But lawmakers and Joseph Zen continue attacks on Arthur Li over education issues Parents of kindergarten children can finally look forward to receiving government subsidies after a voucher scheme much delayed by the government was passed by legislators yesterday. But despite granting approval for the scheme's HK$2 billion funding, lawmakers criticised Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-cheung for acting too slowly in response to public demands for a more user-friendly system. Parents will receive vouchers worth HK$10,000 a year that can be put towards kindergarten fees. The idea of using a voucher scheme to subsidise early childhood education, announced by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in his policy address in October, was criticised for only covering non-profit kindergartens. It was later widened to profit-making kindergartens, but only for three years. Yesterday Democrat Yeung Sum lambasted Professor Li for delaying the funding proposal, which should have been submitted to the Legislative Council earlier this month. He said the proposed three-year transition for kindergartens from profit-making to non-profit-making would still be unfair for parents. 'This is not a real market economy, and parents won't be given a real choice,' he said. Fellow party member Cheung Man-kwong also criticised the government for imposing a quality assurance mechanism for kindergartens, of which the details had not been discussed to any degree. Other lawmakers also criticised the government for abolishing a standard pay scale for teachers. Professor Li dismissed criticisms that he had not listened to lawmakers' views, and urged Legco to give a 'Christmas present' to parents by approving the funding without further criticism. He lamented that whatever the government did, lawmakers would still criticise it. 'Our position has always been wanting to see profit-making kindergartens switching to non-profit-making,' he said. Meanwhile, the head of the Catholic diocese has said it does not want to give up all the schools it now runs if it loses a court challenge to management reforms, but may withdraw from some. 'The diocese is sentimentally attached to [Catholic] schools and doesn't want to give them all up,' Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun said. But he explained that if the diocese lost the case in the Court of Final Appeal, it would pull out of some schools unless the Catholic philosophy could be maintained in their management. Cardinal Zen was speaking after conducting a Mass at La Salle College to celebrate its 75th anniversary. The Education and Manpower Bureau issued a statement on Thursday expressing 'deep regret' but 'respect' over the diocese's decision to take its challenge to the highest court. It called on the diocese to show 'a spirit of harmony' with Christmas on the way. Cardinal Zen responded that it was the government that had forced the diocese to go to court and criticised Dr Li for being 'impolite' in previous comments.