Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor promised to be more hands-on in the government’s drive for technology development and innovation.
In her first policy address on Wednesday, Lam said she will personally lead a high-level, inter-departmental steering committee on innovation and technology and facilitate collaboration among government agencies, Apple Daily reports.
The committee will undertake measures under the eight areas of innovation and technology development as well as Smart City projects.
Also, Lam said she will review existing legislation and regulations, removing outdated provisions that impede the development of innovation and technology.
She will ask the the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Unit, formerly known as the Central Policy Unit, to work with all bureaus to remove red tape to foster the development of the new economy, including the sharing economy.
Lam’s pronouncements raised concerns that Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung will see his power weakened
But Lam dismissed the concerns, saying the the job covers a wide scope and multiple industries.
Lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu called the situation tantamount to giving Yang a slap in in the face.
Yeung, leader of Civic Party, also criticized the government for moving too late. He said Hong Kong is just trying to catch up, adding these initiatives should have been taken in 2014 when InvestHK introduced car-hailing company Uber to Hong Kong.
Yeung questioned if Lam has the courage to stand up to vested interests such as taxi drivers’ unions that have been opposing the premium taxi trial scheme.
Legislator Charles Mok Nai-kwong, who represents the information technology sector, declined to comment but cited Singapore’s example of the leader taking the reins of technology and innovation.
Meanwhile, Uber, whose business in Hong Kong has been curtailed by the government, said it welcomes Lam’s plan to change outdated regulations, adding it looks forward to closer cooperation with the authorities.
Airbnb, another prominent sharing-economy company that enables people to rent short-term lodging online, also expressed its satisfaction with the move.
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