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Resting on our laurels

In a Commercial Radio programme last Saturday, I touched upon some of Hong Kong's critical issues that have remained unresolved for years and stressed that we can no longer rest on our laurels because inaction gets us nowhere. Interestingly enough, what I said resonated with people in Taiwan.

Yesterday morning, a news report on Radio Taiwan International warning of the lack of progress in Taiwan's human capital and economic development quoted me as saying that it would be worrying if Hong Kong continued to rest on its laurels and that nurturing talents would be a key policy initiative in the future.

The news report also quoted the words of Yu Kuang-chung, who has special bonds with both Hong Kong and Taiwan. According to the poet, even though the recent political situation of both places is lacklustre and the governments and members of the public do not seem to be in harmony, the future remains bright if the right steps are taken. He said that Hong Kong used to be the Mainland's rear gateway and enjoyed a privileged geographical position in the colonial era, with Guangzhou and Shenzhen serving as hinterlands. But with time Guangzhou and Shenzhen have emerged as important cities, while Shanghai has become a major competitor. Hong Kong's significance nowadays is no longer comparable to how it was viewed during the Cold War period.

Hong Kong was once famous for its efficiency and it was our competitive edge. Internal friction in recent years has, however, wasted a lot of precious time and affected our efficiency. As a result, problems troubling Hong Kong for years, such as the housing issue that has drawn wide concern, have only become worse. But the truth is that the housing problem can be fixed.

What Hong Kong lacks is not land, but comprehensive and long-term planning. In my proposed reorganisation of the Government, I suggest putting housing, land and planning under the same bureau, namely the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau. In this way, we can have more focused efforts on housing and solve the housing problem as soon as possible by means of thorough planning, increased housing supply and expedited provision of public housing.

Seeking solutions to these problems is in the public interest. Inaction and procrastination will only make people suffer. Is it not the case that policymakers and lawmakers are supposed to address the pressing needs of the people?

My team and I are ready to take over the reins on July 1 and press ahead for the well-being of our people and the future of Hong Kong. No more wasting of time - that was the message that I heard loud and clear in my many visits to the local districts in the past few months.

May 7, 2012