Leung can rebound from his 'bad start'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 July, 2012, 12:00am


Hongkongers have come to love maligning the new government almost as much as they like Apple's iconic gadgets - but a top adviser to the new chief executive says Leung Chun-ying can still come good.

That's if he takes a lesson from the technology giant's founder.

Executive Council member Franklin Lam Fan-keung admits Leung had made a 'bad start' after a series of scandals, but said Leung can turn things around, just as Steve Jobs did when he rejoined Apple in 1996.

'A bad start does not imply a bad ending. When Jobs was back at Apple it was a mess,' Lam, 51, said in a television interview yesterday.

Jobs famously took the business from near bankruptcy to become one of the most valuable brands in the world before his death last year.

Lam, a former property market analyst turned policy researcher, is new to Exco and admits to being ambivalent about politics, despite being part of a body that can approve or reject government policies.

'I have never had any interest in being linked to politics and would not participate in politics,' said Lam, although he admitted he had stepped into 'a 45 degree Celsius kitchen' when he agreed to join Exco.

He made headlines last week, days after his appointment, by telling an interviewer: 'If the ministers can remain a full team after a month we should stage a banquet.'

The resignation of development chief Mak Chai-kwong on Thursday took the food off the table. But Lam said yesterday there was no problem in finding new talent after Mak's departure and arrest on suspicion of abusing civil service housing allowance in the 1980s.

'There are still many talents who are willing to serve,' said Lam.

On land and housing policy, Lam said Leung's pledge to restrict flat sales to local buyers in an attempt to cool a housing market boosted by an influx of money from the mainland was a pilot scheme and 'a small part of his housing policy'.

'The key is to increase the supply of land and housing,' said Lam, who was noted for his precise predictions of the property market in the 1990s and reportedly owns 20 homes.

Rejecting suggestions of a bubble in the housing market, Lam said: 'If we have done a lot to combat what we saw as bubbles ... and little effect is seen, the demand for housing is [proven to be] concrete.' The demand, which has pushed prices close to record levels, comes from Hongkongers and outsiders working for international businesses, he added.