Chief Executive Carrie Lam has vowed to restart consultations over how employers may pay long-service and severance pay. It will halt an unpopular proposal rushed out in the final days of her predecessor Leung Chun-ying’s administration.

Lam made the suggestion just a day after she became chief executive, during visits to local districts and families.

Carrie Lam visits Central. Photo: GovHK.

Currently, the Mandatory Provident Fund offsetting mechanism allows employers to pay employees’ long-service and severance payments from their contributions to MPF pension accounts.

Last month, Leung went to extra lengths, such as hosting extraordinary Executive Council meetings, to form a proposal which partially intended to scrap the mechanism. But both employers and labour unions were dissatisfied with his plan.

Lam said on Sunday that, when she was still the chief secretary, she was the “chief designer” of the government’s proposal to scrap the mechanism. She said the plan she formed, announced in January’s policy address, was a result of consultations.

Carrie Lam visits Ka Wai Chuen in Hung Hom. Photo: GovHK.

“[B]oth the business sector and the labour sector have great reservations about the proposal,” she said, calling the situation “very difficult.”

“I believe a practical way would be to start over again and listen to the business and the labour sector, to seek a consensus.”

But she said the proposal would not have to be completely torn down as much foundation work has already been done for future discussion. She added that she has asked the new labour secretary Law Chi-kwong to study a new plan.

Carrie Lam tours the reprovisioned Chuk Yuen village, Ta Kwu Ling with Heung Yee Kuk chiefs. Photo: GovHK.

On Sunday, Lam visited a village in the North District, a residential estate in Hung Hom and Hollywood Road in Central, representing her policy focus on land, housing and conservation.

She was also asked about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s calls increase patriotic education and education on the Basic Law and the Chinese Constitution.

Lam said the government had been working let the public – especially young people – gain a better understanding of “One Country, Two Systems,” the Basic Law and the nation’s ­development.

“There is room for promoting the Basic Law one step further in schools and communities,” she said.

“But the ways to do it are open for discussion. I hope we don’t see that, whenever we talk about increasing young people’s understanding about the country, it will be labelled as ‘brainwashing’. Hongkongers are used to thinking independently and information flows vibrantly here – there is not much chance they will be affected by any kind of brainwashing.”

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.