Sophie Hui and Carine Chow
Demonizing the Greater Bay Area and all measures related to China will not do Hong Kong any good, says Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.
The chief executive’s policy address focused on stepping up Hong Kong’s integration with the mainland – one of the most controversial measures being subsidizing youngsters to work in the bay area.
The HK$430 million youth employment scheme proposes that 2,000 Hong Kong youngsters be subsidized to work there, earning a monthly salary of HK$18,000 for general positions and HK$26,000 for infotech positions. The government would subsidize HK$10,000 or HK$18,000 for each position.
On a radio program yesterday, a caller questioned why the government would send away valuable local talents.
She said the government is trying to find better prospects for youngsters amid economic uncertainty and the lack of IT opportunities at home.
Many felt she was merely “obeying the central government” while marginalizing Hong Kong in her launch of mainland-related policies.
On the same program, Lam said when the HK$2 transport fee for the elderly is expanded – the minimum age requirement would be 60 – users must switch to personalized Octopus cards with their faces and names on them.
She said the cost for the expanded coverage is very high, so the government has to make sure the scheme is not abused.
Lam emphasized the government already has a roadmap for the policy.
She also fielded questions at the Legislative Council, where she said she will resume her monthly 30-minute question-and-answer sessions now that pro-democracy lawmakers have resigned.
She promised she will respond to legislators’ inquiries raised in such sessions within 30 days.
Lam halted the sessions on October 19, saying pan-democrats were just insulting her during the meetings, which were counterproductive.