Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, her cabinet and other top officials are donating one month’s salary to charity amid the city’s battle with the deadly coronavirus.
In a Friday night statement that confirmed an earlier Post report, the city government said the move was intended to demonstrate their solidarity with the public.
“The disease has caused a significant impact on the local economy in the past two months. Various sectors have been hard hit, and the public has been challenged to get through these difficult times,” the statement said.
“To show that the governing team is fighting the disease and riding out the difficult times with the public, the chief executive and all politically appointed officials will donate one month’s remuneration to the Community Chest of Hong Kong for charity purposes.”
The total salaries involved, which span everyone from bureau directors to undersecretaries to non-official members of Lam’s Executive Council, will see more than HK$10 million (US$1.3 million) directed to charities under the Community Chest umbrella.
“The decision was made by Mrs. Lam, but I believe every official was [happy] to do it, as it shows we work as a team,” a source familiar with the decision said.
Lam’s current monthly salary is HK$416,500, while those of her 16 cabinet ministers range from HK$335,100 to HK$371,500. Non-official Executive Council members earn about HK$83,050 a month, while political assistants – another group included in the move – make up to HK$117,300.
Earlier on Friday, the Singaporean government announced its ministers and members of parliament would take a one-month salary cut, while senior public service officers would give up a half month of salary.
President Halimah Yacob also volunteered to give up a month’s pay.
A day before, Hong Kong secretaries grilled by lawmakers and reporters about the possibility of salary cuts amid the coronavirus outbreak had declined to answer directly.
Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, however, one of Lam’s executive advisers, was ready to talk about it on Friday evening, telling a local TV audience she had suggested cutting salaries last week in a messaging group with other top officials, only to receive no reply.
“The decision to donate salary is just copying from Singapore, giving the public a bad impression,” the pro-establishment lawmaker said. “But I am willing to do so.”