All Around Town, April 11, 2013
Speaking may go down better than shouting
A few months ago, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying urged Hongkongers to "shout" at people who were hindering government policies. The call did not resonate with many, but Leung will soon have a better tool to drum up public support.
The Hong Kong United Foundation, founded by Leung's top campaign advisers including executive councillor Barry Cheung Chun-yuen and former Equal Opportunities Commission chairman Raymond Tang Yee-bong, is set to be unveiled in July. The think tank, registered as a limited company last July, will not only carry out long-term research on policies, but also respond quickly to hot issues of the day.
Its pilot project, Speak Out HK, has been publishing online articles contributed by a dozen of Leung's allies since January. It has attracted 600,000 clicks from 160,000 users on social media portal Facebook.
Answering the call for democracy
While the three key organisers of the Occupy Central movement say they are prepared for arrests and imprisonment, it remains a question how many Hong Kong people are willing to pay such a price for democracy.
The Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, one of the organisers, said they were not very worried about the attendance. Some "hard-core" participants of democracy drives might be unveiled in the next two months as they signalled their intent, Chu said. Their initial targets were from the medical, social welfare and education sectors, including university students, he said.
"It would be symbolic when people come forward to pledge that they are willing to sacrifice for democracy," he said.
Subdivided living is a shame, Leung admits
Since a scandal erupted last year over Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po's link to a company that let out subdivided flats, his boss, the chief executive, has kept quiet about the low-income housing.
But in a recent interview by pastor Enoch Lam Yee-lok, Leung Chun-ying confessed to being "guilt-ridden" at the way Hong Kong people had to put up with subdivided housing.
He also admitted his administration's construction target for public rental flats, set at 100,000 in five years from 2018, would not meet the growing demand, but they would "spare no efforts" to solve the problem.
"We have at least one meeting discussing the housing problem every day," Leung said.
Lautau could be a bright spot in the economy, he suggested. "Economic development in the Pearl River Delta is shifting to the west. With an airport, and a railway and bridge [coming up], we should start thinking about the future of Lantau."