Speech – Developing the economy and improving people’s livelihood (Andrew Leung)

It was pointed out by Mr Jeffrey LAM yesterday that the slogan of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA) was “drive forward Hong Kong’s economy through commercial and industrial development and help improve people’s livelihood through our professionalism”, whereas “developing the economy and improving people’s livelihood” is its belief. I am very grateful to Mr CHAN Hak-kan for using our belief as the subject of the motion debate proposed by him to demonstrate that our belief is also supported by other Members in this Chamber.

In the District Council Election which has just concluded, we saw the emergence of a new political force. When our BPA colleagues approached members of the public in the districts during the District Council Election, many people requested my colleagues to relay to the Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government that the work on the economy and livelihood must move with the times and keep abreast of the general trend. During our meeting with the Chief Executive a couple of days ago, we put forward 220 proposals on the policy address and the budget, which are all related to developing the economy and improving people’s livelihood.

The past success of Hong Kong as an externally oriented economy lied in its courage to engage in experiments, flexibility, versatility and adaptability. In recent years, however, our neighbouring countries and regions have overtaken Hong Kong in terms of speed and magnitude of economic growth. With the eastward shift of the global economic axis, our neighbouring rivals have seized the opportunities and striven to explore room for the development of new economy. However, Hong Kong is often constrained on such fronts as land, talent, policy, software and hardware. As a result, enterprises dare not launch trials.

Over the past couple of years, we have seen rapid economic growth in Korea. Earlier, the Hong Kong Economic Journal carried an article about an analysis of the economy of Korea, and some of the figures cited in it merit attention. Since early this year, the stock market index of South Korea has surged 6%, or some 2.6% in US dollar terms, which makes Korea one of the three Asian countries which have posted an increase. In addition, five of the stocks with the greatest increases in the index are all related to consumer goods enterprises involving innovative products. Furthermore, it was pointed out by Bloomberg that, according to the Global Innovation Index in January this year, Korea continued to occupy the top spot with a score of 96.3. Of the six considerations, Korea also ranked the highest in technological support, tertiary education and patent. Innovation and creativity can indeed make money. Although we have discussed similar initiatives for a very period of time, we are actually still lagging behind.

The trading volume of Internet shopping on Alibaba on Singles Day this year, which fell on 11 November, reached RMB 91.217 billion yuan. With this emerging mode of e-commerce engulfing the globe, many people go shopping and make payments through computers and telephones. Nevertheless, Hong Kong as an international economic and trading hub has apparently failed to gain any enormous benefit. I think the authorities should launch a series of policies and initiatives to promote e-economy, such as exempting parcels and postal packets valued below $4,000 from making declarations, with a view to developing Hong Kong into a regional B2C business hub.

The SAR Government often expresses support for industries and reiterates the need to promote re-industrialization. In the “Made in PRD Study IV” Report published by the Federation of Hong Kong Industries last week, it was pointed out that Hong Kong should complement the target of China Manufacturing 2025 while upgrading the targets of Hong Kong’s industrial policies, including increasing industrial resources, enhancing industrial competitiveness, promoting diversified development, improving the industrial development environment, and helping Hong Kong industries upgrade their manufacturing capability to Industry 4.0, and so on. We would also like to call on the Government to make an effort in industry talent, scientific research and innovation, improving manufacturing capability, developing new industries, strengthening traditional industries, supporting the development of small and medium enterprises and land planning by reshaping the industrial image, enhancing public understanding of industries, and lifting the status of industries in economic development. I also emphasize the need for co-operation with the Pearl River Delta on the Mainland as well as collaboration with the international community in knowledge and investment.

President, the concept of sharing economy, which has been gaining popularity around the world in recent years, has not seen any extensive application in Hong Kong. In 2013, I proposed in this Council to the Government to pay attention to the possibility of the development of crowd funding and crowd talenting in Hong Kong, with a view to encouraging the young generation to engage in research, development and production of technological products and explore a more extensive platform by this means. We also hope that task forces can be set up under the Policy Bureaux concerned to promote the relevant work.

Sharing economy as a new mode of operation makes us reconsider if the traditional mode of operation has to be changed, thereby enabling us to gain a better understanding of this new concept. I propose that Hong Kong model on Singapore in engaging all parties to explore the regulation and legalization of sharing economy services, study the introduction of amendments to the relevant legislation, introduce an appropriate regulatory mechanism, and boost the confidence of participants.

People’s livelihood is one of the two major concerns of the BPA. We do understand that it is necessary for the Government to step up efforts in improving people’s livelihood. Moreover, a lot of efforts have to be made on such fronts as housing, healthcare, welfare, education, and so on. I hope the Government can rid itself of disputes, forge a consensus, and join hands with the Legislative Council to resolve the livelihood issues.

With regard to housing needs, a concern to the people of Hong Kong, I wonder if a more open attitude can be adopted to release more land for housing construction. In order to address the problem of high construction costs, can Hong Kong introduce technologies and new designs, such as introducing natural ventilation or new materials in designs, with a view to lowering the construction and operation costs? Furthermore, the authorities should take special measures for special problems by importing labour to reverse the long construction period and high costs caused by the shortage of construction workers. Insofar as the young people who make a stable income but have yet to save up a large sum of money for down payments are concerned, small families have to acquire their homes. Can the authorities examine the possibility of expediting the construction of subsidized housing to enable their home ownership?

Education is also our concern. “Learning is more than scoring” was the slogan used by the Education Bureau many years ago. We can now see that drilling is aimed solely at assessment. Although we understand that it is necessary to collect data to assess students’ standard, we hope that the authorities can adopt the approach used to handle the medium of instruction in 2010 by fine-tuning the relevant policy to ease the pressure on students and parents, so that children can learn happily.

With these remarks, President, I support the motion on developing the economy and improving people’s livelihood.


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