- Title: Hong Kong's incumbent leader, Leung Chun-ying delivers his final policy address
- Date: 18th January 2017
- Summary: PROTESTERS HOLDING POSTER WITH LEUNG'S FACE
- Embargoed: 1st February 2017 06:25
- Keywords: Hong Kong CY Leung policy speech address
- Location: HONG KONG, CHINA
- City: HONG KONG, CHINA
- Country: China
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0075ZLXAH1
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Hong Kong's leader on Wednesday (January 18) delivered his last annual policy statement before stepping down, addressing longstanding problems including high property prices and stalled political reform though providing no substantial new measures to tackle them.
The beleaguered Leung took office in 2012 pledging to make housing more affordable, and to bring greater democracy to the city of 7.2 million.
But political reforms stalled and triggered the city's most tumultuous street protests for decades in late 2014 that challenged Beijing's refusal to grant the city fully democratic elections.
"Hong Kong is an inalienable part of our country. There is absolutely no room for independence or any form of separation. Under "one country, two systems", every one of us has the obligation to fully comply with the Basic Law and safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity," he said.
His administration fired tear gas on protesters during the 2014 "Umbrella Revolution" protests that paralysed major roads in Hong Kong for 79 days, while his push to ban lawmakers advocating self-determination or independence triggered a highly contentious "interpretation by China" in the city's judiciary.
He also stressed the importance of economic development despite the territory's widening wealth gap.
"We believe that only through economic development can we improve people's livelihood and promote social harmony and inclusion," he said.
He acknowledged that surging property prices in particular -- putting Hong Kong in the same global league as New York and London -- had posed a grave threat to society.
The average price per square foot of city flats now hovers at some HK$10,700 ($1,380), spawning a boom in ever smaller "mini" flats no bigger than a carpark.
Leung reiterated a need to raise land supply including through reclamation and expanding new towns -- with only seven percent of the city's land currently zoned for housing. 460,000 housing units are expected to be built in the next decade, less, however, than Leung had promised several years ago.
Before he spoke on Wednesday, a small group of protesters threw fake money at Leung, calling him a "liar" for not keeping to many of his policy promises.
"What he did in the past five years is nothing to Hong Kong people," said Raphael Wong, Vice Chairman of the pro-democracy group People Power.
A new Chief Executive will be elected in March through an election college comprising of 1,200 people which has been criticized for heavily favouring business and pro-establishment interests.
"I think in a small circle CE (Chief Executive) election, I cannot see that the CE would whole-heartedly to improve our livelihood. Because the vote is controlled by those businessmen and also the Communist Party. Not us. Not all the Hong Kong people. So we want universal suffrage and we want the universal government to improve our life. That is the core matter," he said.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" arrangement granting the city a high degree of autonomy.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Video restrictions: parts of this video may require additional clearances. Please see ‘Business Notes’ for more information.