Leeks new PAA trouble-shooter

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 November, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 November, 1993, 12:00am

IN an apparent attempt by the Government to offer greater accountability, the deputy director of the New Airport Projects Co-ordination Office (NAPCO), Clinton Leeks, has been appointed as a trouble-shooter for the Provisional Airport Authority (PAA).

As corporate affairs director, Mr Leeks will manage the complex web of relations between legislators, the Government, the Joint Liaison Group and the Airport Consultative Committee as well as the aviation and related industries.

Mr Leeks' appointment will also allow the Government to increase its involvement in the management of the multi-billion dollar airport projects and will provide them with a further vehicle for hands-on input.

But industry sources suggested yesterday that the PAA - although it was seeking government staffing support - might not be altogether happy and could spark concerns that Mr Leeks had been positioned to act as a government watchdog.

A friendly insider would certainly be attractive to an administration concerned with budgets and project integration and wary of extravagance.

PAA corporate affairs manager Philip Bruce dismissed suggestions that the authority was concerned about unwanted government influence.

''There are just so many relationships which need to be dealt with and Mr Leeks is ideal for that job. Having government appointees will also facilitate openness and transparency,'' he said.

Mr Leeks will be joined by Deputy Postmaster-General Doris Ho - appointed executive administrator - as the PAA bolsters its staff to ''meet additional demands'', with the pair of senior civil servants on secondment for an initial six-month period starting on December 6.

While Mr Leeks will be familiar with airport core projects and associated political and financial wrangles, Mrs Ho will have some heavy homework to do before starting as project co-ordinator reporting directly to PAA Chief Executive Henry Townsend.

Mr Townsend justified the appointments by explaining that the PAA was about to enter a very demanding period for management, with work required on the institutional framework for the permanent authority and long-term financing arrangements.

He added that the PAA approached the Government for staffing support after agreeing the posts needed to be filled quickly with people familiar with the government system.

The PAA plans to assess its long-term staff requirements and decide whether government secondments are an appropriate way of providing the skills.

Before taking up his post as NAPCO deputy director, Mr Leeks served as refugee co-ordinator, Government House private secretary and assistant financial secretary.

Mrs Ho is a former Planning, Environment and Lands Branch principal assistant secretary and has also served in Education and Manpower, Municipal Services, Social Services and the City and New Territories Administration.

Meanwhile Mr Townsend, Mr Bruce and PAA finance director Jamie Dundas will be promoting the new airport and its related business opportunities to a European audience next week when they join Chief Secretary Designate Anson Chan Fang On-sang and other government representatives on a tour of Germany, the Netherlands and France.