20 September, 1997
Democratic Party Proposals for the Chief Executive's Policy Address of 1997

Executive Summary

The Chief Executive's Policy Address to be delivered on October 8 will set out government policy and priorities for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). As the political party with the largest number of elected representatives before the dissolution of the legislature, the Democratic Party believes Chief Executive C.H. Tung must make firm commitments to the community in a number of areas, including the reinstatement of open government and a democratic elections in Hong Kong, the protection of human rights, freedom and dignity, the responsibilities of caring for the elderly and needy, the steady growth of the economy, the rights of Hong Kong's work force and the long-term prosperity of Hong Kong.

Today Democratic Party Chairman Martin Lee and other party members, including Vice-chairmen Yeung Sum and Anthony Cheung and former legislators Cheung Man-kwong, Lee Wing-tat, Fred Li, Michael Ho and Sin Chung-kai, met the Chief Executive to put forward their proposals and expectations for the Policy Speech. The meeting -- lasting an hour and 45 minutes -- covered a range of issues including the Party's opposition to the electoral arrangements for the May 1998 legislative elections, as well as important livelihood and housing concerns. The party's policy proposals are summarised below.

1. Democratic Political Structure

The first policy address of the Chief Executive must emphasize a clear, specific commitment to democratic reforms. On his recent visit to Washington, Mr. Tung pledged: "we are very committed to democracy" and that "it is very important for Hong Kong to move in this direction because it is in the long term interest of Hong Kong." The Democratic Party urged Mr. Tung to match his words with action in his Policy Address by setting out a timetable for swift democratisation and abolishing appointments in all levels of representative government. The party also asked for an immediate review of political reforms, and urged amendment of the Basic Law in order to have a full democratic elections in both the legislature and executive.

2. Housing

In light of the current property price and housing crisis and the damage this is doing to Hong Kong's competitiveness, the Democratic Party called for an increase the supply of land in order to lower land prices; to provide resources to speed up the redevelopment of older urban areas and to build more public housing, private home ownership scheme and private housing. Members also advocated improvements in the construction process to fulfil a quota of 85,000 housing units per year, that a Land and Housing Fund should be established, and the privatisation of public housing.

3. Importation of Labour

To alleviate the unemployment problem and to protect job opportunities for local work force, the Democratic Party disputes the need for importation of labour. New immigrants, mid-career workers and unemployed are an untapped resource and the Government should ensure there are re-training opportunities for these sectors in order to meet the demand in the fields of infrastructure and building, before looking outside of Hong Kong for workers.

4. Dignified Life for the Elderly

The elderly of Hong Kong built our society, but many find present day existence and expenses difficult to cope with. The Government should increase the current amount of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) to $2,900 for fiscal year 1998. Also, the means test should be raised so our elderly will not be penalised for savings. The Democratic Party also recommended increasing the provision of subverted residential services and decreasing lengthy nursing home waiting periods.

5. Education Resources

Education is an investment in Hong Kong's future. The SAR government must greatly increase its current investment in education and look ahead to future education challenges, particularly in basic education. Primary school should operate on a whole-day basis, primary teachers should better trained and there should be direct funding for kindergarten education.

6. Quality Medical Care

Recent high profile cases of medical and hospital negligence point up the inadequacy of current public medical personnel and medical care. The Democratic Party urges the Chief Executive to review the ratio between doctors and medical staff and to increase the number and training of medical staff.

7. Economic Competitiveness

Maintaining Hong Kong's economic competitiveness must be a top SAR priority. The Democratic Party advocates expanding and strengthening the service industry and other key industries. To do so, the government should increase funding to encourage research work, support middle-size and small-size enterprises, subsidize training institutions and enterprises so that the employees are given more technology and management training.

8. Information Policy

To reinforce and protect Hong Kong's role as an international information centre, the SAR must provide basic infrastructure, legal protection and education for the free flow of information. The most important step will be to form a high-level coordinating branch to ensure coordination between all government departments and related professionals, and anticipate future developments in the information technology field.

9. Reserves Returned to the People

Hong Kong has huge reserves and a perennially large budget surplus which belong to the people and which should be re-invested in society. The Democratic Party urged Mr. Tung to use the SAR's large Land Reserve fund to establish a number of funds for community spending, including a Land and Housing Funds, a Social Welfare Fund, an Education Fund and a Middle-to-Small Entrepreneur Fund.

10. Human Rights

Human rights and freedom are the cornerstone of Hong Kong's civil society. The Chief Executive should urge China to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights so that the SAR government can report to the UN Human Rights Committee as the Hong Kong government has done in the past. Independent Human Rights, Legal Aid and Police Complaints commissions should be separate from the Government and must be established to deal with citizens' complaints and to ensure comprehensive protection of basic freedoms.

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