Youth forum grills Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on social justice
Chief executive fields questions on perceived unfairness on building codes, legislation
Social justice, political reform and, inevitably, illegal structures were the subject of questions from young people when they met Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying yesterday.
One student asked why old people found to have illegal additions to their homes faced harsh treatment from the government yet tycoons and senior officials such as Leung were granted exemptions.
"How can you make our society fairer and not let tycoons and high-ranking officials enjoy special privileges?" Chu Kwan-yung, a surveying student at the Institute of Vocational Education, asked during a "youth summit" in Chai Wan's Youth Square.
Chu said he had discovered cases of inconsistency and unfairness while doing a school project on illegal structures.
"Almost all rich people in Hong Kong skip the application procedures normally required for building additional housing structures, as they find the procedure troublesome.
"However, only the elderly, disabled and poor are prosecuted, not the rich."
But Leung did not agree. "The Buildings Department has a policy that [violations of the law by] celebrities and senior officials are dealt with as a first priority," Leung said.
Another teenager at the event, staged by the Home Affairs Bureau and the Commission on Youth, criticised functional-constituency lawmakers for vetoing proposals that could benefit the community, such as a long-discussed suggestion by pan-democrats that the government buy back the shares in The Link reit.
The real estate investment trust took over the running of shopping centres and car parks on public housing estates from the government, and has been criticised for raising rents and harming small businesses.
The student asked whether Leung would consider abolishing functional constituencies. He replied: "The political development of Hong Kong is stated in the Basic Law and the National People's Congress has already decided. We should follow the direction to develop the system."
Leung admitted that teenagers might be dissatisfied on salaries, promotions at work, and housing policy, but said the government had already taken steps to resolve housing problems.