A former chairman of Hong Kong’s stock market operator has been appointed to lead the city’s key agent for urban redevelopment. Chow Chung-kong, 69, will take over as chairman of the Urban Renewal Authority, effective from May 1, for a three-year term. Commenting on the government appointment, Chow said: “The URA is an important institution charged with improving the standard of housing and the built environment of Hong Kong through urban regeneration. “I look forward to working with fellow members of the board, URA colleagues and our many stakeholders in the community to enhance the quality of living, particularly for those in older districts of Hong Kong.” Chow’s long record of public service and vast experience in the business sector made him an obvious choice for the post, Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun said. Chow is a member of the Executive Council, the de facto cabinet of the city’s leader. He was chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing between 2012 and 2018. In his eight years as the CEO of the MTR Corporation, Chow faced a lot of challenges. He led a merger with the century-old Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation. In 2010, he had to repeatedly apologise to the public over revelations that the issuer of the popular Octopus smart cards, whose largest shareholder was the MTR Corp, had made millions of dollars selling the personal information of 1.97 million cardholders to other companies. Former MTR Corp boss has bonus slashed but still gets HK$11.8 million Chow has also held senior management positions in Britain and Australia. Nine other people have been made new non-official members of the authority – these include architectural conservation expert Lee Ho-yin and Stephen Wong Yuen-shan, head of influential think tank the Our Hong Kong Foundation, which was founded by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. In addition to steering redevelopment and building maintenance projects, one of the authority’s key tasks in recent years has been the Yau Mong District Study, which examines new solutions for urban renewal, including the transfer of unused building plot ratios, or building rights, across different sites to conserve historic buildings or old districts with special character. Andrew Wan Siu-kin, the Democratic Party’s spokesman on development issues, said Chow was a “heavyweight” given his career record and closeness to the government. Tourism chief steps down to take over as head of trade development council “I have no doubts about his ability, but I do hope he will broaden the vision of the URA,” Wan said. He said that under the leadership of outgoing chairman Victor So Hing-woh the URA had become more focused on making profits and acted like a developer. After recording a deficit, the authority in 2014 scaled down its commitment to smaller redevelopment projects initiated by building owners, to focus on bigger schemes. “I hope Chow can bring the URA back to its social mission of improving people’s living environment in old districts,” Wan said.