Email this article
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 25):

Dear fellow Hong Kong people,

     Just over a week ago, I delivered my third Policy Address. It covered a number of important issues that will shape Hong Kong's future, including the hot topics of constitutional development and housing.

     On constitutional development, I want to stress that my government is firmly committed to achieving universal suffrage of selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 in line with the Basic Law and relevant decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

     It is my great hope that the next Chief Executive in 2017 will be selected by the 5 million eligible voters in Hong Kong. I sincerely hope that all legislators will not block "one person, one vote" when the motion is presented to LegCo in a few months.

     As far as housing is concerned, this remains our top priority. We continue to explore all means to increase the supply of land for housing. But making this happen requires more than just the efforts of the Government. Indeed as far as the Government is concerned, sites have been identified to accelerate the provision of subsidised and private housing.

     We also need the support of the entire community. This will involve some hard choices such as changes to zoning plans or development densities that some people might find hard to accept. If we can't secure support - and secure it quickly - then the problem will only get worse. So I appeal to you all: since housing is the major concern of everyone in Hong Kong, then everyone in Hong Kong - residents, District Councillors, pressure groups and developers - has a role to rise to this challenge. I hope that we can count on your support for the projects coming online to solve our housing problem.

     As a small, globally facing and highly connected city we also need to think carefully about how to grow our economy. We need economic growth to provide jobs, which in turn generates revenue to pay for the services that we all need and expect - schools for our kids, a safe city to live in, world-class health care, leisure and cultural pursuits, and adequate welfare for the elderly and those in need, just to name a few.

     That is why the economy features so prominently in my Policy Address - because it is the foundation of our success - past, present, future.

     This year, we have highlighted some new and growing sectors. We will, of course, continue to support and sharpen the competitiveness of our pillar sectors such as financial services, trading, shipping, tourism and professional services. Our strategy is also to broaden our economic base by diversifying our industries, leveraging on Hong Kong's unrivalled status as "super-connector" between the Mainland and the rest of the world and capitalising on our unique advantages of "One Country" and "Two Systems".

     In financial services, for example, 2014 has seen the successful launch of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, a landmark development in the opening up of the Mainland financial market and the internationalisation of the Renminbi, showcasing Hong Kong's important role as "super-connector". However, we should not be complacent. We are actively considering the recommendations of the Financial Services Development Council to further leverage our advantages and promote diversification.

     We are working hard to deepen links with Guangdong, where we have long-established business and cultural links, and where the closer economic partnership, CEPA, framework is being used to further liberalise trade in services. The establishment of the Free Trade Zone in Nansha, Qianhai and Hengqin will provide new opportunities and enhanced access for Hong Kong businesses. We are pursuing the most favourable arrangement and business opportunities for Hong Kong people and enterprises.

     Innovation and technology is another growth area with great potential. We will streamline the various funding schemes and inject another $5 billion in the Innovation and Technology Fund to enhance funding support for private sector R&D projects. We have also presented for the approval of the LegCo's Finance Committee the establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau.

     Sustaining growth also depends on our ability to nurture home-grown talent, which we do by investing heavily in education. But with an ageing society and a very low birth rate, we must also look outside Hong Kong to attract and retain talent. This year we will introduce new initiatives to attract people who can contribute to society and help with our social and economic developments. Here, I have to stress that our first priority will always be to create enough jobs in as many sectors as possible for the local people. At the same time we need professional, creative and entrepreneurial talent that adds to our talent pool, so we must enhance our immigration schemes to keep Hong Kong competitive.

     One new initiative is to encourage the children of Hong Kong emigrants to live and work in Hong Kong. We will also streamline other schemes relating to the admission of talent and entrepreneurs, and draw up a talent list to attract in a more focused manner high-quality talent to support Hong Kong's development as a diversified and high value-added economy.

     Getting people here is just one thing. We have to make sure all residents continue to enjoy living in Asia's world city. That is why we will push ahead with new plans to further reduce air pollution, increase international school places, as well as make our beautiful harbour more accessible.

     We have already seen continuous improvements in air quality from 2010 to 2014. To further reduce air pollution, we will require all sea-going vessels at berth to use only low-sulphur diesel while in Hong Kong waters. We will further reduce roadside pollution by designating Causeway Bay, Mong Kok and Central as low-emission zones for franchised buses, as well as try out single-decked electric buses.

     Education for the next generation is a primary concern for our incoming talents. Our endeavours to increase international school places are bearing fruit. An ongoing School Allocation Exercise is expected to be completed by the first quarter of this year, with the objective of providing 1,250 more international school places by the 2016/17 school year, and 2,100 more by the 2018/19 school year.

     I am sure we all agree that our iconic harbour is a great asset, with great potential. Water quality has been improving steadily in recent years, which means we can do more to promote marine-based recreation and activities. We will provide venues for water activities along waterfront areas in Central, West Kowloon and Wan Chai so that our harbour can become more enjoyable, as well as an even bigger attraction for visitors.

     I hope this snapshot can give you some insight into the initiatives we will take to ensure Hong Kong remains vibrant, as a society and as an economy. Some of them require hard choices. But I am confident that the wisdom and pragmatism of Hong Kong people will prevail. We will make the right choices and seize the opportunities to pursue democracy, boost the economy and improve livelihood.

Ends/Sunday, January 25, 2015
Issued at HKT 08:43


Print this page