• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 11:37am

CY Leung policy address 2013

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying delivered his maiden policy address on January 16, 2013, in which he unveiled a blueprint that will set policy direction in the next five years. Acknowledging soaring property prices and cramped living conditions, he said his top priority is housing.

CommentInsight & Opinion

Leung must balance people's needs with a free economy

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 January, 2013, 4:16am

Holding an enviable world title for almost two decades in an increasingly competitive global environment is a remarkable achievement. So there is every reason for Hong Kong to take pride in being named the freest economy for the 19th straight year. The top ranking is a welcome affirmation that we continue to be the most business-friendly economy. But the US-based Heritage Foundation also rightly cautioned that the city's standing might be eroded if more populist measures were to be introduced. The remarks should be food for thought for the government amid growing concerns over its ruling philosophy.

In his maiden policy speech, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying did not shy away from adopting a more active approach. He stressed the government must be "appropriately proactive" in promoting economic development. While he agreed that the government should not intervene when the market functions efficiently, it must take action if the market fails. His approach has understandably aroused fears of over-intervention.

This is not the first time the foundation has expressed concerns about our commitment to economic freedom in recent years. The HK$28-per-hour minimum wage introduced by Leung's predecessor, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, was already seen as a dent in our crown. With Leung under growing political pressure to deliver on his campaign promises, it will not be surprising if he rolls out more measures in future.

Whether it is proactive or interventionist is open to debate. Leung rightly introduced tougher measures to tackle soaring property prices. The locals-only land policy and special stamp duty introduced over the past six months are clear examples. On the whole, they have been well received by the community.

Leung's approach has yet to affect the city's ranking. But it does not mean there is no cause for concern. According to the foundation, our score slipped 0.6 from last year to 89.3, the lowest in seven years. The narrowing gap with Singapore is a reminder that we cannot rest on our laurels.

Although the credo "market leads, the government facilitates" has served us well, demands on the government to do more continue to grow. Populist measures seem inevitable. As the chief executive, Leung should run the city according to its needs. But at the same time he should be mindful of international perceptions of our economic freedom. After all, a free economy is what makes Hong Kong tick.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

And who says what is the best ?
Is it the country with the freest economy? The one with the highest social security ? The one with the highest GDP ? Or the one with the lowest poverty to rich ratio (where would HK be on that list ? ) ?
Our governmental extreme laissez-faire approach has led to a continuously increasing poverty rate, that a high percentage of people in HK have a living space available per head which would be below the minimum social standard in other countries, that we don't have a retirement scheme which gives people the guarantee to maintain their standards after retirement (you easily end up with less than you paid in) .
Any government should ensure the basic needs its people such as housing, food and healthcare (why do we have public healthcare and don't leave it to the freest economy ? ). There should be legislation giving business also social responsibility and not allowing corporate socially irresponsible behavior


SCMP.com Account