Social workers slam Lam buck-passing

Top News | Phoenix Un 22 Jul 2019

Some 4,000 social workers joined a silent march, saying the government should not pass the buck and make it appear that their profession could solve the political crisis.

Social workers comprised the third group of professionals taking to the street amid the controversy, after the legal sector and journalists.

Social workers marched from Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to the Civic Square at Central Government Offices,carrying a big black ball with "political issue" written in yellow.

"Throwing a ball" at someone is Cantonese slang for evading responsibility.

It was organized by five groups, including the Social Welfare Organizations Employees Union, the Hong Kong Social Workers' General Association and the offices of legislators Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung and Shiu Ka-chun.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said more counseling services should be provided in light of recent events following a recent University of Hong Kong study that found one in 11 people suffer from depression - a new high. But many protesters, saying they did not like what Lam implied, held balls with slogans such as "political issues should be solved politically" and "social workers are not machines maintaining harmony."

They threw the big ball and other smaller balls into Civic Square to say "the ball is back in the government's court."

Cheung said: "The social welfare sector [cannot solve this political problem] and Carrie Lam should handle it herself."

Lee, a social worker, said significantly more youngsters suffer from mood issues after the protests started, especially after several clashes with police.

"The government gave us some advice, that the youngsters turn to violence because they have no way to vent their anger so we should be concerned about them," Lee said.

But he said: "We are concerned about their mood disorders, and our work would be meaningless if the root problem is not solved."

Lee said Lam has granted none of the five major demands of the protesters.

A Ms Man said she joined almost all anti-fugitive bill protests, including the June 12 clash, where she suffered from tear gas fired by police. "Youngsters have their own thoughts, and it's not that anybody can affect them the whole world has changed," she said.

A Mr Chan, 73, who has been on a hunger strike for more than 12 days to oppose the fugitive bill, sat on the pavement on Queensway Road chanting to the social workers: "Go Hongkongers."

phoenix.un@singtaonewscorp.com

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