“The Hong Kong government must make all efforts to solve it, because the people are at the centre of all kinds of development,” he wrote on Facebook.But New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, an adviser in Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s de facto cabinet, the Executive Council, said: “The cabinet as a whole has yet to form a habit to stay close with the people regularly.“The government needs to respond to public demands speedily, but Lam has mainly been visiting public facilities and universities, and hasn’t stepped out of her comfort zone yet.“Even though Lam hosted a town hall meeting in August, it was held on the seventh floor of the Xiqu Centre.”Luo Huining, director of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, had on Thursday stressed the need to solve the city’s housing problems as he kicked off a week-long campaign to “listen directly to the grass roots” on the eve of the country’s National Day.Luo visited at least five places, meeting young tech entrepreneurs at Cyberport in Pok Fu Lam, elderly residents seeking free medical help in Sham Shui Po and fishermen working on their boats in Aberdeen, as well as shopkeepers and “cage home” tenants in Mong Kok. Luo Huining (centre) also visited fishermen in Aberdeen. Photo: Handout His office’s campaign will end on Tuesday, a day before Lam delivers her policy address – the final one of her current term – which is expected to cover deep-seated issues facing the city, including housing and the income divide.Ip, writing on her Facebook page earlier on Friday, said Luo’s visit had shown that more senior officials needed to wake up.“In comparison, Hong Kong officials … seem to be unmoved by various livelihood problems, so I just want to ask, ‘Officials, have you woken up yet?’”On his Aberdeen visit, Luo said the central government was concerned about and supportive of Hong Kong’s fisheries sector, and hoped the trade could make use of the country’s policies to modernise.Local fishermen have been staunch supporters of Beijing’s policies in the city and in recent years organised fishing boat parades to celebrate the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule in 1997. Lawmaker Regina Ip says officials need to wake up. Photo: K. Y. Cheng Lawmaker Steven Ho Chun-yin, who represents the agriculture and fisheries sector, said he believed Luo wanted to make a point about economic diversification in Hong Kong.“Hong Kong is a financial hub, but Beijing wants various sectors to have balanced growth, so we can all live happily and make a living,” he said.“Hong Kong officials’ policymaking has been detached from the people. This is very different from mainland China where bureaucrats visit various places to ensure their policies suit people’s needs.”Ho dismissed the suggestion that Luo reaching out directly to residents showed the pro-establishment camp was not reliable enough in reflecting public opinion.“The direct outreach is to be welcomed. When officials from different levels visit a district, they will see things from a different perspective, which will help improve policymaking,” he added.Since August last year, Lam has made various community visits every month. But rather than meeting families, she has visited university managers and researchers, secondary schools and coronavirus vaccination centres. Lawmaker Steven Ho. Photo: Edward Wong Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Michael Luk Chung-hung said officials should engage with the public more often, even though their acts could be seen by some as publicity stunts.“If you just visit a family for the sake of it, of course it’s a PR show. But you can silence your critics if you gain insight and come up with new policies after such visits,” he said.Jennie Chui Pui-yan, a community organiser of the Society for Community Organisation, said that for tenants of subdivided flats, helpful policies mattered most.“We rarely see the chief executive or housing officials visit these underprivileged families,” she said.“But I think officials are familiar with the problems … They need to come up with policies that can improve residents’ living environment, that’s most important.”Cyberport chief executive Peter Yan King-shun said while the site had been visited by many Hong Kong and mainland officials, Luo was among the most high-ranking and encouraging.“He is very supportive of young entrepreneurs, and said we will have a role to play as Hong Kong and its mainland neighbours seek to become a global technology hub,” he added.

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