Hong Kong's business sector lays out wish list for new chief executive

Hong Kong's chief executive-elect Carrie Lam (right) and Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying speaking during a press conference in Hong Kong on March 27, 2017.
Hong Kong's chief executive-elect Carrie Lam (right) and Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying speaking during a press conference in Hong Kong on March 27, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

Demands and expectations for Chief Executive- elect Carrie Lam started pouring in a day after the election.

Lawmaker Jeffrey Lam Kin Fung, who voted for Mrs Lam, yesterday listed several requests at a press conference which he held together with other members of the Business and Professionals Alliance (BPA) of Hong Kong, the second-largest political group in the Legislative Council.

Among Mr Lam's wish list is for Mrs Lam to review the current administration's plan to change some conditions for workers' retirement funds, which is called the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF).

Incumbent Leung Chun Ying announced in his final policy address in January that the government would progressively abolish a practice that allows employers to use their contributions to their workers' retirement funds to offset severance or long-service payments.

The move is welcomed by employees but is strongly opposed by business sectors, which argue that it will impose a heavy financial burden on them.

 
 

Mr Lam also urged Mrs Lam to give the tourism sector a boost by organising more world-class events; introduce a two-tier profits tax system which the business sector has proposed over the years; help lighten the burden of small and medium-sized enterprises; nurture talent in the film industry; and facilitate collaboration between Hong Kong and the mainland's film industries.

"I called Mrs Lam and told her that BPA will walk together with Mrs Lam in the next five years. But we need to sit down and exchange our views. We want to reflect our views which are different from her manifesto," Mr Lam, vice-chairman of BPA, told reporters yesterday.

On Sunday, Mrs Lam, 59, won 777 votes or 67 per cent of the 1,163 valid votes to beat former financial chief John Tsang, 65, who had 365 votes, and retired judge Woo Kwok Hing, 70, who had only 21 votes.

It is believed that lawmakers from the business sectors who had initially pledged their support for Mr Tsang switched their support to Mrs Lam. Representatives of business sectors hold more than 200 votes in the 1,194-member election committee.

"Her allegiance is to the pro-Beijing and business sectors. She would have to repay their support," said political analyst Willy Lam.

Lawmaker Christopher Cheung Wah Fung, who represents the financial services sector, yesterday said it is also important for the future financial chief to possess a wealth of experience and to be able to take the financial sector forward. Mr Cheung said he hoped the candidate would be someone from the financial industry.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2017, with the headline 'HK's business sector lays out wish list for new chief executive'. Print Edition | Subscribe