I fear for HK's future, says head of chamber

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2016, 5:52pm

The outgoing chief executive of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce cast doubt yesterday on the city's long-term competitiveness, saying many important policies vital to the city's development had been put on hold under a flawed political structure.

Eden Woon Yi-teng, who is due to leave his post at the end of the month, said the city's competitiveness should be solid over the next three to five years.

'But I'm a bit worried about whether we can maintain our competitiveness five years later,' he said in an interview with political commentator Allen Lee Peng-fei on Cable TV last night.

Dr Woon, who joined the chamber as chief executive in May 1997, said some policies badly needed for Hong Kong's long-term development could hardly be passed under the existing political structure. He said the way the government tackled problems was like 'sticking plastic strips on wounds' with no comprehensive solution.

He cited the broadening of the tax base and measures to improve air quality as pressing examples that were still being discussed.

The debate on Hong Kong's competitiveness was sparked by Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan's warning last week that the city must face the danger of being marginalised by other cities in the Pearl River Delta as they speed up the development of infrastructure such as ports and roads.

Dr Woon was disappointed with the lack of discussion on how to address fears among the business sector and the central government about a faster pace of democracy, adding that the problem could not be resolved by 'introducing universal suffrage tomorrow'.

A former US Air Force colonel, Dr Woon will take up the post of greater China vice-president for US coffee giant Starbucks. He will be based in Shanghai, where he was born in 1947.