Donald Tsang

Don't set C.Y. hopes too high, says Chow

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 June, 2012, 12:00am


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Do not expect too much from Leung Chun-ying's administration, outgoing health minister Dr York Chow Yat-ngok warned Hongkongers yesterday.

'The public should not have too much hope for the next government, because during an election, candidates' policy manifestos can be perfect, but can these perfect manifestos be delivered?' he asked during an interview on a radio show.

However, he clarified after the interview that he had confidence in the chief executive-elect's cabinet and believed the public could have high expectations, too - just not too high.

Chow said in his experience, it took time to implement policies.

Citing Leung's electoral slogan, he added: 'I hope it will really be a 'gradual change' instead of announcing a whole raft of [new policies] in a short time. [Otherwise] I am worried that they may not be achievable, or side effects will emerge afterwards.'

But he also urged the Legislative Council to work swiftly to pass legislation that would allow Leung to restructure the government. Leung said later he intended to be practical and realistic and do things step by step.

Chow's term ends on June 30, and Leung's begins on July 1. Chow has said he has no definite plans for his future - except that he has no desire to serve as a government minister again.

Although he would like to pass on his experience and knowledge to the next generation, the teaching profession does not appeal to him. 'I don't like rigid teaching work. It's not just in classrooms - you speak in the Legislative Council and no one's listening. I don't want teaching work that's boring,' said Chow, 64.

'At my age, I want to enjoy life, spend time with family and do some meaningful work. In the past eight years [as the secretary for food and health], I have been happy, even though when I was a doctor I never thought of becoming a government official.'

He has previously hinted that former Hospital Authority official Dr Ko Wing-man is to be his successor. He said yesterday: 'I'm confident in him because I know him. He is a good person; don't bully him.'

Meanwhile, Chow praised Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who took office in 2005, for making healthcare a priority and for his willingness to take advice. He also said Tsang was assertive in making decisions and placed trust in his subordinates.

Asked if incoming leader Leung might differ from Tsang in this respect, Chow said Leung had shown perseverance in his long journey to the top.

For Chow, leaving office without resolving the manpower shortage in public hospitals is his main regret.

'There is an increasing burden on frontline hospital staff,' he said. 'We have recruited most graduates from medical schools and nursing schools. We have been recruiting overseas doctors, and still we don't have enough [manpower]. On this, our work has not been sufficient.'

In response to criticism that his policies fostering the development of the private medical sector led to a flow of manpower from the public sector, he said: 'I don't think too many have left, though it is seen in some specialities like obstetrics.' Many senior doctors had stayed in the public sector, he said.