A woman who delivered a voracious tirade against Leung Chun-ying’s government has won the approval of netizens after she called officials “worse than thieves” during a meeting at the legislature.

Rita Kwan Wing-yee identified herself as “a citizen who loves Hong Kong” during a special meeting held by the Panel on Welfare Services on Monday. Kwan was unhappy that the government was willing to spend billions on “white elephant” projects such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, but much less on Hong Kong citizens.

In response to Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor saying that retirement protection plans may lead to budget deficits, Kwan said: “When I heard it, I couldn’t help but laugh… You’re spending billions and billions on these infrastructure projects and you never think it’s too much.  You’re telling me that spending one cent on welfare is too much? You’re talking to me about a deficit?”

Rita Kwan Wing-yee. Photo: HKFP screenshot.

She criticised officials for not understanding how difficult life is for average Hong Kong residents.  Kwan asked if the government was kidding when it suggested that those qualifying for retirement protection would need to have assets totalling under HK$80,000 and that the monthly assistance in the programme would only be HK$3,230.

“Of course [Secretary for Labour and Welfare] Cheung Kin Chung, who gets more than HK$300,000 in monthly salary, does not understand the plight of the common Hongkonger. Or else, he would not say cold and inconsiderate things like getting HK$16,000 per month is already very good.”

Kwan also said that Hong Kong has “morally degenerated” and questioned why nobody had held Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying accountable for receiving a secret payment of HK$50 million from Australian company UGL, or why there is still no progress on the case where seven police allegedly beat up a protester during the pro-democracy Occupy protests in 2014.

Her angry speech received enthusiastic support from netizens.

“I really agree with what Miss Kwan said. Thank you for voicing our opinions. There are not many Hong Kongers who dare to speak out like that,” one said on Facebook.

Another said: “Excellent! We are proud of you!”

However, not all were impressed: “Everyone knows how to scold, but it is of no help. You’re only good if you can give some effective suggestions,” one said.

Another said: “Construction projects have economic returns, but retirement protection is just spending. If there are no construction projects, [government] income will decrease in the future, how will there be money for retirement protection? Hong Kong already has comprehensive social security assistance and public housing for those who need it!”

The special meeting was held to discuss social security and retirement protections. Members of the public were invited to attend and speak about the issue.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.