Transcript of remarks by SDEV at media session
Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Development, Ms Bernadette Linn, at a media session after officiating at the kick-off ceremony of Construction Safety Week 2022 today (August 29):
Reporter: Secretary, you just said in the speech that the accident rate has reached the bottle neck and may be even an upward trend. Do you think this is related to the breakneck-speed development as you called it, like the era of infrastructure or something like that? With that sort of breakneck speed, the whole city becomes a building site and neither this building site is very safe, in fact most of them are too dangerous even to walk past, so I wonder what they are like inside. Do you think we actually need to slow down the development a bit? Do you think the Northern Metropolis needs to take a breather when we are not actually ready for zero accident? We need to slow down a bit. That's the first question.
Second question. Many countries around the world and territories are stopping using the word "accident" because it implies something trifling, something meaningless, something could not have been prevented, whereas most of these so called "accidents" in fact could be prevented. Looking at the security guard just a couple of weeks ago, a gate fell on top of her. That was something that exactly happened like a few years before and there were advisories but no notice was taken. So we cannot really call these things "accidents". The Transport Advisory Committee is considering changing the language actually. Do you think it is time for development and construction to also stop using that word?
Secretary for Development: Thank you for the questions. Perhaps the second question first. I think we have an established system of tracking the rate of accidents in the construction sector in Hong Kong and we do not see there is a need to change that established system of how we track. And I would put the focus back to the transparency of the information and the efforts of the Government and the sector to continue our efforts in reducing the incident rate, accident rate, whatever, because we all have the information with us.
And back to your first question. Looking ahead, I think it is undeniable that the volume of construction works in Hong Kong would increase in the coming years and we have to tackle that not by reducing the volume but by improving our systems in coping with the volume and in reducing the risks to which our construction workers will be exposed. As I mentioned in the forum just now, the important direction that we are heading towards is to make full use of innovative technologies and new construction methods to reduce the risks to our construction workers. So we have to look at it in a positive spirit instead of trying to reduce the volume of our works.
Reporter: Do you think that will increase the cost of construction and development?
Secretary for Development: I think cost is not an issue when it comes to safety. Safety must come first. And I am sure when it comes to economies of scale, the more we use the innovative technologies, the more advanced the technologies are, it will not be an important factor to the construction cost overall.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript)
Ends/Monday, August 29, 2022
Issued at HKT 17:23