• Fri
  • Oct 3, 2014
  • Updated: 12:52am

The 'high flyer' who was brought low

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 July, 2012, 12:00am

Once praised as an official sensitive to public perceptions who dared to call for the freeing of a journalist detained on the mainland, Mak Chai-kwong has fallen from grace with the so-called cross-leasing scandal.

Mak, 62, joined the government as an assistant engineer in 1976. His career was focused on developing infrastructure and, in particular the railway system. He took charge of a number of projects for the electrification and modernisation of the Kowloon-Canton Railway.

Seen as a high flyer, Mak was promoted to the rank of chief engineer in 1994, to government engineer in 1997 and to principal government engineer in 2000.

He steered infrastructure projects in the Tseung Kwan O, Sha Tin and Ma On Shan new towns when posted to the former territory development department.

He was appointed director of highways in November 2002, then permanent secretary for the environment, transport and works in 2006 and permanent secretary for development in July 2007, in which role he worked closely with Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, then secretary for development and now chief secretary.

Mak remained active after retiring from the civil service in 2010. He led the Sichuan Reconstruction Team under the Development Bureau, paying regular visits to areas hit by the deadly 2008 earthquake.

During the chief executive election earlier this year, Mak, as an election committee member, attended a rally for Henry Tang Ying-yen while denying lending support to Tang.

Despite this, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying appointed him secretary for development.

Mak was well-known for being the only official to point out a 'public perception issue' over the approval of former housing chief Leung Chin-man's employment by New World Development, less than two years after retiring from the civil service.

A probe by the legislature in 2008 revealed that Mak at the time had reminded the Civil Service Bureau that Leung's new job would raise doubts among the public, but the bureau did not heed his advice.

Another incident that put Mak in the spotlight was his signature on a petition in 2005 calling for the release of Hong Kong-based journalist Ching Cheong, who was accused of espionage on the mainland. Mak was one of two senior government officials who lent support to the cause.

27

The number of months Mak acknowledges leasing a flat he owned to another civil servant from 1986 to 1988

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