Eight weeks after becoming Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Alex Fong Chi-wai has joined the politically-charged debate surrounding a minimum wage. Speaking to the media for the first time since taking up his new duties on September 1, the career civil servant would not comment specifically on the issue of a minimum wage. But Mr Fong said that the way Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour Matthew Cheung Kin-chung chose to deal with the matter after the government's policy address announcement of a voluntary 'wage protection movement' raised questions. Mr Fong said that the day after the October 11 policy address, Mr Cheung called representatives of the Labour Advisory Board to explain the decision. 'This raises the question of what is the future role of the Labour Advisory Board. This is just a thought, but the way they behave is really calling into question about how much respect you [can] give to the Labour Advisory Board.' Mr Cheung decided to reduce the 'wage protection movement's' two-year trial period to one year, after which minimum-wage legislation would be drawn up if the scheme failed, he said. 'He cut down the two years to one year without consulting anyone on the business side. If that is the government's view, that's fine, as long as it's not policy. But he is taking that as policy,' Mr Fong said. 'I think it's only fair that you give people some prior notice, even if you want to go on with a course of action. But apparently he's not doing that. He just tells the press.' A sample letter about the minimum wage that the government wants chambers of commerce to pass to their members has been issued. Mr Fong said he believed that each chamber was trying to work out how to handle the matter. The General Chamber of Commerce will analyse and provide commentary on the letter and explain to members the parts it agrees with and the areas it has issues with. A copy of the commentary will be passed to the government. 'This whole scheme is designed to address the issue of poverty. But the net outcome may, judging from the way people are thinking about this, result in ... creating more poverty rather than reducing it,' Mr Fong said.