Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam vows to address housing crunch in policy speech

In a photo taken on Oct 8, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during her weekly press conference in Hong Kong. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam pledged measures to address the city's notorious housing shortage, as she prepared to deliver her annual policy address despite concerns about possible disruption by protesters.

Lam held up a copy of the text on Tuesday (Oct 15) while previewing the speech in remarks to reporters.

She said she would attempt to deliver the address on Wednesday in the city's Legislative Council chambers, which were recently repaired after being ransacked by anti-government protesters in July.

With the protests showing no signs of slowing down, there is growing speculation that Lam may deliver her annual policy address via a pre-recorded video.

This is to avoid any protesters who may try to prevent her from entering the legislative council building.

Lam however said she hoped to be able to present her address in the building's chamber.

"I'm sure you agree that the most important livelihood issue that a chief executive should address would be housing and land supply," Lam said, adding that she would present a total of 200 new initiatives.

She said her address will have a new 'supplement' section, which will list the achievements of her administration in the last two years.

"I am happy to say that we have announced some 500 initiatives in the last two policy addresses and the achievement rate is close to 97 per cent… and then we will present some of the challenges that we are facing", RTHK quoted her as saying.

The Chief Executive also condemned escalating protester attacks on police officers as the unrest gripping the city grinds into a fifth month.

Over the weekend, a police officer was slashed in the neck by a sharp object, protesters lobbed a petrol bomb inside a subway station and an improvised explosive device was set off in Kowloon near a police vehicle

Hong Kong's protests began in early June in response to a since-withdrawn Bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. They have since expanded to include calls for greater democracy in the former colony.

Hong Kong has seen some of its worst violence yet since China's National Day on Oct 1, which was followed by Lam's decision to ban protesters from wearing masks under the colonial-era Emergency Regulations Ordinance. That emergency powers law could also potentially be used to detain and arrest protesters and censor publications.

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