Financial secretary struggles to answer student in Putonghua

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 March, 2009, 12:00am

He may have had no problems in hauling slabs on a construction site as a student, but the financial secretary was defeated when he struggled to answer a Putonghua-speaking student in the dialect yesterday.

During a dialogue with students of Baptist University, John Tsang Chun-wah talked of his student days in the United States, saying he used to carry slabs of concrete as 'cheap labour' at a building site.

But he appeared to struggle in Putonghua when asked by a mainland student about the internship programme he had announced in the budget. 'They were ... learning experiences ... rather than jobs,' Mr Tsang tried to explain, before turning for help to Stephen Cheung Yan-leung, the university's dean of the business school, who intervened in fluent Putonghua.

Another mainland questioner said: 'Please feel free to answer in Cantonese.'