Alan Leong Kah-kit of the Civic Party slammed the government for failing to address the more pressing issues in society, following Monday’s kickoff ceremony for the “Appreciate Hong Kong” Campaign, which has as its stated aim to “unite” the city, after its divisions over political reform.

The campaign, which will run for five months from December this year until April next year, follows two previous city-wide initiatives promoted by the current administration, namely “Hong Kong: Our Home” and “Bless Hong Kong”.

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Carrie Lam at the Appreciate Hong Kong launch ceremony. Photo: GovHK.

The launch ceremony was held on Monday and attended by a number of department heads, including the Secretary for Security, Lai Tung-kwok, and the Secretary for Home Affairs, Lau Kong-wah, as well as over 250 representatives from different sectors.

Programmes under “Appreciate Hong Kong” will include free visits to Ocean Park for low-income families, one month of free admission to museums, “Home Market Shopping Fun Fun Fun”, the enhancement of an arts event in West Kowloon called the Freespace Happening, a marathon carnival, and more.

At the ceremony, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-Ngor said that the campaign was launched because, for the past twenty months, the city had been deeply divided by political reform, and many were worried that society would stagnate.

Lam said that there were two common responses when people were asked about the situation in Hong Kong. “[The first is] they’re quite worried and ask, what can we do for Hong Kong? The other is, Hong Kong is really not doing well… if you don’t do anything, we’re going to leave. People are saying that there might be a wave of emigration. Both responses… show that it’s time to do something for Hong Kong.”

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Appreciate Hong Kong’s beautiful country parks

Lam said that the “Appreciate Hong Kong” Campaign was so named to reflect how Hong Kong deserves appreciation for its security and efficiency, its beautiful country parks and Victoria Harbour, its infrastructure and prominent achievements in culture, art and sport, and its status as an international financial centre. The name also embodies the sense of gratitude Hongkongers have for the city, an understanding of Hong Kong’s difficulties and challenges, and the need to add value to Hong Kong.

Just last week, however, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said that land in country parks with “low ecological value” could be used for building residential flats for young people, echoing suggestions made in a report put forward by Tung Chee-hwa’s think-tank Our Hong Kong foundation.

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Alan Leong. Photo: Wikicommons.

‘I need rice but you give me candy’

Alan Leong, Civic Party leader and Legislative Councillor, said that he hoped the government would tackle issues that are distressing low-income families, and not just provide them with entertainment, RTHK reported. These issues include the TSA controversy and the universal retirement protection scheme.

Leong compared the activities to someone who says: “I need to eat rice, but you’re giving me a piece of candy instead”, and added that if the government does not solve the more pressing issues facing Hong Kong, it would go hungry from eating just the candy.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.