Carrie Lam

Hong Kong’s new cabinet revealed with plenty of familiar faces

Beijing has approved chief-executive elect Carrie Lam’s ministerial choices, which mostly comprise incumbents and promotees from within the current administration

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2017, 10:15am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 June, 2017, 5:10pm

After months of trying to assemble a diverse team, Hong Kong’s incoming leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has had to settle for a safe slate of mostly incumbents and promotees from within the current administration, the official announcement on Wednesday morning confirms.

According to a press release issued by Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday morning, Beijing has approved Lam’s ministerial choices. The chief executive-elect is only bringing in one outsider: former Democratic Party member and social-policy scholar Dr Law Chi-kwong. Law is the second pan-democrat to join the administration since Hong Kong’s handover in 1997 from British to Chinese rule, after outgoing housing minister Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung.

Six incumbent ministers are keeping their portfolios, including the top three secretaries – for administration, finance and justice. Also staying put is Simon Peh Yun-lu, not a minister but the controversial head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the city’s anti-graft agency.

There are eight promotees: four deputy ministers now elevated to head their own bureaus and four veteran civil servants joining the rank of minister as political appointees.

The team will assume office on July 1.

Lam has failed to achieve her aspiration of injecting young blood and outside talent. In defence of her line-up, she said last week her cabinet would be “pragmatic” and not need any time to get acquainted with her given their lengthy working relationships together.

Why Carrie Lam needs to prove herself before she can lure talent to Hong Kong’s governing team

Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a semi-official think tank, said on Wednesday that appointing Dr Law Chi-kwong as a minister would not help improve the government’s relationship with the pan-democratic camp.

Lau said since there are significant differences in the political stance of the Hong Kong government and the pan-democrats and that their relationship could only be improved if Lam adopts a tolerant and moderate style of governance.

Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said on Wednesday that the new cabinet’s line-up fell short of the public expectation, as Lam had previously vowed to inject new blood and nominate more women as ministers.

He believes that the cabinet lacks new faces because aspiring politicians from the business and academic worlds are deterred by the “heat of the kitchen”.

The central government has also tightened its grip on the appointment of new ministers, Choy added.

There was wide speculation that Rex Auyeung Pak-kuen, Asia chairman of a United States-based insurance firm, would become the financial chief. But lawmakers and pundits understand that Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po was reappointed because Beijing trusts him.

Carrie Lam’s cabinet (* denotes incumbent)

Chief Secretary: Matthew Cheung Kin-chung*

Financial Secretary: Paul Chan Mo-po *

Secretary for Justice: Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung*

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: Dr Law Chi-kwong

Secretary for Education: Kevin Yeung Yun-hung

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Patrick Nip Tak-kuen

Secretary for Security: John Lee Ka-chiu

Secretary for the Environment: Wong Kam-sing*

Secretary for Development: Michael Wong Wai-lun

Secretary for Transport and Housing: Frank Chan Fan

Secretary for Home Affairs: Lau Kong-wah*

Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury: James Lau

Secretary for Food and Health: Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development: Edward Yau Tang-wah

Secretary for Innovation and Technology: Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung*

Secretary for the Civil Service: Joshua Law Chi-kong

ICAC Commissioner: Simon Peh Yun-lu*

Commissioner of Police: Stephen Lo Wai-chung*

Director of Audit: David Sun Tak-kei*

Director of Immigration: Erick Tsang Kwok-wai*

Commissioner of Customs and Excise: Hermes Tang Yi-hoi