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LCQ15: Public views on government administration

     Following is a question by the Hon Alan Leong and a written reply by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (July 3):


     The results of the latest public opinion poll released on June 20, 2013 by the Public Opinion Programme at the University of Hong Kong have revealed that a number of trust and confidence indicators of the Hong Kong people have all dropped, with some even at their new lows in recent years and worse than those registered on the eve of hundreds of thousand of people taking to the street in the demonstration on July 1 a decade ago. For example: (i) compared to the results of the same poll conducted three months ago, people's percentage of trust in the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has fallen from 44% to 32% as indicated in the results of the poll this month, and their distrust has risen from 26% to 37%, resulting in a negative net trust value of 5 percentage points, and the percentage of trust in the HKSAR Government has reached a record low since April 2004, while that of distrust is at a record high since December 2003; further analysis has shown that the younger the people are, the more they distrust the HKSAR and Central Governments; (ii) people's percentage of trust in the Central Government has fallen from 37% three months ago to 25%, and that of distrust has risen from 32% to 45%, resulting in a negative net trust value of 20 percentage points, and people's level of trust in the Central Government is at record low since February 1999, while that of distrust is at a record high since February 1997; and (iii) people's percentage of negative appraisal of Hong Kong's future has reached a new high since June 2003, while that of China has reached a new high since July 1997. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has reviewed the reasons for people's level of trust in the HKSAR Government falling to a record low in the recent decade; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) whether it has assessed why the younger the respondents are, the lower their level of trust in the HKSAR and Central Governments is; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(c) whether it has policies and measures to increase people's trust in the HKSAR Government; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(d) whether it has assessed why people's level of trust in the Central Government has fallen to a record low in a decade; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(e) whether it has assessed the reasons for people's percentage of negative appraisal of Hong Kong's future reaching a new high, and whether intervention in local affairs of Hong Kong by the Central Government and the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR is one of the reasons; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(f) as people's confidence in the HKSAR and Central Governments as well as in Hong Kong's future continues to fall, whether the HKSAR Government will adjust its policies which involve the Mainland and Hong Kong so as to soothe people's sentiments; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Government's consolidated response to the six-part question is as follows:

     We note that opinion polls are conducted and their findings released from time to time on issues of public concern by various organisations in the community. Different survey methodologies and modes of posing questions may be adopted by the polling bodies, and their findings vary even on similar topics. However, it is difficult for us to make a meaningful comparison of the findings since we are not clear about the specific survey methodology they employed, and the quality of the surveys does vary. The Government does not comment on individual polls, but we will note the released findings and take them as reference.

     The Government implements policies in accordance with the overall and long-term interests and development needs of the community. In formulating policies and measures, we have to take into account views from different sectors and resolve conflicts between short-term and long-term interests. Inevitably, we have to make difficult choices in the process. The Government attaches great importance to public opinion, and will take it as an important reference in delivering policies. We will also steadfastly safeguard the overall and long-term interests of the community.

     Hong Kong faces many deep-seated social, political, economic and livelihood problems. To address public expectations, since taking office the entire team of the current-term Government has strived to deal with problems that the public are most concerned with in relation to economic development, housing, poverty, people's livelihood and environmental protection. Last week (on June 25, 2013), the Chief Executive (CE) issued the Report on the Work of the Current-term Government to review the Government's work and achievements over the past year.

     We have undertaken a variety of initiatives in the past year. These include launching the Old Age Living Allowance scheme; introducing ahead of schedule a standard concessionary fare of $2 for the elderly and eligible people with disabilities to travel on buses (the concessionary fare now covers the Mass Transit Railway, buses and ferries); enhancing the Work Incentive Transport Subsidy Scheme; and increasing the subsidy under the Elderly Health Care Voucher programme. We also plan to implement the Guangdong Scheme during this year, through which eligible elderly people who reside in Guangdong are entitled to receive the Old Age Allowance without the need to return to Hong Kong. The above examples demonstrate the importance which the Government attaches to public views, and its determination to meet public aspirations as promptly as possible.

     To strengthen our efforts in poverty alleviation, with the approval of the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council, the Government will inject an additional $15 billion into the Community Care Fund. The Government is also determined to make an unprecedented move to formulate a poverty line, which has been discussed in depth at meetings of the Commission on Poverty (the Commission). Details regarding the poverty line are expected to be announced this year. The Commission is also studying in depth how to improve retirement protection, and seriously formulating policy measures to assist low-income families not receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance and employment of people with disabilities, etc.

     Tackling the housing problem is a top priority of the current-term Government. Over the past year, the Government has introduced various short-, medium-, long-term initiatives, which have delivered results in addressing the housing issue from the demand and supply fronts progressively. On demand management, the enhancement to the Special Stamp Duty and the introduction of the Buyer's Stamp Duty have been effective in combating speculative activities and reversing the continuous upward trend of housing prices. To increase private housing supply, the Government has abolished the Application List Mechanism since 2013-14, thereby resuming the control over land sales in order to maximise the increase in housing land supply. As regards public housing, it is expected that 79 000 public rental housing flats and about 17 000 new Home Ownership Scheme flats will be built over the five years between 2012-13 and 2016-17, and over the four years starting from 2016-17 respectively. On long-term land supply, the planning and engineering studies for the North East New Territories New Development Areas and for the Housing Sites in Yuen Long South have commenced. In addition, the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee will launch a public consultation in the third quarter of this year, with a view to formulating a new long term housing strategy to address the medium and long term housing needs of Hong Kong. We understand the strong public demand for housing. In face of this difficult issue, the CE and the political team will take challenges in our stride, exhaust all possible approaches and step up efforts to tackle the housing and land supply problems.

     To facilitate long-term economic development, the Government established the Economic Development Commission (EDC) in January 2013. The EDC will propose an overall strategy and policy for broadening the economic base of Hong Kong and enhancing economic growth and development. Meanwhile, the Financial Services Development Council, established in the same month, will engage the industry and formulate proposals to promote the further development of Hong Kong's financial services industry and map out the strategic direction for development. Apart from the forward-looking endeavours on the economic front, the Government has actively been promoting and strengthening Hong Kong's role as an offshore Renminbi business hub and its status as an international financial centre. To support other economic activities of a smaller scale, we have extended the application period for the special concessionary measures under the Small and Medium Enterprises Financing Guarantee Scheme to February 2014.

     On environmental protection, we published a Clean Air Plan in March 2013 and introduced a number of ongoing air quality improvement measures. Furthermore, we have earmarked $10 billion in CE's first Policy Address for the phasing out of heavily polluting diesel commercial vehicles. We have also published "Hong Kong: Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022", which sets out the comprehensive strategy, targets and action plans for waste management in the long run.

     The details regarding policies and initiatives in other policy areas that we have put forward over the past year (including education, transport and culture) are in the Report on the Work of the Current-term Government.

     Meanwhile, the Government also endeavoured to address public needs and concerns by introducing effective measures to respond to such issues as the influx of pregnant Mainland mothers who rushed to accident and emergency wards for delivery; disruptions at train stations caused by parallel goods traders; the short supply of baby formula; admission to Primary One for cross-boundary students; the threat of H7N9 influenza, etc.

     Throughout the years, the Government has been fully implementing the principles of 'One Country, Two Systems', 'Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong' and a high degree of autonomy, and has been governing in strict accordance with the Basic Law. The leaders of the Central Government have stated on different occasions that the Central Government will support the SAR Government to govern according to law and maintain Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability. In fact, the Central Government's committed efforts to foster the development of Hong Kong are obvious. For example, the dedicated chapter on Hong Kong and Macau in the National 12th Five-Year Plan has elaborated on the significant functions and positioning of the HKSAR in the nation's development strategy to advance Hong Kong's new development opportunities. Subsequently, more than 30 concrete policy measures were announced for consolidating and enhancing our status as an international financial, trading and shipping centre.

     Over the past year, the Government team has worked tirelessly and has successfully implemented in a pragmatic manner a host of initiatives which are of benefit to the public. We believe that such initiatives receive public support and recognition. We will continue to listen to public views on our administration through various channels, and uphold the principle of "Seek Change, Maintain Stability, Serve the People with Pragmatism". Let us stand united to build a better Hong Kong.

Ends/Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Issued at HKT 14:40


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