MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): President, in the world of the opposition camp, there are only difficulties and crises but no opportunities and hopes. Their so-called alternatives which have been implemented for more than 10 years have taken us to nowhere but a dead alley. However, they still ask us to go down such a route to run into trouble. It has not been enough having run into troubles for more than 10 years. They ask us not to be innovative and not to think up anything new. If we were to be led by the nose by the opposition camp, we would be marking time, not making any achievement at all. Those 200 000 people who are living in subdivided units are very poor and hopeless. Those 270 000 people who hope to live in public housing units and those 200 000 people who aspire to buying a Home Ownership Scheme unit also have no hope. Nevertheless, I am not going to discuss these issues today. It is only because I have heard some outrageous speeches that I cannot help but say a few words first. I will save my detailed comments for the fourth session.
Let me focus on the part of finance now. The latest Policy Address is entitled “Striving Ahead Rekindling Hope”. The Chief Executive explained that it is time for the Government to “deliberate, then determine and then act”. If we keep on wasting time, which is something the opposition camp likes to do, those households and grass-roots workers living in the crowded and poor environment will have to suffer further. I think this analysis points to the root cause of the current situation in Hong Kong, i.e. the opposition camp think that “something said is something done” and “difficulties are the answer”. Then, they will say: do not do anything for there will be crises. After that, they will accuse the Government of not doing well and do not allow the Government to introduce new measures. The opposition camp will only continue to make criticisms, which are nutrients for their survival. In fact, they are not doing justice to themselves or anybody because they have found means for their own living, but not those for solving the problems of Hong Kong, and they have even generated more problems. If they continue to advance specious arguments, cause the public to misunderstand the Government and refuse to support the right approach, then we will never solve the problems. How can they bear to see this?
In the Policy Address, many innovative ideas are explored to seek solutions to problems so as to “Rekindle Hope” for the people. I really believe that if we can act on determinations after deliberation, then the wishes of Hong Kong people will come true and everybody can live in peace and work with contentment.
I would like to focus on the concerns of the insurance sector. This Policy Address has talked about the development of the insurance industry and proposed to offer tax reliefs to promote the development of marine insurance and underwriting of specialty risks in Hong Kong. In addition, the Government will make relevant legislative amendments to allow the formation of special purpose vehicles in Hong Kong specifically for issuing insurance-linked securities such as catastrophe insurance with a view to enriching the risk management tools available in the Hong Kong market. These measures aim to strengthen Hong Kong’s status as an international insurance hub and promote the competitiveness of Hong Kong’s insurance industry. It also proves that the Government is aware of the problem. The insurance sector warmly welcomes the measures. I believe the sector will develop related businesses actively and seriously. However, if we wish to revive the insurance industry and make Hong Kong an international hub, there is still a lot more to be done indeed.
Honestly, over the past 10 years, Hong Kong has gradually lost its status as an international insurance centre. Many international reinsurers and international brokerage companies have moved their headquarters to Singapore. The Government is now actively rebuilding the status of Hong Kong as an insurance hub. This is certainly a right step, but we face many difficulties actually. The life insurance business has been developing very well in Hong Kong whilst the general insurance business remains stagnant mainly because the latter has always been setting their eyes on the local market. Now we need to tap international opportunities including marine insurance, catastrophe insurance, captive insurance, and the insurance opportunities in the Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road. All of these are international business which requires a large number of insurance experts and talents with the ability and experience to handle mega works projects and specialty risks. Since Hong Kong has been focusing its attention locally for many years, we lack such talents. Therefore, first of all, we need to attract the right talents to come here in order to rebuild the status of Hong Kong as an insurance hub.
If we wish to make it a success, must first of all attract a large number of international insurance companies, insurance brokerage companies and reinsurance companies to set up their regional headquarters in Hong Kong. These companies will bring various international insurance professionals to Hong Kong, in this way we can beef up the insurance business of Hong Kong. However, it is not easy to attract international insurance companies to Hong Kong. Our competitors will not hesitate to compete for business opportunities and solicit international insurance institutions to set up regional headquarters in their countries with extremely generous terms. Under such circumstances, we have lost several international insurance companies which have relocated elsewhere out of Hong Kong. The worst case is that they will take with them the businesses as well as the talents when they move out. As a result, our international insurance business is contracting.
Therefore, we should learn from the examples of success of other countries such as Singapore, and the same goes to the reclamation project. In order to attract international insurance companies to set up regional headquarters in Hong Kong, we should take a proactive attitude and offer more financial incentives, not just in terms of tax incentives, but also with other concessionary schemes or the so-called tailor-made measures. If the regional headquarters are able to make a specific contribution to Hong Kong, such as creating a certain number of jobs or attracting a certain number of talents, the Government will offer them preferential terms to attract them to Hong Kong. We must have a tailor-made package before we can win against our competitors, because the latter will exhaust all sorts of means to attract them.
In addition, we must step up efforts to nurture fresh blood for the local insurance industry. Now, we do have a succession gap especially in such professional areas as underwriting, claims, compliance review, etc., and all these have a shortage of talents. All of us are very worried that if we do not train up enough new talents, the future development of the insurance industry will be affected seriously. The three-year pilot programme to enhance talent training for the insurance sector launched by the Government in 2016 will come to an end in a few months. I hope that the Government will review the programme and consider converting it into a regular programme, so as to ensure that we will have sufficient talents in Hong Kong to face the challenges ahead.
Just now, many Members criticized that everything in the Policy Address which is related to the Greater Bay Area is bad because the purpose of the Greater Bay Area is to allow the influx of Mainlanders into Hong Kong. However, I think this criticism is indeed not fair because it is still a huge business opportunity. It is their own problem if they do not fight for themselves but prefer to stay in the cramped living space in Hong Kong. However, time or society will not wait for you; it will move on and on. No matter how they are shouting loudly, uttering a lot of empty words and trying to advocate “localism”, I am afraid we cannot buck the trend of integration into the Greater Bay Area. This is inevitable and also the only way to provide more opportunities for young people in Hong Kong. However, should those young people only spend time on surfing on the Internet, criticizing everything or just focusing on the meaningless stories on the Internet, they are certainly dead ducks. Whether or not the Greater Bay Area is there, they will only go down a dead alley. If they wish to climb up the social ladder, they must enhance their own competitiveness and work hard to win opportunities.
In fact, the insurance sector has great expectations of the Greater Bay Area. We have made some suggestions earlier, including the launching of “Medical Insurance” in the Greater Bay Area so that we can sell qualified medical and critical illness insurance products to residents of the Greater Bay Area via the Internet. The project can serve multiple purposes. It can help the Hong Kong insurance industry tap the Greater Bay Area market and develop a new model of business cooperation between Guangdong and Hong Kong. Also, it can help to promote insurance technology. We have made another suggestion, too. As we have already sold 1.7 million insurance policies to the Mainlanders, we think that it is necessary to set up a service centre in the Greater Bay Area to provide one-stop services for the insured on the Mainland so that they can easily make declarations, lodge claims, process claims and pay premiums, etc. At present, the Greater Bay Area is still under planning, so we hope that the Government can follow up on our suggestions. Although these suggestions are most innovative, I believe that they will greatly benefit the development of Hong Kong and also create a large number of employment opportunities. Therefore, I hope the Government can endeavour to strive for it.
In addition, it is noteworthy that the Government is looking into new measures to provide more help to those suffering from injuries at work as mentioned in the Policy Address. The Government is considering the provision of timely and well coordinated treatment and rehabilitation services for injured workers through private medical services to speed up workers’ recovery and facilitate their early return to work. I am happy to see this decision made by the Government. In fact, we are the main advocate behind the initiative as we have been advocating the same idea for many years. In 2011, together with the Department of Orthopaedics & Traumatology of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, we launched the Multidisciplinary Orthopaedics Rehabilitation Empowerment (“MORE”) programme, with private orthopaedic surgeons rather than government surgeons providing treatment. We had 200 injured workers participating in the pilot programme, with orthopaedic surgeons acting as coordinators to conduct early intervention such as MRI (magnetic resonance) and other tests for the workers and arrange for the patients to receive other specialist treatments. The results of the programme were remarkable. All the workers had their sick leave period reduced by half on average, say, for workers who expected to take one year of sick leave, all of them were able to return to work in an average of six months. As a result, employers, employees and society stand to benefit at the same time. Therefore, the approach adopted by the Government currently is a move in the right direction, for it uses a new way to deal with an old problem. I also hope that in the future, a public work injury rehabilitation centre will be developed in Hong Kong for public use. I have also conveyed to the Government many times my wish that the Government will continue to move in this direction, so that we can really bring the greatest benefit to the workers. When the workers suffer injuries at work, their income will be reduced and their families will also be hurt. If we can assist them in returning to work as early as possible, it is really a great help to them and their families. Therefore, I hope the Government will continue to work hard on this.
I so submit. Thank you.