Carrie Lam paid a dozen students HK$100 an hour to work on her campaign
It's been revealed that chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor paid students up to HK$100 an hour to help her on her campaign. That amounts to HK$20,000 a month.
That salary amount is about 33 percent higher than the average starting salary for fresh graduates, or three times the minimum wage.
Not only were there students visible on stage with her to show that she was in touch with young people as part of her "We Connect" campaign, there were several working behind the scenes, a dozen in total that were paid.
One of them made HK$20,000 a month.
Laurence Li Lu-jen, deputy director of Lam's campaign office, defended paying the students, saying they did a lot of work, from filing documents to data compilation.
"Paying them is a recognized token for their commitments. It is wrong to undervalue our youngsters," Li said. He added that the other young people at Lam's rally were volunteers, and no one was paid just to show up at the event.
While John Tsang Chun-wah's campaign office claimed they did not recruit students, there were some student volunteers who were not paid.
It is believed Lam's campaign cost more than HK$11 million, under the maximum of HK$15.7 million for campaign expenses.
Nevertheless we question why students should be paid up to HK$20,000, when the market rate is much less.
The reason is that these students will think they are worth HK$20,000 and will be severely disappointed when they find out the reality is that their salary should be much less.
It's much like a friend of mine who is looking to hire someone under her, and the company had an "internal reference", which is code for a son or daughter whose parents are friends of the owners.
She did interview this fresh graduate who was found to be suitable for the job, but my friend's bosses will pay this person HK$20,000 for a job that should be around $12,000-HK$15,000.
Hopefully this "internal reference" will be a good employee, but when he or she tries to find another job, they will wonder why they can't find a better paying job.
Jacking up salaries for young people does a disservice to them and to the employer.
But alas these kinds of "internal references" are common in Hong Kong... we can only hope these kids understand the reality of the situation, that they are very lucky to have really good paying jobs that people with more qualifications and experience should be doing...