Tung Chee-hwa's spokesman fired back at the critics of the Chief Executive's Policy Address yesterday, saying Hong Kong had nothing to fear from Singapore or Shanghai. Speaking on the sidelines of the Apec forum, Mr Tung's information co-ordinator, Stephen Lam Sui-lung, said the SAR could 'stay ahead of the game' by enhancing its competitiveness and investing in education and infrastructure. Mr Tung's Policy Address earlier this month outlined a number of measures to bolster consumer and business confidence, enhance skills and safeguard Hong Kong's reputation as one of the most vibrant cities in Asia. His speech received a lukewarm response from most quarters. Some observers said it failed to match more aggressive measures unveiled in Singapore to help the city-state combat its worst recession since the 1960s. Many commentators have seized on a Singapore proposal to reduce senior civil servants' pay by 10 per cent. Hong Kong officials have said they do not intend to follow suit. 'We are not concerned that Hong Kong will be left behind by Singapore or by the rest of the world because Hong Kong thrives on competition. So does Singapore, so does Shanghai,' said Mr Lam. 'The important thing is [for] Hong Kong to be progressive, to have confidence in the ability of Hong Kong people [and] Hong Kong businesses to stay ahead of the game.' His comments came after Mr Tung held a meeting with his Singapore counterpart, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. Mr Lam said Mr Tung and Mr Goh had discussed economic issues, including efforts to forge free-trade agreements (FTAs) aimed at cutting tariffs and increasing the flow of goods. Singapore has signed one FTA and is negotiating at least six others. Hong Kong officials are in trade talks with New Zealand. Mr Lam said both Hong Kong and Singapore faced rising unemployment in the face of the economic downturn. Mr Tung also met New Zealand premier Helen Clark. The pair reviewed the progress of their FTA talks, which were said to be going well. There was no word on when the agreement would be finalised, or if the SAR was trying for similar agreements with other states. Mr Tung has said President Jiang Zemin had promised to create a 'favourable environment' to bolster the SAR economy.