Will Mike Rowse, the head of InvestHK the promotion arm
of the government be able to survive the Harbour Fest "shame"?
Despite the public and legislators baying for his blood, the smart
money is on Rowse to survive.
"One should not write him [Rowse] off," a source said. "He's a
He has come under heavy criticism for his handling of the Harbour
Critics have accused him of wasting up to HK$100 million of taxpayers'
This came in the wake of a government contract with the American
Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the major organiser of Harbour Fest, to
underwrite up to HK$100 million in losses.
The full amount has been paid to AmCham to help cover the troubled
festival, which is due to end on November 9 with a second and final
performance by the Rolling Stones.
Rowse earlier revealed to legislators that three advances totalling
HK$75 million had been made to AmCham.
On Tuesday, the government confirmed that it had paid the final HK$25
Since the start of Harbour Fest saga, the Chinese media have been
gunning for Rowse calling him "Mickey Mouse", "Mickey Rowse" and
"rodent". But despite public opinion and the demands of legislators,
the administration cannot sack Rowse under the civil servants' charter
which states that a civil servant cannot be dismissed unless they are
proven to be grossly negligent.
Furthermore, Rowse had not done anything drastically wrong, a source
said. As with AmCham chairman Jim Thompson, "Rowse may be trying to
do too much and too fast", he said. "Both Thompson and Rowse may
have overestimated their ability."
The source said Rowse had set up InvestHK in July 2000 which "is no
easy task" after negotiating the Lantau Disneyland deal in November
Rowse joined the government in 1972 and became head of the new
investment promotion unit in May 2000 after wrapping up the Disney
deal as commissioner for tourism.
The source said Rowse had been in his current post for almost four
years and under normal practices, "it was time he moved to another
At least three posts are coming up for review within the next six
months. They are:
The senior representative for Hong Kong Economic and Trade Affairs
based in Brussels. This is currently held by Christopher Jackson who
is expected to retire by the end of the year.
Commissioner for Economic and Trade Affairs, USA, Jackie Willis.
Director-general, London, Andrew Leung.
There is a possibility the administration may move Rowse to one of
these overseas postings, although several government officials believe
it is unlikely.
"If Rowse is really at fault, moving him to any of these overseas
posts would further embarrass the government," one of them said.
But don't be surprised if at the end of the day Rowse goes laughing
all the way to Washington, a source said
All rights reserved.