Date
25 July 2017
Ng visits a kindergarten in Singapore in October last year. He said his foreign travels were assessed against stringent benchmarks. Photo: HK Government
Ng visits a kindergarten in Singapore in October last year. He said his foreign travels were assessed against stringent benchmarks. Photo: HK Government

Ng defends 15 foreign travels in 2015

How much is too many?

Secretary for Education Eddie Ng is throwing the question back at his critics who accuse him of taking too many overseas trips last year.

Ng defended his 15 foreign travels in 2015, saying these in fact made life harder for him than sitting in his office, Apple Daily reports.

He said many of those assignments required him to personally gather information about free kindergarten education in other places.

Legislator Ip Kin-yuen said there were no references regarding any such information in a government report about free kindergarten education.

Ip accused Ng of using the trips for his own leisure.

On Sunday, Ng told a TV  talk show that those overseas trips were necessary and that it was equally important that these were led by him

“If I go, the information will be readily available and is often more complete,” Ng said.

“That’s why many school principals ask me to accompany them on their trips.”

Ng said free kindergarten education would not have been launched that soon if not for these visits.

“It would have taken more than 10 years for other countries to achieve what we have done in just two years,” he said.

He said each trip is carefully assessed against stringent benchmarks.

Of his 15 overseas travels in 2015, some were same-day trips, all in a transparent manner, Ng said.

On each trip, he was accompanied by Education Bureau colleagues or representatives of various organizations.

Education Bureau records show that Ng was away a combined 30 days on 12 foreign trips this fiscal year, mostly to mainland China, at a cost of HK$430,000 (US$55,400) or about HK$14,000 a day.

Ip said he was shocked after learning that the main purpose of Ng’s trips was to simply collect information.

“A lot of information is available online,” Ip said.

He said he has not seen any references to a foreign source in government reports on the matter.

Ip said Hong Kong people have been demanding free kindergarten education for the past 10 years, not just the past two years mentioned by Ng.

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EL/AC/RA

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