Equal Opportunities Commission



Global Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Summit 2004 - Symposium Day 2 Luncheon Speech

“ICT: Adding Meaning to Life” — Speech by Mrs Patricia Chu, Chairperson, Equal Opportunities Commission


Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It is my privilege to join this Global Summit over the last two days, where Information and Communications Technology (ICT) experts from Hong Kong and other cities have come together to share experiences, to make a difference and to create a global impact.

ICT has been making enormous contribution to the world. Besides education, ICT is another major factor in advancing human development and empowerment. I am going to tell you the story of Bun Tsai, which has moved the heart of many in Hong Kong, and highlighted how ICT can bring hope and give meaning to life of a severely disabled person. Bun Tsai, a man in his thirties, is paralyzed from the neck down since an accident in 1991 and has never left the hospital since. Earlier this year, using a chopstick to control his mouse, he wrote an email to Hong Kong's legislators asking for the legalization of euthanasia and seeking their help to let him die. After the media reported his appeal on 19 April, many in our community mobilized to encourage and help him.

What Bun Tsai asked for, euthanasia, is quite a controversial issue. But it has raised the issue of the quality of life for persons with a disability. In Bun Tsai's case, he is now being helped by ICT and rehabilitation technology to assist him in everyday life.

On 29 April 2004, 10 days after his case was widely reported, Bun Tsai wrote an open letter to Hong Kong saying that he was encouraged by the public response to his plight and pledged to make the most of his life. An originally sad story has ended up in a note of hope and fulfillment which have touched the heart of many on the meaning of life.

It is clear from this case that ICT not only changes the way we deliver and receive information. It changes people's lives. In particular, ICT provides persons with a disability with the potential to live in dignity and independence and full participation in the society.

The Equal Opportunities Commission of Hong Kong has been promoting the use of ICT as a tool in the development of disadvantaged groups such as persons with a disability and women. We advocate that non-discriminatory service standards and accessibility by the disadvantaged must be clearly entrenched as a government policy.

It is important to make ICT accessible to all, because equal access to information can open the door to many important life choices. As technology develops at a high speed, the digital divide will only widen over time if it is not fully addressed at this juncture. To bridge the digital divide so that all sectors of the community will benefit from IT development in enhancing the quality of life, it requires concerted efforts and co-operation of all the stakeholders in the public and private sectors. What ICT has helped to achieve, improving the lives of people, is exciting. Even more exciting for some, is ICT makes life worth living. The possibilities are endless, and worth celebrating.

I hope you enjoy your lunch. Thank you.