HKUST chief has rich experience for cabinet
As the government prepares to announce its new cabinet for the five-year term that starts from July 1, the Post begins a series taking a look at some of the key contenders. Today, Denise Hung profiles Chan Ka-keung
Chan Ka-keung, the dean of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology's school of business and management, who has experience with the government and Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, has laid the pathway to be a member of Mr Tsang's cabinet team.
Professor Chan, 50, tipped to take over from Frederick Ma Si-hang as secretary for financial services and the treasury, was invited with nine other academics to join a brainstorming session in November 1997 to discuss methods for defending the peg to the US dollar without reducing its impact on the economy. The Hong Kong dollar had been under speculative pressure since October flowing from the East Asia financial crisis, which started in Thailand on July 2. Then-financial secretary, Mr Tsang, chaired the meeting.
Democrat Sin Chung-kai, who sat on the HKUST Council and the Competitive Policy Review Committee with Professor Chan, said he had a good academic background in finance and intimate market knowledge but lacked experience as a minister. 'A good person in academics does not necessarily make a good minister,' Mr Sin said.
But a senior government official offered a vote of confidence to Mr Tsang that Professor Chan would be a good minister, saying he is a gentleman with a clear mind and good skill in handling personnel issues.
It is not difficult to find Professor Chan's influence in the government. He has similar views to the administration on economic and financial issues. He says Hong Kong should play a greater role in mainland economic development and supports a fair-competition law.
As a panellist at the mainland's 11th Five-Year Programme summit, Professor Chan said that while the mainland was the main driver for Hong Kong's initial public offering market, the city should attract more Asian companies, particularly from India.
In the past five years, he has sat on about 15 government advisory bodies, including the Economic Relaunch Strategy Group, Securities and Futures Appeals Tribunal, and the Civil Service Training and Development Advisory Board.
Professor Chan is a low-profile person despite his many contributions in the public sector. But he is outspoken in his role as chairman of the Consumer Council.
A council member said Professor Chan has good connections with participants in the market through his work on several panels.
He has served as chairman of the Unit Trust Subcommittee at the Securities and Futures Commission and served on the risk management panel of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.
The council member said that while Professor Chan would be a new face in government, he was full of confidence. As Mr Tsang had said maintaining the city's global status in finance was the most important consideration for its future, the post would play a part in all government operations.
Employment: Dean, school of business and management at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Academic background: PhD, 1985, University of Chicago, Finance; MBA, 1981, University of Chicago; BA (with honours), 1979, Wesleyan University, Economics
Public service: Chairman, Consumer Council, 2005-
Member, Hang Seng Index Advisory Committee, 2004-
Member, Exchange Fund Advisory Committee of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, 2004-
Member, Vetting Committee for the Professional Services Development Assistance Scheme, 2002-
Member, Economic and Employment Council, 2004-05