Motion on “Employment (Amendment) Bill 2014” (2014.12.18)

MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): Mr Jasper TSANG, or our Chairman, has once said that in this Council the most meaningless remarks were “I did not mean to speak but now I cannot but speak.” I used to agree with him, but this time I have to say that even though I really do not wish to speak because I have not prepared to speak, I have a fire burning in my bosom that I cannot wait to get it out after listening to many Members’ speeches.

Just now a Member said that he was once an employer, a wage earner and he had also managed a company, and after speaking on a great deal of things, he maintained his stance that we should provide seven days of paternity leave. Another Member made a comparison with the Government’s cost overrun and queried why the Government was untroubled by overspending billions of dollars, but was unwilling to spend a little more. He seemed to have forgotten that the costs in question were to be borne by small and medium enterprises instead of the Government. There were also proposals calling for the Government to share some of the costs. Yet another political actor has questioned why the Government could not bear some costs, that is, the employer should bear the initial cost and the Government should make up for the shortfall; and he thought that the problem could be solved then. It was no different from dragging the Government into the scene

However, we must be aware that if a certain policy relating to public expenditure is implemented, all other policies will have to be changed subsequently and the Government will have to be involved in everything. Do we really want such a change? It would not be a problem if we want to have such a change, but we should give holistic consideration to the whole issue, rather than rashly question why the Government does not do this and that, just like what some Members have been doing. Everything is easier said than done and that is a common malady now prevailing in Hong Kong.

At present, the most prominent phenomenon is that Members like to blame everything on the constitutional reform, saying that everything will be fine as long as the constitutional system is reformed. They condemn the functional constituency system, saying that its abolition will resolve all problems. This sophistry is ripping Hong Kong apart. Those Members not only speak unfairly but also keep twisting the facts. They tie everything to the constitutional reform, turn one against another, and create divisions among the have and have-nots, and workers and their employers. In so doing, they create the opportunity for themselves to reap political gains, votes, so to speak. I consider this the most despicable human behaviour and also the most pathetic acts.

All labour issues in Hong Kong are handled by the Labour Advisory Board (LAB). The LAB was established years ago with the aim to provide a channel for employers and employees to reach agreements in the light of their own considerations, including their affordability and practices, so as to resolve the problems in a gradual manner. I find it odd that some workers organizations are now relentlessly attacking The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU). As regards FTU, despite its slow progress, it has gradually accomplished some tasks after years of continuous work. Take paternity leave as an example. Mr WONG Kwok-hing has spared no efforts in promoting it vehemently on who knows how many occasions. He certainly wishes for an early implementation, but as society is not yet ready, the work must be implemented slowly.

To date, I think FTU deserves the greatest credit. It has endured humiliation in order to carry out an important yet formidable task. It is willing to spend time on negotiation and trying to strike a balance which is much needed in society. Since certain achievement has now been achieved, why not celebrate together but make a mess? A consensus has been made on providing three days of paternity leave, but Members suddenly demand a seven-day leave. They insist on arguing and making a row. As in the case of the constitutional reform, we could have made a gradual progress but some Members insist on doubling the speed, and consequently, all developments have come to a standstill. How come our democratization process ends up like that, with so many disputes? I wish to tell people that they have been misguided all along and they need to look at this issue very carefully in the future. Some people’s words are very pleasant to the ear. They make a lot of gestures, which are very appealing and funny, but they hide the truth from our eyes. In the end, they can say whatever they like.

I have worked in this Council for six years and I deeply feel that the truth is held back and lies prevail. Those who lie to mislead the people have become the mainstream and those who speak the truth have always come under attack. For example, Mr Tommy CHEUNG was only speaking his mind just now. Whether you like it or not, he reflected some people’s genuine thoughts. Though some people in Hong Kong think that the implementation of election by universal suffrage should be sped up, they will not be censured constantly because they have freedom of speech and they also reflect the genuine thoughts of certain people. If some people consider that the cost factor is a significant factor for consideration, we must respect their right to speak; otherwise, how can we talk about democracy? What is the point of constantly accusing others for their views? Of course, I may be treated the same way after this speech, but I am not afraid. Hence, if Members truly aspire to democracy, they have the duty raise people’s expectation of the quality of democracy. The fundamental principle they must abide is to respect other people’s views. Everyone has his own views. What is wrong with that? Why should they lash on people with opposing views? If this situation continues, there will only be one voice left in the end. By then, even a democratic society will serve no purpose because no one will have the freedom of speech. That is absolutely wrong.

As regards Secretary Matthew CHEUNG, I consider him one of the best-performed Secretaries. As he is quite well-off, he needs not take up this job but he still puts up with the humiliation and works for the important cause tirelessly. We all know that he is very hardworking. As far as I know, he once tore a ligament in his finger for carrying files home to continue working and it took him a long time to recover. Should Members still relentlessly lash on such a conscientious Secretary, torment him and hurl insults at him. Who then will be willing to take up the work? Should we really have to behave like that?

FTU is also bitterly criticized even after it has done so much. I am also grateful for Mr LEE Cheuk-yan or the Labour Party for doing so much work on improving worker’s rights and interests. I strongly support them and I will donate money to them when I have the chance. However, at a certain point, employers and employees must strive for harmony and work together to forge a consensus. The LAB is one of the organizations that represent both sides. While individual employers can have different views, a collective decision must be made by the LAB after making an overall consideration. If the LAB’s decision made after much negotiation is overturned, what other channels and platforms are still available to carry out the relevant work? Hence, I consider Members’ condemnation of FTU, the Secretary and even the whole system absolutely unreasonable.

Chairman Jasper TSANG has just returned to the Chamber. I have just quoted his words. Many Members often say that they do not mean to speak but cannot help but speak in the end. I have just made a wrong demonstration, but I am really very angry and have to speak out. I hope that from now on, colleagues of this Council will tell people the truth, stop misguiding them and turning one against another. People in Hong Kong have a sound mind. If Members continue messing things up, members of the public will sooner or later see that those Members are just muddling along, they keep telling lies in order to keep their seats in this Council.

I also wish to apply this experience on the constitutional reform, that is, if we can make one step forward, we should do so. Besides, the Central Government has to foot the bills for the constitutional reform in Hong Kong. Should anything go wrong in Hong Kong, the Central Government has to bear the responsibility. Hence Hong Kong’s fortune totally depends on the Central Government’s blessing and only under its blessing can Hong Kong truly implement democracy. Only when democracy is smoothly implemented in Hong Kong can democracy blossoms in the whole nation of China. I hope that Members will not only eye on their own gains; they should look further and take one step at a time for the sake of the overall harmony of Hong Kong. Apart from considering the needs of employers, they should also keep the interest of employees in mind.

I attach the greatest importance to work-life balance and it is well known to all that I have always worked toward this goal ever since I joined this Council. I hope the Secretary will not lose his heart to serve Hong Kong because of some criticisms, but will continue to put in effort to attain the objectives in various aspects, in particular, in respect of work-life balance, so that young people in every household and at every social stratum can find their own interests and hobbies outside their work, such as learning to play a musical instrument, appreciating arts or others. I also hope that parents have time to take care of their children after work because only when families are well managed will Hong Kong become a better society. At present many young people have been misguided into believing that at a certain stage when Hong Kong has a certain degree of democracy, all problems in Hong Kong will be resolved; but we all know that the reality is not so. Many other problems will still exist. I hope that the overall quality of deliberation in this Council will be raised, so that Members will stop smearing, hurling insults at those who hold opposing views, and wilfully lashing on others to achieve their political goals as all these are contemptible behaviours.

Thank you, Chairman.

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