Date
21 October 2017
Donald Tsang reflects on his housing policies in an interview carried by am730 on its front page (inset). The background picture shows Tsang (second from right) with Hong Kong's current leader CY Leung (extreme left). Photos: CNSA, am730.com.hk
Donald Tsang reflects on his housing policies in an interview carried by am730 on its front page (inset). The background picture shows Tsang (second from right) with Hong Kong's current leader CY Leung (extreme left). Photos: CNSA, am730.com.hk

Donald Tsang admits to housing policy lapses during his time

Hong Kong’s former leader Donald Tsang admitted that he could have done a better job with regard to housing polices during his time in office.

In an interview given to am730 newspaper recently, Tsang said he now feels that his administration should have been more active in sourcing new land plots for residential construction.

In the rare media interaction since he stepped down from office in 2012, Tsang acknowledged criticism that his polices, which saw home supply slashed aggressively for a while, contributed to a surge in property prices and made housing unaffordable for many people. 

However, he said that critics must bear in mind the circumstances prevailing at the time when he took the policy decisions in the past.

Tsang pointed out that property prices, especially those of mid-sized flats, had tumbled by 60 to 70 percent after the financial turmoil in 1999.

Some units saw their prices slide to HK$2 million from HK$5 million, he noted.

“The situation could have become much worse if we kept rolling out plots for auction,” Tsang said.

If the government had boosted land supply at that time, it wouldn’t have been welcomed by the public, the former chief executive said.

He insisted that the government had adopted the right measures to boost the property market by immediately halting regular land auctions and the construction of Home Ownership Scheme flats.

But in hindsight, one has to admit that some mistakes were made, Tsang said, adding that sourcing of new plots was definitely one area that should have been carried out with greater effort.

However, he noted that such initiatives would always be met with opposition and resistance from environmentalists, district representatives and individual parties with different interests.

In other comments, Tsang told am730 that he feels lucky as people always greet him and his wife warmly when they go out.

“I’m touched by and grateful for their support,” Tsang said, adding that a senior-level job comes with high reward as well as risks.

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