Hong Kong’s pro-establishment lawmakers have voiced general support for the 2020 Policy Address, saying Chief Executive Carrie Lam headed in a “correct direction” with her policies on rebooting the city’s economy amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The largest pro-Beijing party, the DAB, said Lam gave a detailed and in-depth explanation of the concept of One Country, Two Systems in her two-hour speech on Wednesday. The party’s chairwoman Starry Lee said such a clarification was important, otherwise the city “could not go forward.”

Starry Lee. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

“The chief executive really values the rule of law, which can help the city make reforms at the root of problems – it’s worth recognition,” Lee said.

For Lam’s policies aimed to foster economic integration into Guangdong’s Greater Bay Area, Lee said they could help Hong Kong consolidate and expand its role as a financial, aviation and technological innovation hub in the long run: “Economically, we understand that the chief executive emphasised how Hong Kong can work better in the Greater Bay Area. We believe that direction is correct,” Lee said.

Covid-19

The DAB leader said the government’s plan related to the Bay Area integration will be subject to whether it can combat the coronavirus pandemic, as Hong Kong recorded 84 new cases on Wednesday amid a fourth wave of infections.

Carrie Lam. Photo: GovHK.

DAB lawmakers said the authorities should adopt more “decisive and proactive” measures to tackle the spread of the Covid-19, rather than keeping the mass testing voluntary.

“If we cannot control the epidemic… policies related to economic recovery and the Greater Bay Area will encounter many obstacles, and the unemployment rate will rise,” Lee said.

Lawmaker Elizabeth Quat added that it was “disappointing” that Lam did not address the shortage of doctors in Hong Kong, saying the authorities should consider amending the existing regulations to allow overseas doctors to practice in the city.

Aside from the economic recovery policies, most pro-Beijing lawmakers hailed Lam’s plan to review and reform the embattled Liberal Studies subject, which has come under fire by pro-Beijing figures for “inciting” students to join last year’s pro-democracy protests.

Priscilla Leung. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Priscilla Leung of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong party, who chairs the Panel on Education, said Lam’s announcement finally addressed the concerns raised on the subjected since its launch in 2009: “Of course we welcome the chief executive finally giving a direct response in the policy address, saying the government will proactively consider reforming the Liberal Studies subject,” Leung said.

The Hong Kong leader said the government will focus on “rectifying previous deviations” from the subjects’ objectives. Leung said she will continue to urge the government to give a concrete response on whether the subject should remain compulsory for senior secondary students.

Regina Ip and Eunice Yung of the New People’s Party, on the other hand, praised Lam’s policy address as “comprehensive,” saying the Hong Kong leader has laid out a blueprint for the city’s long-term development.

Eunice Yung (left) and Regina Ip (right). Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Ip and Yung said the chief executive responded to citizens’ demands and accepted lawmakers’ proposals in her policy address. When asked about the amendments to electoral arrangements, which were not specified in the policy address, Ip said proposals such as external voting and giving elderly the priority to vote should all be implemented.

“These should be done. We are waiting for the government to submit amendment bills to the Legislative Council,” Ip said.

After democrats quit the legislature in protest this month, there was no press conference held by opposition lawmakers on Wednesday.

Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.