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Public Sentiment

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In the past two years, the team of Government principal officials has strengthened efforts to understand the needs and characteristics of individual districts directly through visits. I completed my tour to the 18 districts last month, in which I visited District Councils (DC), schools, welfare agencies, business operators and exchanged views with DC members, citizens, young people, elderly and volunteers, etc. These visits allowed me to understand people’s views and expectation towards the community as well as the development of Hong Kong. I thanked for their suggestions and questions and the opportunities for me to explain the considerations and practical difficulties in policy formulation. Although not all questions can be solved immediately, through exchanges and mutual understanding, we can recognize the sincerity and good intention from each other.

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I was impressed by several scenes during the 18 district visits. A group of primary students gave a cappella performance, in which many of them are ethnic minorities’ children. They gave a wonderful show which clearly demonstrated that language is not a hurdle of music. In another visit, I was impressed by the spirit and ambition of a group of secondary school students working hard in a primitive school laboratory in pursuing knowledge and exploring the innovation and technology (I&T) world.

There was once I played a card game with several high school students during my visit to a youth centre to share our views on friendship, society and future. I still remembered how excited I was when elaborating to them Hong Kong’s future development on economy and I&T and that they should have forward-looking development opportunities. Yet what the students shared with me was the uncertainty and confusion towards future deep in their hearts. I was grateful that I had been given the chance to connect with them for a closer and deeper understanding.

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Another scene was inside a wet market of an old district. Many people and business operators approached me to express their dissatisfactions about the market’s environment and facilities, and their wish for the Government to follow up on their concerns.

We attach great importance to the voices of the people and the community. These are one of the important considerations in Government’s allocation and prioritisation of public resources, with a view to ensuring that public services could be more targeted in addressing people’s needs.

In fact, quite a number of initiatives proposed in the previous two Budgets were inspired or pushed by district visits. Some examples include the modernisation of markets, refurbishment of public toilets, strengthening of forestry protection and the increase in various welfare and district facilities and services.

During visits to schools, some teachers and students were concerned on whether our education can equip students to face the future needs and whether our society can provide multiple progression pathways to young people. To this end, we have allocated huge resources in recent years to enhance the quality of local education, including improving school premises and facilities, providing various types of scholarships and strengthening the promotion of STEM, etc. At the same time, we have been paying efforts to diversify our economy, and invest more in I&T, arts and culture and sports, so as to provide opportunities for young people to develop according to their interests.

Nonetheless, as we all know, many questions cannot be solved simply by allocating resources in the reality. And for the same problem, there are different ways to address it. In some cases, we may need to consider principles and judgments, history and reality, and the needs and feelings of different stakeholders in the process. This is akin to families comprising elderly, middle-aged, young people and children. There may be different views and even arguments, but we are still in the same family. Mutual respect, toleration, understanding and inclusion are the keys for us to move forward.

Many people are physically and mentally exhausted due to the torture in the past month. The society is filled with air of gloom and doom and marks caused by tensions are yet to be recovered. In any case, what we need most after disputes is communication and understanding. And no matter how huge the differences are, there is always one point recognised by all: cherish the present ones and cherish life.

After going through the turbulence these days, the Government has realised the need to improve our mechanism, in order to establish a better channel to interact, listen and respect voices from our people, and gauge more public opinions during policy formulation. With improvements in policy implementation, it is our hope to cement the gap between the public and the Government, and to rebuild mutual trust. I sincerely hope that we can all work together to safeguard and build a better Hong Kong, the home that we deeply love.

July 7, 2019

   

 
 
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