Carrie Lam promises ‘new style’ of Hong Kong leadership, with housing her priority

Chief executive contender vows to share fruits of economic development with public, but policy platform is still a work in progress

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 February, 2017, 9:26pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 February, 2017, 6:12pm

Chief executive contender Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has promised to lead Hong Kong with a “new style” of governance, featuring business facilitation, public engagement and use of the surplus to share the fruits of economic development with the people.

But Lam, seen in some quarters as Beijing’s preferred candidate, admitted during a star-studded election rally on Friday that she had yet to get her platform ready.

Watch: Carrie Lam kicks off her campaign

The former No 2 official highlighted land and housing, development of new industries and education as her priorities, but said it would take a few more weeks to draft her policies.

When Lam announced last month that she would run in the chief executive election, she pledged good governance with greater transparency, as well as spelling out an eight-point “achievable new vision” for the city.

During Friday’s rally she said that after gathering views from various sectors in recent weeks, she had identified land and housing as her top policy priority.

“[The government will] step up on land development ... and speed up housing construction,” she said, adding that the strategy would make homes more affordable.

“The second emphasis is to diversify our economy ... and boost new industries such as innovation and technology.”

The former chief secretary also called education the “most important investment for Hong Kong”.

“I will comprehensively review the education system with my team to create a stable, caring and inspiring environment for students, parents, teachers and principals.”

Lam went on to say that if she was elected on March 26, she would introduce “new styles” in three areas of governance in order to deliver on her policy promises.

We will value public engagement ... and absorb all kinds of talents
Carrie Lam, former chief secretary

“We will value public engagement ... and absorb all kinds of talents,” she said.

She also promised to redefine the role of the government, as a facilitatorof deregulation and business convenience. And she would adopt a new philosophy towards public finance to share the fruits of economic development with members of the public.

By contrast her arch-rival in the election, John Tsang Chun-wah, was often criticised during his years as financial secretary for keeping a tight lid on the fiscal reserves and warning of rainy days ahead.

After the rally, Lam was asked if her ability to garner support without a complete platform highlighted the importance of Beijing’s “blessing” for her. Lam dismissed the suggestion, saying: “Good policies need to come with good visions. I will waste no time and present a full platform as soon as possible.”

Watch: Carrie Lam declares her candidacy for chief executive

Another of Lam’s rivals, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, on Thursday launched a veiled attack on Lam’s failure to unveil her platform.

Writing on his Facebook page, Woo, who rolled out his platform in December, said: “Reporters asked me to respond to a candidate’s rally ... but I couldn’t hear her [announcing her] platform. What can I say?”

Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung was not surprised that Lam had yet to unveil her full platform.

“She only announced her candidacy [last month] ... maybe she really needs more time to listen to policy advisers,” he said.