Bosses unaware of woes at research institute, says director

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 April, 2007, 12:00am

A director of a controversial technological research institute says senior management was unaware of administrative problems that plagued the government-funded company, highlighted in an audit report on Wednesday.

In an RTHK phone-in yesterday, Anthony Wong Sik-kei, a member of the board of directors, said a new committee had been set up at the Applied Science and Technology Research Institute Company to improve internal monitoring. 'From the view of the board of directors, it's very difficult to monitor the finer details of daily operations. That is why we have now set up an internal audit committee,' said Mr Wong, who is also commissioner for innovation and technology.

His announcement came as Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Joseph Wong Wing-ping said the institute should attach a high degree of importance to the report, and asked its directors to follow up as soon as possible.

The release of the Director of Audit's report revealed a host of administrative problems. It called for greater transparency in bookkeeping, especially for generous incentive schemes, entertainment expenses and entry salaries way above the recommended amount.

Three consultation sessions were held with fung shui masters between 2002 and 2006, costing a total of HK$181,000, to advise the institute on its office layout.

Mr Wong said: 'There is no issue of conflict of interest, only of administrative problems.'

He said it was unfair to criticise Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Francis Ho Suen-wai for missing 10 meetings in a row, as they had been highly technical sub-committee meetings which clashed with his schedule.

Mr Wong also said the contract renegotiations between the board and the chief executive officer, Robert Yang Jih-chang, had reached a preliminary decision, but was not prepared to make a formal announcement.