18th January, 2013
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Highlights of the 2013 Policy Address
The Chief Executive delivered his first Policy Address earlier this week.
The Chief Executive spent most of his time and effort on explaining his housing policies. This is the one area which is supposed to be his forte, and yet most of his measures to increase the supplies of subsidised housing and land for residential development are in fact borrowed straight from Mr Donald Tsang’s 2012 Policy Address. These measures are inadequate to address the present acute situation especially when compared to at least 8 other concrete measures which we have put to the CE. The measures we have identified include, amongst others: (i) the release of the 30 existing sites currently sitting in the Government’s land bank to be designated for public housing use; (ii) to resume fixed periodic land sales; (iii) to tackle the problem of dormant farm lands not currently used by developers; and (iv) to make use of the N.T. lands reserved for the small house policy which is a policy long overdue for reform. Much to the disappointment of those anxiously waiting to move away from tiny subdivided units, Mr Leung also went back on his campaign promise to expedite the completion of the construction of 35,000 public housing flats within the 1st year.
Perhaps the only bright spot in the 72-page address is his environmental policy. Mr Leung’s plan to set aside $10 billion to subsidise the phasing out of 80,000 old polluting vehicles, and his promise to strive to broadly achieve the new Air Quality Objectives by 2020 are both indications of a political will on the part of the current Administration to seriously try to improve our air quality.
This bright spot is nonetheless clouded by how the Chief Executive has completely failed to address the community’s concerns over the rule of law. The Chief Executive has ignored our calls for the increase of resources and support for the Judiciary, for the expansion of both criminal and civil legal aid, and for an independent Legal Aid Authority. There is also no concrete promise on further democratic developments for Hong Kong. The Chief Executive is silent on all these issues.
LegCo is going to discuss and debate the Policy Address at the end of the month, I am more than happy to listen to any views you may have for the way forward for our profession, and for Hong Kong.
Please click here to read the highlights of the 2013 Policy Address.
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