John Lee defends faster public flats, talent schemes - RTHK
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John Lee defends faster public flats, talent schemes

2022-10-20 HKT 11:39
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  • John Lee defends faster public flats, talent schemes
Chief Executive John Lee on Thursday dismissed suggestions that his plan to rapidly build short-term public housing was merely a tactic to reduce the waiting time for rental flats on paper without really getting to grips with the housing shortage.

In his Policy Address delivered the day before, Lee said 30,000 light public rental homes would be built using prefabricated units and modular techniques in the next five years. They'll be available to people waiting for a permanent public rental flat, but the homes will not have all the community facilities that come with traditional public housing estates.

Speaking on a phone-in programme jointly held by RTHK, Commercial Radio and Metro Radio on Thursday morning, Lee said people should put themselves in the shoes of those waiting for a flat.

"I have talked to mothers and children who were living in crowded, hot and stuffy subdivided flats. It's dirty and there's water seepage. They want to leave as soon as possible,” he said.

“Here we're not just talking about hard, cold figures. I don't want to just focus on figures. I want to help those who are suffering… For those outsiders looking at figures, it doesn't matter. But for people who live there, if they could move out three days sooner, they'd be happy. "

Other callers raised questions about Lee’s pledge to be more aggressive in his efforts to attract talents to the city.

One of them, Mr Ho, suggested that people are leaving the SAR for many reasons, including “harsh policies” and infection-control measures at the border with the mainland.

“Hong Kong’s always had a lot of talents. It was until the unrest that made people leave. Why are talents leaving? We all know full well. It’s not about studying elsewhere or whatever. It’s because harsh policies are stronger than tigers," Ho said.

"We love freedom in a metropolis like Hong Kong. And we love China, but I dare say it doesn’t love us. Japan, the US and the UK all let us in freely. Why are there so many rules [for entering the mainland]? Chief Executive, you know full well, you just wouldn’t accept it.”

A Mrs Choi asked whether the government was providing any incentives for her son, who’s working in the US, married and has children there, to come back, while Mrs Kong said talents were leaving because a number of industries, such as Chinese medicine and logistics, had been stifled by high property prices.

In response, Lee said Beijing cares about Hong Kong, noting it had sent a lot of assistance to support the SAR's fight against the Covid-19 epidemic.

He also said mainland authorities had incorporated Hong Kong into the nation's overall development blueprint and assigned the SAR tasks to develop eight main sectors, including finance, aviation and trading.

As for attracting talent, he said Hong Kong must promote its inherent advantages, and with new measures to be put in place, the SAR will be able to enlist more talents from the mainland and overseas.

“We have designed a Talents Service Unit that will render assistance to each individual what he or she needs, including healthcare, education or housing, and so on. We are offering a whole raft of measures for the top talents, and depending on the circumstances, they will be entitled to it,” said Lee.

John Lee defends faster public flats, talent schemes