Leung Chun-ying says Beijing's consent to start reform talks not needed
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has dismissed speculation that he needs a top Beijing official's instructions before launching a consultation on electoral reform.
When asked when the government would launch a public consultation, Leung said: "We still have time".
Amid heated debate over remarks by National People's Congress Law Committee chairman Qiao Xiaoyang on criteria for chief executive candidates in 2017, political analysts have speculated that the government is reluctant to consult the people because Beijing had yet to give it instructions on the matter.
But when asked yesterday in a media gathering whether he was waiting for Qiao's consent to launch a public discussion, Leung said: "Rubbish!"
Qiao said in March that consultation should not begin until most Hongkongers agreed those who confronted the central government should not rule the city.
Former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, who led the successful effort to pass electoral reforms for last year's vote, has urged the government to launch a consultation by October.
But Leung said: "We cannot put down our work on the economy, housing and poverty issues just because of one kind of opinion voiced in society."
He also said opinion polls showed housing and poverty remained the top concerns.
Leung reiterated that his government would continue boosting the city's land reserves to build more housing while strengthening Hong Kong's economic competitiveness.
He dismissed speculation that he made housing a top priority to salvage his sagging popularity, but said he would "try with my biggest effort" to improve his public approval ratings.