Speech of the Hon KP Chan, JP at the Legislative Council on 6 January 2010, Motion Debate On Promoting the Sports Development in Hong Kong
MR PRESIDENT: Sports do more than promoting better physical and mental health. They also fulfill different social functions when looking from different perspectives.
Medically, it is evident from researches that regular physical activities bring good health. People will live longer and are less likely to suffer from chronicle illness such as cardiac diseases, stroke, diabetics, colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, obesity, nervousness and depression. Given an aging population, the Government should take the lead to promote “sports for all” and ultimately “sports for life”. The healthier are the people physically and mentally, the less are their personal medical bills and the less the pressure on public expenditure on medical services.
Educationally, sports do not only exercise your body but also your mind to help develop basic skills of striving spirit, independent minds and solving problems. In team sports like football and basketball, teamwork is essential. They help encourage communicating and sharing among teammates as well as the practice of mutual respects, care and support.
Many of our young people are indulging themselves in the space of cyber web. They only spend time sitting in front of the computer to make friends and play games. More often than not, they are living in a virtual world of their own. These hide-away young people are better known as Densha Otoka (the Train Man) or Taku Otoka (the Resident Man) and they are increasing in number. They spend hours to surf the web and chat on the Internet everyday, and thus most of them are physically and mentally unfit. Apparently, it is more fashionable in Hong Kong to surf the web than to do exercises nowadays. There are many plausible causes, but admittedly people have much fewer chances and far less ease to do exercise in Hong Kong than places like Denmark, Sweden and even neighbouring city Singapore. I would like to state unambiguously that both hardware and software in sports development in Hong Kong are far from adequate.
Actually, many countries and cities have realized the significance of sports to physical and mental fitness of people as well as to the development of national health. They have formulated strategies and appointed task forces to promote both “sports for all” and “sports for the elites”.
Different places may have different approaches of promoting sports development. Irrespective of the governance structure of sports, be it an official institution or otherwise, the Government has an unparalleled role to play under the state policy on sports. It is the Government’s duty to lay down an unequivocal direction for national sports development including clear and practical road map and timetable.
Take Singapore as an illustration. The Singaporean Government has been running the “Sports for Life” scheme for many years. It encourages nationals to pick a sport at young age and practice regularly. Under the Scheme, there are specific strategic goals of increasing the participation rate of Singaporeans in sports over a specific timeframe. The target rates were 24 percent in 1992, 40 percent in 2000 and 50 percent in 2005.
In Australia, the Government surveys and monitors sports participation rate of the people regularly. When the rate is trending downward, the Government will start another round of national campaign to stimulate sports participation.
At home, the Government did reexamine its policy on sports back in 2002 with a view to laying down long-term strategies for development in the next five to ten years. However, there are still obvious inadequacies in promoting “sports for populace” and supporting “sports for elites” after the lapse of eight years. I believe that it is time for the Government to reaffirm its leadership and conduct another round of review to pronounce an innovative and pragmatic policy for the way forward.
In March last year, I moved a motion on “promoting medical check-up for the whole community” at this Council. In my speech, I urged the Government to promote healthy living and health education, to encourage people with all means to do exercise, and to make Hong Kong a bona fide city of health. I also stated that large sports events sponsored by the private sector would motivate participation. The Standard Chartered Marathon is such an event. The Marathon is attracting thousands of people to take part and has become an annual fête. I firmly believe that as long as the Government has a long-term policy and sponsors are committed to hold large events, the people would be motivated to participate and share the joy of sporting. In turn, they would benefit from better health and fitness.
To conclude, I support the original motion and most of the proposed amendments. I anticipate the Government to renew its commitment to promote sports development and participation. When people walk away from the cyber space of web, they would rediscover the joy of sporting as well as health and fitness that sports may bring.