Dedicated housing chief was set a tough task

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 May, 2012, 12:00am


A former housing chief charged with implementing former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa's controversial 85,000-a-year flat-building target in the late 1990s has died after a battle with cancer.

Dominic Wong Sing-wah, former secretary for housing, died earlier this month. He had been suffering from pharyngeal cancer since in 2002.

Wong, 70, (pictured) joined the government in 1962 and served as an executive officer and trade officer before transferring to the administrative service rank in 1973.

He had held various senior positions, including postmaster general in late 1980s and director of education between 1992 and 1994. Subsequently, he was appointed to head the housing department and continued in the post after the handover in 1997.

In 1998, the government announced a long-term target of supplying 85,000 flats a year. Wong was responsible for implementing the policy and finding land to meet the construction target. The policy soon came under fire after it caused a massive slump in property prices after the Asian financial crisis. Tung admitted in 2000 that the policy had in fact been dropped within months of its announcement.

A member of the Housing Authority, Michael Choi Ngai-min, who worked with Wong, praised him for 'remarkable achievement' of shortening the waiting time for public housing from 6.8 years on average in the mid-1990s to 2.3 years in 2002.

'Wong was a typical civil servant who tried his best to achieve the targets that were set by his superiors,' Choi said.

He said Wong remained low-profile after retirement and he had only met him at a few social events. Wong was honorary president of the Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care.

Joseph Wong Wing-ping, a former senior official in Tung's administration, praised Dominic Wong as a 'typically clean and responsible civil servant' who devoted his post-retirement life to voluntary service.