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  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Updated: 9:08pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2012, 7:34am

Franklin Lam has no place in Exco

Franklin Lam Fan-keung may well believe he is in the public sector to serve the people and fulfil his civic duty. But here is a man who spent much of his highly lucrative career as a senior executive at the UBS investment bank analysing the property market, and advising and hobnobbing with high-net-worth clients and powerful bosses in the property sector. At the end of this, he joined the Executive Council in July and declared himself the owner of 27 properties, two of which he sold weeks before the government's latest measures to curb rocketing property prices - and made a killing. He said he still has two or three properties to sell.

To be fair, he said at the outset of his Exco career in July that he planned to sell "some properties". He could still command the same high prices for the two Mid-Levels properties he sold even after the new measures, as property prices have generally not come down, only the number of transactions.

As a member of the government's de facto cabinet, Lam said he knew nothing about the measures before they were introduced. But industry insiders had long guessed new measures were coming, just not the details. It's not for me to speculate whether or not Lam made use of insider knowledge. That should be a job for investigators to determine should an official probe result from the flat sales.

But even without the furore, Lam is ill-suited and unqualified to be a cabinet adviser to a government for which bringing down property prices and making homes affordable is a policy priority. As an investment analyst, he was a super-bull on the property market. Perhaps Lam really had a conversion on his way to Damascus. But his whole career, professional outlook and current huge portfolio of properties make him perfectly aligned with the mentality of high land value and rampant property speculation, rather than creating a rational and affordable market.

His think tank HKGolden50 advocates turning Tung Chung into a major commercial hub. He supports reclamation outside Victoria Harbour to boost land supply.

Quite simply, Lam is an advocate of the same old property development strategy that helped create the problem in the first place. And I haven't even delved into conflict of interest.


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This article is now closed to comments

It's a straightforward proposition: no one in their right mind would put an alcoholic in charge of prohibition.
Hong Kong people have to decide on the quality of persons to be chosen to serve the public - competent ones with expertise or incompetent ones without expertise (like some of our respectful LegCo Councillors). The former, for their abilities, should have already owned some investments and assets (stocks or properties). If the public obsess in finding out and punish so-called "conflict of interest", no one but the latter would like to serve the public.
As a long time property analyst maybe he is best placed to understand and tackle property market issues. If your argument is that legislators connected to the property cartel are not fit for office then 90% should go. Property sector connectivity and corruption runs deep in our political system.
"As a long time property analyst maybe he is best placed to understand and tackle property market issues"
I'd say:
As a long time property analyst maybe he is best placed to understand - and to champion the agendas of property interests - property market issues."
Alex, the more important issue here is whether Lam and other members of Exco also acted to use the information to make a killing in the stock market.
In this case, all their trades for the month prior should be scrutinised. The profits from shorting some property counters far exceed the $10 million that Lam made........


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