Third minister in a month has surgery

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 April, 2011, 12:00am

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung had heart surgery yesterday, the third senior minister to have an operation in as many weeks.

The health status of the ministers has raised concerns about their ability to perform their jobs.

Lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a former security minister, called on ministers yesterday to disclose their health annually to let the public know they were fit enough to do their jobs.

A spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said Lam had a heart operation known as balloon angioplasty at Queen Mary Hospital following a medical check. 'The operation went well and Mr Lam is now in a healthy condition,' the spokesman said, adding that Lam was expected to resume duty today.

Lam, 55, told journalists waiting outside his hospital ward via telephone that his condition was good but he had to be observed by doctors for 12 hours after the surgery.

'I felt pain from my heart recently and it was found after the medical check that a blood vessel in the heart had been obstructed by 70 per cent,' he said.

He ran the risk of the vessel becoming completely blocked if he had not taken action, he said.

Lam's surgery came a day after Central Policy Unit chief Professor Lau Siu-kai had a 'preventive operation' at Prince of Wales Hospital.

The government gave no details about Lau's problem but said the operation went well. Lau, 63, will be on sick leave until April 17, with the unit's deputy head, Robin Ip Man-fai, acting as chief.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan, 57, is also on leave after surgery on March 22. She was reported to be suffering from intestinal cancer.

Rita Lau's press secretary said yesterday the minister's sick leave was scheduled to end on Sunday and there was no plan to extend her leave.

In September 2009, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah had emergency heart surgery.

'Principal officials [ministers] should know well that once they take up their jobs, they are held accountable to the public, including for their own health,' Ip, who is reported to be planning a run in the next race for chief executive, said.

'It's desirable for principal officials to disclose their health condition once a year. They should let members of the public know whether they are fit for their jobs.'