Passing hope on in the midst of stormy times: An interview with two HKCTU chairpersons
This summer, the HKCTU has experienced two elections, with two very different outcomes and prospects. In July 2016, a new chairperson was elected at Executive Committee Election and in September, General Secretary, Lee Cheuk-yan, lost his seat in the Legislative Council Election. How do the veteran chairperson Pun Tin-chi and newly elected chairperson Carol Ng see these changes of time?
Tin-chi and Carol are leaders with very different styles and have led Hong Kong’s independent labour movement in different eras. Nicknamed as “the Schoolmaster”, Tin-chi used to be an executive member of Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union and had participated in the labour movement for decades. “Leading decades of labour movement, the Schoolmaster is very experienced, mature, and assured on many issues. You can tell from the way he runs meetings. He gives thorough analysis on social issues with his unique perspectives. These all made him a convincing leader.” Carol’s portrayal of the Schoolmaster is also shared by many others. Indeed, “down to earth” is his philosophy in union governance. He concluded his term of office at the HKCTU by quoting the late Mr. Szeto Wah’s lecture, “Uncle Wah used to tell us, people and money are mostly essential elements of a union. During my chairmanship at the HKCTU, my priority was to develop membership base and maintain financial stability with some achievements. What delights me most is, affiliates are now starting to take membership and income more seriously”, the Schoolmaster talks in his usual gentle, loving fatherly tone. After serving six years as the chairman, he built a solid foundation for the HKCTU and the incumbent president of the HKCTU will surely continue to support labour movement in another position.
If the Schoolmaster is a loving father, then Carol Ng plays a role of a comrade. “As a leader, my priority is definitely the public’s interest and a full consideration of the overall situation. I also set a good example and hope that I could motivate others to join”, Carol talks about her philosophy to lead. She does not want to be a general only giving commands, but also a comrade to march alongside the people. “Carol indeed has more experiences in actions than I do.”, the Schoolmaster sees her as a leader who is always ready to fight. “From the lawsuits against union discrimination, to her efforts in extending cabin crew’s retirement age and the recent ‘bag-gate’ incident, Carol always shows us her determination to fight till the end with the people.”