HK’s disliked leader tries to sooth housing anger

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Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying poses with copies of his maiden policy address at a news conference in Hong Kong Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. Hong Kong’s unpopular Beijing-backed leader said he is making the city’s housing crisis a priority in a bid to soothe widespread discontent. AP/Kin Cheung

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s unpopular Beijing-backed leader says he is making the city’s housing crisis a priority in a bid to soothe widespread discontent.

Leung Chun-ying pledged in a policy speech Tuesday to tackle soaring property prices that have left many in the Asian financial center unable to afford a decent place to live.

He also said improving the city’s poor air quality would be a priority. But he revealed little about plans to eventually introduce full democracy in the semiautonomous Chinese region.

Leung has become a target for public anger over a range of issues. His popularity has also slipped after he was embroiled in personal controversies. His speech was his first major policy address since taking office just over six months ago.

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