Scottish leader backs charity, business ties
Niall Fraser and John Carney
The political leader of Scotland rounded off a week-long visit to China in Hong Kong yesterday by backing an initiative that could see disadvantaged young people in the city benefit from the ill-gotten gains of criminals.
First Minister Alex Salmond also said he had held talks with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen on a series of deals that would revive historic ties between the two places on business, cultural and social fronts. The moves come in the wake of the chief executive's first visit to Scotland in September.
Salmond was at the Police Sports and Recreation Club in Mong Kok yesterday to back discussions between the Hong Kong charity Operation Breakthrough, which promotes sport and related activities to first-time offenders and disadvantaged young people, and a Scottish government initiative called CashBack, which uses the proceeds of crime to fund programmes for youngsters.
He also watched Hong Kong youngsters who have benefited from the charity play rugby.
Operation Breakthrough was formed in 1996 when police officers in Tuen Muen became concerned at the rise in juvenile crime. Discussions will begin between Scottish officials and the Hong Kong charity on the possibility of money seized from criminals here being channelled into the operation.
'In September Mr Tsang suggested that we look very carefully at this and how we could help,' Salmond said.
'There are definitely aspects of what we do with CashBack that can be employed by Operation Breakthrough here in Hong Kong.'
The first minister led a delegation of 40 business leaders - mostly from Scotland's food and whisky industries - for talks with mainland officials and businesspeople.
Salmond said: 'There are a range of things under discussion between Hong Kong and Scotland as a result of Donald Tsang's visit to Scotland in September, and I think you will see real manifestations of those in the weeks and months ahead.'