HKSAR chief prepares for annual address amid potential for disruptions

2019-10-16 08:17:41China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor holds copies of her annual Policy Address before a weekly Executive Council meeting in Hong Kong on Tuesday. (Photo provided to China Daily)

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she would emphasize the city's housing shortage in her annual Policy Address on Wednesday amid concerns about possible disruption by protesters.

Previewing the speech in remarks to reporters, Lam said she planned to deliver the address in the city's Legislative Council chambers, which were recently repaired after being ransacked by anti-government protesters on July 1.

"I'm sure you agree that the most important livelihood issue that a chief executive should address is housing and land supply," Lam said, adding that she would present a total of 200 new initiatives.

According to Lam, the 2019 Policy Address will put land and housing in the spotlight. She said that housing initiatives will respond to public calls to ameliorate deep-seated social and economic problems.

This year's address will also include a supplement detailing progress on earlier government programs since 2017 and will address challenges to implementation of government policies.

In another first this year, Lam said some bureau chiefs had unveiled new initiatives ahead of the scheduled address. In the past, all new measures were announced during the address itself.

The 2019 Policy Address will be delivered at Legislative Council chambers at 11 am on Wednesday.

Speculation had surfaced that the city's leader would opt not to deliver the address at LegCo for fear of possible obstruction by anti-government protesters. Responding to the speculation, Lam said that as chief executive, it was her duty to maintain frequent interaction with lawmakers. She also called for lawmakers' support.

As Lam stressed on different occasions that she and her administration would make all-out efforts in tackling the city's deep-rooted problems, different sectors have voiced their expectations for Wednesday's address.

Hong Kong political commentator Paul Yeung told China Daily that the delivery of the quality of life-centered Policy Address will be a good start for moving the city out of its current impasse.

Yeung, also a research officer at local think tank One Country Two Systems Research Institute, agreed with the government's move to prioritize housing and land supply, which he believes will be a fundamental solution for many deep-seated social and economic problems.

"Without assets, how can we call it (Hong Kong) our homeland?" Yeung cited a widespread saying among young people.

Another aspect he looks forward to is youth issues. Yeung said that the recent unrest has demonstrated the government has done an inadequate job in connecting with young people. Thus he hopes there will be more platforms and channels for youth to express their thoughts.

The city's largest labor union-the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions-staged a rally outside government headquarters on Tuesday hoping to get unemployment subsidies during these times of difficulty unparalleled in recent years as protracted violence has disrupted the city for four consecutive months.

They also urged the government to invoke the powerful Lands Resumption Ordinance to remedy the region's housing shortage.

The ordinance allows the special administrative region's chief executive to order the requisition of any land for public purposes. Compensation to the owner will then follow according to market value considerations.

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