Hong Kong’s pro-democracy politicians have criticised the 2020 Policy Address as being geared towards the development of mainland China whilst ignoring the needs of Hong Kong people.

The Democratic Party and Civic Party responded to the policy address on Wednesday, both slamming Chief Executive Carrie Lam over her plans to integrate Hong Kong into Guangdong’s Greater Bay Area.

Carrie Lam 2020 Policy Address. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Wu Chi-wai, chairman of the Democratic Party, said that the address was not delivered for Hong Kong people, but for the Chinese government: “She thanked the Central government for their trust in her… you can’t see anything mentioning her thanks for Hong Kong people,” Wu said. “This is more like a report of Hong Kong for the Chinese government, than Hong Kong’s policy address.”

“She bet on the future of Hong Kong on the greater bay area and on the mainland economy. That will ruin the international city of Hong Kong,” he added.

Helena Wong from the Democratic Party also criticised Lam for a lack of political reform plans in the policy address. She said – in reality – Lam’s administration is only responsible to the Central government, and one country, two systems had ended under her rule.

Democratic Party responding to the 2020 Policy Address. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Jeremy Tam, a now-resigned lawmaker of the Civic Party, called the policy address the “Greater Bay Area Report.”

“The utmost priority of this policy address is how the government can invest Hong Kong’s money into China,” Tam said.

Tam added that the policy address ultimately sought to persuade Hong Kong’s younger generation to go to the Greater Bay Area, whilst Hong Kong’s development was forgotten.

Education concerns

Democrats – who quit the legislature en masse this month in protest of lawmaker disqualifications – also criticised Lam for blaming last year’s social unrest on teachers and the education system.

Civic Party. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Ip Kin-yuen said the policy address evaded the government’s responsibility when it came to political problems, and Lam’s plan to reform the Liberal Studies subject would contradict the Education Bureau’s taskforce advice to keep keep the status quo. He said she put political concerns over professional advice.

Wong also said that she worried that Liberal Studies teachers’ self-censorship would only worsen: “The Education Bureau’s voluntary consultation scheme for Liberal Studies textbooks has already censored events that the Chinese government does not want to mentioned, such as the Tiananmen Massacre,” she added, in reference to the bloody 1989 crackdown in Beijing.

“In the future, schools will push hard for brainwashing national education to praise the greatness of China, and not allow the discussion of controversial events”

Ip Kin-yuen. Photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.

The policy address was also criticised for lacking new policies to tackle urgent problems.

Andrew Wan said Lam had not delivered any new housing policies: “She repeats the data from years ago. She said she found 330 hectares of land this year in the Long Term Housing Strategy. It has been the same locations over the last few years, such as Kwu Tung North and Anderson Road Quarry… these are not her accomplishments, but delayed projects,” Wan added.

Ip also slammed Lam as ignoring long-overdue needs in the education sector such as improving sub-par campuses and re-establishing the salary scale for kindergarten teaching staff.

Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.