The chief executive of a government-funded institute quit yesterday after accusations he mismanaged and wasted public money. The resignation of Robert Yang Jih-chang from the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) was announced after the board decided in principle to ask him to stay. The board also unveiled a five-point action plan in response to last week's criticism by the Audit Commission. 'As the CEO of the organisation, I consider it my duty to resign and take all the blame,' Dr Yang said. The commission criticised the institute for spending HK$181,000 on fung shui consultation services between 2002 and 2006, hiring staff without going through formal recruitment procedures and paying staff more than maximum salaries. It noted that of HK$13 million the institute received after selling hi-tech packaging projects in 2004, HK$10 million was allocated to incentive payments for 23 staff. ASTRI chairman Allan Wong Chi- yun said the board accepted Dr Yang's resignation despite having decided to renew his contract. As the resignation took immediate effect, Dr Yang would not be entitled to a payout because he did not complete his contract, which included a salary of HK$2.8 million and annual variable remuneration up to HK$400,000, and was due to expire on May 17. An ASTRI spokesman said the board had agreed in principle on March 10 to invite Dr Yang to stay as chief executive subject to further discussion on detailed terms and conditions. A board member who did not want to be named said Dr Yang, who was appointed in May 2004, had been expected to sign another three-year contract. Dr Yang said that building a quality administrative system had been one of his top priorities since he became the institute's chief executive, and more than 40 operating processes had been established, but 'the implementation of these efforts was apparently not fast enough'. 'By resigning, I hope people can now start to balance their attention towards the many outstanding achievements ASTRI has already attained as a young R&D institution.' Dr Yang - who last week defended the institute's budget and salaries, saying it needed to attract and keep talent - said reports in the past week had inevitably affected the institute's image and reputation.