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Technology

Outgoing Hong Kong science park boss Fanny Law has ‘no regrets’ but admits she might have been blunt giving views to those in power

Future of developing innovation and technology in city depends on finding and retaining talent, she says

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 June, 2018, 12:37pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 June, 2018, 11:08pm

The outgoing head of Hong Kong’s science park expressed “no regrets” over leaving her position after four years but admitted she might have been blunt when giving her views to those in power.

Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, whose term as chairwoman of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation expires next Saturday, said her principle had always been to “speak the truth to the rich and powerful”.

“Sometimes I can be blunt with my words, but I’m not the type of person who holds grudges,” Law said on a radio programme on Saturday.

While Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung described his relationship with Law as one of “harmony in differences”, Law said she did not recall coming up against the technology chief.

“After he said those words … I thought about them every night,” Law added.

“If you’re dissatisfied with me, you should just tell me. I don’t think I’m perfect.”

If you’re dissatisfied with me, you should just tell me. I don’t think I’m perfect
Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, outgoing head of Hong Kong’s science park

Law said her comments were directed towards issues and not specific people, adding that she and Yang both worked for the public interest.

In the past, when she served as permanent secretary to then-education chief Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, Law said they had tried to convince each other with data.

News this month of her stepping down as head of the science park has been viewed as unusual because her predecessor, Nicholas Brooke, held the position for six years.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung earlier said Law’s ability was not a factor in the decision by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to bring in a new chairman, adding the move was made for the park’s long-term development.

The Post reported that Lam had decided not to renew Law’s contract following 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. Lam wrote to the university to offer it her reassurances. But the chairwoman rejected the accusation.

Law is set to be replaced by artificial intelligence pioneer Sunny Chai Ngai-chiu, who vowed to continue the park’s work in four principle areas his predecessor had set out: artificial intelligence, smart city, financial technology and biotechnology.

On the same programme, Law said the future of developing innovation and technology in the city depended on finding and retaining talent.

“Hong Kong has good scientists. We also have young people devoted to science. But the problem is whether we can provide employment opportunities,” she added, noting Hong Kong had difficulty retaining talent.

Foreign researchers might be reluctant to move to the city due to high property prices and rent.

Apart from employment for researchers, she continued, prospective talent also wanted career opportunities for their spouses and education for their children.

To improve Hong Kong’s culture of innovation, Law urged officials to update laws to allow pioneering technologies to be tested and developed locally.

All eyes on Hong Kong’s Science Park after massive HK$40 billion budget handout

Last year, the Science Park’s plan to test a self-driving vehicle was shot down by the government, she said.

Upon leaving her position as chairwoman, Law said she would spend additional time on herself and “exercise more”.