Julia Leung 'wanted to quit since CY Leung became chief executive'

Outgoing finance deputy reveals she has been thinking of quitting since CY Leung took office, but she still had 'too much to do' at that time

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 November, 2013, 11:20am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 5:45pm

Departing finance deputy Julia Leung Fung-yee has revealed that she had been thinking about leaving the government since Leung Chun-ying became chief executive.

The undersecretary for financial services and the treasury, whose resignation on Wednesday cast further doubt over the cabinet's stability, yesterday confirmed that she had wanted to leave a year ago.

"I have been contemplating this personal plan … and maintaining communication with the minister and the government," Leung said, referring to financial services minister Professor Chan Ka-keung.

She said the change of government would have been the "natural time" for her to leave, "but I had a lot of remaining tasks back then".

Leung's resignation marked the fifth departure of a politically appointed official since Leung Chun-ying took office 16 months ago.

The undersecretary for five years dismissed alleged links between the government's flagging popularity and her departure.

"There is perhaps never a good time for departure. So my biggest concern is to ensure a smooth transition," she said.

The former Asian Wall Street Journal journalist and Monetary Authority executive director said she had "no plans" after she leaves the post next month.

She will be succeeded by James Lau, 63.

Lau, once her boss at the Monetary Authority, was chief executive of the Mortgage Corporation before retiring last year. "I admire [Lau's] courage to take on the challenge," Leung said.

Asked to respond to rumours that she was returning to the authority, Leung said: "I have no concrete plan at the moment, except to take a rest."

Leung was widely seen as a protégé of authority chief executive Norman Chan Tak-lam.

Leung made the comments on her resignation during a speech at a mainland finance forum. "The financial market needs to transform and it is the same for people," Leung told executives of mainland-listed companies

"I have had two transformations - from journalism to the HKMA, and from the HKMA to the government. It is time for the third transformation in my life."

She added: "The first thing I want to do when I finish is to catch up on the sleep I have lost over the years."