Protesters call in a travel 'debt'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2007, 12:00am

Unionist lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan and New Territories residents staged a protest march yesterday, seeking to 'collect a debt' from the financial secretary over a promised travel allowance scheme for low-income workers in outlying areas.

Mimicking debt collectors, the protesters - who accuse Henry Tang Ying-yen of breaking his promise over the scheme - painted a banner in red paint then splashed paint over it.

Mr Lee said Mr Tang had promised the scheme in his last budget speech to all low-paid workers who travel long distances to work but had recently changed it to apply only to the unemployed.

'That's a big difference,' he said. 'He owes all these residents a travel allowance scheme. That's why we've come to collect this debt.'

He said bosses well out of the city centre were able to pay their workers less because they knew they could not afford extra travel expenses for better jobs in the city.

The protesters submitted a petition with more than 2,000 signatures to Mr Tang's office. Mr Lee said while he had supported the budget last year, he would vote against it this year because of the minister's 'lack of integrity'.