SCMP Tuesday, June 27, 2000


Protests 'not out of control'


The Home Affairs Secretary admitted yesterday that there were "problems" when questioned by lawmakers over protests on Sun day against government policies.

But David Lan Hon-tsung rejected claims that matters were out of control.

Mr Lan, quizzed over separate protests and marches by doctors, social workers and property owners, denied Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa had been too ambitious in pushing reforms.

Lee Cheuk-yan of the Confederation of Trade Unions said: "Society is discontented and public grievances are simmering. Will you admit things have gone out of control?"

Mr Lan replied: "We know that there are problems. But we wouldn't say things have gone out of control."

Home Affairs Bureau surveys show the percentage of those dissatisfied with the Government's performance has ranged from 40 to 50 per cent since 1998.

Asked if Mr Tung should be held responsible, Mr Lan said policy secretaries were responsible for their portfolios. As Chief Executive, Mr Tung would be responsible for all government policies.

Mr Lan said those optimistic about the SAR's prosperity had remained high at 60 to 70 per cent over the past two years.