Family first for official

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 October, 2007, 12:00am

Urban Renewal Authority managing director Billy Lam Chung-lun says he has decided to retire because he wants to take a break and spend more time with his family.

'It has been my honour to serve URA and play a part in advancing urban renewal in Hong Kong,' said Mr Lam, 59, who has led the authority since it was set up six years ago.

He will not renew his contract when it expires in December.

The authority's chairman, Barry Cheung Chun-yan, said Mr Lam's departure was a great loss to the authority.

Mr Cheung said a panel headed by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah would start looking for a suitable person to succeed Mr Lam.

Mr Lam launched a number of controversial renewal projects, such as the redevelopment of Wan Chai's Lee Tung Street, known as Wedding Card Street, the Fa Yuen Street (Sneaker Street) area in Mong Kok and Peel and Graham streets in Central. Residents and shop owners in these areas have staged repeated protests over the authority's decisions.

Legislator Fred Li Wah-ming, a non-executive director of the authority, said it was a surprise that Mr Lam was not seeking reappointment.

'It will be very difficult to find a suitable person to fill the post. The scene has become quite politicised and sensitive,' he said.

Ng Chi-wing, head of Nga Tsin Wai village, said Mr Lam had worked hard to alleviate the residents' dilapidated living conditions. He hoped the plan to redevelop the last urban walled village, launched this month, would remain unchanged with Mr Lam's departure.