C.Y.'s district visits marred by protests
Protests and scuffles marked yesterday's first district visits by new Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his team after they were sworn in following the handover anniversary.
Apart from the fracas in Tuen Mun, clashes also broke out between Leung's supporters and detractors in Shau Kei Wan, the first stop on a tour of six districts.
At the Shau Kei Wan venue a 49-year-old man was arrested, and helpers at the venue had to link arms to protect Leung as he was leaving.
In Tseung Kwan O, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Education Secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim had to get past three groups of protesters to get into the community hall. There, a few pro-democrats, including Sai Kung district councillor Gary Fan Kwok-wai, chanted slogans demanding that Leung step down, prompting a shouting match with two of Leung's supporters.
Yesterday's district visits were a new experience for the political appointees, including Ng and Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing. Ng had to take questions on education from residents in Tseung Kwan O, which he could not answer. Asked about 15 years of free education and empty schools in the district, he said he would study the issue with colleagues after he started work today.
Roger Lee Fung-nin, 26, was concerned about Ng's earlier comment about national education, in which he had said the courses could help students find better jobs.
'As an education minister, you shouldn't look at education from such a snobbish angle. You owe all secondary students an explanation.'
Ng said he was only responding to parents' inquiries when he made such comments.
Ng also noticed two boys growing tired from holding a banner calling for 15 years of free education. Ng asked them to put the banner down because he had read their message.
He also said after the last of the town hall meetings that the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989 was an unhappy event. 'I do read ... about June 4. I'm sometimes very unhappy. With people dead, I'm unhappy.'
What they said
A woman in the Shau Kei Wan session said: There is much dog mess on the streets, which is ... affecting children's health.
Leung Chun-ying: There is a saying 'there is no trivial matter regarding people's livelihood'. These things may sound trivial but if the government is able to solve or give relief, it is truly serving the people.
University student Cindy Ng, 20, asked the education minister how he would describe the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown to his sons.
Eddie Ng Hak-kim: I have feelings.
Wheelchair-bound So Wing-tung, 24: I can't apply for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance because I am a recipient of student financial assistance ... It's like asking people with disability to choose between living and studying.
Carrie Lam: I hope you will e-mail me the actual difficulties you face in applying for [assistance]. Sometimes one case will help us identify the loopholes in policies.
Several Lohas Park residents asked how the government would tackle health problems in Tseung Kwan O caused by a landfill.
Carrie Lam: I am happy to do site visits ... Perhaps the first one should be in Lohas Park.
A Tseung Kwan O resident: Please don't always hide in your air-conditioned office. If you come down more, it could help you defuse many bombs.
Carrie Lam: I want to shed my image of being tough too. I want to appear to be a loving and caring minister.