Chief executive contender Carrie Lam has given some of her policy views on education, economic development and housing.

Though other major contenders have published manifestos or even put out updated versions, Lam insisted at a short event on Monday that the three policy areas discussed did not constitute her full manifesto.

She said she will invite the public to give her ideas to complete the manifesto in the first half of March, after the end of the nomination period: “I chose to listen more, care more, be with society when writing my manifesto – I need two to three more weeks to take the final step.”

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

She issued a booklet about herself so that the public and electors could learn more about her: “The manifesto is important, but governance is not only a manifesto – it’s heart, integrity and the attitude of treating people and things.”

Education system review

On education, she said she hoped to nurture young people “who are responsible, possess an understanding of the country and passion for Hong Kong.”

“I promise if I am elected, I will fully review our education system… to create a stable, caring, inspiring and satisfying teaching and studying environment,” she said.

She said the city’s spending on education has been much lower than other developed countries. Her plan will be to add an extra HK$5 billion recurrent spending in education per year, and said that education spending would increase from 21.5 to 22.6 per cent in terms of total government spending.

“This is a very rich government, cash rich, it could afford to spend more for the people,” she said.

The plans included setting a pay scale for kindergarten teachers, improving the hiring structure for primary and secondary teachers, turning contractual teaching positions into regular ones, improving special education, school facilities, and subsidies for secondary graduates financing their own local tertiary education.

She did not directly answer if she will drop the hugely unpopular Eddie Ng as education secretary, but said that each administration will have its own team.

public housing estate Tuen Mun
A public housing estate building site in Tuen Mun. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

New tax, housing measures

Lam proposed new tax measures such as a two-tier system in which companies with an annual profit of less than HK$2 million would pay ten per cent tax on profits, whilst other companies would still pay 16.5 per cent.

She spoke of “super deductions” for investments in research, technology, environmental protection measures, arts, culture and design. For instance, for HK$1 million investment in research and development, there would be HK$2 million in tax reductions, Lam said.

On housing, she proposed an increase in the Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Pilot Scheme – a scheme for qualified public housing tenants to buy higher tier public housing. She also proposed a new housing supply for first-time home owners.

She said there must be voices from the opposition in society but policies must go forward.

“It cannot be that today we study land reclamation, and those who don’t like it oppose it; tomorrow we do urban renewal, and some friends do not like urban renewal; the day after we touch country parks, then they oppose touching country parks. In the end, we’ll still be stuck here,” she said.

She did not mention political reform at the event.

“It’s not a manifesto announcement today – this is an event to create the manifesto,” she said. “Even if you didn’t hear it today, it doesn’t mean it will not be in the manifesto.”

Asked about her view on the ill-fated national security law legislation – Article 23 of the Basic Law – she said she has met with many electors from different sectors and she did not feel it was the issue they were concerned about.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.