The government's new information co-ordinator has sought to dispel the widespread public impression that she will be Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's spin doctor.
"I would not describe my job as spinning, because I think coming up with a good policy is essential, and if the policy is no good, even spinning will not help," public relations veteran June Teng Wai-kwan said yesterday.
Teng said her main task would be to ensure the clear dissemination of government information. She said liaising with media groups would be a priority.
But critics said that would not be enough, insisting she should also work towards a more open government and to arrest a perceived decline in press freedom.
Teng retired last year after heading the Hong Kong Jockey Club's public affairs team for 12 years. Before that she spent 16 years at TVB's news and public affairs department, and serving as the Real Estate Developers Association's secretary general.
A spokesman for the Chief Executive's Office, where Teng now works, said: "We are fully confident that she will be able to excel in the position."
The term spin doctor - derived from the old colloquial expression "spin a yarn" and the "doctoring" of information to make it appear favourable - has been attached to the post since Stephen Lam Siu-lung, the first to hold the position after the handover, was appointed to boost the Tung Chee-hwa administration's flagging image.
Baptist University journalism academic To Yiu-ming said Teng's biggest task would be to "right the wrong in the way the government releases information".
"Officials should announce their working visits in advance. Public functions should also be opened as much as possible for the media to cover them," To said. "The public is worried about seeing a closed government … so Leung must live up to his promise of respecting press freedom."