For generations of British civil servants, the Scottish countryside has been a place to take it easy after decades of toil in Westminster or the colonies, but for Frederick Ma Si-hang it is somewhere to go to shed some kilograms. 'Unlike Hong Kong, you don't have golf carts to carry you around the golf course in Scotland. My doctors have ordered me to take a walk, so there we go. I will have lost so much weight when I return,' Mr Ma said. He is set to start leave today before officially resigning as secretary for commerce and economic development. Having surprised fellow members of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's cabinet by announcing last month that he was resigning, he is going out on a high note. He was the only minister whose popularity rose in the latest survey by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme. Confidence in Mr Ma rose 18.1 points, to 54.6 per cent, days after he said he was resigning on doctors' advice after being diagnosed with brain lesions. Mr Ma said he was honoured to have served the people. 'I am, of course, happy to be supported by the public. The people in Hong Kong are discerning,' he said. During a farewell party with colleagues, Mr Ma was presented with a card by Mr Tsang, inscribed with calligraphy written by the chief executive's wife, Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei, wishing him good health. While Mr Ma will take a long holiday in Scotland, where golf, rather than whisky, will be his prescription for recovery, the central government has yet to formally accept his resignation or name a successor. While no appointment has been approved, Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan, one of two permanent secretaries in the commerce and economic development bureau and a 32-year civil service veteran, is widely tipped to succeed Mr Ma.