The appointment of former core member of the pan-democratic camp Andrew Fung Wai-kwong as the government's point man for media relations immediately drew misgivings from across the political spectrum yesterday.
Fung, a Southern District councillor and public relations consultant, was named information co-ordinator for the Office of the Chief Executive. He will take up the post on December 16, earning HK$175,000 a month.
Pro-government industrial lawmaker Lam Tai-fai said Fung was viewed as a man of mediocre talent. "His reputation is so-so and his competence is questioned by many," said Lam. "The only thing we can do is to maintain close scrutiny of his work."
Fung, who used to sit on the Democratic Party's central committee, said he was "very honoured" to have got the job. It is understood he has resigned from his role as district councillor and is stepping away from his public consultancy firm PR Concepts, which caused chaos at October's Arts Development Council election due to faulty ballot papers.
The job at the chief executive's office has stood empty since August 1, when media veteran June Teng Wai-kwan quit citing health reasons.
A government spokesman said Fung "has experience in public relations and political work". When Teng got the job in 2012 and her predecessor, Andy Ho On-tat, was appointed in 2006, they were described as possessing a "wealth of experience".
Democrats chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing noted that even Fung's handling of rumours about his appointment was "disastrous". He compared the role to that of "the spokesperson of the White House", and his confusion over how many words there were in a famous Chinese idiom is still being joked about.
Also joining the chief executive's media team is Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, director of the chief secretary's private office. He will succeed Michael Wong Wai-lun as Information Services Department director in February.