Hong Kong’s next chief executive ‘should hire from within’ for cabinet posts

Carrie Lam’s campaign boss says promoting undersecretaries to cabinet would ‘give incentives for more people to join’ government

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 March, 2017, 11:42pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 March, 2017, 11:42pm

Whoever wins the chief executive election later this month should promote government undersecretaries to his or her cabinet, rather than bringing in too many outsiders, front runner Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s campaign chief said on Monday.

In an interview with the Post, Bernard Chan, also an executive councillor, admitted that forming the cabinet would be the main challenge for Lam if she is elected to the top job.

“[The new cabinet] should not be parachuted with too many outsiders,” Chan said.

“Firstly, there are not many people willing to give up their business or career to join in.

“On the other hand, there would be risks if there are too many newcomers.”

Lam has pledged in her manifesto to bring in a new style of governance by “recruiting talents on merit”.

Chan said it takes time for outsiders, no matter how capable, to get used to the government system and work with civil servants.

“It is safer to find talents from inside the system, or at least people who have served the government advisory bodies,” he said.

To fill the posts of the 13 department chiefs, Chan suggested promoting any undersecretaries who are performing well. He did not name any names.

“This could build up the career path for undersecretaries and give incentives for more people to join,” Chan said.

He lamented that one of the government’s problems was the lack of career paths for politicians. “Obama did not come from nowhere,” he said.

When asked if Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, whom Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying recommended to succeed John Tsang Chun-wah, should stay in the cabinet, Chan said: “What I can only say is [Lam] has a high standard and she wants more new faces”.

For the two upcoming debates in which Lam will take on her election rivals Tsang and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, Chan said he had reminded Lam, who was chief secretary before quitting to run, to use less jargon.

He admitted that Lam’s claim at a forum on Sunday that she had been a victim of “white terror”, with opponents resorting to online attacks on her supporters, was a misuse of words.

He said: “She should have said cyberbullying instead.”