Hong Kong finance chief to move into official residence – at least for four months

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung is yet to make a decision on whether to move into colonial-style Victoria House on The Peak

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 February, 2017, 7:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 February, 2017, 11:17pm

Newly installed financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po is understood to be planning to move into the official residence that goes with the post in Shouson Hill next month – even though he will serve only until a new administration is formed in early July.

However, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung will defer a decision on whether to move into that post’s colonial-style residence on The Peak until government architects have assessed the mansion vacated by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, according to his media aide.

The arrangements raise questions about the necessity of spending extra public money on renovation and logistics.

Cheung and Chan were named as the new No 2 and No 3 officials in mid-January after Lam and John Tsang Chun-wah resigned to vie for the city’s top job.

A source close to Chan said he would move into the Shouson Hill Road property next month and would limit renovation to the minimum.

A spokesman for Chan said the move was necessary as the ­finance chief had to host guests from time to time.

The residence was refurbished according to practical needs, including restoring worn items, replacing torn carpets, painting the exterior wall and replacing old furniture, he added. The work is expected to be completed shortly.

Most chief executive contenders have hinted they may seek fresh blood for the government, meaning Chan may be out of a job at the end of June.

Independent pan-democrat lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching expressed doubts about Chan’s plan to move into the official residence.

“This is a caretaker government, and Chan the mere caretaker financial chief,” Mo said. “Who’s assuming he’s staying on as such in that capacity? And are we spending more on renovation?”

Cheung’s media aide said the chief secretary did not have plans to move at the moment.

“He’s been really busy at implementing the policy address,” she said. “Also, Victoria House [the chief secretary’s residence] requires some maintenance work and assessment by the Architectural Services Department.”

She said there had been some minor problems like mould and water seepage at the house on The Peak, although Cheung would continue to use it as a place for meeting guests.