Former University of Hong Kong Council Chairperson Edward Leong Che-hung has said that he was disappointed with the policy address given by the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying last Wednesday. He also asked the public to give his successor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung – whose appointment onto the university’s governing council has been met with opposition – the time and opportunity to prove himself.
Leong told RTHK that the biggest problems currently faced by Hong Kong are the lack of harmony in society and the poor relationship between the executive and the legislative branch, which means it is difficult for the government to carry out its policies. However, the policy address did not deal with these two problems, Leong said.
Leong, who was formerly the Chairperson of the Elderly Commission, praised the speech for outlining measures such as installing seats at bus stations, but also said that it failed to address the most important issue for elderly people, which was the demand for a universal pension plan. Leong thought the universal pension plan should not involve a review of people’s finances and that people should not adopt a “pocket it first” attitude by accepting the “those with financial needs” approach, under which the pension would only be paid to those with assets of HK$80,000 or less.
Leong also said that there is a need to tackle the manpower shortage in medical services, and questioned why the government has failed to carry out healthcare financing reforms, a matter which has been discussed for over three to four decades. He had served as the Chairman of the Hospital Authority from 2002-2004.
Leong also called for the establishment of an overall system governing relations between workers and employers to deal with issues such as the MPF and standard working hours, as the Chairperson of the Standard Working Hours Committee.
‘Give him time’
Leong’s term as Chairman of HKU Council ended in November 2015 and Arthur Li Kwok-cheung was appointed as his successor on December 31, 2015. Thousands rallied against his appointment and HKU students are currently planning a class boycott.
Leong said that he believed the person appointed as Chairperson would do their best for HKU and gave his support to Li, saying that Li should be given time and the opportunity to do the job.
“I liked the way he said ‘Give me six months, I’ll show you that I’ll do a good job with HKU’. I believe that means that he wants from the bottom of his heart to do something to make things more harmonious,” Leong said.
He stressed that he and the other council members had never faced political interference and the HKU pro-vice-chancellor affair was purely a matter of democratic procedure. Leong also said students and staff members have expressed their views on the issue of the Chief Executive’s automatic appointment as Chancellor of universities, and everyone should work together to resolve the matter.