Published:  06:07 AM, 14 September 2019

HK leader focuses on housing, jobs

HK leader focuses on housing, jobs Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam promised to focus on housing and jobs to try to end three months of sometimes violent unrest, as pro-democracy demonstrators headed for the hills on Friday for a series of lantern-carrying Mid-Autumn Festival human chains.

Lam, who said she caused "unforgivable havoc" by igniting the crisis and would quit if she had the choice, said in a Facebook post her government would increase the supply of housing in the Chinese-ruled city.

"Housing and people's livelihoods are the main priorities," Lam said. "The government will add to housing supply measures which will be continuously put in place and not missed."

The spark for the protests was a now-withdrawn extradition bill and concern that Beijing is eroding civil liberties, but many young protesters are also angry at sky-high living costs and a lack of job prospects.

Hong Kong has some of the world's most expensive real estate and many young people say the city's housing policy is unfair, benefiting the rich while forcing them to live with their parents or rent "shoe box" apartments at exorbitant prices.

Lam's comments came as activists plan the latest in a series of protests in the former British colony, which is grappling with its biggest political crisis in decades. The demonstrations started in June in response to a bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts, but have broadened into calls for democracy.

Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula that guarantees freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland - including a much-cherished independent legal system. At lunch on Friday, hundreds of pro-Beijing supporters packed into a shopping mall

waving China flags and singing the Chinese national anthem.Later on Friday, Mid-Autumn Festival, demonstrators were to carry lanterns and form human chains on the scenic Victoria Peak, popular with mainland tour groups, and on Lion Rock, separating the New Territories from the Kowloon peninsula.Protesters were also to gather with lanterns on the top of Tai Tung Shan on the offshore island of Lantau.

--Reuters


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