Housing a priority for Hong Kong leader

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Hong Kong’s unpopular ­Beijing-backed leader said he will make it a priority to solve the city’s housing crisis, trying to soothe widespread discontent in his first major policy address since taking office.

Leung Chun-ying pledged yesterday to tackle soaring property prices that have left many in the Asian financial centre unable to afford a decent place to live. He also said improving the city’s air quality would be a priority.

Those looking to see what Mr Leung would say about plans to introduce full democracy were disappointed by a brief, vague mention about consultations near the end of his speech.

Beijing has pledged to allow Hong Kongers to choose their own leader by 2017 at the earliest and all seats in the legislature by 2020. However, no plan has been laid out.

Since taking office last July after being handpicked by a committee packed with pro-­Beijing tycoons, Mr Leung’s popularity has slid amid personal scandals involving illegal renovations to his luxury home.

Protests involving thousands of people calling for Mr Leung to stop down have become common, most recently on New Year’s Day. He also survived an impeachment attempt by assembly members last week.