Chief executive’s policy address 2017

Hong Kong leadership race underdogs pan CY Leung’s proposed policies

Regina Ip and Woo Kwok-hing sceptical of plans to abolish MPF offsetting mechanism; say chief executive did not deliver on manifesto

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 January, 2017, 11:28pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 January, 2017, 10:48am

Two people hoping to succeed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying have promised to undo some of the proposals spelled out in his swansong policy address.

Seen as underdog contenders, the two rivals – retired judge Woo Kwok-hing and lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee from New People’s Party – were united in their attacks on Leung after his final policy speech on Wednesday.

Both doubted that Leung’s promise to scrap the Mandatory Provident Fund offsetting mechanism would succeed, with Woo adding that he would definitely drop Leung’s plan to pursue developing country parks.

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“Leung’s government is now actually a caretaker one. It only has some five months left. He should not try to write down so many policies. He should leave them for the next government to decide,” Woo said.

He called Leung’s idea of using land on the periphery of country parks to build public flats “controversial” and troublesome for the next administration.

On the offsetting mechanism, Ip said: “I have reservations about the idea. I don’t think the business sector will support it. And employees will see their benefits cut.”

Her views were shared by Woo.

Under Leung’s plan, the government will “progressively” abolish the controversial practice, which allows employers to use the money they put into workers’ retirement funds to offset severance or long-service payments.

Leung said there would be measures to lessen the burden on employers with the abolishment of the mechanism, such as lowering the amount they have to pay outgoing workers.

Employers will also be given subsidies, amounting to HK$6 billion, in the first 10 years after the offsetting mechanism is scrapped. Leung said he hoped his government could come up with a final proposal by the end of June.

Both Woo and Ip also panned Leung’s declaration that his election manifesto had “basically been implemented”.

“I don’t think he has been able to honour what he has stated in his election manifesto,” Woo said, referring to Leung’s pledges that he would enhance the standard of governance, promote democracy, and hold an inclusive attitude.

A spokesman for another chief executive hopeful, former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, said Lam was not prepared to comment on Leung’s policy address.

So far, Woo, Ip, and Lam have declared their bids to run for the leadership race in March. Former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah was expected to announce his decision on Thursday.