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CE's "Letter to Hong Kong" (English only)

     Following is the "Letter to Hong Kong" by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, broadcast on Radio Television Hong Kong this morning (January 26):

Dear fellow Hong Kong people,

     Last week I announced the 2014 Policy Address, the second Policy Address of the current term Government.

     It is always a challenge for the Government, for any Government with limited resources, to strike the right balance between supporting those in need and creating new opportunities for economic growth; between addressing the pressing issues of today and planning for the longer-term and future needs.

     All this must be achieved on the underlying principle of keeping Government expenditure within the limits of revenue.

     I strongly believe that Hong Kong's economic growth and development must be the Government's top priority so that we can create the jobs, wealth and opportunities and meet the needs and aspirations of the whole community.

     I have therefore set out in the Policy Address initiatives to develop 11 economic sectors, and to prepare for two fast emerging platforms: Pearl River Delta and Lantau Island, where we can develop a "bridgehead economy" upon the completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.

     Our trade partnership with the Mainland is, and will continue to be, the most important feature of Hong Kong's economic development.  On recent visits to the Mainland, I have met many Hong Kong people living, working and studying in the different cities. They are the pioneers and ambassadors for Hong Kong's two-way relationship with the Mainland which has deepened and matured over the past 16 years.  My Government plans to set up more offices across the boundary to support both indigenous Hong Kong businesses and Hong Kong-based foreign businesses in capturing new opportunities in the Mainland.

     As a city with few natural resources, our people are our most valuable asset. Our people work hard. We must ensure that we can work smart too. In other words, we must provide every opportunity to bring the best out of our people, especially the young people. Alongside university education, my Policy Address puts strong emphasis on promoting vocational training, internships and life planning to help young people choose the right career path and bring their best skills and abilities to the workplace.

     We also have a large South Asian ethnic minority community who are members of the Hong Kong family, as much as their Chinese counterparts. They are eager to contribute fully to Hong Kong's development and make a better life for themselves and their families.  In many cases, our ethnic minority residents are held back by language and cultural barriers. I have therefore proposed, among other things, introducing a Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Learning Framework with supporting learning and teaching materials as well as assessment tools for ethnic minority students in primary and secondary schools. I hope that with these initiatives in place, the ethnic minority groups could fully integrate into the society.

     Since announcing my Policy Address last week, I have listened to the views of different sectors of the community. I and my colleagues have met with the media and attended radio phone-in programmes, including on this station.

     No doubt, supporting the underprivileged is, and will continue to be, a major feature of the work of the current-term Government.  I am particularly encouraged by the generally positive response from the community to initiatives to support the needy.

     I have also heard from some of our middle class that they feel left out by this year's Policy Address. Hong Kong's middle class is a very diverse group with very different socio-economic aspirations. Since I took office, I have met with people from all walks of life, including the middle class, and listened to their views on their children's education and career prospects and their expectations for a healthy and quality living environment.

     As well as initiatives, I have just mentioned to develop our economy and create jobs and training opportunities, it is important to broaden the horizons of our next generation at home and abroad. I have proposed various ways to provide students with more opportunities for higher education including raising the intake of senior-year undergraduate places in University Grants Committee-funded institutions. I have also proposed a subsidy for students attending universities in the Mainland and scholarship schemes to support outstanding students to study in Hong Kong and abroad.

     Over the past year-and-a-half, my Government has set out a clear strategy for improving the environment. This includes the new Air Quality Objectives which took effect this month, and providing $11.4 billion to phase out old diesel commercial vehicles.  I also set aside $1 billion in this year's Policy Address to launch a Recycling Fund to promote the development of our recycling industry.

     To meet the home ownership aspirations of our community, I have raised the target for producing residential units in the next 10 years. These are some of the areas where the Government is responding to the expectations of the middle class. I deeply appreciate the contributions that the middle class make to Hong Kong's development and will continue to listen to their views.

     In the year ahead, the Government will also liaise with the community on the issue of constitutional development. A public consultation was launched last month on methods for selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 and forming the Legislative Council in 2016. The Government is committed to achieving the objective of selecting the Chief Executive by way of universal suffrage in 2017. The Government will collate the views from the on-going public consultation and commence the "Five-step Process" of constitutional development.

     In this year's Policy Address, I have set out the Government's broad agenda for the year ahead under the theme of "Support the Needy, Let Youth Flourish, Unleash Hong Kong's Potential". Each of these areas is interconnected and together they form a blueprint for a caring, vibrant and prosperous Hong Kong that all 7 million people in the family are proud to call our home.

     I look forward to hearing ideas from all sectors of the community in the year ahead and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous Year of the Horse.

Ends/Sunday, January 26, 2014
Issued at HKT 09:00


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