Chief Executive Carrie Lam says the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) will spend more time on district affairs following a government reorganization, pointing to municipal models seen in the mainland and overseas as a direction for Hong Kong.
Lam’s comments came in response to a question from Transit Jam during a radio phone-in, asking if Hong Kong was capable of solving “micro-problems”, as Lam had put it earlier, such as illegal parking and illegal garbage dumping.
“I don’t resist those sorts of complaints, because for ordinary people in Hong Kong, maybe their affinity to a grand plan which will last 10 or 20 years is not as close as coming out of your home and having to walk the streets and take the bus and the train and so on,” she told Radio 3’s Backchat.
“Because of the way we are organised, unlike other places, where there are local governments, like in mainland or overseas, they have what we call municipalities or local governments to look after environment hygiene and so on.”
“And although we are not going into that sort of political reorganisation, perhaps in reorganising how the government operates its business will help address those problems better,” she said.
Lam said her proposals to create a Sports, Leisure and Tourism Bureau would free up HAB to concentrate on district affairs.
“Some of those problems mentioned have to be dealt with at the very district frontline level, not at the big policy level,” Lam said.
Giving an example of the new Municipal Solid Waste Charging (MSWC) scheme, Lam said she had already begun addressing some of the issues of government inefficiency, shifting 650 staff from Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) to Environmental Protection Department (EPD)
“Some people are very worried about the [MSWC] implementation, because this policy is pushed ahead by the Environment Bureau and EPD, but actually the day-to-day collection is done … by FEHD. If these two departments do not work together they could be in trouble.”
“These things we need to sort them out, I promise we will do better on those day-to-day livelihood issues,” she said.
Lam did not mention the role of the District Councils which have seen membership slashed in recent months, with some councils unable to form a quorum. The government this week proposed handing control of the $340 million annual District Minor Works Programme, for example, from the councils to HAB’s Home Affairs Department and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
But on its website, HAD says “The District Councils play a pivotal role in the development of District Administration.”
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