Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim faced questioning in the Legislative Council on Wednesday over HK$433,700 that he has spent on overseas duty trips this financial year—the vast majority of which have been to mainland China.
League of Social Democrats lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung said the public have questioned Ng’s commitment to his duties, pointing out that he did not attend the November 29 hearing on whether to abolish the Territory-wide System Assessment.
Leung asked Ng to provide details of trips he has taken over the past financial year, including: the duration and destination; the class of hotel accommodation and flight cabin; mileage points earned; expenses incurred; the number of accompanying personnel from the Education Bureau; and whether the trip effectively contributed to the resolution of existing education problems in Hong Kong.
Ng, however, defended the spending. He said that the trips have delivered results and clarified that he has not used reward miles earned from the trips for private purposes.
“Through in-depth exchanges with education officers and academics in the places visited, we have gained more thorough understanding of their good practices and valuable experiences, which have served as a useful source of reference for us to formulate major education policies,” he said, adding that trips north of the border “strengthened ties between [Hong Kong and mainland].”
Oriental Daily earlier reported that Ng is among the top five officials in terms of number of overseas trips, averaging one per month.
Apart from missing the TSA hearing, Ng was also on leave between September 16 to 24, 2014, during the class boycotts that presaged the pro-democracy Occupy protests.