Carrie Lam’s election manifesto focuses on economy, government reforms
Occupy Movement leader Joshua Wong disrupted unveiling of chief executive contender’s policy positions earlier on Monday
Hong Kong chief executive hopeful Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has vowed to reform government structure and boost the economy if she is elected, but has not made promises relating to universal suffrage or national security.
Her policy pledges came just 48 hours before nominations for candidates were due to close. The event at MacPherson Stadium in Mong Kok attracted a dozen protesters, including Occupy student leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung, who marched into the venue with little obstruction and sat alongside the media during her presentation.
Choosing a different approach to her arch-rival, former finance chief John Tsang Chun-wah, Lam did not commit the next government to two of Hong Kong’s most contentious issues: Political reform towards universal suffrage and the implementation of the Basic Law’s Article 23 provisions on national security.
The former issue triggered the citywide Occupy movement in 2014 while the latter prompted half a million people to take to the streets in 2003.
“The political reform [in 2014] was so contentious,” she said. “It ended in vain and the ensuing social rift and polarisation was more or less to do with the political reform.”
Lam added: “Without the atmosphere and necessary conditions, any [restart of political reform] would only disappoint [Hongkongers].”
On Article 23, she said it would be necessary to bear in mind the possible social disruption and said the Basic Law should be implemented “from a comprehensive perspective”.
Lam, though, made pledges to revamp the Central Policy Unit, saying its future role should be on helping roll out cross-departmental policies.
She proposed adding 20 to 30 young members to the reformed unit so as to “directly send the voices of the youth to the ears of the chief executive”.
The next government should strengthen its ties with foreign governments, with Lam vowing to assign more officials overseas to act as “economic ambassadors”.
In addition, she said she would revive incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s idea of a Culture Bureau. She also proposed a new Tourism Bureau, and the existing Transport and Housing Bureau would be divided in two.
On housing policies, she proposed that Home Ownership Scheme owners can rent their flats out through social enterprises even if they have not paid their premium.
To alleviate commuters’ transport costs, Lam said she would spend MTR’s dividends payable to the government – which currently stand at around HK$4 billion a year – to lower train fares.
On education, she followed other chief executive contenders and promised to abolish the much-criticised territory wide system assessment for Primary 3 schoolchildren.
Aligning herself with localist minded public, she said there should be areas designated for street hawkers in districts without large-scale markets.