‘Tear down walls’ of red tape to help Hong Kong innovate, Science Park boss Fanny Law says on last day of controversial tenure

Speaking of success and challenges, outgoing chairwoman vows not to ‘point fingers’ on innovation and technology matters

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 June, 2018, 4:35pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 June, 2018, 10:37pm

The curtain on Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun’s controversial tenure leading Hong Kong’s Science Park lowered on Thursday, as she urged the government to “tear down walls” to step up development.

Law, whose contract Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor decided not to renew for another two years, said she would not “point fingers” on innovation and technology matters after her four-year stint as chairwoman of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, saying she would be “out of touch from the industry’s frontline”.

But she made clear the city had “a lot of work ahead” to develop, with bureaucracy posing challenges.

“We have too many administrative procedures. I want to appeal to the legislature to have more trust in us ... and tear down the walls on non-essential administrative procedures,” Law said.

Deflecting questions about the circumstances of her departure, Law conceded she had held different opinions and views from Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung. Law said that although her positions were at times not heeded, she harboured no “hard feelings” and would “never obstruct” Yang from doing anything.

I have done enough and am not young
Fanny Law

“I have done enough and am not young,” Law added. “This is the best time to go. I have no regrets.”

She also expressed satisfaction in being part of the park’s “success” while stating she was “not necessarily the person who made it succeed”.

Law’s exit was considered premature as her predecessor, Nicholas Brooke, served for six years. The Post earlier reported that Lam’s decision not to renew Law’s contract followed an incident last year in which Law was accused of interfering in the academic freedoms of one of the world’s top medical universities, the 208-year-old Karolinska Institute of Sweden, which has a branch at the park in Sha Tin. Lam wrote to the university to offer it her reassurances. But Law denied the accusation.

The institute’s senior management subsequently visited Hong Kong and was treated to a banquet by Law’s ally, former chief executive Leung Chun-ying, the Post learned, as the city sought to mend ties.

Fanny Law frustrated by Hong Kong’s failure to fully embrace innovation

She has been replaced by industrialist and artificial intelligence pioneer Sunny Chai Ngai-chiu.

Describing Chai as “a board member with Science Park for the past four years who knows its directions and policies”, Law advised her successor to continue supporting the 650 companies at the park and recruit talent.

The 16-year-old park finds itself in the midst of a transformation, playing a vital role in helping the city become more technologically advanced. Officials in February earmarked a major slice of the government’s HK$50 billion funding package to hi-tech industries.

The park will own and oversee, for example, the creation of a Hong Kong-Shenzhen innovation and technology park located in Lok Ma Chau Loop at the mainland China border. The project cost HK$20 billion and was due for completion in 2023.

As for her future, Law said she would spend more time at her family-funded school in Ningbo in Zhejiang province.

“I will go visit my children and grandchildren who are in the United States,” she added, noting that hiking was also on her agenda.