Lawmakers grill CY Leung over policy address

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 6:08pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 January, 2013, 4:53pm

Legislators on Thursday afternoon said Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying failed to tackle a number of important issues in his maiden policy address.

In the area of housing, on which Leung spent the most of his passage, some lawmakers said his production targets for new public housing flats were even lower than what was set earlier in his election manifesto.

Others expressed dismay at Leung’s failure to commit himself to start work on sensitive issues such as political reforms to implement universal suffrage, standard work hours and legislation for an anti-discrimination law for homosexuals.

Looking mostly calm throughout a two-hour Legislative Council question-and-answer session, Leung even gave occasional smiles at protests staged by a few maverick lawmakers.

“You are lying to people”

People Power’s Albert Chan Wai-yip said Leung’s goal of building 75,000 new public housing flats over the next five years, or 15,000 a year, fell well short of his earlier promise of 35,000.

Chan said Leung would keep more than 200,000 public housing applicants waiting with his latest target, and the shortage would become even more serious when the city’s population was projected to grow by 700,000 by 2015.

“You are lying to people,” he shouted as he left his seat to protest, pointing his finger at Leung and tearing up a copy of Leung’s policy address.

Leung replied that he presented several new ideas for solving housing problems. He said these included his plan to create a land reserve for long-term use, opening up areas with restrictions on development and raising the plot ratios for certain projects.

Commerce sector legislator Martin Liao Cheung-kong said Leung spent much ink on the residential property market but did not roll out measures to help curb on rising shop rents.

Liao said Hong Kong’s retail rents had lately surpassed New York to become the world’s most expensive place.

The chief executive replied that his policy address included initiatives to increase land supply for commercial buildings. He said one of them, a development plan for the Kai Tak site and Kowloon East, was earmarked as a major business district for the future.

Civic Party’s Claudia Mo said she was upset that Leung pledged to protect press freedom but did not mention any elaborate measures to do so in his policy address.

She asked whether the chief executive thought Hong Kong needed new free-to-air broadcasters on the grounds one station had been dominating the city’s current TV market.

Leung refused to comment, saying a lawsuit was now going on in court and it would be inappropriate to give his comment.