Maria Tam praises CE for tack­ling Hong Kong’s most dif­fi­cult chal­lenges

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By KAHON CHAN in Hong Kong kahon@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Deputy Maria Tam Wai-chu on Mon­day praised Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Le­ung Chun-ying for tack­ling some of Hong Kong’s most dif­fi­cult and en­dur­ing chal­lenges — in­clud­ing the city’s hous­ing prob­lem.

Wang Guangya, di­rec­tor of the Hong Kong and Ma­cao Af­fairs Of­fice of the State Coun­cil, said last week that when the lead­ers of Hong Kong and Ma­cao re­port to Bei­jing in fu­ture, they should also ex­plain any dif­fi­cul­ties they have in im­ple­ment­ing the Ba­sic Law.

But Tam, speaking on a ra­dio pro­gram on Mon­day morn­ing, said it was wrong to read Wang’s re­marks as a crit­i­cism of Le­ung’s com­pe­tence.

In­stead, she be­lieved Wang was con­cerned about how the cen­tral govern­ment’s poli­cies were de­liv­ered in Hong Kong. “I be­lieve he was not tar­get­ing Le­ung Chun-ying. He was prob­a­bly ad­dress­ing the gen­eral lack of aware­ness of the Ba­sic Law in Hong Kong,” she ex­plained.

Le­ung’s ef­forts earned full recog­ni­tion from State lead­ers dur­ing his visit to Bei­jing last week.

Tam also praised Le­ung for search­ing for more land in or­der to boost the sup­ply of flats in Hong Kong.

She noted that the hous­ing short­age in the city had driven up prices to very high lev­els.

“A lot of peo­ple used to talk about col­lu­sion be­tween busi­nesses and govern­ment. He (Le­ung) might have of­fended some con­sor­tia as he stepped for­ward to find land to build homes,” she said. “It is hard to play to your full po­ten­tial if you are re­pressed and ren­dered im­mo­bile.”

Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, chair­man of Sun Hung Kai Prop­er­ties, dis­agreed that busi­nesses some­times in­ter­fered in govern­ment poli­cies. At an open

He (Le­ung Chun-ying) might have of­fended some con­sor­tia as he stepped for­ward to find land to build homes ... It is hard to play to your full po­ten­tial if you are re­pressed and ren­dered im­mo­bile.” MARIA TAM WAI-CHU NPC DEPUTY

event on Mon­day, he said or­ga­ni­za­tions, such as his com­pany, only spoke out as oth­ers did. He said it was govern­ment which ul­ti­mately made the de­ci­sions.

Maria Tam, who is a mem­ber of the HKSAR Ba­sic Law Com­mit­tee un­der the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee (NPCSC), also said there was no way for the city to by­pass the Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mit­tee in the 2017 Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Elec­tion.

Tam said nom­i­na­tion by pe­ti­tion would be a clear vi­o­la­tion of the Ba­sic Law. But she said there was room to con­sider var­i­ous forms of “rec­om­men­da­tions” to name con­tenders for the Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mit­tee to choose from.

Another Ba­sic Law Com­mit­tee mem­ber, Al­bert Chen Hungyee, told a tele­vi­sion pro­gram on Mon­day that he still con­sid­ered “rec­om­men­da­tion by pe­ti­tion” ac­cept­able within the Ba­sic Law frame­work. But this was only if the power of the Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mit­tee to choose can­di­dates was not crip­pled or sidestepped, the Univer­sity of Hong Kong law pro­fes­sor said.

Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Rim­sky Yuen Kwok-ke­ung said the pe­ti­tion model would still face prac­ti­cal and po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges — even if it passed the con­sti­tu­tional test.

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