Former Democrat offered top position
Eyebrows raised at political appointees
Former Democratic Party member John Tse Wing-ling has been offered a deputy ministerial position as interviews for the first batch of the political appointees are wrapping up.
Greg So Kam-leung, a deputy chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, has been offered the deputy's post at the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau.
Twenty-four posts - 11 undersecretaries and 13 ministerial assistants - were created under the political appointment system.
Undersecretaries will assist ministers in all their duties, including attending Legco meetings and answering lawmakers' questions and filling in for the minister when they are absent.
Mr Tse, 54, teaches psychology and special education at City University and is expected to accept the appointment.
He lost office in last year's District Council elections after quitting the Democratic Party. His resignation was a surprise to colleagues, who did not think he had major complaints about the party.
Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said he no longer considered Mr Tse a democrat, nor would he represent the pan-democratic camp.
'He had his own agenda for quitting the party just after the nomination period for the district council election closed,' he said.
'I don't think he will serve as a bridge between the democrats and the government. In fact, the political appointment system itself fails to serve such a function.'
Government sources said it would take time for appointees to resign from their present jobs so they would not be available until at least May. They would then need time to adapt to working with the administration and probably would not attend Legislative Council meetings until after the September elections.
'Their first appearances will probably be in September when the new Legco year starts,' a government official said.
He said some of the appointees would have had no experience in the administration. The appointments have raised eyebrows among civil servants, especially administrative officers, as the division of labour is still not clear.
Undersecretaries will be paid HK$193,773 to HK$223,586 a month and political assistants between HK$104,340 and HK$163,963.