Ex-chief secretary Stephen Lam denies he'll return to politics

Accepting Grand Bauhinia Medal, former chief secretary quashes rumours he'll succeed Elsie Leung as vice-chair of Basic Law Committee

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 December, 2012, 3:59am

Former chief secretary Stephen Lam Sui-lung yesterday dismissed speculation that he might return to public service after finishing his theological studies in England next year.

A Christian, he said that chapter of his public service had closed, and he was considering a church career.

There have been suggestions Lam would succeed Elsie Leung Oi-sie as a vice-chairman of the Basic Law Committee next year, but quoting from the Bible, he said: "For every activity under heaven there is a time - a time to plant, a time to uproot what you have planted."

Lam, a Protestant, added: "No one has asked me about any public post, and for me, my work in the public sector has ended, so I will concentrate on my theological studies and hope to serve a church in the future."

Lam stepped down as chief secretary in June after serving in the government for 34 years. As an acknowledgement of his work, he was awarded a Grand Bauhinia Medal yesterday at Government House, along with five other recipients - Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li, non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary, former secretary for justice Wong Yan-lung, The Wharf (Holdings) chairman Peter Woo Kwong-ching and property tycoon Lui Che-woo.

After the ceremony, Lam was asked to comment on the current administration's relationship with the legislature.

"Being in the government anywhere in the world these days is not easy," he said. "It is always going to be a challenge, but provided we continue to persist as an administration, and overall as a community, I believe there is still a lot of room for co-operation."

He said it was necessary for the government to work with all parties concerned in handling critical issues, especially poverty.

"Yesterday's [Friday's] passage of the old-age [living] allowance is a positive step, but obviously more needs to be done to look after the less privileged in Hong Kong," Lam said.

Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying issued a call for thanks. "Our community needs criticism, which is a drive for advancement. Our community also needs commendation, as it is an even greater drive," Leung said. "I hope that, on top of our developed culture of dedication, we can also start a culture of gratitude."

As well as the six Grand Bauhinia Medals awarded, 16 people were honoured with a Gold Bauhinia Star, including Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen.

Tam refused to confirm suggestions Lau Kong-wah, vice-chairman of the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, would be appointed his undersecretary.

But Tam suggested Lau could be a suitable candidate.