132. Mr President, since reunification, we have gone through a number of economic crises, such as the Asian financial turmoil in 1997 and 1998, and the major downturn triggered by the SARS outbreak in 2003. Some people inevitably feel worried and upset when facing difficulties. However, timely and effective policies, coupled with the collective wisdom and efforts of Hong Kong people, allowed us to overcome these challenges and scale new heights each time.
133. In my last Budget, I said that "Ready to Face, Dare to Hope" best described the conviction of Hong Kong people. Hong Kong people are ready to face the realities and challenges of today, and dare to hope for our future. By working hard, we will reap the rewards of our efforts and eventually overcome difficulties. It is this belief that gives us the courage to stand up to challenges and, because of this confidence, we can boldly embrace tomorrow.
134. The current financial turmoil is severe and unsettling, and is wreaking terrible damage. Some people feel uncertain about the future; some are anxious about their investment loss; and some are worried about their jobs. I feel their anxiety, and share their concerns. As before, we will face these challenges together. We will do our best to keep abreast of this evolving crisis, and introduce effective measures to lessen its impact.
135. We must dare to face this financial turmoil and must believe we can overcome it. The people of Hong Kong have weathered tough times before and will weather them again. During the SARS outbreak, our healthcare workers showed dedication and displayed commendable professionalism. In hazardous firefighting operations, our firefighters carry out their mission with the spirit of self-sacrifice. This is what we all know as the 'Hong Kong Spirit' and this is what gives me confidence to say that Hong Kong will overcome this current crisis.
136. In this Budget, we have announced initiatives that will create about 62000 jobs and internship opportunities. We will invest heavily to foster a caring society. We will introduce measures to sustain economic development and maintain our economic vibrancy.
137. The current financial turmoil is undoubtedly a severe test that poses challenges to individuals, families, enterprises, societies and governments. At this crucial moment, it is with no small amount of trepidation that I, as Financial Secretary, am serving the citizens and braving the storm with you under the weight of a challenging mission. In meeting the challenges ahead, we should also realise that the Government cannot solve all problems. Jobs created by the Government are no substitute for jobs created in the private sector. Effective help for the disadvantaged also requires community support and involvement. Economic development requires us all to go beyond our current strengths and advantages to create new economic drivers. All of this requires us to play our part. With confidence in ourselves and in our abilities, we can create the future that we want. We can rebuild wealth and competitiveness, and we can realise our goal of building a caring community.
138. A German theologian said, "The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children". I hope that our children will inherit a society that upholds our conviction in meeting future challenges while daring to hope for a better tomorrow.