‘Time for change’, fresh talent and young blood in Hong Kong’s ageing cabinet, convenor Lam says

After four decades in government, 65-year-old says he has no intention to continue in his post with the next administration

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 January, 2017, 7:13pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 January, 2017, 10:49pm

Lam Woon-kwong, convenor of Leung Chun-ying’s cabinet, has voiced his intention to step out of the role to make way for younger blood in the next administration.

“Most members of the current cabinet are aged over 60,” Lam, 65, said Friday in an interview with the Post.

“There are many talents out there that are younger than 60. It’s time for a change.”

Having served as a civil servant and minister of various departments over the past four decades, the convenor of the Executive Council said he “grew up” working with three of the four chief executive candidates, including former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

Next Hong Kong government needs to prioritise creation of harmonious political atmosphere, says Exco convenor

“I am close to all of them,” he said, adding he did not know well the fourth candidate, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing. “That’s why I’d rather remain neutral in the election.

“All of the three are fully competent, trustworthy and caring ... there’s only a difference in style.”

While declining to comment on the individuals, Lam dismissed suggestions that Tsang was “mean” with money and that Carrie Lam was more of a socialist.

He was referring to reports that the former chief secretary had, on a private occasion with media editors a few months ago, accused Tsang of being conservative in managing the public treasury.

“Whoever the chief secretary is, the one in that position will always complain about the financial chief’s unwillingness to spend – this is a universal truth in every government. So it is not about Carrie blaming John, but the CS (chief secretary) blaming the FS (financial secretary).

Hong Kong chief executive candidates must all be given a fair chance

“The tension exists by nature of their posts, and their performance is often defined by their post,” he said.

The finance chief has to withstand pressure from every bureau and department asking for money in the yearly resource allocation exercise, Lam explained. The person in that position must make sure the government does not risk overspending, he added.

“In these circumstances, when the FS turns down a funding request, can you then say he has no heart?”

“I’m not trying to defend anyone,” he said.

“All I want to say is as administrative officers, they are supposed to be able to command whatever post is assigned to them. All three have worked wholeheartedly for Hong Kong.”