As an interested Hong Kong resident, and a relative newcomer to the city at that, the continued and expanded focus on youth, as detailed in the chief executive’s policy address yesterday, is very welcome. Efforts to optimise conditions to help Hong Kong’s young people flourish into global citizens absolutely align with my own principles and aims. This should be driven by common sense and pragmatism, not by political ideology. The proposal to consider granting more government-funded degree places in medicine, dentistry and other health care specialties is welcome and I am sure the relevant universities will cooperate fully. A quicker and cheaper way to address the shortage of qualified practitioners would be to relax restrictive policies on recognising overseas qualifications. For example, my wife and I, an orthodontist and a nephrologist, respectively, are both unable to practise locally despite each having more than 20 years of accredited specialist experience in Britain, which is the same jurisdiction that set up and still engages with the Hong Kong medical and dental systems. If, as suggested in the speech, policies on overseas-qualified health professionals are revised, the manpower issues could be solved overnight. On the assessment of Chinese medicine, it is my opinion that the government should not go it alone. Local universities command abundant relevant expertise in pharmacology, physiology, clinical trial design and analysis, including the proper ascription of efficacy and of adverse effects. This can ensure the city leads the world in the vital task of validating traditional Chinese medicines and practices. Regarding Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s focus on the relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland, for the university sector, this must be unclouded by politics. I am on record as saying partnerships with the mainland are key to the future of our universities; the whole Western world also realises that a positive relationship with China is an essential part of strategic plans. Universities in Hong Kong, and I am sure many other sectors of society as well, are uniquely placed to act as bridgeheads into mainland China. We should seize those opportunities whilst they still exist, because if we don’t, we will be left behind. The government can help us by facilitating the cross-border transfer of people, funding, regulatory approvals and mutual understanding. Now, these commitments must be converted into action. Herein lies the uncertainty. For example, the plan to create an innovation and technology bureau was first announced in last year’s policy address and embellished this year by a pledge to invest substantial resources into innovation and technology transfer. The plan is widely welcomed in the university community, but is threatened by filibustering in the legislature. Filibustering is a tool that should be used selectively if it is to avoid losing its credibility. Indiscriminate procedural delay, if motivated by delay for delay’s sake rather than by a genuine desire to improve the legislation, will damage Hong Kong. I sincerely hope this does not happen to the welcome initiatives in the latest policy address. Professor Peter Mathieson is president and vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong. The views expressed in this article are his own, and not necessarily those of the university.