Due to filibustering in the past by the opposition camp in Legco, the Finance Committee had a huge backlog of funding applications and thus stalled the work of the government. Among the applications were many related to livelihood issues, for example funding applications for land development, railways, hospitals, highways and schools. Over the past year, I was again re-elected as the chairman of the Finance Committee and continued to manage the business of the committee. Since the “Hong Kong National Security Law” came into force, the operation of Legco has returned to normal. With no more filibustering in the Finance Committee, work can resume as normal just like previously with rational scrutiny of funding applications. Up till August this year, the majority of the backlog of applications has already been approved and as such the committee has no further need to hold frequent meetings to clear the backlog. From now on, the committee can scrutinise applications in a reasonable and timely manner to support the policy work of the government.
During the past two years, due to the effect of violent street demonstrations and filibustering, the Legislative Council was left in half-paralysed state and could not proceed with its work. Legislators couldn’t even table motions and could not hold debates on various social issues. In fact, in recent years, many livelihood problems have not been resolved. It was because the opposition camp kept holding the government back as well as crippling the Legco, making it unable to debate social problems, and as such could not fulfill its supervisory role on the government. With Legco returning to normal, it has already scrutinised many bills including the widely debated “Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Ordinance”, as well as several dozens of members’ motions which were concerned with important matters such as the property market, social welfare, the pandemic, employment and politics. The housing problem was debated over many times especially, and the Legco provided many comments to the government. I also took part actively in the debates and scrutiny of the bills. I look forward to Legco resuming its normal constitutional function of passing legislation and policy debate.
Due to the pandemic, for over a year now, Hong Kong residents have generally become more aware of hygiene with more and more residents doing physical exercise. As a result, the health of residents has seen improvement with statistics showing that flu cases have dropped dramatically. The previous scenes of people filling hospitals to capacity during the flu season are now a thing of the past. As such I moved a motion in Legco pressing the government to promote a health policy as well as encourage more residents to do physical exercise. This motion was eventually passed by Legco.
In recent years the economy in Hong Kong has entered a mature stage, and young people lack the opportunity for upward mobility. With the reappearance of wave of emigration from Hong Kong, this has resulted in many vacancies at middle level positions. This is a good opportunity to promote young people. In fact, when Hong Kong experienced a wave of emigration in the 1980s, companies at the time boldly promoted young people to fill the vacancies. This allowed such talent to climb the ladder and thus Hong Kong was able to create another economic miracle. I have already proposed to the Chief Executive that the government and public organisations take the lead to promote young people with ability which would then create a momentum in society. The government should adopt measures to encourage private companies to follow suit.
Hong Kong has been beset with the housing problem for many years. According to research by the Our Hong Kong Foundation , the year 2000 was a watershed moment for Hong Kong with respect to land development. The six New Towns developed prior to year 2000 only took about 7.5 years on average before the first batch of people could move in. However after year 2000, the six New Development Areas required on average as much as 17 years. The Foundation believes that due to there being no one single government department in overall charge, each different department looked after its own affairs and this caused the time for development to increase dramatically. In fact, the entire process from land development to completion of building is far too complicated. In view of this, I have repeatedly pointed out in Legco that the government should consider setting up a single department to coordinate all work on land administration and housing construction as well as greatly simplify the duplicated approval processes of different departments. This would greatly slash the time required for land development.
The pandemic has already lasted for nearly two years. Although Hong Kong is relatively unscathed, internationally the pandemic still poses a serious public health problem. At present, Hong Kong is striving for zero tolerance by way of lockdowns and early interception of cases while waiting for the resumption of cross-border travel with the mainland. However the situation is still far from being settled. I have already proposed to the government that it should carry out a comprehensive review of its financial status, study how to get through a likely economic winter as well as come up with a medium-to-long-term strategy for fighting the epidemic. Other countries have already been trying out the strategy of “living with the virus”. Whether such a strategy will work or not is still unknown however Hong Kong must closely monitor such developments and conduct related studies.
Every week for the past five years I have uploaded videos on my Facebook page (陳健波—波哥) to share my thoughts and understanding in the hope that this will bring positive energy to society. Presently there is a total of over 140,000 subscribers on my Facebook and Youtube channel altogether with total views exceeding 16 million. I am deeply honoured with such results and I will continue to make quality videos. Thank you for all your support.