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Carrie Lam

Star-studded cast of advisers to help Hong Kong ‘ditch old way of thinking’ and stay competitive

Entrepreneur Allan Zeman is among the business titans and captains of industry tasked to help the government develop right policies to groom talent and boost innovation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2018, 8:52pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 March, 2018, 9:26am

As Hong Kong seeks to fortify its position as an international financial centre, a high-level group comprising captains of various industries has been mobilised to chart new drivers of economic growth and help the city stay competitive.

Among the star-studded cast of 36 advisers are Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, who has been anointed successor to his billionaire tycoon-father Li Ka-shing’s business empire; former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen; recognised geneticist Tsui Lap-chee, who used to head the University of Hong Kong; and the son of flamboyant real estate tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung, Lau Ming-wai, who has been working with the government on youth policies.

They will work directly with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who since taking over last July, has prioritised diversifying the city’s economy away from its traditional dependence on financial services, trading and logistics, tourism and professional services.

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In Lam’s maiden policy address and last month’s budget, the government pledged billions of dollars towards promoting venture capital, strengthening research and development infrastructure and grooming local talent, among other things.

Adviser and entrepreneur Allan Zeman urged the government to ditch its “old way of thinking”.

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“I think all industries need to accept that we are falling behind, and we can’t just continue to protect certain industries just because they have a long history in Hong Kong.

“It is important that we must be very open-minded and progressive, including the government itself,” said the man known as the “father of Lan Kwai Fong”, the city’s popular entertainment district.

We can’t just continue to protect certain industries just because they have a long history in Hong Kong
Allan Zeman, entrepreneur

After the government released names on the Chief Executive’s Council of Advisers on Innovation and Strategic Development on Wednesday, Lam said the group’s first meeting would take place next week.

“The members have a wealth of experience in the Hong Kong community,” she said. “Through their vast business and corporate networks I will be able to better promote the city, and connect with the international community.”

Other advisers include business chiefs from the mainland and overseas, such as China Resources Group chairman Fu Yuning, former chief executive of Hong Kong’s largest bank HSBC, Stuart Gulliver and John Slosar, chairman of Swire Pacific, Swire Properties and Cathay Pacific. Slosar told the Post he was honoured to be in the role.

Another adviser David Wong Yau-kar, chairman of the city’s Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority, said: “I hope we can look into Hong Kong’s problems from a macro point of view. It’s not just about the economy.”

Earlier this week, the government also announced a human resources planning panel with 20 private sector leaders, including business chiefs from the city’s pillar industries, union leaders and academics.

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Their job is to advise the government on how to provide opportunities for Hongkongers and equip them with skills for the future economy, while looking at the touchy issue of managing the supply of talent from overseas and mainland China.

Members include Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing chairman Chow Chung-kong; Securities and Futures Commission chairman Carlson Tong Ka-shing; CLP Power vice-chairman Betty Yuen So Siu-mai; and Federation of Trade Unions chairman Stanley Ng Chau-pei.

Additional reporting by Ng Kang-chung