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Chan’s blueprint for Leung

Mary Ma

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A political think tank close to chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying convened a seminar this week.

As expected, he was showered with praise by the speakers. His supporters – including Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong central committee member Lau Kwok- fan, Executive Council member Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, and businessman Bernard Charnwut Chan – took turns explaining why they backed Leung.

Most exciting of all was the barrage of comments made by Hang Lung Group chairman Ronnie Chan Chi-chung, co- founder of the think tank Hong Kong Development Forum.

First, Chan defended the proposal during the Tung Chee-hwa era to provide 85,000 flats a year.

Then, he smacked the big developers by warning them the good times of making exorbitant profits are over.

Next, that society would become more equal. And finally, he spoke of reconciliation – as this is the mission Beijing assigned to Leung.

Given their 30-year friendship, Chan’s words may provide clues as to what will likely happen during Leung’s regime.

First point: Chan insisted the intent of the 85,000 flats a year policy was absolutely correct and, if anyone was to be held responsible for today’s housing woes, it should be current Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

Chan lashed Tsang for not only being “wrong,” but also “foolish” in suspending land auctions after taking over from Tung in 2005.

While clearly trying to absolve Leung of blame, Chan could also be paving the way for the provision of a great amount of new housing supply.

Second point: party’s over for big developers. Chan said they will still be able to make money – only not exorbitant profits – after reaping fortunes for decades. He suspects the big developers don’t like Leung because it seemsnobody can bribe or intimidate the next chief executive. Taken together with Leung’s lightning move to reduce the maternity hospital quota for mainland women without permanent SAR resident husbands to “zero,” it likely implies that land supply and other housing policies will be very aggressive, with action happening sooner than expected.

Third point: an equal society. Leung’s core supporter is confident that people from different walks of life would become more equal under the new leadership.

I hope Chan’s prognostications will prove correct, but I’m concerned that government policies will become more populist than ever, as the new administration seeks to compete with the opposition to appease the masses.

Last point: reconciliation. In Chan’s view, it’s a mission as impossible as asking Taiwan’s pan-blue camp to cooperate with the pan-green front. The chances for a pan-reconciliation would be “zero” and “none” if political beliefs remain gulfs apart.

But wasn’t this comment intriguing? While it may be true, it certainly contravened the overriding purpose of reconciliation.

Perhaps, Chan was also trying to remind Leung not to forget his supporters, as he seeks to woo his foes

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