Donald Tsang

Tsang backing for Margaret Chan's WHO bid

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2006, 12:00am

The chief executive gave his backing yesterday to the bid by Hong Kong's former health chief to land the top job at the World Health Organisation, lobbying the consular corps on her behalf.

Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun was also hailed as 'an excellent choice' for the post of WHO director-general by a Hong Kong-based biomedical scientist who became a fellow of the Royal Society last month for his contributions to research work on Sars and bird flu.

Dr Chan, the WHO's assistant director-general for communicable diseases, met Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen at Government House to discuss how the Hong Kong administration could complement the efforts of the central government in supporting her election campaign.

The meeting was also attended by Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow Yat-ngok; Permanent Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Sandra Lee Suk-yee, and Director of Health Lam Ping-yan.

The meeting was followed by a reception where Mr Tsang gave his vote of confidence to Dr Chan in front of the consular corps and representatives from 12 countries from the 34 on the executive board of the WHO. The commissioner of the Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong, Lu Xinhua , was also present.

Mr Tsang said: 'Margaret is most eminently suitable for the job because she is an outstanding public health professional with a strong sense of responsibility and a solid professional and academic background.'

He said Dr Chan had first-hand experience in handling infectious disease prevention and control, a full understanding of the operation and challenges of the WHO, and, more importantly, an illustrious record of achievement in terms of flu pandemic preparedness in her three years with the WHO.

Dr Chan said she was confident her 28 years of experience in public health had prepared her for the job.

Royal Society fellow Malik Peiris, the chair professor of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong whose team discovered the coronavirus that caused Sars, told a press conference at the university yesterday that Dr Chan would be an excellent choice for the top job.