Chief executive is confronting challenges facing Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 February, 2016, 6:14pm
UPDATED : Monday, 01 February, 2016, 6:14pm

I refer to Gary Cheung’s article (”Leung’s long policy address was all talk and no substance”, January 26).

The article says “A policy blueprint should address big issues which affect the majority of Hong Kong people and the city’s long-term development.”

The 2016 policy address is doing just that. It tackles the land and housing shortage which affects the majority of the people. It puts forward the much needed policies to prompt the development of innovation and technology. It also launched concrete long-term proposals to develop our economic and social relations with other countries under the “Belt and Road” initiative. The policy address continues the current-term government’s efforts to address poverty, and maps out strategies to deal with the ageing population. These efforts are delivering results. Hong Kong’s poor population and poverty rate dropped to 960,000 and 14.3 per cent respectively in 2014, which are record lows since 2009.

The article further says that “At the end of the day, leadership is about tackling tough issues head-on.” In fact, since taking up office, the chief executive has been confronting the challenges facing Hong Kong and has never avoided controversial issues. For example, on land conversion to increase the supply of both public and private housing, the policy address provided a detailed description of the short, medium and long-term initiatives, most of which are “tough issues”. The government’s determination is recognised by the market as prices and rents started to adjust before the interest rate hike.

On retirement protection, the Poverty Commission is conducting a public engagement exercise to build community consensus. The policy address did not want to pre-empt the result of the consultation.

The policy address also announced a new policy to provide free quality kindergarten education from the 2017/18 school year, providing eligible local non-profit-making kindergartens with a subsidy for a three-year half-day service for all eligible children. An HK$800 million Gifted Education Fund will also be set up.

On the health-care front, among other things, the policy address announced the 10-year blueprint for hospital development to provide 5,000 additional public hospital beds and over 90 new operating theatres, at a total cost of HK$200 billion.

Anson Lai, assistant director (media), Chief Executive’s Office