image

Carrie Lam

Next Hong Kong transport and housing chief looks to actions, not words, amid others’ doubts

Long-time engineer vows to explore options to fulfil housing demands of city’s needy and use technology to facilitate transport needs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2017, 11:27pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 June, 2017, 5:30pm

Frank Chan Fan may be an expert in technical matters, but the prospect of treading uncharted waters as the city’s transport and housing chief had him hoping to prove his worth with his actions, not his words.

The incumbent director of electrical and mechanical services offered his aspiration on Wednesday as he faced a barrage of questions over his ability to helm the transport and housing bureau given he is a novice in that realm of policymaking.

“I know that the public is highly concerned about whether I can handle my new job well,” he said at a media event. “I really hope to record some achievements.”

“I hope the public can give me time to prove my capabilities with actions, not words ... I have confidence that I can do a good job.”

Carrie Lam defends cabinet as ‘ideal team’, dismisses talk of Beijing meddling in choices

However, Chan, 59, stopped short of answering questions about whether he knew when the controversial high-speed rail link to Guangzhou would be completed, and the waiting time for public housing.

Instead, the veteran civil servant vowed to explore a number of options to fulfil the housing demands of the city’s needy and use technology to facilitate Hongkongers’ transport needs

“We strive to expedite the provision of public rental housing and rebuild the housing ladder so as to bring hope to home ownership,” he said.

“To this end, the incoming secretary for development and I will collaborate very closely with a view to optimising the use of existing land and housing resources with an innovative mindset as well as building up a reserve to meet the housing demand in the long run.”

I know that the public is highly concerned about whether I can handle my new job well
Frank Chan Fan

For the city’s transport sector, he voiced a commitment to “exploring technology applications to provide timely traffic information and to build a low-carbon, green and age-friendly transport system for the community”.

Chan has never stepped outside the field of electrical and mechanical matters since joining the government decades ago.

After receiving his bachelor of science degree from the University of Hong Kong, Chan joined the government in August 1982 as an assistant electronics engineer. He was promoted in February 2001 to chief electronics engineer and, in May 2005, to government electrical and mechanical engineer.

Fix Hong Kong’s housing crisis? Leader-in-waiting Carrie Lam may have just the man in Frank Chan Fan

In January 2009, he was appointed deputy chief of electrical and mechanical services. In December 2011, he took over as department chief overseeing Hong Kong’s safety regulations for electricity, gas, tramway and railway, as well as its energy efficiency.

But New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee cast doubts on Chan’s ability given his “limited exposure” to policies and politics in the Legislative Council.

“His portfolio is highly demanding,” she said. “I noticed that although [Carrie] Lam said she would not rush into government reorganisation, I hoped she would proceed with some redistribution of duties in order to lighten the workload of the secretary for transport and housing.”