My Take

A lack of talent for public office? Not in Hong Kong

Carrie Lam says she is having problems filling her cabinet but there are plenty of talented people in this city, if only she would think outside the box

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 April, 2017, 12:18am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 April, 2017, 12:17am

Chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor says she is having problems filling her cabinet.

Well, Carrie, that’s true only if you stick to the time-tested and repeatedly failed methods of the last three chief executives by targeting only trusted hands and people from elite inner circles.

Yes, the list from those places must be getting shorter and shorter indeed, as one after another has proved their incompetence and mediocrity.

How Hong Kong’s next leader Carrie Lam can attract the right talent to her new government

You want to be inclusive? Try hiring more women, expatriates and ethnic minorities. For financial secretary, the city has a pretty good list of top female executives in banking and financial services. Think of top bankers who also have experience in public service, such as Margaret Leung Ko May-yee, Anita Fung Yuen-mei and Laura Cha Shih May-lung. Seriously, if John Tsang Chun-wah could do this job for almost a decade, any one of these women would do fine.

Someone like Paul Zimmerman – a card-carrying “yellow umbrella” activist yet moderate and intelligent – is well-versed in urban planning and the environment. If there is a pan-democrat who can work with the government, it’s someone like him. Since he has gone “native”, maybe he will be willing to give up his foreign right of abode.

A Democrat most frequently mentioned for a top post is Law Chi-kwong. He is well-versed in poverty issues and is a long-time social work lecturer at the University of Hong Kong. It’s absurd the Democratic Party, of which Law is a member, has imposed a ban on joining the government. It’s time to end this charade.

Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee, the capable and media-friendly undersecretary for food and health, should be the natural successor of her highly regarded boss Dr Ko Wing-man.

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Professor Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah SC, chairwoman of the Financial Dispute Resolution Centre, has been suggested for the secretary for justice. Well, how about Winnie Tam Wan-chi SC, the current chair of the Bar Association? She has the trust of the legal profession, yet her public statements have been unusually circumspect and restrained.

Should there be a new culture bureau, home affairs undersecretary Florence Hui Hiu-fai has been cited as a possible head. Let me try another name: Vivienne Tam, our greatest fashion designer.

Obviously I am dreaming, but Lam should think outside the box. And the central government, which needs to approve ministerial appointments, should grant her the latitude.