Policy Address 1718

Politics

People not satisfied with new scheme for low-income families

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Susan Gao、Melissa KO、Kenji ChanEdited by: Susan Gao、Melissa KO
  • 2017-12-07

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has introduced several policies to ease the plight of low-income families in her maiden policy address today, while many of those families are dissatisfied and argue for more. The city's first female leader proposed to "significantly enhancing" Low-income Working Family Allowance (LIFA) starting from April 1, 2018. Under the new policy, with a few more requirements being satisfied, the monthly payment for a four-person household with two children will increase by 23% from the current $2,600 to $3,200, said the Chief Executive. Ivan Wong Yun-Tat, the Vice Secretary of Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre and the district councilor of Kwai Tsing, said that Carrie Lam has responded to the grassroots' aspiration but "the benchmark duration of working hours for the scheme is still higher than expected." The new scheme requires all family members in a four-person household to have no less than 192 total monthly working hours, whereas Wong said 72 working hours per month is the most ideal amount. An open forum discussing Carrie Lam's first policy address was held in Kwun Tong Methodist Social Service today. It was jointly organised by 20 social welfare concern groups with Wong as one of the organisers. The neighbourhood, several political parties and concern groups turned out en masse the event, urging the government to do more for the disadvantaged groups. Mrs. Lam, a full-time housewife having been received the allowance for several years said she was not satisfied with the scheme because her daughter has autism. She suggested that the government should do more, especially to support those low-income families of a child with special needs. Anthony Wong, the business director of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, said the families of "N have-nots" tended to benefit the least from the updated …

Politics

Highlights on Carrie Lam's responses in her press conference

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor further justified her plans for Hong Kong in a press conference Wednesday afternoon, following the announcement of her first policy address in the morning. Responding to the saying that her policy address highlights only livelihood issues but avoids political matters, Lam said Hong Kong has not had a proper atmosphere for such a discussion yet. Lam mentioned the acts of some legislators that morning in the Legislative Council, which she considered as disrespect, are a sign indicating that the city is not ready for much political discussion. She said political reforms, especially those regarding Article 23 and universal suffrage, could only be progressed when time is suitable. Concerning measures to ease housing problems, Lam said the best way for now is to increase the supply of flat units. She promised to make transparent discussions in the near future to confirm how the schemes can work feasibly in detail. While public doubts if the "Starter Homes" plan could solve pressing issues related to housing soon, Lam clarified that it is more important to provide every the opportunity in purchasing flats. Another focus of Lam's address is regarding to innovation and technology. Lam agreed that the industry in Hong Kong has been lagging behind that in the Mainland for years. Apart from the increase in research and development funding, Lam said she will put in extra effort to this field by supervising the whole process of development herself. Regarding Hong Kong audience booing the national anthem at a football match on Monday, Lam thought the irrational audience are only the minority of the whole. She reaffirmed that Hong Kong is part of China and such acts are considered deeply disrespectful to the home country.

Health & Environment

Parents and students criticise Carrie Lam's neglect of student suicides

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Angie Chan、Ezra Cheung、Japson Melanie Jane、Michelle NgEdited by: Winnie Ngai、Jianne Soriano
  • 2017-10-11

The Hong Kong Chief Executive paid little attention to current youth problems in her maiden 195-page policy address released in the Legislative Council this morning. Various stakeholders, including parent and student representatives and social workers, expressed their disappointment with the report, accusing the leader of neglecting the lives of Hong Kong students. Covering youth policies in just five pages, she put the spotlight on their participation in politics: creating opportunities for young people to join the Central Policy Unit to be re-organised soon and different commissions under the 13 policy bureaux. Lam also focused on the provision of internship and exchange opportunities outside the city. "We will strive to do our best in youth development work by addressing their concerns about education, career pursuit and home ownership," she said during the Legco meeting, "and encouraging their participation in politics as well as public policy discussion and debate." Yet, the city's leader has failed to mention a single word about the severity of the student suicide epidemic which has claimed 432 lives since 2013. The Committee on Prevention of Student Suicides was formed March last year to tackle this issue. But no further action was done after its final report was published, according to Althea Suen Hiu-nam, the former president of the Hong Kong University Students' Union and a member of this government-appointed student suicide prevention committee. She expressed her dismay on Lam's failure to include the issue in her first policy address. "It's absurd to ignore the issue," Suen said, "a disrespect to the lives of the youth." Annie Cheung Yim-sheun, spokesperson of the Hong Kong Parents United, felt Lam had neglected a major issue given the increasing number of student suicides in Hong Kong. Cheung attributed Lam's avoidance to the sensitiveness of the sudden death of Peter Poon Hong-yang, …

Society

Carrie Lam pledges better political inclusion of ethnic minorities

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Tracy Zhang、Jade Li、Raphael BletEdited by: Choy York Borg Paulus、Tracy Zhang、Ellen He
  • 2017-10-11

Requirements on Chinese proficiency will be relaxed to include more ethnic minorities in the government, announced Chief Executive Carrie Lam in her first policy address. "We need to increase the job opportunities for ethnic minorities to work in the government," said Lam. Civil Service Bureau has started a review on the entry requirements relating to Chinese proficiency to get more ethnic minorities working in the government. Currently, ethnic minorities willing to join the civil service are required to undergo a written Chinese proficiency test. The government launched Project Gemstone in 2013 to teach ethnic minority young people Chinese, making it easier for them to join the police. Apart from the support on language, representatives of ethnic minority have also been included in a preparatory committee chaired by Lam for children's issues. Shalini Mahtani, the founder of Zubin Foundation said it's a good start because at least Carrie Lam is looking into this issue. "We'll continue to ask Carrie Lam to get more ethnic minority members into government advisory committees to express their voices," she said. However, Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo said the policy address showed "complete ignorance" on long-lasting ethnic minority problems. "I feel pessimistic. We should keep on fighting and can see miracles on politics including ethnic minority's political participation in Hong Kong," said Mo. Abeer, spokesperson of HK Ethnic Minority Women, said the lack of political participation for ethnic minorities cannot be solved in a short time through those limited measurements. "Hong Kong is lagging behind in almost all aspects of life services for ethnic minorities," she said. "No doctors, no police officers, so even no need to mention politicians." Kathleen Magramo, a Filipino student from the University of Hong Kong said the framework is on the right track but concrete actors need to be mobilised to see …

Government plans to further revitalise historical buildings

  • 2017-10-11

Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced her plans on heritage conservation by focusing on the Revitalisation Historic Building Through Partnership Scheme in the Policy Address released today. The 19-project scheme was established in 2007. Five batches of projects under the Revitalisation Scheme had already been taken place. According to Antiquities Advisory Board, as at 7 September 2017, there are 1,444 historical buildings in Hong Kong, among which 955 buildings were graded as Grade I to III historic buildings . Lui Seng Chun, a long-vacated Grade I Historic Building in Mong Kok used to be a shophouse. After undergoing basic repair and revitalisation, it now operates as a Chinese medicine and healthcare centre. "The project is a successful one as its new function matches with residents' need," Lee Ho-yin, head of Division of Architectural Conservation Programmes at University of Hong Kong said, "Mong Kok area has an aged community, resulting in a large demand for such healthcare centre." "The value of a building can always increase over time by effective utilisation," Lee said. "If we don't redevelop those buildings, we won't have losses. If we remove them, we may just earn a little more but the long-term loss on other aspect will be greater." Siu Ping-lam, a 67-year-old man who has lived around Lui Seng Chun for 60 years, said the revitalization is necessary. "The building becomes very educational as its original architecture has been kept and people are allowed to visit." "The cost for revitalisation should not be larger," said Lee, "the most important thing is to fit the building its surroundings." "The connection between the community and the building will be closer. It will be easy to get money if the building serves the right function as it now does," Lee said, "otherwise, the preservation will not be successful and continuable." …

Labour Unions: Government Fails to Reach out to Elderly Home Workers

  • 2017-10-11
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Wing Li、Dorothy Ma、Kobie Li、Alexandra LinEdited by: Richelia Yeung、Tiffany Lui、Celia Lai、Isabella Lo、Daisy Lee、James Ho
  • 2017-10-11

The government will consider importing labour to elderly care units and provide additional resources to increase wages for care workers, said Carrie Lam as she introduce her first Policy Address this afternoon. Hong Kong's aging problem is escalating as reflected by the projected growth of elderly population from 16.6% in 2016 to 31.1% in 2036, according to the Census and Statistics Department. Due to the acute shortage of workforce lies in the local elderly-care sector, the city has been employing non-local care workers to cater the needs in self-financing elderly care homes. Now that the government calls for labour importation to its subsidised care homes, some labour unions criticised the government of lacking long-term consideration, attributing the issue to low salary and long working hour of care workers. Poon Wai-yin, chairman of Hospitals, Clinics and Nursing Workers Union, said that increase in wage alone is not enough to tackle the issue. "The government cannot force the employers to increase the wage of care workers. There is no legal binding except for the minimum wage," Poon emphasised The Union demands an eight-to-nine-hour long standard working time. Care workers now could work up to 11 hours per day with a basic salary of $9,800 and a ceiling of $13,000, according to Poon. Tsang Kei-nam, Organizing Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, is concerned about the qualification of foreign care workers, which is hard for the labour department to verify if their overseas training can provide sufficient techniques  for caring work in Hong Kong. Yet, Chan Chun-wing, a senior nurse from Yan Chai Hospital Lee Wai Siu Kee Elderly Home stated that "it will not be a problem to have foreign or mainland care assistants as long as they have qualifications," Labor Union argues that the shortage of manpower in …

CE to rebuild housing ladder with "Starter Homes" scheme

  • 2017-10-11
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Erin Chan、Caroline Kwok、Michael Shum、Candice WongEdited by: Lam Ka Sing、Nicole Kwok
  • 2017-10-11

CE to rebuild housing ladder with "Starter Homes" scheme Reported by Caroline Kwok, Erin Chan, Candice Wong,  Michael Shum Edited by Alfred Lam, Nicole Kwok,  Sean Hsu, James Ho Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor revealed details of the "Starter Homes" scheme in her maiden policy address today. The scheme is to provide more affordable private housing for young, middle class first-time home buyers who are struggling with the city's endless price growth in private housing. The scheme's applicants must have an income level not exceeding $34,000 a month for singletons and $68,000 for households with two or more members, about 30 per cent higher than the income limits for Home Ownership Scheme applicants, she said. Land supply for the units will come from sites owned by private developers or bought by the Government. Lam said the government will dictate the scheme at the end and developers will only help building the homes. Poon Wing-cheung, senior lecturer of Building Science and Technology at City University of Hong Kong, agreed that the government should work with private developers to speed up the scheme. "Developers are well-equipped with land resources and are experienced in maximising land use," Poon said. Thomas Lam, senior director of property consultancy, Knight Frank, also thought that "Public-Private Partnership" can provide certain incentives for both parties. "For example, developers will supply farmland for "Starter Homes" in exchange for discounted land premium arrangements," Lam said. However, he also pointed out some limitations of the scheme. "The targeted income-group of the "Starter Homes" scheme  only makes up around  one-tenths of the labour force. Large number of "Starter Homes" units may also affect the private market of small-sized units," he said. Sammy Po, chief executive of Midland Realty's residential division, said the application requirements and resale restrictions of "Starter Homes" should be tight …

Politics

Highlights on Carrie Lam's First Policy Address

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Sharon PunEdited by: Cecilia Wong、Isabella Lo、Daisy Lee、James Ho
  • 2017-10-11

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor kicked off her first Policy Address of 2017-2018 by emphasising "one country two systems" this morning in the Legislative Council.   She quoted President Xi Jin-ping's remarks during his visit to the city in July, that the framework of "one country two systems" is the best path for Hong Kong.   Pinpointing on her maiden policy, she introduced the two-tier taxation system in which the profit tax rate is lowered from 16.5% to 8.25% for the first $2 million. Rate beyond $2 million remains unchanged. The government will set limits to big corporations, so that only one of the subsidiaries can be benefited.   For housing, Lam put emphasis on the "Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Pilot Scheme" which is expected to offer more than 4000 public housing flats by the end of 2018.   Lam detailed the "Starter Homes" plan in cooperation with private developers to help young families with the income capped by about 30% higher than the home ownership ownership limits get onto the housing ladder.     To alleviate the existing pressure on housing, Lam suggested several measures to increase transitional housing supply, such as utilising idle governmental premises to provide rental housings, and converting industrial building into transitional housing with land premium wavering.   Lam suggests providing a maximum of $300 monthly travelling allowance to each Octopus user who spends over $400 on commuting by MTR, franchised buses, green minibuses and ferries. The policy using the dividends from MTR Corporation is expected to benefit 2 million citizens territory-wide.   In order to encourage the youth's voices in policy discussion, she said the government will increase the ratio of teenagers within her government to 15%.  In addition, the government will recruit more than 20 young people to take part in …