• Thu
  • Jul 31, 2014
  • Updated: 8:11am

Did I merit my pay, ex-political assistant muses

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 July, 2012, 12:00am

When he became the youngest political assistant in then chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's administration in 2008, Paul Chan Chi-yuen asked himself a question: was he really worth his monthly pay of HK$134,150?

'I thought about that, but it was approved by the [Legislative Council's] finance committee,' Chan said when asked on Commercial Radio yesterday whether he had misgivings about his pay.

'I didn't know very well how the pay scale was determined ... looking back, I should have learned more about it,' the former political assistant for food and health said.

Chan was just 28 when he was one of nine political assistants hired as part of Tsang's effort to expand the political appointment system.

At the time, lawmakers and civil servants urged the government to review the pay levels of political assistants, who were earning HK$134,150 to HK$163,960 a month. They argued that the assistants' salaries far exceeded their level of their professional experience.

Prior to taking the government post, Chan was earning much less as a senior research assistant at City University.

'It is difficult for someone who did that job to say if his or her own pay was high or not,' he said.

'I believe my colleagues did not take up the job because of the pay.'

Speaking on the same programme yesterday, Jeremy Young Chit-on, a former political assistant for education, agreed that the appointees were not drawn by the pay to join the government.

'If you are desperate to make money, don't do a political job,' Young said.

On the controversial issue of introducing national-education classes in schools, Young said an independent advisory committee helped conduct a consultation on the issue during his term.

Asked if he would join tomorrow's protest against the national-education curriculum, the father of two said he would ask his wife first.

He said he had met secondary-school student Joshua Wong Chi-fung several times when he was in office.

Wong is a convenor of Scholarism, a student group that opposes making national education a compulsory subject.

Asked if he would allow his children to study in Hong Kong and study national education, Young said: 'I will not decide whether I should let them study in Hong Kong based on the provision of the national education course.'

$163,960

Political assistants in Donald Tsang's administration were paid as much as this amount, in HK dollars, per month

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