Chief executive promises a partnership with the public to defend what makes Hong Kong such a success Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa yesterday committed to 'joining hands' with the people to defend Hong Kong's core values, after meeting leading professionals and academics who expressed concerns about their erosion. Mr Tung also promised to consider taking part in open forums, where he would discuss with members of the public how to protect values such as freedom, pluralism and social justice. The chief executive was speaking after meeting core members of a group of professionals and academics - representing more than 200 of their colleagues who signed a declaration last week saying they were 'greatly disturbed' by the increasing erosion of these values. Mr Tung promised he would launch a partnership with the public to defend what made the city successful. 'All of our existing core values are treasured by everyone in Hong Kong as they are Hong Kong's lifeline. The government is determined to join hands with [this group] and the people of Hong Kong to defend these core values,' Mr Tung said. 'We have agreed that we would continue to communicate and push for a harmonious, stable and progressive society,' he said. Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, a City University academic, praised Mr Tung's unusually swift response to public demands. 'I hope this is not just rhetoric, but real commitment supported by deeds and actions. What is important is to put in real actions, otherwise he cannot satisfy public demands,' Professor Cheung said. The group said that on top of values such as human rights, freedom and the rule of law, Hong Kong needed to put greater emphasis on harmony, compassion and reversing the tradition of favouritism towards business interests. 'Mr Tung said he totally agreed with and affirmed all these core values ... although he was not as concerned about their erosion as we are,' Professor Cheung said. 'Mr Tung said he hoped that on top of being a first-class international hub, Hong Kong should also be a first-class city in terms of social values.' Professor Cheung said Mr Tung promised to consider taking part in public forums the group will organise in coming months to raise awareness [of its aims] and facilitate public involvement in safeguarding core values. If the chief executive does attend such gatherings, they would be his first 'meet-the-people' functions. Lau Siu-kai, head of the Central Policy Unit, is to explore arrangements with Professor Cheung this week. Professor Cheung also quoted Mr Tung as saying he would 'actively consider' adopting the group's call for a 'Core Value Charter' as a guide for government policy-making, to turn words into actions through public policy.