Arts hub chief resigns a week after starting job

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 June, 2009, 12:00am

The executive head of the West Kowloon arts hub, Angus Cheng Siu-chuen, quit on Tuesday for personal reasons, a week after taking up his new job.

The departure of Mr Cheng, whose background as a Disneyland designer had prompted questions about his suitability as head of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, raised more issues.

Lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit said the the authority's board should review its approach. 'It's illogical to hire the executive director before the CEO, who is the brain and has the final say,' he said. 'It would be wasting his time if what he has done could be overruled when the CEO arrives later this year.

'The incident sends a powerful signal to Chief Secretary Henry Tang [Ying-yen] and his team that the way they have gone about the arts hub is not correct. But it provides us an opportunity to get it right.'

Many board members said they were surprised because they had not had a chance to meet the newly appointed head.

The authority announced Mr Cheng's resignation last night, saying it respected his decision, and thanking him. An authority spokeswoman said a new recruitment process for the post would begin as soon as possible.

Mr Cheng said he was honoured to have worked for the authority and regretted that he had to leave for personal reasons. 'I would like to thank the board and colleagues on the authority and the Home Affairs Bureau for their support. I wish the project every success,' he said.

A source familiar with the situation said a combination of government bureaucracy, media scrutiny and public pressure probably made the job transition difficult for Mr Cheng. 'He's a good guy but it was very difficult for him to switch from the commercial world to the government,' the source said. 'He had a difficult time adjusting.'

The source said Mr Cheng's resignation was 'a bit destabilising' but denied it was a setback. The authority would have to go back to the drawing board and secure candidates for the positions of chief executive and executive director.

Authority remuneration committee chairman Sin Chung-kai said he was not worried about finding a successor: 'Last time, we did not even have an organisation structure before we looked for a candidate. This time, we can show clearly what the structure will be.'