Legislators have renewed calls for the separation of the MTRC posts of chairman and chief executive to boost corporate governance. The calls were revived by the recent decision of Mass Transit Railway Corporation chairman and CEO Jack So Chak-kwong not to renew his contract when it expires in September. The Democratic Party, the Coalition to Monitor Public Transport and Utilities, and the Confederation of Trade Unions yesterday said splitting the roles would put the MTRC on par with the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC). Legislators said the MTRC should have followed the example of the KCRC in late 2001, when the government changed the KCRC ordinance to split the chairman and CEO posts. Unionist legislator Lee Cheuk-yan said: 'In the MTRC case, we do think the authority of the chairman and CEO should not be concentrated on one person. 'The chairman should be responsible for monitoring the chief executive and the CEO should take charge of the day to day management of the company.' Democrat legislator Sin Chung-kai said that separating the posts would improve accountability. In late 2001, then KCRC chairman and CEO Yeung Kai-yin relinquished the chairmanship to fashion retailer Michael Tien Puk-sun but retained the CEO post. Faced with heavy criticism over his recent executive decisions, Mr Yeung has said he will not renew his contract with the KCRC when it expires at the end of the year. With Mr So's scheduled departure in September, the MTRC said its board of directors would first have to decide whether to separate the chairman and CEO posts and then set up a selection committee for one or two replacements. Mr So, who cited personal reasons for his resignation, was criticised last year as the second highest paid executive in a public organisation, after Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Joseph Yam Chi-kwong. In 2001, Mr So was paid between $7.5 million and $8 million, just below Mr Yam's $9 million to $9.5 million annual pay. Market observers said the hunt for Mr So's successor could be complicated by the possible merger of the MTRC and KCRC. 'If the government decides to merge the companies, which may happen any time this year, the MTRC will need to rethink if it really needs a new chairman,' an observer said. Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works Sarah Liao Sau-tung said on Wednesday that the government had yet to decide on the merger and that it had no timetable.