The chairman of Hang Lung Properties came to the defence of his ally Leung Chun-ying's housing policies yesterday, calling on the public to show patience.
Speaking straight after the chief executive hinted he would be reviving his defeated government restructuring plan, Ronnie Chan Chi-chung said the new land and housing measures put forward in the policy address last week might need "three to six months" before their impact could be felt.
When it came to Leung's proposal to tax vacant flats, Chan urged patience again, this time from the government. Hang Lung Properties holds one of the largest stockpiles of unsold flats in the city.
"We should let the government study it first before making further comments," he said, adding that he "always prefers Chinese medicine" as it took "a slow approach to a cure".
Chan said: "The housing problems in the past seven years cannot be solved in one go. When the land supply increases gradually, property prices will become more moderate."
He praised an initiative to increase government land sales and said this had not been the case under Leung's predecessor, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. "The property market in Hong Kong has been extremely distorted over the past seven to eight years without land sales," he said.
Chan spoke out after the annual Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce lunch in which Leung insisted increasing land supply and building up land reserves were his top priorities.
Indicating his restructuring plan was back on the agenda, Leung said the idea of creating a post of deputy secretary to co-ordinate development and the environment remained "in the back of our minds".
He added: "But to do that, we would have to face filibustering again in the Legislative Council."
Arguing the case for a government revamp, Leung said he himself was now acting as a co-ordinating "centralised agency", meetings six departments from two bureaux on a daily basis.
"Going forward, there may be the need to have a centralised agency," he said. "It has been proposed before … that someone should hold a rank similar to a deputy secretary for the built environment."