Push to spare student subsidy fund from row

Top News | Sophie Hui Jul 17, 2017
Education Secretary Kevin Yeung Yun- hung has urged lawmakers to put the interests of students ahead of the disqualification turmoil.

Yeung asked them to pass the new education funding request this week so students who apply for certain self- financing degree programs are subsidized in the next academic year.

Legislative Council Finance Committee meetings on Friday and Saturday ended early as chaos erupted after the High Court's disqualification of four pan-democratic lawmakers - Edward Yiu Chung-yim, Nathan Law Kwun- chung, Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu- lai.

Speaking after a radio program yesterday, Yeung warned that if the HK$3.6 billion education funding is not passed this month, the government will have a hard time backdating the allowances due to uncertainties if the Legco will approve the funding bid in its next session.

He hopes the request will be passed during an eight-hour meeting on Wednesday.

Yeung said it was unlikely the disqualification was a "political bomb" left by the past administration.

He said most lawmakers support the new education measures and while some had concerns he hopes they will prioritize livelihood issues.

If the education fund is not passed, secondary graduates who opt to take self-financed courses in the new academic year will not receive the HK$30,000 subsidy in time, he said.

The Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union called for the bill's passage as soon as possible as many schools need funds in September, the same with DSE graduates who will take up self-financed bachelor degree programs.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said she is worried funding for medical projects and building urn spaces at Sandy Ridge Cemetery may not be passed within the current legislative session.

She hopes funding is passed so tenders and construction of a new hospital at Kai Tak Development Area can start, as well as work on the extension of Tuen Mun Hospital and the redevelopment of Prince of Wales Hospital.

The pro-establishment camp also urged the pro-democracy camp to pass the education funding request on Wednesday.

But Eddie Chu Hoi-dick said the pro-democracy camp's strategies at the Finance Committee depend on Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet- ngor's stance on the disqualifications.

Chu said Lam needs to take initiatives to "defuse" the situation, such as pledging not to launch further lawsuits to try to disqualify more lawmakers.

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June 2018