What the policy address means to you . . .

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 October, 2009, 12:00am

Hongkongers will not be forced to pay three per cent to five per cent of their salaries for health insurance, as previously proposed. They will now be given a choice to take up government incentives, buy a medical insurance and savings plan and go for private health care, or stay with public hospitals, which are almost free of charge.

Mothers-to-be can expect to see less crowded maternity wards as their mainland counterparts coming here to give birth will have a wider range of medical services to choose from. Four new private hospitals will come into operation in a few years' time, relieving pressure on public hospitals.

Secondary school pupils may face more competition for school places as mainland teenagers will be allowed to study here. But university students will have more opportunities to learn about other cultures as more overseas students will be admitted. Students will have a wider choice of higher education when 4,000 places at two private universities in Ho Man Tin and Wong Chuk Hang open for applications in the next few years.

Rundown industrial areas such as Kwai Chung, Kwun Tong and San Po Kong will be given new life as the government encourages owners of old industrial blocks to renovate and change their use. Factories could become offices, restaurants, day-care centres for the elderly, or even artists' workshops. The value of such buildings is also expected to rise after their rejuvenation.

People will be able to enjoy the harbourfront in Central a bit more as the development density in the area is reduced, and they will be able to relax at a revitalised Central Market, which is going to be transformed into a place to 'chill out'. People will be able to dine or even spend a night in the Murray Building, now a symbol of bureaucracy, after the architectural award-winning building from the 1970s is turned into a four- or five-star hotel.

Taking a stroll along the busiest parts of Hong Kong - Causeway Bay and Mong Kok - will be easier with the proposed pedestrian subway system linking Victoria Park and Happy Valley, and a footbridge system connecting Tai Kok Tsui to Mong Kok. And people will be able to enjoy their exercise because they will not have to compete with vehicles and will be less exposed to traffic exhaust fumes as they walk.

HK$100 coupons from the power companies will give most frugal consumers additional incentive to replace about three light bulbs with energy efficient alternatives.

The electric vehicle leasing scheme may appeal to many Sunday drivers as they will not have to pay for parking and maintenance.

Students may have to start taking bowls and utensils to school, and wash them afterwards, under the 'green lunch' charter to be signed by local schools.

Those who do not want a university education may be able to pursue a career in creative industries through new training options.

An increase in the number of subsidised residential elderly care places will mean that many people who need to take care of their aged parents will be freed to work.