Run for top Hong Kong job? I just want to retire there, WHO chief Margaret Chan says

City’s former health director plans to spend more time with family after a decade heading the UN agency in Switzerland

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 7:18pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 November, 2016, 1:51am

World Health Organisation director general Dr Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun has dismissed questions about her running for chief executive in Hong Kong and says she has no plans to work after stepping down from her post in June.

“Many people have suggested I take up other jobs,” Chan said in Beijing during a WHO visit.

She pointed out she would turn 70 next year and hoped to spend her retirement in Hong Kong, enjoying more time with her family and travelling in mainland China.

“I missed Chinese cuisine the most after leaving Hong Kong over a decade ago. I miss my childhood favourite wonton noodle soup,” she said.

“I do not always know about Hong Kong news in the Geneva headquarters. I only know that Hong Kong has undergone massive changes. It is not appropriate for me to comment on Hong Kong affairs.”

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She said she hoped her successor would continue to promote the health of people all over the world, do a good job in disease prevention, and improve medical and rehabilitation services.

Chan, who was in charge of the city’s fight against severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003 when she was director of health, praised Hong Kong’s sound infectious control system. Sars infected 1,755 people in Hong Kong, killing 299.

During an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in 1997 she famously declared she ate chicken every day in an attempt to reassure Hong Kong residents.

She praised recent prevention work against the Zika virus as “very stable” and said there had been “good cooperation” between the department of health, the Hospital Authority and private doctors.

Chan, a Hong Kong-born doctor, joined the WHO as director of the Department for Protection of the Human Environment in 2003 and was elected director general in 2006. She was re-elected in 2012 and her term ends in June next year.