Hong Kong finance chief Paul Chan says official residence needed a makeover, but he ‘will not splash out’
The last time the 40,000 sq ft property was renovated was 10 years ago, he says
Finance chief Paul Chan Mo-po has insisted his official residence in Shouson Hill was in need of renovations following reports he spent millions of taxpayer-funded dollars on revamping the property.
Reports emerged on Friday that Chan, who took over the position of finance chief last month after John Tsang Chun-wah resigned to run for chief executive, spent an estimated HK$2 million on renovating the 40,000 sq ft residence at 45 Shouson Hill Road.
Chan plans to move into the residence next month, just four months before a new administration is formed in early July.
It was reported that the renovation, carried out by the Architectural Services Department, included changing all the curtains, carpets and the kitchen stone bench-top, as well as rebuilding a koi pond and a tennis court.
Speaking on radio on Saturday morning, Chan said there had not yet been an estimate of the renovation costs and the works would be basic, such as repainting the walls, changing some old furniture and renewing the tennis court.
He added that he would be willing to disclose the amount after the renovation was completed.
“We will not splash out with public money,” Chan said.
“We will only spend it in the right places.”
Chan said the last time the house was renovated was 10 years ago, and the next financial chief would not have to make any improvements after the works were complete.
He said his position required him to receive different guests, such as foreign consulate members, so it was appropriate for him to move into the residence because “it represents the image of Hong Kong”.
He also denied reports that his wife had been overseeing the renovation.
“She is not the kind of person who would go to the scene and boss around,” Chan said.
Built in 1935, the house is a Grade Three historical building.
When asked if he expected to continue serving as the city’s financial secretary in the next administration, Chan said “it is not a matter of my subjective wish”.
Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said he had no timetable for moving into Victoria House – his official residence on The Peak.
“During the transition, it is common procedure for the Architectural Services Department to carry out repairs … I have no plans to make alterations or order a large-scale renovation,” he said, adding that the residence had a certain role to play, so it had to be used.