Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu took a leaf from President Xi Jinping’s playbook and hinged his first 100 days and first Policy Address on people orientation.
His two-hour-45-minute presentation to a packed Legislative Council and televised to millions in Hong Kong demonstrated his leadership qualities. It heralded a bright future for Hong Kong, lifting it from the doldrums of the three-year COVID-19 pandemic.
He handed out goodies for everyone by touching on hardcore social issues such as housing, healthcare, social welfare, transportation and land creation, to mention only a few.
When Lee, with Beijing’s blessing, was elected by the 1,500-strong Election Committee in May, the China-bashers claimed that Hong Kong would become a “police state”. He is, after all, a former policeman, and Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung is also a former policeman. And the appointments were made hot on the heels of civil unrest resulting in bloody riots and the infiltration of foreign influences.
The foreign infiltrators are still here, lurking in the shadows, so we are fortunate to have leaders who are skilled in detecting any untoward movements in our society and can thwart any attempt to destabilize our community.
Lee’s speech, delivered with confidence, has proved his leadership capabilities. Even the printed copy of his 80-page report has a green cover representing wealth, hope and regeneration, with the apt title “Charting a Brighter Tomorrow for Hong Kong”. His speech covered everything imaginable, and it would be hard to name anything seriously amiss.
Lee himself has had a makeover more befitting his role as the chief executive. Government promotional videos produced by the Information Services Department show him walking tall, alert, confident, and with a smile that highlights his dimples.
The COVID-19 pandemic welcomed Lee to his new post in June and became his top priority to solve. He immediately introduced new measures to ease the burden of quarantine and travel restrictions when the situation allowed.
And because of the three-year pandemic, healthcare became a dominant element of his speech. It will include rolling out a primary healthcare blueprint this year, involving establishing an authority to manage services provided by both the public and private sectors. It should significantly reduce the waiting time to see a doctor.
The pandemic also highlighted Hong Kong’s acute shortage of hospital beds, with temporary hospitals set up at AsiaWorld Expo and other locations throughout the city. This onslaught of patients is being eased temporarily by having many less-severely infected cases treated at home. But it is good to see the government is planning to add about 4,600 beds and about 80 operating theaters in the next five years.
While Hong Kong crawls out of the doldrums, big plans are afoot for the aviation and tourism industries to boost our economy, which has been badly hit by the pandemic. And millions will be spent on small and ailing businesses to help them recover. Hong Kong needs this shot in the arm, and there is no doubt that we shall return to near normal in the not-too-distant future. We have, after all, a good reputation for a good recovery.
And Hong Kong is to become the smart city of tomorrow. An action plan for the logistics sector will include boosting Hong Kong’s air, ship and land logistics industries and encouraging a more-comprehensive application of intelligent logistics solutions by each sector. It will also promote a strategy to boost Hong Kong’s competitiveness as an international shipping and logistics hub.
One thing we learned from the 2019-20 insurrection violence in Hong Kong was how our young people could be so easily manipulated by foreign forces that had infiltrated the universities, secondary and even primary schools. It was our fault for not paying enough attention to our youth and detecting the insidious infiltration earlier.
Lee was the secretary for security at the time, and he is making sure that this will not happen again. Then, as now the chief executive, he proposed setting up a Youth Development Blueprint in the next few months to be more attentive to young people. The blueprint will include organizing many face-to-face events to listen to their views and hopefully entice them to take a more-active role in running the government and other community activities.
The government seeks to nurture “a new generation of young people with an affection for our country and Hong Kong and equipped with global perspectives”, he said, pledging to provide them with an enabling environment to achieve their goal.
His ambitious Policy Address not only seeks to address all major issues of immediate public concern but includes large-scale visionary projects to facilitate the continued development of Hong Kong far into the future. All this dovetails with the “results-oriented” philosophy he wants his administration to practice. Lee seems determined to take Hong Kong to a brighter future and will most certainly receive the support of the public.
The author is a former chief information officer of the Hong Kong government, a PR consultant, and a veteran journalist.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.