Speech on Motion on Vote of No Confidence in the Secretary for Development and the Secretary for Education

Mr President

Further to an earlier Motion calling for the resignation of the Secretary for Education, another Motion of Non-confidence on the Secretary for Education and the Secretary for Development is put to us today. Frankly, this Motion is unfair to the incumbents. As I said in the earlier debate, (Quote) “policy secretaries would only win criticism not applause in a highly politicized society … [but all] of them have great courage and undertaking besides competence on accepting the job and challenge” (Unquote). I am convinced that we must have concrete evidence and strong case before we may ask a Policy Secretary to step down. If not, it is grossly irresponsible.

Today’s vote of non-confidence on Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan arises mainly from the so-called incident of unauthorized partition of flats. Secretary Chan has just explained the course of events. I wish to add that it would be unfair and irrational to treat old flats partitioned with wooden panels into living rooms for subletting some 10 odds year ago indifferently to unscrupulous partitioning of flats into unauthorized self-contained sub-units today.

Moreover, some assert that Secretary Chan is intentionally shifting the blame to his spouse. May I ask my Honorable Colleagues, how many of you dare to ask your wife about her private purse? Or, how much private investment does she have? Even if you dare, may I ask how many of you have ever queried or interfered her investment? Frankly, many couples in Hong Kong are financially independent. If both of them are professionals, they would even enjoy autonomy. As long as the better half is not irrational, the other half would rarely intervene. It is illogical to allege that Secretary Chan is shifting the “blame” to his wife. The allegation is not only unfounded but illogical chronologically. Are we alleging that Secretary Chan has been preparing for more than 10 years to become bureau secretary and has arranged for his wife to bear the blunt?

Paul and I were pals in the last Session of this Council. I know his character and capability pretty well. Paul possesses the resilience of Chiu Chow clansman. He is devoted, attentive and demanding. He pays attention to facts and details. He is dedicated and competent. He is now in charge of housing, land and planning. Shortly after taking up the job, he has grasped key areas of his portfolio and familiarized with his work. His performance in the latest round of measures to stabilize the property market speaks for himself. He is a competent policy secretary. Given his seniority in accountancy profession, his network, his experience in the legislature and his ability, he deserves some respect, at least in terms of remunerations, for electing and undertaking to serve the community. I would say that it does not make sense to unreasonably criticize somebody who is dedicated to serve.

Turning to Secretary for Education, Eddie Ng, let me reiterate what I said at the earlier debate. (Quote) “He is disappointing in his handling of the event on both public relations and political standards. However, it would be too harsh to [cast a vote of non-confidence on him]. After all, this is an unfinished job left behind by the last Administration, including the controversial contents and the timetable. As an incumbent in this Administration, he is accountable. Yet, it is unfair to hold him fully responsible for what happened.” (Unquote)

People are saying that Hong Kong gets too personal in criticisms nowadays. If we keep on like this, one day a bird passing by the Chief Executive’s Office would be probably shot down by a “cannon gun”.

With these remarks, I cannot support the Motion.

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