The flat HK$2 fare is open to abuse and costs taxpayers billions of dollars amid a budget deficit. It’s time to raise the qualifying age and cut back the benefit – so the scheme can be truly sustainable.
Most Hongkongers accept that some people are homosexual or bisexual, and showcasing our city’s inclusivity seems harmless enough. Yet official support has been mixed and debates have become unpleasant.
Confusion among BN(O) passport holders is a direct result of the UK’s decisions about what constitutes British nationality and who is entitled to it. The undeniable truth is that the British government could solve the problem at a stroke by converting all the BN(O) cases to full British nationality.
Partial electronic road pricing in all but name, the two-part reforms aim to finally get traffic jams under control. But after the boldness of the first phase, the government should be cautious about further changes to ensure the public has time to adjust and accept.
Hongkongers love and consume American culture but this love affair is unrequited: Our leaders are sanctioned, our airlines slammed for being able to fly over Russia and even AmCham questioned for being a part of the campaign to promote the Hong Kong economy.
Rather than a hard age limit on driving or harsher penalties for dangerous or careless driving, the focus should be on tightening health checks for all drivers. That approach, plus finding a way to regular ride-hailing services such as Uber, can nudge the market towards sorting out its own issues.
The government’s strategy aims at expanding Hong Kong’s role as a finance, technology and trade hub to drive high-quality growth. For this we will need skilled workers from diverse backgrounds – will they come?
A bolder, more imaginative approach is needed, better policy coordination and the dropping of all Covid-19 restrictions. Even after that, the tourism industry will need time to ramp back up to full service and return to a ‘World City’ mindset.
Many of those jailed for protesting in 2019 are young with potentially bright futures, if as a society we can show compassion and support their rehabilitation. As for the thousands arrested who are still waiting to find out their fate, a swift decision must be made whether to bring charges against them.
It doesn’t matter how many announcements our top officials make that Hong Kong is back when the whole world can see things here are not normal. If ending the mask mandate in one fell swoop is too great a step for the public to accept, then the government could adopt a rapid phased approach.
There have been some dark times in my 50 years in Hong Kong – the 2019 protests and the Covid-19 pandemic, for example – but they are a small price to pay for having had a front-row seat to world-changing events.
From the economy, exiting Covid-19 and restoring public finances to healing the 2019 rifts, rebuilding tourism and easing rhetoric against foreign provocations, Hong Kong is counting on Lee for a better new year.
Twenty one years ago, then-president Jiang agreed to attend a business forum here, giving InvestHK a great start – and showing the world that Hong Kong had China’s full backing.
The government insists reopening as soon as possible is on the cards, but many over-the-top pandemic restrictions remain, to the detriment of our economy. We should take John Lee’s advice and not fixate on ‘0+0’ but instead dispense with the city’s restrictions altogether.
All the government plans to revive Hong Kong need money. And only a growing economy will generate the revenues needed. That means we have to open up to the world quickly and drop all Covid-related restrictions.
Among the proposals in John Lee’s first policy address is lowering the threshold for facilitating redevelopment of older buildings. The government must act with care in these reforms, to avoid giving either owners or developers an unfair advantage.
Lee’s efforts in dealing with controversial civil servant pay rises, rolling back Covid-19 curbs and boosting events has won local support. But will he be bold enough to open up the city further to attract the tourists, tech talent and investors Hong Kong badly needs?
Even without this dreaded measure, there are still endless reminders – mask-wearing, temperature checks, code scanning – that things are not OK. The effect on public morale is obvious, but among young people it is particularly alarming, with a rise in depression and social anxiety.
Calls for better law enforcement to prevent vehicle dumping have gone unanswered before; perhaps a new approach is needed. New owners could be asked to pay a deposit to the government, which would be returned once the vehicle was legally scrapped.
A phased lifting of restrictions will signal a much-needed mindset change, one that recognises that Covid-19 is here to stay and that we must shift to living with it. The rollback should start with masks, the most visible symbol of restrictions, before tackling the size of public gatherings allowed and the testing regime.
Too many of Hong Kong’s environmental and cultural assets would be lost if part of the club grounds is given over to flats that would make only a modest contribution to solving our housing problem.
Hong Kong’s chief executive must announce measures to undo the Gordian knot of the housing crisis, aggressively tackle roadside pollution and move forward on enacting a national security law. He must also set a firm date for ending pandemic restrictions in Hong Kong.
For the proposed ‘traffic light’ feature on the Leave Home Safe app to be worthwhile, it must gradually replace the quarantine, testing and mask mandates. If it is simply another layer of control, forget it.
During the Sars epidemic, the government organised a series of events to announce to the world that Hong Kong was open to the world. The current proposal to hold the city’s flagship rugby event in closed-loop mode due to Covid-19 sends the wrong message.
Gripped by panic, even Hongkongers are treating their city as if it were a giant leper colony. Only the new government can reverse the fear, and undo the excessive and absurd Covid-19 restrictions, which will allow confidence to return.
Civil servants are in guaranteed employment while hundreds of thousands have lost jobs or income during the pandemic. The proposed rise, even if based on a tried-and-tested formula, was never going to be well received by a community struggling to get back on its feet.
With the wait for public housing reaching a historic high, the new government must set a specific and unambiguous target. The Northern Metropolis is a good place to start because land in the New Territories already exists. What we need is the willpower to use it for public good.
The longer Hong Kong is closed off, the greater the risk of being surpassed by rivals and fading into economic irrelevance. If this means a further delay in reopening the border with the mainland, so be it.
It is important to learn from past failures so we not only succeed this time, but do so in a way that helps to ease, rather than exacerbate, tensions.
The former policeman only came to prominence in 2019 and right up to his appointment as chief secretary last year, was not considered in the running to be chief executive. But his rise also raises a host of new questions, on the future of administrative officers as the elite of government, for one.