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Outgoing HK leader spars with lawmaker over govt’s tech policy

Outgoing HK leader spars with lawmaker over govt’s tech policy

HONG KONG — A war of words erupted between Hong Kong’s outgoing Chief Executive and pan-democratic lawmaker Charles Mok yesterday after the latter wrote an article criticising the government’s policies in innovation and technology, saying it lagged behind those of Singapore.

Incumbent leader Leung Chun-ying launched an unexpected counter-attack on his Facebook page, saying that the pan-democrats, whom he accused of slowing down government policies, should instead be blamed.

His post came just hours after Mr Mok’s remarks went on air.

In an article for local broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) programme, Mr Mok said Hong Kong had been relatively late to get on the smart city bandwagon.

He said Mr Leung had not taken the lead until his policy address in 2015.

Mr Mok, a lawmaker representing the information technology sector, said that local officials lacked the mindset of the city’s rivals, such as Singapore, when it comes to using technology to solve problems and improve services for the people.

“Our government likes to fund research and build science parks, but not adopting new technologies and applications itself,” he wrote.

He accused Mr Leung’s administration of not exercising any self-critique on its policies.

Mr Mok added that this was in contrast to Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whom he said understood the city state’s limitations.

In his rebuttal, Mr Leung was quick to shift the blame to the pan-democrats, saying that the proposed establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau had been delayed for three years by the opposition bloc in the Legislative Council.

“It is regrettable that Mok, as a lawmaker representing the information and technology sector, did not stand on the government’s side in advocating technology,” the Chief Executive wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.

“I would like to ask Mok: Does Singapore have any lawmakers who stage filibusters? Does Mok oppose filibusters? Does Singapore have opposition lawmakers like the ones in Hong Kong? Would Mok be willing to give the SAR government power similar to that of the Singaporean government?”

In an immediate reply, Mr Mok took a swipe at the outgoing Chief Executive for exploiting every opportunity to split the city and for placing all the blame on filibusters.

“His remarks are meaningless, and I hope he will read through my whole article to understand what I was talking about,” Mr Mok said.

Mr Mok added that he hoped that Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam would not follow Mr Leung’s combative approach and instead, would be willing to listen to others. SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST