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A Reflection on Brexit (3/7/2016)

Over the past week, the international society has been on alert over the impact of the Brexit referendum on the global economy. At the media session on the quarterly land sale programme for July to September 2016 held last week, I was also asked about the impact of Brexit on Hong Kong’s economy and property market. I responded that there were still a lot of uncertainties facing Hong Kong: as an externally-oriented economy, Hong Kong was not only affected by the UK economy, but also the economies of the Mainland, the USA and the ASEAN countries. There were also many factors affecting Hong Kong’s property market, including housing supply and demand, interest rates, the above-mentioned external economic factors, as well as the local economic and employment situation. The Government will continue to closely monitor the situation, and there is no need to make excessive and premature speculations......

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No more tolerance for unauthorised extensions in squatter structures (26/6/2016)

Earlier on, the unauthorised extensions in squatter structures and illegal occupation of government land in Tung Ah Pui Village, Shek O, have raised public concern. The Lands Department (LandsD) has immediately taken control actions, reviewed the existing guidelines on squatter control actions and made recommendations for improvement. Upon investigation, the LandsD has also confirmed that there was no selective enforcement by the Squatter Control Office staff because of the background of the parties involved. The incident has once again drawn public attention to the squatter structures in Hong Kong which have been in existence for years. Let me take this opportunity to explain our squatter control policy and the latest enhanced control measures......

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Grow trees and nurture people (19/6/2016)

Last week, the Office of The Ombudsman (The Ombudsman) released the Direct Investigation Reports on the Government’s Handling of Four Stonewall Trees along Bonham Road, and the Government’s Tree Management Regime and Practices. Regarding the incident involving the stonewall trees along Bonham Road, The Ombudsman, after careful examination, commented that the Highways Department (Hy D)’s decision to remove the stonewall trees that day was not unreasonable, and accepted the Hy D’s justifications given to the public last year, namely there were signs of imminent deterioration within a short period of time, showing that the trees might collapse anytime; no other feasible proposals were available to mitigate risks; and the weather as forecast by the Hong Kong Observatory was continually unstable. I hope the public will understand that the Government treasures trees as much as anyone. Every decision on removing trees is difficult. On the premise of protecting lives and ensuring public safety, however, tree management departments sometimes have to make difficult yet responsible decisions. The conclusion drawn by The Ombudsman on the stonewall tree incident along Bonham Road has upheld the decisions made by the colleagues of all departments concerned......

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District-based Renewal - People-oriented and keeping abreast of the times (12/6/2016)

Urban renewal is never just about replacing old buildings by new ones. In accordance with the Urban Renewal Strategy updated in 2011, a comprehensive and holistic approach focusing on four areas, namely redevelopment, rehabilitation, revitalisation and heritage preservation, is adopted to regenerate our urban areas. We strive to solve the problems of rapidly-ageing buildings in Hong Kong, improve urban living environment and rejuvenate old areas based on the actual circumstances of different cases, such as building conditions and owners’ preference on initiating building rehabilitation, in order to uphold the vision of "redeveloping and rehabilitating where appropriate”......

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Learn the lesson and turn crises into opportunities (5/6/2016)

Last week, the Government released the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Excess Lead Found in Drinking Water (the Commission). The report identifies the causes of the incident, and points out the inadequacies of our existing legal framework and regulatory regime in safeguarding the safety and quality of drinking water. We accept the Commission’s criticism of the Water Supplies Department (WSD), and its staff should reflect on and review the issue. As the Development Bureau (DEVB) has a supervisory role over the WSD, I would like to express my sincere apologies again for the WSD’s inadequacies, and for the inconvenience and anxiety caused to residents of public rental housing estates affected. Nevertheless, apologies are not meant to put an end to the incident, but to spur us to follow up on and implement the recommendations put forward by the Commission in a practical way so as to address the inadequacies of the existing system. In this connection, I would like to elaborate on a few points here......

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