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Regulation

Top barrister Winnie Tam to lead Hong Kong communications watchdog

Regulatory body to be headed by former Bar Association chairwoman following resignation of predecessor over China Mobile stock ownership

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 March, 2018, 8:58pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 March, 2018, 7:59am

Former Bar Association chairwoman Winnie Tam Wan-chi has been appointed the head of Hong Kong’s communications watchdog after her predecessor quit abruptly last month.

The government announced Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s choice to lead the Communications Authority on Monday, with immediate effect. Tam’s term will last until March 31 next year.

The barrister succeeds former chairman Albert Wong Kwai-huen, who stepped down after failing to disclose he had bought stocks in telecoms giant China Mobile.

“I am honoured to be appointed and humbled by the trust reposed in me,” Tam said in a reply to the Post. “It is a hefty responsibility, and I will try to do my best and get up to speed.”

“The appointment has inevitably caused disruption to some ongoing professional commitments,” she added. “I am most grateful for the understanding of those clients and colleagues who have been inconvenienced.

The Communications Authority is responsible for licensing and regulating the broadcasting and telecommunications industries in Hong Kong.

In announcing Wong’s replacement, the government did not mention his name or thank him.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said he was pleased with the appointment.

“With Tam’s experience in public service and her professional background, I am confident she will be able to lead the Communications Authority and rise to the challenges ahead,” Yau said.

Hong Kong Communications Authority chairman quits after failing to disclose China Mobile shares

Tam is a senior counsel in private practice and an international arbitrator. She is also a member of several government advisory bodies as well as the Hong Kong Tourism Board and West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Meanwhile, two other new faces were also appointed members of the Communications Authority.

Karen Chan Ka-yin, executive director of home appliances firm German Pool Group, and Professor Ray Yep Kin-man, associate head of City University’s department of public policy, will begin two-year terms on April 1.

Yau said the pair had vast experience in community service that would be useful to the body. He also thanked two outgoing members, Adrian Wong Koon-man and Alan Lui Siu-lun, for their contributions.

Lawmaker Charles Mok, who represents the information technology sector, said it was a “reasonable choice” to pick Tam as chairwoman.

“Tam’s reputation in the legal sector has been pretty good,” Mok said. “It is a rather reasonable choice to choose a capable and well-respected legal professional.”

He said he believed the government preferred appointing people with a legal background to head the watchdog as its work included regulating the two industries in accordance with the Telecommunications Ordinance and the Broadcasting Ordinance.