Carrie Lam’s policy address faces 22.2 per cent drop in ratings from last year, with poverty alleviation singled out as lacking
Score from HKU poll marks the second-lowest result in eight years for a city leader, with those in 18-29 age group giving chief executive worst grade
Hong Kong’s leader received less support for her second policy address compared with her first, as critics expressed dissatisfaction over a perceived lack of measures to alleviate poverty, a poll by the city’s top university has found.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor scored 48.5 out of 100 points overall for her annual blueprint on Wednesday – a significant drop of 22.2 per cent from that of her maiden address last year. The figure marked the second-lowest score given to a leader in the city since 2010.
Poverty alleviation measures were rated lowest by poll respondents, at 45.6 points out of 100.
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The survey, conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme, involved 545 interviewees aged 18 and above.
“We saw quite a big difference when comparing this year’s result with last year’s,” said Anthony Wong Kin-wai, business director of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, an umbrella group of welfare organisations. The council commissioned the survey.
“Lam’s slipping grades indicate she failed to meet public expectations.”
The lowest ever score was recorded in the 2016 policy address by Lam’s predecessor Leung Chun-ying.
The latest poll revealed 60 per cent of those surveyed thought Lam’s poverty alleviation measures had little to no impact in reducing the city’s wealth gap. Some 47 per cent believed the poor were very unlikely to benefit.
Wong suggested the reason was that the chief executive’s address showed a lack of concern for the grass roots.
“The public felt the policy address put emphasis on economic and land development but just a few initiatives outlined poverty alleviation,” he said.
Wong pointed to the focus on long-term housing and land supply solutions, including the “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” project, and said there was barely any mention of urgently addressing the needs of the city’s poorest. He said their plight and views were ignored.
On efforts to reduce poverty, respondents aged between 18 and 29 gave Lam a score of only 36.4 points, the lowest among three age groups in the survey.
“There were not a lot of items raised in Lam’s address for people of this age group to grade,” Wong said, adding they might have also felt neglected in the speech and therefore tended not to give high marks.
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On housing, 58 per cent of respondents said there was a need to provide financial support for low-income families forced to rent private homes while in the queue for public housing.
To resolve such issues, the Hong Kong Council of Social Service recommended the government allocate HK$1 billion to set up a transitional housing fund and introduce a living allowance for such tenants struggling to make ends meet.
In addition, the council has urged the government to offer a recurrent allowance for those considered as “N-nothings” – households who earn too much to qualify for subsidised housing or welfare assistance but not enough to buy their own homes or benefit from tax breaks.