Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 08:52
Gov’t will put people first, Leung pledges
By Kahon Chan in Hong Kong

Chief Executive (CE) Leung Chun-ying pledged on Monday his administration is committed to striving for even greater progress in various realms in the coming years by seeking change while maintaining stability.

“In the coming years, the government will continue to seek change while maintaining stability. We will put the people first and serve them in a pragmatic and proactive manner. We aim to make even greater progress in addressing political, social, economic and livelihood issues,” Leung told hundreds of guests at a reception marking the 16th anniversary of the handover.

 “Opportunities and challenges exist side by side in the future development of Hong Kong,” he said at the reception, which also marked the first full year of his government.

The CE urged Hong Kong people to compare the present situation with the challenges the city faced before 1997 and the successful implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” in the past 16 years, in order to gain confidence when addressing current problems.

Leung’s remarks were echoed by Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, who stressed the fact that the high turnout of 60,000 people who took part in Monday’s demonstration on Hong Kong Island testifies that Hong Kong people are entitled to full freedom and rights under “One Country, Two Systems.”

 “July 1 is a jubilant day that deserves to be forever celebrated by Hong Kong compatriots. Hong Kong is in need of harmony, rationality and positive energy,” Zhang said on the sidelines of a celebration event.

In his speech at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre following a morning flag-raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square, Leung again promised to launch further consultations on universal suffrage for the next CE election in 2017 at an “appropriate juncture” and with the greatest sincerity and commitment.

“We hope that people holding divergent views can set aside their differences and seek a consensus as far as possible in an accommodating, pragmatic and peaceful manner,” he said.

On the burning issue of property prices, Leung argued that the government has managed to curb home prices and thus changed the perception that prices will only go up. The government will boost land supply to lower the rental levels, which are currently too high to be conducive to economic development.

He also recalled the government’s swift response to a number of cross-border issues, such as the baby formula shortage, as well as “several major unforeseen incidents” that originated locally.

On the economic cooperation with the mainland, Leung said further progress has been made under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), which also marked the 10th year of its implementation.

With the setting up of a working group last year, Leung said the city has reached agreements with six central government ministries and the Guangdong provincial government in mid-June to relax access conditions for filmmakers, accountants, architects, general practice surveyors, real-estate appraisers, property managers and doctors to help open up the Guangdong market.