Public Eye | South China Morning Post

Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2012, 12:00am

Why is C.Y.'s aide worth so much more than Obama's?

What you're about to read will enrage you. But you have a right to know. Not many of you will have heard of Jack Lew. He's the White House chief of staff. That makes him the top aide to the world's most powerful man. He's the gatekeeper who controls Barack Obama's schedule and decides who gets to see the president. And how much does he get paid for bearing the world's burdens? US$14,350 a month. That's a bit under HK$112,000. Paltry pay for a man so powerful. Obama kept his promise of change and cut the pay of the White House staff. No one gets more than HK$112,000 a month. Most get far less. Hong Kong's chief of staff equivalent is the director of the Chief Executive's Office. Professor Gabriel Leung currently holds this post. You can safely assume that, as Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's top aide, he doesn't have to bear the world's burdens. And how much is he paid? HK$282,080 a month. That's almost triple that of the White House chief of staff. Incoming boss Leung Chun-ying has appointed Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun as director of the chief executive-elect's office. And her pay? Also HK$282,080. Before you all blow your top, could anyone please give Public Eye a sane reason why our chief executive's top aide deserve a pay almost triple that of the top aide of the US president? What could possibly make Leung or Law's job tougher or more important than that of Jack Lew? Is that how we're supposed to splash the taxpayers' money around - pay our bureaucrats bloated salaries while Hong Kong bears the shame of subdivided slum flats, caged homes and rising poverty?

And what have our bureaucrats done to earn their wedge?

It's not just Leung or Law's exorbitant HK$282,080 pay that so infuriates Public Eye. Our chief executive is paid far more than the US president. The pay of our ministers makes those of their counterparts around the world look like pocket change. We have the world's highest-paid bureaucrats aside from Singapore. But at least Singapore has something to show for it. It has clean air. Ours is filthy. It has done a great job housing the people. Our housing policy is the greatest source of public anger. Its quality of life puts ours to shame. We have subdivided slum flats, caged homes, unaffordable housing, rising poverty, stagnant wages, filthy air, and no upward mobility for the grassroots. For this our bureaucrats are paid bloated salaries. Change was C.Y. Leung's election rallying cry. Paying Law HK$282,080 a month is not change. It's more of the same. Take a page out of Obama's book - that's what we say to Leung. Cut those bloated salaries, starting with your own.

Legislators need to remember what their role is

Have our legislators lost their minds? Or are they too thick to understand power? Environment secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah asks them to approve HK$15 billion for a waste incinerator. We need one. Our landfills are overflowing. Even societies that boast the best recycling records can't do without incinerators. But our legislators spurned Yau. Not because they had better alternatives or that we can't afford HK$15 billion. They spurned Yau because they didn't know if incoming boss C.Y. Leung wants an incinerator. Why should it matter what Leung wants? The power to approve funds belongs to legislators. Why surrender it to the chief executive? Voters empowered the legislators to serve the interests of the people, not to surrender this power to the chief executive.

'Communist' storm should have come as no surprise

Public Eye is horrified. Not because C.Y. Leung hired a former Communist Youth League member but because he was clueless it would spark a political storm. Suspicion already swirls that Leung himself is an underground communist. Yet he installs someone with such a background in his team just a month after the election. How politically stupid is that?

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