Legco approves 12.4 per cent pay rise for top Hong Kong officials as pan-democrats outnumbered
Next chief secretary will make monthly salary of HK$371,550, followed by HK$359,000 for financial secretary and HK$346,850 for justice secretary
The Legislative Council’s Finance Committee approved funding for a 12.4 per cent pay rise for the city’s top officials in the next term, after a cat-and-mouse game between the pan-democratic and pro-establishment camps ended in the former being outnumbered in votes.
On a vote count of 26 to 22, the pro-establishment camp managed to have the motion passed.
With the pay rise, the monthly salary for the chief secretary in the next administration will be increased to HK$371,550, while the financial secretary will earn HK$359,000 and the secretary for justice will command HK$346,850.
Each bureau head will earn HK$335,100 a month.
Remuneration for each political assistant will be capped at 35 per cent of the ministerial salary, or not more than HK$117,300 a month.
The committee met on the issue for the fourth time on Friday.
Pan-democrats, who opposed the rise by filibustering, said the ministers were already very well paid and their performance did not legitimise the increase.
Committee chairman Chan Kin-por limited their speeches to three minutes each, saying some of the motions tabled by pan-democrats were unacceptable “for more than 10 reasons” he had in mind. He did not elaborate on what the reasons were.
Localist lawmaker Lau Siu-lai challenged Chan, saying: “This is a meeting where we reason publicly. We are not here to talk about love. How can you say you have reasons on your mind and not reveal them?”
Lau said she did not understand why one of her motions suggesting for the environment secretary’s salary to be pegged to Hong Kong’s environmental quality was ruled as irrelevant.
Ted Hui Chi-fung from the Democratic Party also queried if Chan had a “political agenda”, saying the cap on speech time was “arbitrary”.
The committee originally reserved several hours on Saturday to continue the debate – in anticipation of filibustering – but at about 6.30pm, some pan-democrats suddenly withdrew their motions and allowed the committee to move to vote.
With some members from the pro-establishment side already gone for the evening, the pan-democratic camp was banking on outnumbering their rivals.
But as the bell rang, signalling five minutes before the vote, some pro-establishment lawmakers returned.
The camp eventually outnumbered the pan-democrats by four and pushed through the result.