Functional constituency lawmakers defeat livelihood motion after 5-hour debate The first motion debated by the new Legislative Council - calling for the government to legislate a minimum wage and maximum working hours - was defeated last night after a marathon debate lasting almost five hours. It was evident halfway through the debate what the outcome would be, with Liberal Party members and many other functional constituency representatives making clear they would not vote for the non-binding motion moved by Federation of Trade Unions legislator Chan Yuen-han. 'This debate began as early as the 1990s. We don't want to argue any more. We want a breakthrough,' said Ms Chan. The debate - which saw one legislator ask if there should be a law to regulate workers' sleeping hours and another eat vegetable scraps to symbolise poverty - ended close to 10pm. Secretary for Economic Development and Labour Stephen Ip Shu-kwan said towards the end of the debate that it was not certain the proposal would bring about positive economic change nor improve labour conditions. He pledged to remain open-minded and to consult stakeholders. Democratic Party legislator Andrew Cheng Kar-foo, who amended the motion to push for the implementation of an International Labour Organisation convention and the prescription of maximum working hours, said: 'Countries with free economies, such as the US, Germany, Japan, have all legislated a minimum wage. So how can we justify the argument that Hong Kong cannot do the same?' Tsang Yok-sing, of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong, expressed his party's support for the motion - a move the DAB-affiliated Ms Chan saw as reflecting the more open-minded attitude of the new legislature. Mr Tsang said: 'Discussions about minimum wage and maximum working hours have resulted in lots of disputes elsewhere in the world. However, those countries persist with such policies despite mounting difficulties. I believe this is strong evidence in support of change,' he said. However, Liberal Tommy Cheung Yu-yan said the proposal would hurt the economy by turning off overseas investors and ultimately reducing job opportunities. 'Many Hong Kong people like to have fun after work every night and go to the office with little energy the next morning. Maybe we should consider regulating people's sleeping hours,' he said. Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, lawmaker for the industrial sector, said the new legislature should not hurry the government into moving towards a welfare state. Both the motion and amendment secured the votes of a majority of directly elected legislators but not of functional constituency lawmakers. To demonstrate the hardships of the disadvantaged, lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan concluded his speech by swallowing vegetable scraps handed him by protesters. Independent Albert Cheng King-hon said he had been prepared for the defeat of the motion and was ready for the next fight. 'I think our real battle field is not here, but in the future debate on universal suffrage,' he said.