Hong Kong Politics & Protest

Drastic differences in LegCo assistants’ pay comes into question

Considerable differences in pay scale for assistants in LegCo was found, according to a report in Ming Pao.

The report came amidst calls to increase government subsidy for LegCo Members to spend on staff salary in order to help to retain them.

According to legislators’ expense reimbursement claims, an assistant to Heung Yee Kuk constituency representative Lau Wong-fat earns HK$82,570 a month—five times more than the HK$16,000 salary of an assistant to Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, who represents New Territories East.

Legislative Council LegCo

Legislative Council. Photo: GovHK.

A LegCo survey of 320 full-time staff hired by 36 lawmakers found that more than 60 percent earned less than HK$15,000 per month during the 2013-2014 LegCo year.

A series of surveys conducted by the LegCo Secretariat also revealed the turnover rate of full-time staff is as high as 34 per cent.

In July, Emily Lau Wai-hing urged the government to consider an increment in operating expenses.

Lau said LegCo Members need more resources to better the performance of their constitutional role and service to the community—and one means in doing that is by retaining quality staff.

She proposed to align some of the assistants’ salary levels with the pay scale of government executive officers. The officers’ monthly pay starts at HK$26,785.

Occupy Central admiralty

Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan said she paid her assistant half of her salary as she spent half of her time with the Occupy movement. Photo: Wikimedia.

Local political critic Anthony Ip Ken-go said on a Commercial Radio programme that legislative assistance is an unstable job, as LegCo elections take place every four years and the legislator may not keep the seat.

Ip also raised the question as to whether participating in protests may be considered as part of the job of a legislative assistant. He said these jobs are government-funded, so the job duties should be carefully examined.

The Labour Party’s Cyd Ho Sau-lan said she only paid her assistant half her salary, as she had spent half her time at Occupy Central, reported The Standard.

In a recent job posting by the office of Michael Tien Puk-sun, a legislative assistant is required to prepare public policy related speeches, papers and submissions; liaise with other LegCo members, political parties, interest groups and media; initiate and conduct public policy research; as well as handle public complaints and cases.

Job requirements listed include two years’ experience and a bachelor degree preferably in journalism, political science, social science or related disciplines.

By Kuma Chow

Update (June 8, 2015): It was later clarified that the Labour Party paid the remaining half of Cyd Ho’s assistant’s salary during the Occupy Central period.

Drastic differences in LegCo assistants' pay comes into question