Live updates: CY underscores housing as his top priority

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 10:38am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying rolls out measures in his maiden policy address on Wednesday morning to address deep-rooted social problems like housing, environmental protection, the ageing population and economic development.

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Updated 1.15pm

Leung praises the civil service as an important asset to Hong Kong, before ending his inaugural speech. At the end, he pledges that he will safeguard the interests of the people, and uphold the core values of Hong Kong, including human rights, rule of law, clean government, freedom and democracy, tolerance of different stances and views, and respect for press freedom.

Updated 1.12pm

On constitutional development, Leung says he will promote and achieve the ultimate aim of universal suffrage in accordance with the Basic Law and the decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

He says the government will launch a comprehensive consultation on the election methods of the Chief Executive in 2017 and the Legislative Council in 2016 and initiate the constitutional procedures at an appropriate juncture.

He says he hopes that various sectors and different political parties in the Legislative Council will act in the overall and long-term interests of Hong Kong, respect different views and engage in “rational and pragmatic” discussions in order to reach a consensus on the way forward.

Updated 1.10pm

On local administration and the city’s constitutional system, Leung says he will study ways to engage the District Councils further in local administration to enhance their functions. He also says he will amend legislation to abolish all District Council appointed seats from 2016 onwards.

Updated 1.05pm

Leung pledges to continue support for local arts and cultural sectors. He says his government will raise a HK$150 million to strengthen the training of arts administrators in the next five years in order to meet increased demand upon completion of the West Kowloon Cultural project.

Updated 1.02pm

Leung also says he plans to hold a public consultation in the first half of the year on the proposals to ease congestion at the cross harbour tunnels. He says the broad direction is to increase the toll fees for the Cross Harbour Tunnel and reduce those for the Eastern Harbour Crossing through government subsidy, so as to divert traffic and ease congestion.

Updated 1pm

On transport, Leung notes the city’s railway network is the backbone of Hong Kong’s public transport. In a chapter entitled Review of the Mass Transit Railway fare adjustment system, Leung says he understands the public expectation that the MTR should run its business in a prudent and air manner and charge reasonable fares. He says his government is conducting a five-yearly review of the fare adjustment mechanism.

Updated 12.57pm

Leung says he will set up the Chinese Medicine Development Committee at the end of this month to study policies and measures to develop Hong Kong’ Chinese medicine industry.

Updated 12.55pm

On the city’s health care system, Leung says Hong Kong should remain committed to its twin-track system for public and private sectors. He says his adminstration will continue to set aside resources to strengthen the public health care system and enhance its service quality. He says the Hospital Authority will add about 150 acute patient beds in the coming year.

He also says his government review the demand for medical facilities in Kowloon. If necessary, he says he will expedite the development of the reserved hospital site at the Kai Tak Development Area, and redevelop Kwai Chung Hospital.

Leung adds he will introduce necessary measures to support the development of private health care services, including securing more land for private hospitals. He says a Steering Committee has been established to review the regulatory regime for private health care facilities. Its aim is to strengthen the regulatory role of the Department of Health, enhance the quality and transparency of private health care services and promote patients’ rights.

Updated 12.53pm

Lawmaker Charles Mok criticises CY Leung’s policies on supporting small- and medium-size enterprises, saying that the policies were nothing new and Hong Kong will become a small town in southern China if we follow CY’s idea.

Updated 12.52pm

Leung says the Education Bureau will set up a committee to study extending the current nine-year free education to the three-year kindergarten education.

Updated 12.50pm 

On education, Leung says that since the 1997 handover, the government has introduced many education reform initiatives and it is now time to consolidate Hong Kong’s education policies and avoid drastic changes. He says he will work with the education sector to tackle the impact of a decline in the number of students in the coming few years.

Updated 12.48pm

Leung pledges more support for conservation of land and marine ecologies. He says his government will set up a HK$500 million sustainable fisheries development fund to help fishermen affected by the prohibition of trawling.

It will also inject HK$5 billion into the Environment and Conservation Fund to provide long-term and sustained support for green actions initiated by the community.

Updated 12.45pm

Leung says Hong Kong’s landfills will be full within seven years. He describes it as a “looming crisis”. He says he will focus on waste reduction at the source, and make use of more advanced integrated waste management facilities.

But Leung says expansion of landfills remains an integral part of the overall strategy of waste management. He urges everyone in Hong Kong to play his/her part.

Updated 12.40pm

On the environment, Leung identified waste management and air quality requires as the key issues to tackle.

To meet the 2015 and 2020 emission reduction targets, he proposes a HK$10 billion subsidy to help phase out 80,000 heavily polluting pre-Euro and Euro I to III diesel commercial vehicles.

Updated 12.32pm

Leung says the Labour and Welfare Bureau will set up a special committee the first quarter of this year to study the issue of standard working hours.

Updated 12.30pm

Leung does not say whether he has plans on retirement protection. He notes that there has been much discussion on social security and retirement protection, but the views are diverse, and their suggestions will involve major policy considerations and may have far-reaching implications on the social security system and public finance. He says a task force will carefully study the views.

Updated 12.24pm

Leung says the Commission on Poverty will set a poverty line that will serve as a guiding reference for policy formulation on poverty alleviation efforts.

Related story: Hong Kong's new poverty line wins wary support

Updated 12.22pm

Turning to social welfare, he says his policy aim is to help underprivileged people capable of working by offering them opportunities to become self-reliant and improve their livelihood. He says public resources should be devoted to those who cannot provide for themselves. He says a welfare policy underpinned by heavy taxation is not a viable option, taking into account the economic structure and mode of social development in Hong Kong.

Updated 12.20pm

Leung welcomes proposals to set up a statutory Harbourfront Authority to press ahead with development plans for Victoria Harbour.

Updated 12.17pm

To encourage revitalisation of industrial buildings, Leung says his government is prepared to relax restrictions on wholesale conversion, including allowing owners to recover the amount of gross floor area loss due to alteration of building structure by making minor changes on the outside of the existing building frames under specific conditions

Updated 12.15am

Besides the supply of residential flats, Leung says he will also address the shortage of commercial land supply. To this end, he says his bureaus will take forward initiatives to convert government office buildings and government sites in Central and Wan Chai to commercial use, and to accelerate the development of the North Commercial District on Chek Lap Kok Airport Island.

Updated 12.10am

To increase land supply, Leung says he will seek potential sites for flats in the New Territories, areas of low conservation value and potential sites for reclamation outside Victoria Harbour. These include the Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area, the North District and Yuen Long, Lantau Island, as well as rock cavern and underground space.

Updated 12.01pm

In the medium term, Leung raises the production target for public rental housing to a total of 100,000 units for the five years starting from 2018.

He says he will ask his bureaus to expedite the construction of public housing flats, find ways to simplify technical assessments under different regulatory requirements without compromising quality, and examine all projects in the pipeline to increase the plot ratio.

Leung announces his government will not roll out any more projects under the My Home Purchase Plan. He says the four pieces of land in Tai Po, Diamond Hill, Choi Hung and Ma On Shan respectively, originally earmarked for the plan, will be used for new Home Ownership Scheme development instead.

Updated 11.55pm

Here's what that space could look like

View Larger Map

Updated 11.45am

On the private housing market, Leung estimates that a total of 67,000 new units should come on the market in the next three to four years, including units under construction but not yet sold or offered for sale, unsold units of completed projects, and units from disposed sites ready for construction. He says the total supply of public and private housing over the next five years will be higher than that in the past five years.

Updated 11.42am

Elaborating on his strategy to address shortage of flats, Leung says he has secured land for building 75,000 new public rental flats over the five years from 2012-13 and about 17,000 flats under the Home Ownership Scheme, a subsidised housing scheme, over the four years starting from 2016-17. He says the first batch of new HOS flats is scheduled for pre-sale next year. He also says that in a couple of months’ time, his government will put on sale about 830 remaining surplus HOS flats.

Updated 11.40am

Leung says he sees home ownership by the middle class as a crucial to social stability. He says his policy objectives for housing are to: assist grassroots families to secure public housing to meet their basic housing needs; assist the public to choose accommodation according to their affordability and personal circumstances, and encourage those who can afford it to buy their own homes; provide subsidised home ownership flats on top of public rental housing so as to build a progressive housing ladder; and maintain the healthy and steady development of the private property market, with priority to be given to meet Hong Kong permanent residents’ needs.

Updated 11.36am

Leung underscores housing as his top priority. He says a shortage in the supply of housing has pushed up property prices and rental substantially.

He notes that many families have to move into smaller or older flats, or even factory buildings. Cramped living space in cage homes, cubicle apartments and sub-divided flats has become the reluctant choice for tens of thousands of Hong Kong people.

Updated 11.33am

Leung’s speech is disrupted when a lawmaker complains Leung Kwok-hung has kept playing a tape recorder to interfere. President Tsang Yok-sing orders Leung Kwok-hung to leaver the chamber.

Updated 11.30am

Leung identifies the city’s testing and certification as an industry with good potential. He says it enjoys a clear edge with a good foundation built over the years, including a robust accreditation system and high professional standards and an excellent reputation.

He says CEPA provides a favourable factor for the industry as it allows testing laboratories in Hong Kong to undertake testing in collaboration with designated mainland certification bodies of products processed in Hong Kong for the China Compulsory Certification System. He says all these make Hong Kong well positioned to develop into a major testing and certification centre in the region.

Updated 11.25am

Leung says Hong Kong must seize opportunities promised by the National 12th Five-Year Plan to build more platforms for enhanced scientific research collaboration with the mainland. He says this can help the mainland’s technological enterprises to "go global" and attract foreign investment while enticing more technology enterprises to set up offices in Hong Kong.

He also says his government is examining the future positioning of the patent system in Hong Kong to map out the way forward in the near future. He says he plans to set up a working group to study the overall strategy for promoting Hong Kong as a hub for intellectual property trading.

Updated 11.20am

Leung unveils plans to enhance Hong Kong-mainland economic co-operation. He says Hong Kong will study jointly with the Ministry of Commence to extend the measures under the CEPA pact to more regions in the mainland.

Updated 11.15am

Leung announces setting up preparatory task forces for the establishment of the Economic Development Commission and Financial Services Development Council to identify areas for Hong Kong’s further development.

On housing, Leung says his government has introduced a series of short to medium-term measures. He says the newly-established Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee has started to explore and formulate the long-term housing strategy.

Updated 11.10am

Leung says he will continue a ban on non-resident women from giving birth in Hong Kong, as a way to stop the influx of mainland mothers swarming the city’s hospitals.

Updated 11.05am

Leung says Hong Kong has its unique advantages, with an outstanding civil service, independent judiciary and good law and order. He says his administration will take an active role in boosting the economy and solving other “deep-rooted” problems such as housing, poverty, an ageing population and environmental issues.

Updated 11am

CY Leung enters the chamber, greeted by a loud protest by three People Power lawmakers, who are eventually ordered by president Tsang Yok-sing to leave the chamber.

Updated 10.30am

Before Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying delivers his maiden policy address in the Legislative Council, protesters from different groups are already gathering outside the Legco building in Admiralty to voice their demands. These include setting up a universal retirement protection scheme and more public housing.

Updated 10.35am

What do Hongkongers want CY Leung to address? Video by Hedy Bok.