John Tsang calls for “proactive enablement” in manifesto

The former financial secretary vows to implement controversial national security law while proposing major restructuring of government bureaux.


Chief Executive contender John Tsang Chun-wah (曾俊華) has pledged to resolve the issue of political reform and to legislate Article 23 of the Basic Law in his 73-page manifesto released today.

Calling his policy principle “proactive enablement”, Tsang contended that he would communicate with different groups and political parties and make concrete proposals on universal suffrage “when the time is ripe.” Meanwhile, he stated that local legislation of Article 23 is the “requisite condition for not applying the national security laws in Hong Kong” and proposed enacting the law in stages.

“I believe the main concern is not about whether to legislate or not, but about the details of the law and the legislative procedures,” Tsang wrote. “We will learn from the past mistakes and do our best to legislate for Article 23 with a view to safeguarding the security of our country and Hong Kong and making a law acceptable to the people of Hong Kong.”

On governance, Tsang proposed major reorganisation of the government bureaux to better coordinate the relevant functions. He also called for application of sections 3 and 8 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance to the Chief Executive to enhance integrity and accountability of the administration.

The former financial secretary made another rather unexpected call with his tax review proposals on the possibility of introducing a progressive profits tax for SMEs and a negative income tax to help rationalize the current welfare system.

 

Key features include:

 

1) Governance

  • Apply sections 3 and 8 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance to the Chief Executive
  • Publishing a proposed Article 23 legislation in the form of a “white bill” for public consultation

 

2) Start-ups, Innotech industry

  • Accord priority to the procurement of products or services from start-up enterprises
  • Set up a financial technology research institute and a Cloud Computing Support Service Centre for SMEs
  • provide machine-readable versions for all accessible government information

 

3) Tax

  • Examine the possibility of introducing a progressive profits tax to lessen the burden on SMEs
  • Investigate the feasibility of introducing a negative income tax

 

4) Land & Housing

  • Secretary for Planning, Lands & Housing under bureau reorganisation
  • Developers required to build extra Gross Floor Area (GFA)on behalf of the government for “Government, Institution or Community” (GIC) purposes
  • Increase the supply of Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats
  • Develop multi-storey blocks or residential estates of mixed small houses/ HOS flats

 

5) Labour

  • Establish a “seed fund” of which employers can contribute $100 to $200 every month for each employee and the amount of MPF “off-setting” payment will be drawn from this fund
  • Take the employment contract as the basis for standard working hours, then work out a set of general contract provisions

 

6) Youth

  • New platform (including e-platform) solely for young people to allow them to take part in political and policy discussions
  • Relax the asset and income restrictions for applying for tertiary student grant and means-tested loan and review repayment method

 

7) Transport

  • Encourage use of electric cars and buses through suitable tax incentives
  • Implement Electronic Road Pricing in Central

 

8) Education

  • Set up a new Director of Education post
  • Abolish all TSA/BCA tests to arrest the practice of intensive drilling
  • Set up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Teaching Resource Centres and launch STEM education in primary schools
  • Review whether the convention to have the Chief Executive as the Chancellor of universities should be retained

 

9) Elderly & Social Welfare

  • Means-tested retirement protection system with consolidated and simplified schemes
  • Issue bonds for the elderly using returns from infrastructure projects
  • Review the lump sum grant arrangement for subvented social welfare organisations
  • Restart the Rehabilitation Programme Plan to reduce waiting time for places at homes for the disabled
  • Consider relaxing the eligibility criteria for the Low-income Working Family Allowance

 

10) Sports & Culture

  • Formulate a 10-year sport development plan
  • Establish a Culture and Sport Bureau under bureau reorganisation

 

Alex Fok

Alex Fok

Alex Fok is a Harbour Times journalist monitoring Hong Kong’s daily political scene and diplomatic updates. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Economics, Politics and International Studies from University of Warwick and his master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a former committee member of the Warwick-based Hong Kong Public Affairs and Social Service Society (WHKPASS) and was the chief editor of the society’s magazine – PASSTIMES.
Alex Fok

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