Executive councilor and lawmaker Regina Ip criticized Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s new youth scheme, saying it will cause a brain drain in local think tanks.
The youth scheme offers a monthly salary of HK$30,000 to HK$95,000 for non-civil service posts. These are for senior officers and officer positions for policy and project coordination for people aged 18 to 30, Apple Daily reports.
According to Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, 684 applications for these posts had been received as of Wednesday.
Ip told Apple Daily that Lam’s new initiative puts a lot of pressure on non-governmental think tanks as many are attracted by the high salaries.
“How are we [think tanks] supposed to give such high salaries? We don’t have the resources,” Ip said. “For a university graduate, a monthly salary of HK$14,000 to HK$15,000 is already quite decent, much better than most who work in the media industry or as journalists.”
She said that even multinational corporations will not be able to compete with the government. Their salaries are around HK$70,000 to HK$80,000 per month, and some management trainees of big companies receive just upward of HK$20,000 per month, she said.
Ip said a trusted employee in her think tank was making HK$40,000 prior to leaving. The salary was triple that when the trainee first joined, but it was still significantly lower than what Lam is offering.
Ip questioned whether Lam would allow more pan-democrats into the government, saying it would be “meaningless” to only recruit pro-Beijing people.
She said it would be difficult for young people to adapt to these newly created positions, and they would not be very effective as they lack the institutional experience working in the government.
Ip said the new recruits would have difficulty convincing their administrative officer counterparts to work for or with them.
“The AOs have taken so many tests to get their job. There’s fierce competition to become an AO. Why would they listen to these officers? Experienced civil servants will find it hard to get along with them.”
Ip said that although these officers have been recruited directly by Lam, it does not mean that they are actually as powerful as they wish they could be.
“Not everything can be solved by saying that you have been recruited by the CE. It just does not work that way,” Ip said.
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