Mike Rowse to be consultant after retirement

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 June, 2008, 12:00am

InvestHK's Mike Rowse - the civil servant penalised for his role in the HK$100 million Harbour Fest fiasco in 2003 - is planning to set up a consulting company when he retires from the government at the end of the year.

However, the director general declined to talk about whether he would give advice to people seeking his views on organising concerts.

Mr Rowse was fined HK$156,660 - equivalent to a month's salary - for his role in Harbour Fest, which was part of a HK$1 billion programme to revive the economy after the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003. He organised a series of concerts by international performers such as The Rolling Stones, Prince and Neil Young.

Along with the fine, he received a severe reprimand and warning.

An appeal against the disciplinary action in 2006 was dismissed, prompting him to launch a judicial review against the penalty.

The civil servant, who once worked at the ICAC, vowed not to break any rules about civil servants working after retirement.

'I am certainly not going to do anything that in any way will raise a conflict of interest in my work, especially with my strong anti-corruption stand back in the 1970s. But I think here are lots of opportunities in business that don't conflict with what we are doing now,' he said.

Mr Rowse said he enjoyed working and needed to provide for his two children, aged seven and nine.

'I will sign up with people who want to use my services, and I will be expensive. But I will provide good value, and it sounds just like Hong Kong.'

Mr Rowse was a 24-year-old hirsute hippie when he arrived in Hong Kong.

He left England in the middle of 1971 shortly after obtaining a degree from Bristol Polytechnic. He later obtained an external degree in economics from the University of London.

He taught English at HK$5 an hour before working for a year on a now-defunct English-language tabloid The Star.

He was wearing a shirt with The Star's logo when interviewed at a five-star hotel in Shanghai.

He joined the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 1974 and became an administrative officer in 1980.

Over the years, he has served in many postings, including head of the business and services promotion unit and the Tourism Commission, and played a key role in negotiating with the Walt Disney Company on setting up a theme park in Hong Kong.

After promoting foreign direct investment in Hong Kong since 2001, he described the city's competitiveness in the global context as 'extraordinary', adding: 'Hong Kong is quite clearly emerging as the third pillar of the world's finance market. Now it is New York, London and Hong Kong.'

The common-law system, English proficiency, a free port, a free way of life, convertibility of the currency, and the simple and low tax regime, together with its unique position in China and in the region, made Hong Kong a city actually serving the world, he said.

'We are beginning to see Hong Kong emerge as a genuine global financial centre.'