Le­ung’s gov­ern­ment has done a com­mend­able job

Eddy Li writes CE Le­ung Chun-ying’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has made sig­nif­i­cant progress in im­prov­ing peo­ple’s liveli­hoods and tack­ling deep-seated so­cial prob­lems

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - EDDY LI

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Le­ung Chun-ying an­nounced on Dec 9 that he will not seek re-elec­tion in the 2017 Chief Ex­ec­u­tive elec­tion, cit­ing fam­ily rea­sons. While most Hong Kong peo­ple feel sorry over this, they un­der­stand and re­spect his de­ci­sion.

Over the past four and a half years, the SAR gov­ern­ment has faced un­prece­dented chal­lenges, with the city hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced a num­ber of ex­tra­or­di­nary po­lit­i­cal events, in­clud­ing the “Oc­cupy Cen­tral” cam­paign, the veto of the pro­posed elec­toral re­form pack­age, the Mong Kok riot and the emer­gence of “Hong Kong in­de­pen­dence” ad­vo­cacy. And the great­est chal­lenge has been the rou­tine use of fil­i­busters in the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil. Over the past four years, the per­for­mance of the LegCo was dis­ap­point­ing: 1,438 quo­rum calls were re­quested; 442 hours were wasted; 18 meet­ings were aborted, set­ting a record; at least HK$2.7 bil­lion of good pub­lic money was squan­dered; and in­cal­cu­la­ble dam­age has been caused to the econ­omy. In a po­lit­i­cally charged en­vi­ron­ment, al­most ev­ery­thing has been politi­cized.

Rad­i­cal politi­cians have hi­jacked the LegCo with fil­i­bus­ter­ing tac­tics, hin­der­ing the SAR gov­ern­ment’s law­ful ad­min­is­tra­tion. Iron­i­cally, these same politi­cians are fond of ac­cus­ing the gov­ern­ment of low ef­fi­ciency and poor per­for­mance af­ter they have suc­cess­fully de­layed or de­railed a host of poli­cies de­signed to en­hance peo­ple’s liveli­hoods and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. With all kinds of halftruths and out­right lies, those un­scrupu­lous politi­cians have been try­ing to con­vince peo­ple that the Le­ung ad­min­is­tra­tion has achieved noth­ing good for Hong Kong so­ci­ety. What is more dis­gust­ing is Le­ung’s fam­ily has re­ceived un­due me­dia at­ten­tion and crit­i­cism.

But is it true that the Le­ung ad­min­is­tra­tion has done noth­ing good for our city? Are the poli­cies in­tro­duced by the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion to­tally im­po­tent? Ob­jec­tively speak­ing, the SAR gov­ern­ment has made sig­nif­i­cant progress in im­prov­ing peo­ple’s liveli­hoods and tack­ling our deepseated so­cial prob­lems de­spite the chal­leng­ing po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere.

In par­tic­u­lar, the gov­ern­ment has done a pretty good job in poverty al­le­vi­a­tion and help­ing the dis­ad­van­taged. It has dou­bled the Old Age Liv­ing Al­lowance, in­creased the El­derly Health Care Voucher and made it per­ma­nent, and in­tro­duced the Low­in­come Work­ing Fam­ily Al­lowance and the liv­ing sub­sidy for non-pub­lic hous­ing and non-CSSA house­holds. These poli­cies have greatly ben­e­fited low-in­come fam­i­lies. And the most ap­pre­ci­ated pol­icy per­haps is the Gov­ern­ment Pub­lic Trans­port Fare Con­ces­sion Scheme for the El­derly and El­i­gi­ble Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties, which al­lows all el­i­gi­ble cit­i­zens to ride a pub­lic trans­port ve­hi­cle for only HK$2, re­gard­less of the dis­tance.

Over re­cent years, the gov­ern­ment’s ex­pen­di­ture on ed­u­ca­tion has been in­creas­ing — from HK$60 bil­lion in the 2012-13 fi­nan­cial year to HK$71.4 bil­lion in 2015-16. This in­di­cates that the gov­ern­ment at­taches great im­por­tance to ed­u­ca­tion. Free kin­der­garten ed­u­ca­tion has been re­al­ized; and vo­ca­tional train­ing has been em­pha­sized and strength­ened to help work­ers im­prove their skills, with HK$15 bil­lion in pub­lic money hav­ing been in­jected into the Em­ployee Re­train­ing Board.

As for the hous­ing prob­lem, there can be no deny­ing that the gov­ern­ment’s re­lent­less ef­forts have born fruit, help­ing many Hong Kong peo­ple to re­al­ize their dreams of own- The au­thor is the pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Hong Kong.

In par­tic­u­lar, the gov­ern­ment has done a pretty good job in poverty al­le­vi­a­tion and help­ing the dis­ad­van­taged.”

ing a flat. The gov­ern­ment has spared no ef­forts in find­ing suit­able sites for res­i­den­tial projects; pub­lic hous­ing projects are be­ing built at a fast rate; and re­stric­tive mea­sures such as spe­cial and dou­ble stamp du­ties have been in­tro­duced to sup­press surg­ing prop­erty prices.

In its cam­paign to fur­ther de­velop the lo­cal econ­omy, the Le­ung ad­min­is­tra­tion has cre­ated the Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion, the Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil and the In­no­va­tion and Tech­nol­ogy Bureau. The SAR gov­ern­ment is also proac­tively tak­ing part in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and has man­aged to sign the Agree­ment on Trade in Ser­vices un­der the CEPA frame­work. Against the back­drop of an ane­mic global econ­omy, the SAR gov­ern­ment still man­aged to col­lect a record­break­ing HK$140 bil­lion of prof­its tax in the 2015-16 fi­nan­cial year. This is a tes­ta­ment to the sta­bil­ity and aboveav­er­age per­for­mance of Hong Kong’s econ­omy.

It is safe to say that the Le­ung ad­min­is­tra­tion has done a com­mend­able job on al­most ev­ery front. The com­mu­nity should try to be im­par­tial when ap­prais­ing Le­ung’s per­for­mance. Peo­ple need to re­al­ize that the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion has come un­der crit­i­cism just be­cause it had to deal with the con­tro­versy that arose from the pro­posed elec­toral re­form for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of uni­ver­sal suf­frage ac­cord­ing to the timetable.

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