‘Policy address to focus on land supply’

A political commentator on Monday said he expects Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s last policy address to focus on housing, after Beijing stressed that Hong Kong needs to tackle its housing shortage.

Professor Ho Lok-sang, Director of the Pan Sutong Shanghai Hong Kong Economic Policy Research Institute of Lingnan University said he believes Lam will go all-out on increasing the SAR’s land supply.

“There’s no doubt that housing will be the focus, as it was last time, but this time in particular, because Beijing officials have specifically mentioned housing. So I think the SAR government is going to have an all-out effort to increase housing supply,” he said.

Ho said these would include land reclamation and the development of new towns, adding that former chief executive CY Leung’s suggestion to build on the fringes of country parks would not be as difficult to push through as before, given the reduced opposition in the legislature.

However, commenting on whether the chief executive had fulfilled pledges from her last address, Ho said that her record on completing public housing flats was not good.

Ho said on average, the government had completed around 11,800 public rental units a year, which was a lower average than the previous five-year term of around 12,500 flats annually. But he said the record for completion of private flats was better.

Meanwhile, Ho said he also wanted to see more support for carers.

“There have been many tragedies for people caring for fragile elderly and so on, sometimes handicapped children – I think that’s something they have to address. The staff ratio, especially for the private elderly homes is extremely low in some cases.

“I think that is definitely a priority that the government should address.”

Regarding the disbandment of the Confederation of Trade Unions, Ho said it was not unexpected.

“It was going to happen. With the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union disbanded, you can expect that this is going to be disbanded as well. It’s not unexpected at all,” Ho said, adding he believes that similar non-governmental organisations will not survive as well.