Chief spells out expanded role of reformed policy unit

Top News | Phoenix Un 1 Nov 2018

The Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office has placed more emphasis on outreach and listening to the views of think tanks compared to its predecessor, the Central Policy Unit, its head Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee said.

Speaking at the Master Insight forum, Fung said Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor reformed the old unit because she wanted policies to be down-to-earth and did not want all bureaus working on their own.

"We do policy researches as the Central Policy Unit did, but we also do outreach by visiting different think tanks, which often say that nobody follows up on their research," Fung said.

She cited the example of the Land Sharing Pilot Scheme, the measure in this year's policy address with which the government would cooperate with developers in using farmland in the New Territories.

Fung said the innovation office took reference from the suggestion of former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing's think tank in improving the original public-private partnership.

"We also heard many opinions saying it's an underestimation that the land shortage is only 1,200 hectares, so we suggested that the Lantau Tomorrow Vision [artificial island] should be 1,700 hectares," Fung said.

She denied the island was the wish of senior officials and that the new plan is not much different from the 1,000-hectare island the Task Force on Land Supply suggested.

But Tsang asked "why not mention the 2,200-hectare artificial island suggested by the [think tank] Our Hong Kong Foundation?"

Tsang said he does not doubt the chief executive's will to listen, but added that "the way she wrote the policy address was outdated."

He criticized Lam for keeping all the points of the address confidential before announcing them, which made people doubt whether Lam listened to their opinions.

Fung said the government had asked all bureaus to inform the stakeholders that their opinions had been included in the address.

When asked by host Anthony Cheung whether Our Hong Kong Foundation had contributed to the address, Stephen Wong Yuen-shan, the foundation's deputy executive director, evaded the artificial island issue and instead talked about movies and innovative industries.

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