn from you. I am particularly grateful for the support of the General Committee, committees, members and Secretariat, whose suggestions, guidance and expertise I sincerely appreciate.
We have come a long way since 2016. In the first quarter of 2016, Hong Kong’s economy was struggling to find traction, with GDP managing to grow by just 0.8% YoY. By the end of last year, our economy had grown by 3.8%. The number of local companies registered under the Companies Ordinance was 42,723 larger than in 2016. Unemployment hit a 20-year low of just 2.9%.
While delighted that the overall economy is improving, we remain concerned that little is being done to tackle the acute skills shortage. We are doggedly lobbying the Government and have proposed feasible solutions that would address the shortages, while protecting the jobs of local workers. The MPF offsetting mechanism is another issue close to the heart of business, particularly SMEs.
Advocacy is often a long journey and we need to be passionate about it. CEPA first came from an idea of the Chamber, as did the two-tiered profits tax relief to help small businesses.
On business development, it is comforting that the diversity and number of the Chamber’s activities have been well received. Our high-level business missions to Beijing and Guangzhou remain fresh in my mind, and reinforced the importance for Hong Kong to capture the opportunities offered by the Greater Bay Area and Belt and Road Initiative.
Our flagship events like the bi-annual Business Summit and CEO Manpower Conference, and Joint Business Community Luncheons, forums with the Chief Executive and others of her cabinet, meetings with visiting country presidents and ministers, cocktail receptions, roundtable luncheons and community engagement projects, kept us extremely busy during the past two years. Many members make full use of these opportunities to build business networks, make friends and learn.
I use them for my three O’s and have learned a great deal. It has been my privilege to have had the opportunity to serve you. I have no doubt that my successor, General Committee members, and fellow members will all do their utmost to ensure that your Chamber continues to work for the benefit of members, the business community and Hong Kong as a whole.
And I will continue to pursue my three O’s.