On his first day as housing director yesterday, Thomas Chan Chun-yuen vowed to make a 'just and fair' public housing policy his top priority. The 55-year-old former director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department also took up the post of permanent secretary for housing, planning and lands. 'Public housing policy is closely related to the livelihoods of many Hong Kong people,' said Mr Chan. 'If we handle it well, it will bring happiness to many people; if we don't, a lot will suffer from unnecessary troubles.' He said public housing policy had to keep up with the changes in society, but admitted this would be a challenging task, as it involved different parties. 'Public housing policy is all about resource distribution,' Mr Chan said. 'The most important principle is that it should be just and fair. It is a very complex issue. To do it successfully requires public understanding and the co-operation of the Housing Authority. 'It will also be important to understand the needs of existing public housing tenants and those who are on the waiting list.' Housing Authority member Wong Kwun described Mr Chan as 'pragmatic and down to earth'. 'His work for the Agricultural and Fisheries Department has been impressive,' Mr Wong said. 'I have confidence that Mr Chan will handle the upcoming public housing rent review very well.' He hopes Mr Chan will implement more relief measures for tenants, such as rent cuts. Another member, Fred Li Wah-ming, said he expected Mr Chan to come up with cost-cutting measures in the Housing Department and more concrete arrangements for the redevelopment of old public housing estates. 'I hope the new housing chief will be more open to public opinion,' Mr Li, a Democratic Party legislator, said.