(Policy address) Pro-government camp lauds focus on housing

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Legislators from the pro-establishment camp welcomed Carrie Lam's Policy Address and its heavy focus on finding new land for housing, although many found areas for improvement.

DAB chairwoman Starry Lee said while Lam's efforts on housing are to be commended, she should not lose sight of the threat posed by a lack of Article 23 national security legislation, RTHK reports.

"From this Policy Address, I can see the determination from Carrie and her administration, especially on the land supply side, because it is a very critical issue for society," Lee said.

But she added: "I would like to urge the government to apply Hong Kong law strictly to stop anything that is hurting 'one country, two systems'. Also I would like to urge the government to do the preparation for Article 23."

New People's Party chief Regina Ip, an executive councillor and former security minister, said she noted little change in the government's stance on national security laws.

"I don't think the government's position on the enactment on local legislation to implement Article 23 has changed in any fundamental manner. But naturally, I think the Chief Executive signals that she has a duty to prepare the ground and so will take appropriate measures to strengthen national awareness," Ip said.

The Liberal Party was full of praise for Lam's major "Lantau Tomorrow Vision" proposal on reclamation, but was sharply critical of her lack of policies to help the business sector in light of the uncertain global economy.

Party lawmaker Felix Chung, who represents the textiles and garment sector, described the address as the worst ever when it comes to business-friendly policies.

Chung said particularly unfair is the plan to provide a HK$29 billion fund to subsidize firms when they are prevented from using their MPF contributions to make workers' long-service or severance payouts. He said the fund, spread over a 25-year period, is no better than previous offers rejected by the business sector.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Trade Unions was also disappointed about the MPF off-setting mechanism – that it is not being scrapped sooner.

"We have already waited too long for the abolition of the off-setting mechanism. So we hope that the government can speed up the whole process ... we want to see the off-setting mechanism abolished within this term of this chief executive," said FTU legislator Alice Mak.

Roundtable legislator Michael Tien told RTHK that he supports most of the initiatives Lam set out. He seemed especially impressed with a bid to keep bus fares down by waiving the tunnel tolls for franchised buses.

"I totally welcome the idea of tunnel fares for buses totally paid for by government. But right now one particular tunnel is missing out of this context which is the Tai Lam Tunnel. I think that should be included," he said.