16 January 2019
Shanghai Disneyland is set to open in June, posing competition to Hong Kong's own Disney theme park. Photo: Xinhua
Shanghai Disneyland is set to open in June, posing competition to Hong Kong's own Disney theme park. Photo: Xinhua

Policy address fails to inspire hope amid challenges

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s fourth policy address has failed to boost his record-low ratings. I think it lacked long-term planning and opened himself to criticism.

Two worthwhile initiatives. The newly-established Innovation and Technology Bureau should continue to develop the science park and tap the potentials of information technology.

Widening Wi-Fi coverage, for example, will benefit everyone from ordinary citizens to high-end businesses.

The government intends to transform Lantau Island into a “low carbon and smart” metropolis. The move is in the right direction. Land supply is a pressing issue. The government should change its old policy of “positive non-intervention”.

One Belt, One Road. Leung has highlighted Hong Kong’s special role in China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road strategy.

China intends to export the nation’s excess capital and capacity to other nations along the economic routes through peaceful and mutually beneficial cooperation. 

During his recent visit to Iran, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the country’s desire for a win-win partnership with Middle East nations through the One Belt, One Road policy.

China has offered to help Iran build high-speed railways and support other infrastructure projects in the region to facilitate economic cooperation.

Early last year one of my mainland friends asked for my help to invite guests for a fund-raising event for his infrastructure project under the One Belt, One Road initiative.

I wasn’t able to find suitable guests for the event. However, he has managed to source funding in Shanghai and Beijing, and the project is now well on track.

Is it too late for Hong Kong to jump in?

The One Belt, One Road routes cover 65 countries in three continents, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

However, Hong Kong has no geographical edge if it is not considered a part of Guangdong province. Why would this matter to the territory’s seven million population?

Wrong priorities? The government has come under fire for its proposal to inject HK$1 billion into a scholarship fund to attract students from countries covered by the One Belt, One Road initiative to study in Hong Kong.

On one hand, the government is saying that it lacks enough funds to provide a pension plan for all citizens. One the other hand, it is so generous in supporting students from One Belt, One Road nations. How could the government keep track of students who will benefit from the scholarship scheme?

Disappointing economic plans. The policy address also failed to offer anything new to drive economic growth.

The government set aside another HK$80 million budget for the city’s tourism promotional campaign, without carefully reviewing what we got from the fund last year.

Shanghai Disneyland Park, which will open in June, is set to draw tourists with its new attractions and bigger facilities. Hong Kong should figure out something different instead of expanding its Disneyland Resort.

WY Jimmy wrote this article, which appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 29.

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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