Sunday, 18 January 2015

Backtracking Promises

Leung Chun-ying gave himself and his cabinet a pay rise on Friday night
At 11.06pm on Friday, the Hong Kong government disseminated a press release that said Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was giving himself and politically appointed officials and executive councillors at pay rise that would make their salaries consistent with 2009 levels.

That means Leung would be making HK$371,885 ($47,975) per month compared to HK$351,880.

Legislators raised a stink about this because it was done in a "stealth" manner, quietly announcing it just before midnight at the start of the weekend, but government officials defended the move, saying it did not need lawmakers' approval because they were reinstating the salaries to 2009 levels.

However, Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said the decision to undo the pay freeze was due to an improved economic situation.

Really? What planet is he on?

Back in 2009, then chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and his cabinet took a voluntary 5.38 percent pay cut to "stand shoulder to shoulder" with the people during the financial crisis.

Then in 2012 a month before Leung took office, he bowed to public pressure and scrapped his proposal to raise his salary once in office. At the time he said: "the entire political team of the next-term government will have their pay frozen" at the 2009 level.

It might be interesting to note here that Hong Kong's politicians are some of the best paid in the world.

Civic Party lawmaker Kenneth Chan Ka-lok says Legco should be debating Leung's pay raise because it involves taxpayer money.

Others said the increase in salary was fine, but objected to the way in which it was done, and that Leung should defend his actions.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said some cabinet members felt higher wages would help recruit talent. He also added the government waited until Legco approved civil servants' pay rise -- voted on Friday evening -- before
the press release was issued.

So Cheung says the restoration of their salaries to 2009 levels is going to help the government recruit better people? How is that optically even possible?

After all the government has been through, particularly its silence during the Umbrella Movement and just executing whatever Beijing tells it to do, why would you even need to hire people with brains to do that?

How about explaining their pay rise to the impoverished elderly who are trying to survive on government handouts, or the 200 employees of Standard Chartered to who unceremoniously sacked, as well as other workers, whose companies shed some staff just before Chinese New Year.

So much for buying into Leung's election platform slogan, "One heart, One vision".

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