Chief executive denies putting democratic reform on hold

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 5:51pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 8:09pm

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Wednesday his government now had more pressing issues to deal with – chiefly housing and poverty – than how to implement universal suffrage.

In his 200-paragraph maiden policy address that was heavily focused on economic issues, housing and welfare, Leung spent only two paragraphs outlining his plan for the city’s constitutional development.

At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Leung was asked twice about his commitment to introducing universal suffrage in 2017 – the date its implementation has been promised by the central government.

Leung denied suggestions that he intended to delay or backtrack on democratic reforms. He also promised to spare sufficient time during his tenure for Hong Kong people to have thorough discussion on the democratic reform.

“I am determined to push for the introduction of universal suffrage, but Hong Kong should now focus on other more urgent issues,” he said.

Responding to a question on how he could achieve his targets laid in his housing policy, Leung put his hand on his chest and stressed housing topped the priority of this administration.

“We will actively take our work forward in the public and private markets,” Leung.

He said his objective was to help low income groups obtain public housing and middle class people buy their homes, by increasing the supply of flats.

In his first policy blueprint since taking office in July, Leung said he would endeavour to help low-income groups obtain public housing and middle-class people buy their own flats.

He set a production target for public rental flat at 100,000 for the five years from 2018. The number, equivalent to an average of 20,000 flats a year, is higher than the annual average of 15,000 in the years to 2018.

He has also earmarked land to launch about 17,000 subsidised apartments under the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) for the four years from 2016.