Pay rise for dignity, say legislators

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2006, 12:00am

Legislators were not being greedy in seeking a 70 per cent pay rise, one lawmaker said yesterday. Another said it would be a disgrace if their pay were not at least doubled.

Both said their only wish was to ensure lawmakers' dignity was upheld when dealing with civil servants who currently earn more than them. But they and colleagues agreed a pay rise was not their most important demand.

Democratic Party legislator Cheung Man-kwong denied they were being greedy. He argued they were only trying to ensure lawmakers' pay reflected their social status as elected representatives.

The Legislative Council's subcommittee on remuneration and expenses has proposed legislators pay go up $38,260 a month, to $92,650 - the minimum pay of a directorate-grade civil servant.

'Even university vice-chancellors have their pay linked to [that of] directorate-grade officials. We are not seeking the same level of pay as them. It will be OK if we are paid a certain percentage of their salaries as long as our pay is linked to that scale,' Mr Cheung said.

Subcommittee chairman Patrick Lau Sau-shing said the proposed pay rise was insufficient. It would be a disgrace for lawmakers to be paid less than ministers' assistants - who the government proposes to take on at a monthly salary of more than $110,000.

'If legislators are paid less than ministers' assistants, how can we face them when they attend Legco meetings?' Dr Lau asked.

The subcommittee's five members resolved to ask an independent commission to give priority to their proposal to raise the ceiling for reimbursement of members' expenses by 20 per cent, to $1.68 million a year, and to consider their request for a pay rise later.