Having faced major political controversies in his government career, Raymond Tam Chi-yuen said he had learned from experience as he prepared to take up the sensitive post in the Chief Executive's Office. 'A fall into the pit, a gain in your wit.' This was Mr Tam's latest comment on his role in former financial chief Antony Leung Kam-chung's car-purchase blunder in 2003, which resulted in the latter's resignation amid a public outcry. As a rising star in the tier of young officials, Mr Tam, who was then Mr Leung's press secretary, suffered a major blow in the blunder. After it came to light that Mr Leung had bought a luxury car weeks before announcing tax increases for vehicle registration, lawmakers lambasted Mr Tam for lacking political sensitivity in his handling of the incident. It emerged that Mr Tam had not only failed to alert Mr Leung to a potential conflict of interests, but had travelled in his boss' new car. He was also criticised for not responding promptly to media questions. The undersecretary openly acknowledged that the car incident had delayed his promotion, and his career prospects did not improve until constitutional minister Stephen Lam Sui-lung asked him to join his bureau to work on political reform proposals. His last post in the civil service was deputy secretary for home affairs. At the age of 44, he became the only civil servant to take up a new job as an undersecretary last year - again recruited by Mr Lam. But asked yesterday about his personal network in the administration, Mr Tam said: 'I have never had a close relationship with any senior government official.' He went through another political storm when he and some other political appointees were questioned about their foreign citizenship. He finally surrendered his right of abode in Britain amid public criticism. Because of his experience in the government, Mr Tam soon took up a speaking role for his fellow undersecretaries and was dubbed their 'prefect' by the media. But despite his relatively frequent media exposure, surveys by the University of Hong Kong found his public recognition rate remained below 2 per cent. An HKU engineering graduate, Mr Tam became a government administrative officer in 1987. During his career in the civil service he has worked at the former Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch, the former Constitutional Affairs Bureau and the Central Policy Unit, among other government bodies.