New term for URA chief seen as reward

Civic Party accuses government of breaking rules on URA appointment

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 April, 2013, 3:53am

The government has come under fire for extending the tenure of Barry Cheung Chun-yuen as Urban Renewal Authority chairman beyond the "six-year rule".

The reappointment of Cheung, an executive councillor and supporter of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, was a "political reward", the Civic Party said.

It said the government had breached the convention that no one should hold the same public service post for longer than six years.

Cheung, who has chaired the authority since 2007 and took leave to become chairman of Leung's chief executive election campaign office, will serve the authority for another two years from next month, the government announced yesterday.

Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said Cheung's stay would "provide the necessary continuity and strong leadership at the board" as several experienced directors had left the authority recently.

He added that Cheung's renewed term was two years, shorter than the usual three.

The Civic Party said the "exceptional reappointment" showed Leung's tendency to use only those close to him and to treat public posts as political rewards. Cheung played a leading role in Leung's election campaign. "Since Leung was elected, Cheung has continued to promote Leung's policies and defended him in the illegal-structure scandal," it said, referring to the row over unauthorised work found at Leung's Peak home.

At least three other newly appointed board members were also supporters of Leung or the development minister, including Laurence Ho Wing-him, who was a deputy director of Leung's campaign office.

Another was Fung Wai-kwong, who angered his fellow members of the Democratic Party last year by applying for an undersecretary post. He then quit the party and became a vocal supporter of government policy, including a plan to launch national education lessons. A third is Nelson Lam Chi-yuen, who was backed by Chan when he ran for, and then lost, the accountancy-sector seat in the Legislative Council election last year.