Workaholic HK leader racks up leave days Hong Kong may not have to wait until 2007 for a new leader if Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa decides to take all the leave he has accumulated during the past six years. According to the Chief Executive's office, Mr Tung - who is entitled to 55.5 days of leave each year - has racked up 321 days of holidays since starting in July 1997. Since the chief executive tends to take only a few days off during the Lunar New Year and the summer, he usually piles on about 50 days each year. With the recent resignation of security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and financial chief Antony Leung Kam-chung, Mr Tung may even have to cancel or delay his usual summer break. His office revealed that the chief executive has not put in any holiday requests. Mr Tung had taken only 3.81 days in the past 12 months, his office said, without elaborating on how the figure was arrived at. At this rate, if Mr Tung works until late 2005 he can literally go on holiday until July 2007, when his term ends. Mr Tung's office has yet to respond to the South China Morning Post's inquiries about the conditions of his leave, including the maximum number of holidays that can be rolled over, whether holidays can be traded in for cash, if there are restrictions on the number of consecutive days that can be taken and whether pre-termination leave is allowed. Mr Tung makes a monthly salary of $244,565. All the extra hours - not counting overtime and weekends - however, have done little to boost the chief executive's popularity. According to popularity polls done by the University of Hong Kong, Mr Tung's popularity has slid by about 10 points every two to three years. In 1997 the chief executive's popularity rating stood at 64.85, but by 2000 it dipped to 52.633. Mr Tung's average rating this year is 42.63. In fact, his workaholic style may well be to blame. A senior consultant with the Hong Kong Productivity Council, Christine Choy Mei-lin, said working overtime and not taking enough leave can lead to burnout. Citing a recent study of 1,000 large companies in the United States, she said statistics showed that overworking clouded the minds of workers and led to a decrease in productivity. 'The practice overseas is that high-level executives are forced to take at least seven days of annual leave consecutively each year,' she said. 'One reason is for the well-being of stressed-out staff. However, a better reason is that you only find out how good someone is when they go away. You also find out what they are hiding.' When asked whether Mr Tung should be forced to take leave, she said: 'President Clinton always went on holidays when he was in office. You always saw images of him walking his dog. Maybe Mr Tung should consider it.' According to Lee Sing, professor of psychiatry at the Chinese University, fatigue due to work can reduce people's ability to concentrate, decrease their drive - causing them to constantly delay plans - and result in pessimistic thinking and irritability. 'I can't judge whether Mr Tung is suffering from fatigue. But I do suggest that people should always take one to two consecutive weeks off each year to get away from stressful environments,' he said. 'People should find time each week to enjoy a hobby.'