by Zhan Yan, Gao Jie, Yan Hao
HONG KONG, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, incoming chief executive of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), has pledged to continue upholding the "one country, two systems" principle and work for the SAR's development.
Lam made the remarks in a recent joint interview with Xinhua and the China Central Television after she was appointed as the Hong Kong SAR's fifth-term chief executive by the State Council on March 31.
Lam won the chief executive election with 777 of 1,163 valid votes on March 26 and she will assume office on July 1, 2017.
In the interview, Lam stressed that the Hong Kong SAR chief executive shall be accountable not only to the special administrative region and people there, but also to the central government.
"Keeping Hong Kong's prosperity and stability is the shared goal of both the SAR government and the central government. The chief executive must play well the 'bridge' role between the special administrative region and the central government."
The chief executive should accurately inform the central government of how local people feel and what they want, and at the same time should also explain accurately the central government's policies related to the SAR to the local people, she said.
"ONE COUNTRY, TWO SYSTEMS" PRINCIPLE TO BE UPHELD
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland.
While hailing the successful implementation of the "one country, two systems" principle in Hong Kong over the past 20 years, Lam said that to become the new chief executive at this historic moment is a great honor, and it also means great responsibilities.
She vowed to continue administrating in accordance with the Basic Law to ensure the "one country, two systems" principle is steadfastly implemented in Hong Kong without bending or distortion.
She also pledged to further build up the understanding of the Basic Law, especially the understanding of the major premise of "one country," among the local people, particularly young students and civil servants. There is still plenty of room to do it, she said.
With regard to the future administration, Lam said the SAR government will become "more open and inclusive" as well as "more transparent."
She noted that in recent years, political differences in Hong Kong have hampered the growth of local economy and the improvement of the people's livelihood.
Lam sternly warned of the consequences of the "Hong Kong independence" activities, saying they are totally against the principle of "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law, and will undermine Hong Kong's prosperity and stability.
"The notion of 'Hong Kong independence' will lead nowhere in Hong Kong, and it will never be tolerated."
GOV'T TO PLAY MORE ACTIVE ROLE IN DEVELOPING ECONOMY
While speaking highly of Hong Kong's development since its return to the motherland 20 years ago, Lam noted the severe challenges facing the region given the sluggish world economic growth and the growing trend of protectionism.
"Hong Kong has continued to be an international financial hub and metropolis as well as the world's freest economy with sharp competitive edges, but its advantages in traditional sectors have been decreasing."
To meet the challenges, the incoming SAR government should seek changes while maintaining stability and play a more active and promising role in developing economy, Lam said.
"The SAR government will play a more active role in boosting economy, working well as a service provider and supervisor as well as a facilitator and promoter in the economic sector."
The incoming SAR government will introduce a series of fiscal and tax measures to improve Hong Kong's competitive edges so as to achieve growth in both traditional and emerging industries, Lam said.
Hong Kong is a relatively mature economy, thus it's difficult for it to achieve a relatively high growth rate in the future. But Hong Kong can tap into the potentials and opportunities brought by the mainland's reforms and opening-up, the Belt and Road Initiative and the "Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area" development initiative to grow its economy.
Lam said she was very excited that the "Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area" was included in the government work report.
The timing is quite good for Hong Kong, she noted, adding that substantial progress in infrastructure is expected to be made to facilitate development in the region.
GOV'T TO TAKE ON MORE RESPONSIBILITIES TO ADDRESS HOUSING PROBLEM
The housing problem has always been a concern for Hong Kong people as well as the SAR government.
Lam said land supply and demand is the crux of the problem; when supply is running short, the government should focus on demand management to avoid speculation on property.
In the long run, more should be done on land supply as Hong Kong, a free economy and international commercial hub, should not keep people outside, and it should welcome inflow of investment, she said.
In the future, the government will put more emphasis on land supply as this is of vital significance for housing supply, Lam said.
According to statistics, Hong Kong has about 1,100 square kilometers of land, only 26 percent of which has been developed so far.
Lam said housing is a quite important and pressing problem for Hong Kong people, so any policy in this regard should be studied carefully.
She noted she has proposed a series of measures, including setting up a task force to invite people from all walks of life to review the sources of land supply from a comprehensive and macro perspective.
Government officials should not be scared of proposing new ideas, so long as they are good for Hong Kong and good for the people here. What should be scared of is lacking innovation impetus to change the status quo, she said.
BETTER EDUCATION, MORE YOUTH ENGAGEMENT
On education, Lam envisioned the next generation in Hong Kong being educated into a generation having national identity, loving Hong Kong and possessing a world view.
Lam proposed in her campaign platform an annual increase of 5 billion HK dollars (643.4 million U.S. dollars) in the government's recurrent spending on education.
However, she pointed out that taking pains to improve the educational system, including schools, teachers, curriculum design and assessment system, is even more important than increasing expenditure.
Hong Kong needs to streamline its education system and reduce pressure in a comprehensive way, she said.
"The goal of education should be to foster young people's motivation for exploring new fields and develop their capabilities to pursue innovation."
Besides assisting the young people in their education, career and getting on the property ladder, Lam also called for offering them more opportunities to participate in policy discussion and formulation.
She urged heads of departments of the SAR government to get in direct touch with young people and listen to their views on government policies and social issues.
She also proposed to include more youth into the government's various advisory commissions.
Lam has pledged to establish a high-level youth development commission to supervise the formulation and implementation of policies for youth development.
At the end of the interview, Lam, the first female chief executive of the Hong Kong SAR, said she hopes her election victory will encourage more women to actively participate in Hong Kong's public affairs.