“Embrace the rainbow”: Highlights from the Policy Address 2019

From its messy prelude in LegCo to the pre-recorded delivery, this is the need-to-know on 2019’s policy address.

Photo: A screenshot taken from the pre-recorded policy address delivery’s online stream.

If you missed out on the madness at the Legislative Council chamber preceding the release of the pre-recorded policy address, Harbour Times has covered it all on this Twitter thread. In short, Carrie Lam’s delivery was twice disrupted by pro-democracy lawmakers, and she had to halt the first attempt then return for another try. That was also disrupted, and then subsequently decided that the policy address would be released online in a pre-recorded video.

The stand-out points from this year’s policy address are as follows:

Housing

  • “[T]he toughest livelihood issue facing Hong Kong society. It is also a source of public grievances. I have never taken this matter lightly.”
  • Regularised the Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme (GSH) and White Form Secondary Market Scheme (WSM) in hopes of making buying a home more accessible to middle-income families.
  • “Special Rates” placed on vacant units to discourage flat hoarding.
  • Upping the number of transitional housing projects to provide a total of 10 000 such units within the next three years – these will go to those living in “unpleasant conditions” and those living in public rental housing.
  • Government to set aside $5bn, up from the $2bn earlier announced for transitional housing, and continue on “youth hostel projects”.
  • Providing cash allowances for households on benefits.
  • Proposal for the Housing Authority to repurpose its factory estates for public housing use – primarily for public rental housing.
  • Housing Authority to accelerate the sales of Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats.
  • Urban Renewal Authority (URA) to offer subsidised housing in “new mission”, attain more resources to execute its urban renewal goals.
  • The threshold for 90% mortgage for first-time buyers will be doubled to $8m.
  • Future plans to redevelop Public Rental Housing (PRH) units once there is more certainty on the public housing supply.

Land Supply

  • Plans to target three types of private land for public housing including:
    • Development potential for 450 hectares of brownfield in the New Territories
    • private land zoned for high-density housing – no plans made yet
    • Three squatter villages for high-density housing
  • Plans to begin plans “for the Tung Chung Line Extension, Tuen Mun South Extension and Northern Link in the coming year, so that work on these three railway projects can commence as early as possible.”

Improving People’s Livelihood

  • 152 initiatives she’s announced in past policy addresses completed or on their way.
  • Early intervention for children with special needs, increased service places to achieve “zero waiting time”, improvements to after-school care program such as fee-waiving
  • $2,500 grants for kindergarten to secondary students, to benefit 900,000 individuals
  • The modification of 170 public play spaces for children.

Public Health

  • A shift from treatment-oriented to prevention-focused, in consideration of Hong Kong’s ageing population.
  • District Health Centres to be set up in all 18 districts.
  • Plans to launch a three-year pilot scheme to give treatment to those injured at work in a timely manner.

Economic Development

  • Trade war, protests to blame for slowed economic growth, worst performance since 2009
  • Plans to put more money into expanding markets in the Mainland and overseas.

Carrie Lam finalises her conclusion with a poetic metaphor: “So long as we have unwavering confidence, adhere to the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, stop violence in accordance with the law and restore social order as early as possible, Hong Kong will soon be able to emerge from the storm and embrace the rainbow.”

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Jasmine Lee

Jasmine Lee

Jasmine Lee is writer, commentator, and journalist. She graduated from McGill University where she took numerous opportunities to study and work around the world. Her specific areas of interest include media studies and human rights.
Jasmine Lee
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Jasmine Lee is writer, commentator, and journalist. She graduated from McGill University where she took numerous opportunities to study and work around the world. Her specific areas of interest include media studies and human rights.