January 13, 2022
HONG KONG – A new bureau to handle culture, sports and tourism was proposed by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Wednesday, along with the reorganization of bureaus to give dedicated attention to youth policy, housing and healthcare.
Revealing the plan before a question-and-answer session at the inaugural meeting of the first patriots-only legislature, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the display of the national and regional emblems in the chamber marked a milestone in Hong Kong’s political system. The national emblem－1 meter in diameter and weighing 22.7 kilograms－now hangs on the wall against the center podium.
Lam said her administration will work with the legislature and establish a constructive and interactive executive-legislative relationship in a rational and pragmatic manner to address long-standing problems in society in order to win public acclaim and recognition of the improved electoral system, and to build a bright future together.
The government proposed setting up a culture, sports and tourism bureau to facilitate the city’s efforts to become a hub for arts and cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world as specified in the nation’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).
The Transport and Housing Bureau will be separated into two bureaus－one to focus on housing policies and the other to take charge of transportation and logistics－to enhance Hong Kong’s status as an international shipping and air hub under the national plan.
Four other bureaus will be renamed and reconstructed. The Food and Health Bureau will prioritize healthcare, and the Home Affairs Bureau will add youth development to its portfolio. The renamed Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau will allocate more resources to reindustrialization, and the renamed Environment and Ecology Bureau will take over affairs including environmental hygiene, Lam said.
The chief secretary for administration, the city’s No 2 official, will supervise nine bureaus, and the financial secretary will head the other six.
The creation of a new post－that of department deputy secretary－was suggested to steer large development projects such as the Northern Metropolis, and affairs related to safeguarding national security, climate change and labor policy.
Lam said the reform proposal was submitted to the Legislative Council on Wednesday and will be handed to the chief executive-elect, to be elected on March 27, for consideration and possible implementation.
Noting that legislative work will be quite heavy this year, Lam said 40 legislative proposals are expected, including local legislation to implement the Basic Law’s Article 23.
Also high on Lam’s agenda for the new legislature is the Northern Metropolis proposal, which aims to link up northern Hong Kong with Shenzhen.
Veteran lawmakers Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Starry Lee Wai-king told reporters the meeting marked a good start for the executive-legislative relationship and demonstrated the good atmosphere of a patriots-led legislature, which gave a platform for the chief executive to elaborate on her agenda and allowed the public to understand the policies.
The planned reshuffle was well-received by sectors of society. The Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong said it supported the reform of the government structure, as it showed the government’s resolve to boost reindustrialization and would help the city grasp national development opportunities by diversifying its economy.
Walter Chan Kar-lok, chairman of the Hong Kong Housing Society, said the establishment of a dedicated bureau to handle housing issues will speed up housing development.