Sunday, February 4, 2007
Projects policy bureau is priority, says Tsang
NG KANG-CHUNG

When he is re-elected chief executive, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen intends to make it a priority of his administration to create a new policy bureau overseeing infrastructure projects.

He disclosed the plan at a question-and-answer session yesterday for about 90 members of the Election Committee from the professional subsectors, including engineering, medical and legal.

Mr Tsang, who declared his intention to seek a second term last Thursday, said he would reform the senior government structure if he won the election next month. He also intends to create a development bureau to oversee the execution of infrastructure projects.

"The bureau will also co-ordinate and balance the needs for development, and the needs for environmental protection and conservation, with the aim of strengthening our investment in this aspect, increasing job opportunities and lessening disputes," said Mr Tsang afterwards.

He did not say whether the new bureau would replace the existing Environment, Transport and Works Bureau, which is headed by Sarah Liao Sau-tung. Nor did he mention the future roles of the environment bureau if the development bureau is set up. But he said the policies on conservation and culture would remain the jurisdiction of the Home Affairs Bureau.

Mr Tsang has promised in his election platform to speed up investment in government infrastructure.

A government source familiar with the issue said the existing works departments and planning department were likely to come under the new bureau.

Engineering sector representative Raymond Ho Chung-tai said Mr Tsang had said the new bureau was likely to be headed by someone with "rich experience" in engineering and infrastructure development. Mr Ho, of The Alliance, said the development bureau was long overdue. "A lot of projects are delayed because of red tape. There is a need to have a single bureau to co-ordinate different departments."

But Albert Lai Kwong-tak, from the engineering subsector, said he had the impression Mr Tsang would push ahead with construction projects at the expense of citizens' quality of life.

"I hope Mr Tsang has not decided to form a development bureau because he has been pressed by the big enterprises to do more," said Mr Lai.

Another elector, Ada Wong Ying-kay, said development and conservation should not be regarded as mutually exclusive.

A spokeswoman for election challenger Alan Leong Kah-kit, said Mr Leong was not prepared to comment on the idea of a new bureau.

As part of his election campaign, Mr Tsang visited a shopping mall in Tseung Kwan O.

A senior Beijing official in Hong Kong last night expressed his support for Tsang's re-election bid.

Li Gang, a deputy director of the central government's liaison office, said: "He has a lot of administrative management experience. Since his appointment as chief executive, he has enjoyed a high level of popular support. Hence, I feel Mr Tsang's participation is in line with popular opinion."

 

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