Motion Debatte on the 2022 Policy Address (2022.11.16)

MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): Thank you, Deputy President. This Policy Address is the first one of the new-term Government under the leadership of Chief Executive John LEE. Challenged by profound changes unseen in a century, Hong Kong has become disoriented over the past few years. Loopholes in the governance systems gradually emerged, the economy stagnated, and many long-standing problems continued to plague us. Not only does the Policy Address have to outline the policy direction for the coming five years, but more importantly, it also has to remove barriers and capitalize on its advantages, address deep-rooted problems and inject new impetus for development, so that Hong Kong will rise from the ashes like a phoenix.

This Policy Address proposed many important political and economic initiatives, as well as targeted solutions to many long-standing problems, including introducing the light public housing, capping the waiting time for public rental housing, establishing a community-based healthcare system, compressing land production time, and making comprehensive efforts in youth development. These are pragmatic measures that address existing social problems and difficulties faced by the public. If implemented in a serious manner, I believe they will definitely be able to fully solve the deep-rooted problems of Hong Kong. I find the Policy Address visionary and innovative, which shows that the Chief Executive is willing to listen to different views and dares to take actions with determination and commitment. I will render my full support.

Deputy President, I will now focus my speech on the governance of Hong Kong. The country has always shown a great deal of care for Hong Kong. In the report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the “one country, two systems” principle has been included in the Party Constitution and Hong Kong has been incorporated into the overall strategy of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and Chinese modernization. This reflects that the country attaches great importance to Hong Kong and provides it with unlimited support. To show our appreciation to the country, Hong Kong has to deliver results, and everyone should perform their duties faithfully, so as to live up to the country’s expectations.

One of the core ideas in the Policy Address is enhancing governance, with reforming the civil service management system as a highlight. In fact, there are many long-standing shortcomings in the civil service system that have been affecting the operation of the Government. The Government finally braced itself up and proposed a major reform. The Chief Executive proposed to update the Civil Service Code, strengthen the reward and punishment system, enhance training for civil servants and enhance the mobilization protocol. The new measures require civil servants to put the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong” into practice. Meanwhile, a new reward and punishment system will be established under which the appointment of officers whose performance remains substandard will be terminated. It can be said that the loopholes in the system are completely plugged.

In addition to the system, the mentality of civil servants is also very important. If they do not support the operation of the Government, the reform can hardly be successful. Hence, the Government should make efforts to change the mentality of civil servants by, first, cultivating their love for the country and Hong Kong. The so-called political neutrality in the past is outdated and can be misleading. Many countries around the world require their public officers to remain loyal to the country and the government. Hong Kong should also put emphasis on patriotic education for civil servants and the best way to do so is by sending them to the Mainland for exchange and study, so that they can experience the public sentiment and national policies in person. In my opinion, the Government should organize regular large-scale visits of civil servants to the Mainland for exchange and study. Preferably, all civil servants should have the opportunity to join these visits, while middle and senior-level civil servants should be able to attend training courses at major universities. New appointees to the civil service should receive training in the Mainland, if possible, so as to build a correct sense of nationhood and eliminate all misunderstandings.

The civil service structure is huge, so any reform may cause significant repercussions. But I hope civil servants will understand that these measures seek to target the shortcomings in the system instead of individuals. The current system inherited from the British Hong Kong era has long been outdated. It does not live up to public expectations, hence reform is just a matter of time. I hope the civil service will cooperate to inject new vitality into the fossilized system. The Government also has to handle it with care and maintain good communication with civil servants.

Moreover, a series of governance reforms have been proposed in the Policy Address, including establishing steering committees and task forces for a number of major policies, setting 110 key performance indicators (“KPIs”), setting up the Chief Executive’s Policy Unit and introducing the “red team” concept to play the role of opponents. These all reflect the new-term Government’s policy direction of solid governance. In fact, the setting of KPIs by the Chief Executive is like a military order, so to speak, which demonstrates the Government’s determination to the public. Various departments have to operate according to KPIs. If all of these KPIs are achieved, government policies will be implemented one by one and people’s livelihood will be greatly improved, and thus, Hong Kong will become better day by day. Departments that fail to meet KPIs will be held accountable, reflecting the Chief Executive’s determination and vigour.

The Government proposed a number of reforms with a view to strengthening governance capacity. I find the measures practical and feasible. However, we cannot underestimate the difficulty of reform because many problems are deep-rooted. Young people have been misled by misinformation for a long time and we cannot rule out the existence of hidden external forces in Hong Kong awaiting the opportunity to stir up havoc. No matter how beneficial to Hong Kong the Government’s efforts may be, there will always be people who throw a wet blanket over it or greet it with boos. The Government’s popularity will probably remain low in the short term. The effectiveness of various measures cannot be seen overnight. It always takes a long time to see the results.

Hence, I am here to cheer on the Chief Executive, Secretaries of Departments and Directors of Bureaux. Various policies can address people’s pressing needs, but it takes time to push them forward. They should not be discouraged by the boos. Instead, they should continue to work diligently and when achievement is made, the public will truly be convinced.

Lastly, as I pointed out in the debate on “embracing the spirit of the 20th National Congress to further develop Hong Kong” last week, external forces are still determined to hinder the development of our country. Suppression from the international community will not stop and Hong Kong is definitely one of their targets. External forces are ready to stir up havoc again at any time. “Black-clad violence” may return. We must be prepared for the worst. For the security of the country and Hong Kong, it is necessary to prepare for enacting legislation on Article 23 of the Basic Law.

Thank you, Deputy President.

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