The new Undersecretary for Labour and Welfare Caspar Tsui was unable to respond to a question regarding the current minimum wage at a press conference on Wednesday.

Tsui and the current Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong, met with reporters after Chief Executive Carrie Lam appointed ten new undersecretaries on Tuesday. Tsui was asked by a reporter whether he could name the current minimum wage and the standard amount of social security assistance received by three-person families.

Caspar Tsui Ying-wai
Under Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Caspar Tsui Ying-wai. File photo: GovHK.

Tsui did not respond, saying that he would be meeting with many stakeholders in the future.

“As mentioned by the secretary, I have only been at work for a few hours,” said Tsui. “When it comes to the details, I believe that I must meet with stakeholders to understand their needs. So, in this way, I believe that we will have ample time to prove to citizens that I am able to competently fulfil the responsibilities of this position.”

Law, who was appointed to Lam’s new cabinet on July 1, said he would be stumped too. “If you asked me whether I knew the standard rates of social security assistance for adults, elderly persons, and children, I would not be able to answer.”

“Would anyone here be able to tell me the standard rate of social security assistance for children?” asked Law. “This is not common knowledge.”

In May, the statutory minimum wage was raised from HK$32.5 per hour to HK$34.5 per hour.

Inter-party cooperation

Law is an ex-member of the Democratic Party and Tsui is currently a member of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB). Earlier in the press conference, Law said that the parties were largely in agreement on issues surrounding labour and welfare.

“I believe that our different respective political backgrounds will support, rather than hinder, our work in the government bureau,” said Law.

See also: Pro-Beijing figure appointed as education deputy despite strong opposition

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong.
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong. File photo: HKGov.

Before his appointment, Tsui was political assistant to the secretary for home affairs from June 2008 to June 2012 and from September 2012 to June 2017. He joined the DAB in 2006.

Jun Pang is an independent writer and researcher. She has previously worked in NGOs advocating for refugees' and migrants' rights in Asia and Europe.