Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying used 10 of the first 12 paragraphs of his policy address on Wednesday to stress the importance of “one country”.
The focus on politics was a sharp departure from his two previous speeches and from those of his predecessors in which Hong Kong economic and social issues were the predominant theme, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday.
Leung repeatedly highlighted Hong Kong people’s inadequate understanding of “one country, two systems”, the governing principle that promises a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong under Chinese sovereignty.
Hong Kong people gave Leung’s speech a rating of 49.5 out of 100, down 4.6 points from last year and the worst of his three policy addresses since he took office in 2012, according to a survey by the University of Hong Kong Public Opinion Program (POP).
In a POP survey of 600 respondents, 35 percent said they were not satisfied with the policy address against 30 percent who were satisfied.
About 24 percent were undecided and 11 percent said they had no idea or had difficulty forming an opinion.
Six in 10 said they would not vote for Leung if an election were held today.
In his speech, Leung repeatedly disavowed any political considerations for his policies amid reports he will seek reelection in 2017.
He said democracy must develop in accordance with the Basic Law and the decisions of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature.
The recent democracy protests showed the government will not tolerate illegal activities, he said.
The speech was the second lead on the noontime news report of China Central Television Channel 2.
Leung took aim at a publication run by the Hong Kong University Students Union for publishing an article promoting Hong Kong independence.
The comments quickly drew fire from activists who accused him of infringing freedom of speech.
Leung announced a HK$50 billion program to bolster retirement protection.
Other initiatives will cost about HK$8 billion, the report said, citing Financial Secretary John Tsang.
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