Government listened, the two Tsangs say

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 March, 2011, 12:00am

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah continued to defend their budget U-turn yesterday.

On Sunday, thousands of protesters marched against the budget. Police arrested 113, including two boys, aged 12 and 13. Andrew To Kwan-hang, chairman of the League of Social Democrats, was detained. They were all released on bail and must report to police in June.

Speaking to a group of students at Peking University, the chief executive said the changes made to the budget would benefit people from different levels of society. Tsang said they were a response to public opinion and had been well received by many people.

He promised that he and the government would humbly listen to the views of the public. He said the government had to understand what the public needed and make changes when needed.

The financial secretary also defended the U-turn, saying it was a quick reaction to public opinion.

'Last week, I made some modifications. I believe we have to seize the opportunity and conclude what we have learned, so that we know how to make improvements next time,' he told reporters. He said he had talked to lawmakers before making the decision.

The pan-democratic political parties, which organised Sunday's protest, said more than 10,000 people took part in the rally, but police put the number at 6,300.

Protesters clashed with police who were trying to remove them from the junction of Des Voeux Road and Ice House Street in Central at 10.20pm. A sit-in by protesters had brought traffic to a halt.

Police used pepper spray, and the spray hit an eight-year-old boy who was with his mother. Some others were injured, and one was taken to hospital. Two police officers were also injured; one was admitted to hospital.

Last Wednesday, John Tsang announced he was scrapping the idea of putting HK$6,000 in everyone's Mandatory Provident Fund account and was giving the money to every permanent resident 18 and older. He also announced a one-time income tax discount of up to 75 per cent, capped at HK$6,000.