CY Leung's annual report of the government's work criticised for 'hiding evils'
"Significant progress" has been achieved on tackling the city's housing shortage and fighting poverty, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said yesterday as he announced the release of an annual report covering his second year as leader.
But it failed to impress lawmakers from across the political spectrum, who accused Leung of only reporting good news.
The 41-page report, published on the website of the Chief Executive's Office, outlined the administration's work in nine parts, including the economy, poverty alleviation, housing, administration and constitutional affairs.
It mentioned the government's unveiling of the first official poverty line in September last year, and stated that since a series of stamp duty measures were introduced in February last year, "as at April 2014, overall property prices have only slightly increased by 0.1 per cent per month on average".
That was much lower than the average monthly increase of 2.7 per cent in the first two months last year, it says, adding that flat prices had fallen by about 0.6 per cent in the first quarter this year.
But Polytechnic University social scientist Dr Chung Kim-wah told RTHK that this was a half-truth. "People still couldn't afford a home because prices increased by about 7 per cent last year," Chung said.
Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan also said housing shortages remained acute. "We feel that the report is basically hiding the evils while promoting the good … because although there were some superficial improvements, the drop in property prices and [plans to boost] long-term housing supply cannot really solve the problem," he said.
He was referring to the statement that "while the government has encountered difficulties in taking forward various initiatives to increase land supply, we managed to … [announce] in July 2013 the latest recommendations of the North East New Territories" new town projects.
A funding proposal related to those projects caused large-scale protests outside the Legislative Council building on June 13 and last Friday. A source close to Leung said the chief executive feared he would not hit his target of building 470,000 flats in the next decade because of strong resistance to the plan.
Three out of four pro-government district chiefs say they do not support Leung's plan. The government also faces an uphill battle to secure district council support to rezone open space, green-belt and community sites to build more flats.
On transport issues, the report said the government had announced an independent panel to "conduct a thorough examination of the [MTR Corporation's] project management regarding" the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed railway project.
Yet it stopped short of reporting that the project, like several other works of the MTRC, had been seriously delayed.
Michael Tien Puk-sun, chairman of Legco's railway sub-committee, was critical. "While our national leader's work report starts by mentioning his worries before reporting on good news, to some extent, Leung's report only mentioned the latter [good news]."
He was referring to Premier Li Keqiang's annual work report in March.
Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing suggested that Leung's report highlighted his lack of ability and determination to work with others.
"At least he should be frank and admit that he has failed to deliver on various aspects, and reflection is needed … on why consensus could not be reached. But he didn't do that and it seems he's congratulating himself."