Fingers crossed for the HK$50 billion man

The time has come for innovation minister Nicholas Yang to show what he can do at the Science Park now that its strong-willed boss, Fanny Law, is on her way

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 June, 2018, 5:26am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 June, 2018, 5:26am

People who have worked with outgoing Science Park boss Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun have known her to be strong-willed, if not arrogant. So it’s hardly a surprise that she didn’t work well with Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung.

In remarks made after it was announced she would not be reappointed when her term ends this month, she effectively confirmed the conflict when she said she could be “blunt” when “speaking truth to the rich and powerful”.

Outgoing Hong Kong science park boss Fanny Law has ‘no regrets’

Never mind that as a former top civil servant, ex-commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and currently a member of the Executive Council, she has been one of those powerful figures.

Her statement is nevertheless seen as a veiled criticism of Yang.

But while Yang has yet to inspire public confidence as the tech tsar, few people are upset to see the back of Law. A trusted adviser to former chief executive Leung Chun-ying, but one who had no previous professional background in the hi-tech field, it was hard to understand why she got the job in the first place.

At least her replacement, Sunny Chai Ngai-chiu, brings to the post hi-tech and business credentials as an industrialist in having applied technologies such as artificial intelligence to retail sales and manufacturing. But more importantly, he has promised to be a good boy and leave tech policies to Yang and his lieutenants.

Tech policies are for officials to decide, new Hong Kong Science Park chief

“I will focus on things related to the Science Park,” he said. “The Innovation and Technology Bureau and Innovation and Technology Commission plan policies. The park’s role is to go to the front line to contact scientific research institutes and line them up to cooperate with each other.”

Despite a poor record for having incubated not a single world-beating local start-up, the 16-year-old park continues to play a central role in the government’s tech policy. Indeed, it has become even more important.

Of the HK$50 billion earmarked in the current budget for hi-tech development, HK$20 billion is for the park to devise schemes to promote biotechnology, artificial intelligence and robotics.

Meanwhile, HK$20 billion is for the upcoming Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop, and HK$10 billion for the existing Innovation and Technology Fund.

With Law out of the way, Yang is now pretty much the HK$50 billion man. Let’s hope he makes something of it and not let it go to waste. Fingers crossed.