Date
22 October 2018
Chief Executive Carrie Lam sought to address Hong Kong's most pressing issues by unveiling 250 initiatives in her policy address on Wednesday. Photo: HKEJ
Chief Executive Carrie Lam sought to address Hong Kong's most pressing issues by unveiling 250 initiatives in her policy address on Wednesday. Photo: HKEJ

Why Carrie Lam’s policy address failed to please Hongkongers

Chief Executive Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor unveiled up to 250 measures in her second policy address on Wednesday, covering a wide range of issues from housing and technology to maternity leave.

Lam sought to address Hong Kong’s pressing challenges, and to balance short-term needs with long-term goals. But her policy address failed to impress.

Only 33 percent of Hong Kong people were satisfied with the latest policy speech, down 14 percentage points from the previous year, according to latest poll.

Why is that so? Take the highlight of her policy address – the Lantau Tomorrow Vision – as an example. I believe the policy initiative may have alienated many Hongkongers.

The mega project aims to develop about 1,700 hectares of land through reclamation in the seas surrounding Lantau. The artificial island is expected to accommodate 1.1 million people over the next two or three decades.

The project aims to ease the shortage of land for housing in the long term, which is commendable, but the fact remains that over half of the families in Hong Kong own properties and do not really want to see a drop in home prices.

The plan comes at a time when the housing market is already showing signs of weakening, which is why some property owners have probably become worried.

One might think that youngsters would embrace the aggressive reclamation plan, which should provide them with some hope that the housing issue would ease when they are married and have families of their own one day.

But the fact remains that the young generation also cares a lot about the environment.

And considering the project’s potentially huge impact on the environment, Lam’s ambitious plan may have aroused a lot of concern instead.

Lam envisions the artificial island as a gateway to other cities in the Greater Bay Area, but this, too, does not appeal to most young Hongkongers, who are wont to resist further integration with the mainland.

No wonder the Lantau Tomorrow Vision has been blasted by the young generation on social media.

Meanwhile, changes to the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme and the extension of the maternity leave are not exactly good news to the city’s business sector.

Finally, Lam has deliberately stayed away from sensitive topics such as Article 23 of the Basic Law, but the pro-Beijing camp apparently wants her to take a tougher stance on such issues.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct 12

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RT/CG

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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