Brussels trade chief moves to commerce post

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2008, 12:00am

Veteran bureaucrat Duncan Pescod has been named a permanent secretary for commerce and economic development, filling the post vacated by Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan.

Mr Pescod, 49, is currently the government's Brussels-based special representative to the European communities. Mrs Lau was earlier appointed the secretary for commerce and economic development after Frederick Ma Si-hang resigned for health reasons.

Speaking from Brussels yesterday, Mr Pescod welcomed his appointment but declined to comment on any wider implications it might have for expatriate civil servants.

Asked about Mr Pescod's appointment, a Civil Service Bureau spokesman said the most suitable person was chosen for the position, in terms of the 'job requirements, overall operational needs, experience and personal attributes'.

The spokesman declined to comment on whether other candidates were considered for the job. His starting date will be announced later.

Mr Pescod said he would hold on to his Hong Kong identity card, which has three stars, representing the right of abode. He was not aware of any foreign passport or nationality issues relating to his appointment.

'I have been working for the Hong Kong SAR government for over 27 years and there have never been any passport or nationality issues,' Mr Pescod said.

Asked about his political aspirations and whether he would take Hong Kong citizenship to realise them, he said he was focused on his current appointment. Government ministers, including Mrs Lau, cannot hold foreign passports.

The issue of nationality proved a major headache for the government following the revelation that several of the new political appointees held foreign passports or had the right of abode abroad.

The row resulted in the newly appointed undersecretaries agreeing to give up their foreign citizenship, led by deputy economic minister Greg So Kam-leung, who held Canadian citizenship, although there was no Basic Law requirement on foreign citizenship for undersecretaries.

Mr Pescod took up his current post in Brussels in March 2006. He previously headed the Efficiency Unit and was deputy tourism commissioner between 2001 and 2004.