Hong Kong lawmakers give bonuses to staff after the Legco term began
Hong Kong lawmakers give bonuses to staff after the Legco term began

BEIJING: In the first month of the new Legislative Council's term, at least three Hong Kong lawmakers have given bonuses to their staff, some of them just weeks after starting their jobs, according to a Post investigation into the lawmakers' spending claims. After getting my salary.
On January 31, two weeks after he was hired, legislator Ambrose Lam San-kyung, who represents the legal constituency, paid bonuses totaling HK34,000 (US$4,331) to his three staff members.

While Kenneth Lau Ip-kyung, representing the Heung Yi Kuk constituency, gave a total of HK$26,000 in discretionary bonuses to two of his nine employees on January 28, fellow MP Holden Chow Ho-ding, vice-president of the Democratic Alliance. The Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong awarded a fixed HK$5,000 Lunar New Year bonus to six of its eight staff members in January.

However, Lam defended his choice in April, telling Legco's accounting office that three of his employees had assisted him "voluntarily" from the time of his election on 18 December until the start of the new legislative session on 1 January.

The bonus was intended to express gratitude for his voluntary assistance with all work related to Legco, including setting up the office and preparing paperwork, according to what he wrote.
Lam told the Post that the trio took "several days" over time to help them become accustomed to Legco's work and to serve the public effectively.
The bonus, he explained, is "an appreciation for their voluntary services and overtime work," adding that it was less than the hourly wage they were entitled to for the amount of time spent.

Since the end of the last Legco term, according to Chou, who has been a legislator since 2016, he has hired staff.

Since they have been dedicated employees here for many years, I have decided to give them a bonus of over one month's salary."
In writing, Lau informed his team that the money was a reward for their outstanding work, contributions and achievements over the "past period".

Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong, a former legislator from the Accountancy District who served from 2012 to 2020, questioned Lam's payment to such new employees, calling it "quite rare" and unheard of.
If it had been for the time between his election and the start of the Legco tenure, he claimed it would have been better if Lam had paid him out of his own pocket.
The bonuses awarded at the beginning of the year were "not a huge amount", but he said they could still cause controversy.

Leung claimed lawmakers gave bonuses to only the top performers at the end of the year.

He knew that some companies, if they had not already done so or had spent their entire budget, would give bonuses to employees who had worked for him in the previous term.
Ivan Choy Chi-Keung, a political scientist at the Chinese University, claimed that even though the three lawmakers did not break any Legco rules by receiving the bonus early, it may have influenced public perception of how they spent tax dollars. .
He said, it is a little early. It would make people wonder if it was actually connected to Legco's work.

Responding to the concerns, Lam stated that the work completed by his assistants had "nothing to do with the election" and only involved matters related to Legco.
Each MP is paid HK$2,829,310 per year during their four-year term, in addition to their monthly salary of HK$103,130 and annual medical allowances.
Office rent, stationery, consulting services, inexpensive goods, and employee benefits such as contract bonuses, double pay, or contract termination gratuities can all be paid from these funds.
Another HK$225,970 is allocated each year for entertainment, connectivity and travel costs which are reimbursed without receipt or other proof of payment.

According to The Post, at least seven legislative assistants were paid more than HK$60,000, which is almost double what district councilors are paid.
Among them is Evan Choo Siu-lun, founder of the Hong Kong Sustainable Development Research Institute, who was first appointed chief of staff to MP Gary Zhang Xinyu, as well as an employee of Legco's chairman Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen. HK$69,000 paid per month.

Zhang claimed that to set up his office and train his staff members who were unfamiliar with Legco issues, he hired Chu, a skilled legislative assistant, on a full-time basis for a few months.
"My team and I each have their own area of ​​expertise and expertise, but as new employees, we had no prior knowledge of Legco. We really needed someone with experience to help us," he declared. Of. It's good that he can set aside a few months for us.
The Post's investigation also revealed that lawmakers had spent very little on a variety of goods and services.

At the height of the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, MP David Lam Tzit-eun, a medical legislator, spent HK$31,500 to buy 2,100 test kits, and Carmen Kan Wai-mun, a legislator, Spent HK$13,750 to buy the 550 kit.
Others pay consultants thousands of dollars each month to manage their press relations and social media accounts.

Reverend Peter Koon Ho-ming of the election committee's constituency paid an "information service fee" of HK$1,000 to publish each of his 21 comments in the pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po.
Simon Hoi Lee, a legislator from the Election Committee district, paid barrister Wang Kwok-wah HK$50,000 to compile a research paper on a bill that is currently being considered by Legco. The two had previously written two books together.
A pair of Hong Kong and Chinese national flags with stands for the commercial constituency's Eric Yim Kong cost HK$118, while fellow MP Andrew Lam Siu-loe paid HK$76 on copies of the Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution and the national. have spent. security law.

A 95 yuan (HK$110) fingerprint attendance machine purchased by Maggie Chan Man-ki, a teleprompter and a surveillance camera purchased by Perry Yiu Pak-leung and Edward Leung Hei respectively, both priced at HK$3,000, were also found.

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