Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Finally Listening... Sort of

Scuffles broke out at the Museum of Art with Donald Tsang at far left (Takungpao.com)
A week after the Hong Kong budget came down, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah finally listened to the people and instead of depositing HK$6,000 into their MPF accounts which they can't access until they retire, he is proposing to give the money to them now.

The almost 180-degree turn was welcomed by people on the street, pleasantly surprised by the news. Interviewed by a TV station, some said they'd spend the money, others save it, while some working poor said the cash injection would definitely help them with their daily expenses.

Tsang said that instead of the original proposal, this cash handout would benefit more people, including civil servants, housewives and retirees. It will cost the government about HK$3.6 billion.

He also proposed a one-off cut in salaries tax in the coming year, which could amount to almost 75 percent in some cases.

Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said the financial secretary had bowed to pressure after protests by the people. However Ho didn't think it was enough as there were no amendments to help fight rising property prices.

"So I appeal to people to join the protest on March 6 to express their concerns," Ho said.

Meanwhile the other Tsang, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen is literally feeling the hit from protesters when he was hit in the stomach by someone yesterday before the opening of an exhibition at the Museum of Art in Tsim Sha Tsui. There was lots of chaos and shouting when a protester rushed towards Tsang and security detail tried to stop him. The footage looks like a security person may have hit Tsang in the stomach with his elbow and not the protester, who was later arrested for common assault.

Tsang went to the hospital to get himself checked out and is fine, apart from being shaken up.

His right hand man, Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen condemned the violent protests today.

"We strongly condemn violent behaviour. This unacceptable behaviour [has] spread from the Legislative Council chamber into the community. I believe it has set a very bad example for our students," Tang said.

Yes, violence should be condemned. But the Tsang administration should pay heed to public discontent after its numerous blunders in recent days -- a financial secretary who seems completely out of touch with the middle class, not allowing former Tiananmen leaders to pay their last respects to Szeto Wah and now an arts chief who quit because of "health reasons" and now has another job.

Who wouldn't be angry?

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