• Fri
  • Aug 1, 2014
  • Updated: 7:44am
NewsHong Kong
TOURISM

Allan Zeman says he’s being forced out of top job at Ocean Park

Ocean Park chief wants to stay, and sees official term limits as the issue

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 6:26pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 8:37am

Entrepreneur Allan Zeman revealed yesterday it was the government that was forcing him out as Ocean Park chairman.

"I found out about a month ago," the flamboyant entrepreneur said. "Of course, at that time I felt kind of angry for a while because I hadn't discussed it with the government beforehand."

Zeman, who made his name establishing the Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district, said he was sure the government knew he wanted to continue in the post he had occupied for 11 years.

He will be succeeded by his deputy, Leo Kung Lin-cheng, on Monday. Kung, deputy chairman since 2003, is a banker and serves on several public bodies.

During Zeman's chairmanship, the number of visitors rose to 7.73 million last year from 2.95 million in 2003, while a HK$4 million deficit in 2003, the year Sars struck, was turned into a HK$127.2 million surplus.

He believed he lost the job due to a government guideline limiting holders of positions on statutory bodies to six-year terms.

"But you know, when you have a winning combination in business, you don't break the combination," he said.

Zeman does not know who made the decision that he must leave. Asked if it had anything to do with his decision to back Henry Tang Ying-yen in the chief executive election, he replied: "I don't really think it was a political decision. Ocean Park is not political and I would hope that it is not a political decision."

The government has suggested Zeman become an adviser to the theme park, a role Zeman said he was happy to take up. But this will be subject to a decision by the park's board.

Commenting on reports that he may be named chairman of the board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Zeman said he had not been approached, but if was he would need to think about it because it was a challenging role.

He said he had worked with Kung for years and although Kung had a different management style, Zeman said they had worked well together.

Last week, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung did not answer directly when asked why Zeman was leaving, saying only that there was a suitable replacement. So's office had nothing to add yesterday.

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This article is now closed to comments

53aa1b39-9318-47ae-9340-52c20a3209cb
Ocean Park has in recent years become more about making money through merchandise. After you visit the pandas or the penguins there are endless shops selling stuffed animals, key chains and anything slightly related. In the same way Lan Kwai Fong is changing with Zeman's new tower stacked up high of clubs and bars.. this is destroying a part of Hong Kong's history, something that Zeman played a huge part in building. I think Zeman has started off with the best intentions and his contributions to Hong Kong are much appreciated, however he is falling into this trap of tourist money over HK's well being.
josephbrahmana
Keep Z
wchu99@yahoo.com
i support Zeman. Hk Government does not know how to run business. when they are the key decision maker, classic example of putting the wrong man for the job.
53919dad-e488-45a8-a2e5-0bca0a320969
ocean park is a sandbox to turn around, WKCD now that is a real project Mr Z.
carbonneutralnigel
Zeman does not understand what is Winning or Success in terms of Ocaen Park. To start off it is not a rise in numbers of visitors, but who these visitors are? The park's target visitors should be children on educational and recreational visits (recreation values must not be measured in terms of the number of rides on those meaningless new park-rides!) The second target vistors' group MUST be locals - since the land was given to the park for locals' benefit, not tourists. Therefore, construction of a hotel is totally outside this park's scope; maybe the new Head of Ocean Park will reconsider this project and ask for a change to an ocean evironment research centre.
daily
Come on old man............you've already had 11 years on the job and there is always room for new blood. Just because you gave up your Canadian citizenship and call yourself Chinese doesn't give you any special rights or privileges over others here............You've done your work so now move on and let others add some fresh ideas into Ocean Park............if you really think you're that important, go and join Stallone and the other old folds and film "Expendables IV".
ngyokcheong
Daily, you sounded like an ungrateful fellow because you did not appreciate the herculean task of turning a dead duck money losing Ocean Park into a highly profitable and successful business, especially in the face of the mighty Disney Land challenge. What's wrong with being old, wise, creative and a wildly successful iconic multi-millionaire compare to a lot of young and useless people that you see all around us. Like Chairman Deng said it doesn't matter whether it's a white cat or black cat, as long as it catches the mice it's a good cat. For your information, age does not diminish a person value and quality, on the contrary it can enhance it due to experience and wisdom gain through ageing. Like a good wine it's quality and value is enhanced through ageing.
josephbrahmana
If it ain't broken, don't fix it!
sipsip1238
"But you know, when you have a winning combination in business, you don't break the combination," he said.
You do break it when someone else kisses bottom better and is perceived by our fine leaders as being more "Chinese".
I'm sure Zeman will continue to contribute to Hong Kong through another way, hopefully in the next thing he gets involved in, we doesnt get caught in the politics of things.
johnyuan
You don’t force or claim to be forced to leave a job when rule albeit newly formed is enacted. Zeman, a brilliant salesman is not at this point telling everything. It is his business.
.
Canadian by and large in my experience is nice folks. I wish Zeman would continue to do good for Hong Kong. He will.

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