Mr President, Honourable Members and fellow citizens,
I. Introduction: A New Beginning
1. Today, I am most honoured to present my first Policy Address in my capacity as Chief Executive, sharing my governance philosophy and elaborating on the vision and initiatives of the current-term Government for different policy areas. I hope that this Policy Address will set new starting points for Hong Kong in areas such as governance, economic development, housing, education, healthcare, and chart the gradual delivery of the pledge that I made in my inaugural speech about connecting with you to build an even better Hong Kong.
2. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the Motherland, a milestone for us to build on our achievements and begin a new chapter of development. In his keynote address delivered at the Meeting Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Hong Kong’s Return to the Motherland and the Inaugural Ceremony of the Fifth-term Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), President Xi Jinping said with deep sincerity that the destiny of Hong Kong has always been intricately bound with that of the Motherland. In the last two decades, thanks to the support of the Motherland and with an international vision, Hong Kong has kept its distinct features and strengths. This fully demonstrates that “One Country, Two Systems” is the best institutional arrangement to ensure Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability after our return to the Motherland. It is a workable solution and an achievable goal welcomed by the people. Thus, everybody with a passion for Hong Kong has the responsibility to ensure that, here in Hong Kong, “One Country, Two Systems” advances in the right direction, the obligation to say ‘no’ to any attempt to threaten our country’s sovereignty, security and development interests, as well as the duty to nurture our next generation into citizens with a sense of national identity, an affection for Hong Kong and a sense of social responsibility.
3. Hong Kong is facing challenges on many fronts. On economic development, we need to consolidate and enhance our traditional advantages while developing new areas of economic growth as a matter of urgency. I propose that the Government should be more proactive and play the role of a “facilitator” and a “promoter”. We should seize the opportunities brought by the national Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (Bay Area) development, make good use of the autonomy enjoyed by the HKSAR in developing our external affairs as provided under the Basic Law, and make timely investments in order to create new impetus for our economy. The economy chapter in this Policy Address elucidates our views on the prospects of various trades and industries. It reflects, in particular, the importance that we attach to innovation and technology and the creative industries, and sets out an array of measures to spur their further development.
4. On people’s livelihood, meeting the public’s housing needs is our top priority. The Government has no magic wands, but in the past few months the Directors of Bureaux concerned have demonstrated their readiness to think out of the box in a bid to address the community’s pressing needs. We strive to meet public expectations by pursuing new directions and new initiatives. On care for the elderly, we do not see ageing population as a threat to public finance. We have, instead, taken the opportunity to devise a variety of effective elderly care services. We will continue to devote resources to poverty alleviation as well as support for the disadvantaged in order to build a caring and inclusive society. On education, we will uphold the “professional-led” principle and deploy the necessary resources to nurture our next generation.
5. Strengthening governance is a key focus of the current-term Government. For some time in the past there was a tendency for suspicion to breed without cause and a propensity for matters to get personal. We must turn this round and make our best effort to improve the executive-legislature relationship. I pledge to continue to take concrete actions to resolve problems for our people, following the principles of being “Innovative, Interactive and Collaborative”.
6. I would like to extend my gratitude to Members of this Council and all sectors of the community for offering me a wealth of suggestions during my preparation of this Policy Address in the past three months. My thanks also go to my devoted political team and our dedicated civil servants at all levels. In full display of a progressive spirit, they recognise the need to change and share a readiness to seek changes. We must cherish this new beginning and stay engaged in charting our future. Let us join hands and work with one heart to take Hong Kong to a new level of success.