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Chan Yuen Han
Leading the battle for social justice

By Germaine Choi

Being a politician, Ms. Chan Yuen Han is a strong-willed and tough legislator in the minds of the people.

Ms. Chan is the vice-president of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and a committee member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong.

Not many people know about her unique association with the unions since her adolescence.

When she was 10 years old, she went to the library of the Trade Unions for the first time.

As a teenager, she volunteered at the federation.

In 1971, she started a career as a full-time worker at the federation.

Although Ms. Chan enjoyed her work in labour service, she did not intend to become a politician.

That was merely chance.

“I ran in the 1998 Eastern District Board Election because the federation wanted a voice in the government.

“Unfortunately, I won,?she said jokingly.

During her term on the board, she made it clear that she would not run in the next election.

However, in 1992 she decided to run in the Legistive Council election again because it was the first direct election, and she had her mother’s support.

Most people regard her as a “left-wing?politician, but she does not mind.

“There are different parties in society, and a left-wing party is just one of them,? she said. “The most important thing is to respect others?views.?/font>

Her family members, especially her father, have had an impact on her political beliefs.

When she was around 12, her father died of a stroke. Her family fell into a financial crisis.

“My father had made plans for our studies; however, when he died, all plans were abandoned,?she said.

In order to ease the family’s financial burden, Ms. Chan began to work in an advertising agency and continued her studies at night.

Influenced by her father, her mother insisted that her children study at night even if they were working.

She said, “It was indeed a very hard time. But I enjoyed it, too.?/font>

There were many poor children at that time, but not everyone had a chance to study.

Indeed, owing to her father’s encouragement when she was a child, Ms. Chan likes studying and reading.

In 1985, she studied philosophy at the Guangdong Science and Research University.

This was because she like debating and asking questions.

Although she loves reading, she cannot afford spending too much time at it.

“I used to stay up all night reading martial arts novels,?she said. “So I’ve turned to 'non-addictive' hobbies such as listening to music and travelling.?/font>

She has not furthered her studies since 1992 because she has been too occupied with work.

“In the past I could go for a walk in countryside for 45 minutes every week. But it is a luxury now,?said she.

No matter how busy she is, she still maintains a close relationship with her family.

She values her mother’s opinions very much.

She asks for her opinions before making important decisions, like running in elections.

“My wage as a saleswoman was higher than it was in the federation

“But my mother knew I like working in the federation very much and so she allowed me to do that,?she said.

Ever since her mother died 2 years ago, there have been fewer family gatherings.

Nonetheless, they are still very close.

“They’ve been used to my hectic lifestyle for 30 years,?she said.

Her little sister, a nurse, accompanied Ms. Chan during the election, and her elder sister often makes soup for her.

However, family members have different views when it comes to politics.

“My family members don’t accept my political viewpoints at all,?she said.

Despite different points of view, her family respect her choice and do not oppose her.

“My youngest brother has totally opposite views to mine on politics, but he also agrees that I’m doing a good job,?she said, smiling.

Some independent women like being single, but Ms. Chan said she does not.

“I don’t resist relationships at all. I just don’t have the chance, and I can’t manage a relationship well,?she said.

However, she does not feel a loss.

To Ms. Chan, labour service is more than a job. It is a mission.

She said, “I am happy that more people believe social justice and equality,?

She said she is determined to stay focussed on her career. She has no regrets.



Germaine Choi