A controversial top adviser to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has been appointed as a member of a committee overseeing nominations for honours, including Grand Bauhinia medals, and Justices of the Peace.
The government announced yesterday that the Central Policy Unit's Sophia Kao Ching-chi had been made an official member of the Honours and Non-official Justices of the Peace Selection Committee, chaired by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. The committee includes five non-official members of the Executive Council, three community leaders and five public officials.
Kao, a supporter of Leung during his election campaign, was appointed to the Central Policy Unit in October last year to advise the government on its appointments to advisory bodies.
The appointment drew criticism from the opposition camp, which said candidates were selected based on their loyalty to Leung rather than their expertise.
In July, Kao resigned from a governing committee at the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan, citing "public concerns", after questions over a conflict of interest were raised when it was reported that she had been appointed to the committee by the Hospital Authority in April.
Former Central Policy Unit head Professor Lau Siu-kai said Kao's role in the unit involved appointment recommendations, which was in line with her latest role, although the public might still view her appointment as questionable due to her record.
"In a way, the public attention might press the committee into being fairer and more careful when selecting candidates for honours," Lau said.
Kao served on the honour selection committee last year as a community leader.
A government spokesman said anyone who was a Central Policy Unit human resource consultant would automatically become a committee member.