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Tung vows to respond to public concerns
( 2003-07-18 07:06) (China Daily)

Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa opened his heart yesterday to the people of Hong Kong -- pledging to listen to their concerns in a caring and modest spirit.

Tung confessed to suffering a "sleepless night".
"The public has reminded me that I should adopt a modest, open and sincere attitude in order to win their trust and support," he said.

He vowed to keep in touch with citizens and to "listen to their voices directly" and respond to their aspirations and concerns.

Tung confessed to suffering a "sleepless night'' after being "glued to the television on July 1'' and feeling "greatly shocked by the mass procession."

He was speaking at a press briefing in the wake of the resignations of his security and financial secretaries.

Describing the march as "a timely reminder" for him, he said: "No matter how good my officials and I believe a certain policy is, we should not, and cannot, ask the public to accept it as a matter of course."

He noted that citizens had expressed dissatisfaction and criticisms of his governance over the past six years.

"My colleagues and I accept these criticisms sincerely. We are seriously reviewing and looking at all these events with a view to learn from our experience."

He vowed to meet political parties, major sectors of the community, the media and opinion leaders regularly to reflect their views in the policy formulation process.

Tung emphasized too that his government has a duty to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law. Concerned that people still do not understand the contents of the bill, 10 months after the beginning of the consultative and legislative process, he said a full text, which incorporates all the amendments proposed by the government, will be compiled for discussion with the Legislative Council bills committee.

Dialogue with the public and concerned organizations will reopen, but the government has no pre-determined timetable for the legislative process.

Tung also spoke on the role of Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food E.K. Yeoh as chairman of two experts groups inquiring into the SARS outbreak. He noted the widespread public dissatisfaction with the way the whole issue was handled.

Tung said he had discussed with Yeoh and asked him to step down as chairman of the two groups. The new chairmen of the two groups will in September submit the reports to Tung directly.

On the economic front, the chief executive said the government is taking advantage of new opportunities brought about by the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) with the mainland, and Hong Kong's enhanced co-operation with Guangdong Province.

Tung said he would ask the central government during his duty visit to Beijing on Saturday to speed up the schedule for implementing various arrangements under CEPA -- and hopes to expand its scope too.

As for the question of whether he would resign, Tung said it would be an easy option. However, he believes such a move would be morally wrong in these difficult times.

While he acknowledges that he is not doing well at the moment and that people are unhappy with his performance, he will try to improve and contribute to the stability of Hong Kong.

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