Hong Kong’s leader on Wednesday announced plans to restructure several government departments, including separating the housing and transport portfolios, to focus policy more sharply and “meet social expectations.”

Photo: May James/HKFP.

The initial proposals announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam in her policy address include setting up a new Cultural, Sports and Tourism Bureau and expanding the Innovation Technology Bureau into the Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau.

Lam also suggested splitting the Transport and Housing Bureau into an independent Transport Bureau to better focus on transport infrastructure and consolidating the city’s role as an international travel hub, while considering whether it was viable for the Housing Bureau to be reconciled with the Development Bureau.

The Home Affairs Bureau may also be restructured to become the Youth and District Affairs Bureau to streamline government support for community youth.

Lam said the proposals were intended to “stimulate further thought” and urged the next Legislative Council to consider the possible restructuring early next year. Elections under a revamped, newly-restrictive system will take place on December 19.

The chief executive said she and all her secretaries and bureau directors would hold consultations in the coming months to draw up more detailed plans.

‘Extremely thrilled’

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) leader Starry Lee said the pro-government party welcomed the reshuffle plan, which she said was similar to her party’s past proposals.

The plan to consolidate culture, sports and tourism affairs into a single policy bureau received wide support from pro-establishment lawmakers, who said it will finally allow the city to embrace the long-term and holistic development of its culture and sports strategies.

Roundtable lawmaker Michael Tien said he was “extremely thrilled” to see plans to split youth development work from the HAB to leave it in the hands of a dedicated bureau. The issues with the city’s youth go beyond affordable housing supply, he said. Connecting with Hong Kong’s younger population and offering them promising career prospects remains the “most deeply rooted conflict” in the territory. “It would be Hong Kong’s tragedy if the government cannot connect with its young people,” Tien said.

Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit, Hong Kong Free Press is #PressingOn with impartial, award-winning, frontline coverage.

Rhoda Kwan

Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.