Love of sorts on transport chiefs mind

Local | Sum Lok-kei Jun 16, 2017
Incoming Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will have to solve land, labor and leadership issues if she hopes to unite the people of Hong Kong, according to the outgoing Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-lung.

In terms of labor, Cheung said citizens have to be open-minded about accepting foreign workers.

He said that aside from controlling local factors, the housing market will also be influenced by factors not under the government's control.

As for leadership, Cheung said it will take not only a greater effort from the government, but also the cooperation of lawmakers and citizens.

Looking back at his five years in office, Cheung said the Transport and Housing Bureau faced two major crises - the lead water scandal and the Lamma Island ferry tragedy. He said such issues were "unexpected," adding the bureau faced challenges with a positive attitude and had learned from them.

Asked if he regretted joining the government, Cheung cited a line from the 1970s film Love Story - "love means never having to say you are sorry." However, he admitted he had failed to meet his own expectations in handling housing issues.

Cheung also said that the two governments are finalizing an agreement on a joint clearing terminal for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. He admitted, however, the announcement may not come before his term ends on June 30.

He stressed the two governments shared the goal of achieving co-location in the West Kowloon terminal and the discussion is in its final stages.

After officials have agreed on the finer details of the arrangement, the SAR government will inform the public and explain why other options were not chosen, he said.

Cheung said the Express Rail Link will be operational by the third quarter of 2018 and there will be enough time for the legislation process.

The government is prepared to face judicial reviews as well, he said. It was earlier reported that mainland law enforcers will have full authority within an area inside the terminal.

He refused to comment on speculation, but said mainland officers will enforce immigration, customs and quarantine laws inside its port.

Cheung, 59, said he has no plans yet as to what he will do next, adding he has meetings scheduled until the last week of his term.

Before he joined the government in 2012, Cheung was president of then Hong Kong Institute of Education.

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June 2017