Hong Kong leader John Lee on Wednesday said a new ‘Chief Executive’s Policy Unit’ would be set up to help his administration keep its finger on the pulse of public sentiment, while senior officials would hold unofficial monthly meetings with lawmakers to enhance communication between the executive and legislative arms of government.
Speaking in his first question-and-answer session as Chief Executive, Lee said he would personally lead the first meeting with lawmakers together with his top ministers and his deputies, before other senior officials take charge of subsequent meetings in Legco’s antechamber.
“Each time it will be led by a secretary of department or deputy secretary of department, together with five or six directors of bureau and other officials,” he said.
“Antechamber exchanges could allow each director of bureau to have regular exchanges with members face to face. This will help them to build a close collaboration with members. It will be an opportunity for them to better explain policies and also for them to better learn about public sentiments,” he said.
Responding to a question from legislator Chow Man-kong on whether he intends to revive the Central Policy Unit from previous administrations, Lee said a new ‘Chief Executive’s Policy Unit’ would be established to assist in policy-making – and would cover everything from local issues, to national and international developments.
He said the unit would help paint a nuanced picture of local sentiment.
“Of course I have to take care of public sentiments, the needs of different sectors of Hong Kong, for instance – the aspirations of the middle class as well as the grassroots. I have to be fully aware of all these demands,” he said.
“If I adopt a broad-brush approach, it will create unnecessary problems, so there should be a fine breakdown of different policies that will be thoroughly discussed by my policy unit.”
Lee also said this unit would have to have a full grasp of national and international developments, while his administration would adopt a more proactive approach in promoting Hong Kong’s achievements both locally and to the rest of the world.
“In the past, government officials of Hong Kong probably have just been working in a pragmatic manner. We may be gentlemen, but there are many villains around the world. How do we explain ourselves properly?” he questioned.
“We have to tell people about our advantage, our achievements and our success. There have to be a good theory basis for explaining these issues. That’s why we have to explain our work properly.
“We need to tell people about what we’ve done well. We can’t just be too humble. We need to keep repeating our achievements. That’s something we need to do better," he added.
During the hour-and-a-half Q&A session, Lee also touched on a wide range of other topics.
Among other things, he said the government will work as quickly as possible to introduce the city’s own national security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic law, continue to explore the possibility of resuming quarantine-free travel, promote national identity and patriotism, and draw up a blueprint for youth development.