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Wednesday, 11 October, 2000, 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK
HK leader tackles poverty
Beggar, Hong Kong
A recent survey said 1m live in poverty
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa has promised massive investment in jobs and education as he tries to stem growing discontent in the territory.

Protesters burn picture of Mr Tung
Protesters say Mr Tung is not serving the people
He also vowed to make government officials more accountable and to tackle Hong Kong's pressing environmental problems.

Giving his fourth annual policy address, Mr Tung announced plans to spend HK$2.7bn (US$346m) over the next two years to help the poor. This will include the creation of 15,000 new jobs.

Our long-term vision [is] of Hong Kong becoming a major city of China and the most cosmopolitan city in Asia

Tung Chee-hwa
He also said the government would spend HK$2bn annually on education reforms.

A recent survey suggested one million people might be living in poverty in Hong Kong.

Mr Tung, who was appointed in 1997 by a panel picked by Beijing, has seen his popularity slump to an all time low recently amid protests over unemployment and falling property prices.


Protesters gathered outside the Legislative Council building ahead of his address to demand he tackle the increasing poverty.

Tung Chee-hwa
Mr Tung: Focussing on jobs and education
Surveys show wages for many low-paid workers have stagnated, if not fallen, while unemployment is still close to 5%, compared to 2% before the Asian economic crisis.

Correspondents say Mr Tung will have to work hard to reverse his fortunes if he is to win a second term in office in 2002.

Mr Tung said a key to resolving poverty was to improve education standards which lag behind comparable parts of Asia.

He has certainly identified people's worries and concerns

Joseph Cheng, Politics Professor
The government's aim is to provide university places to 60% of secondary school leavers within 10 years, he added.

Mr Tung said they were working towards a "long-term vision of Hong Kong becoming a major city of China and the most cosmopolitan city in Asia".

Policy Shift

Some analysts said Mr Tung's speech marked a subtle shift from Hong Kong's extreme capitalist tradition.

"They want to help people before they fall into this pitiful state of not being able to help themselves", said Joseph Cheng, politics professor at Hong Kong's City University.

"This is a change in philosophy and a change in the right direction."

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See also:

27 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Beijing backs troubled HK leader
07 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Academics quit over HK polls scandal
07 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
HK Chief in opinion polls row
10 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
'Undemocratic' vote in Hong Kong
21 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Hong Kong democracy champion quits
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