Tuesday, September 30, 2014   




'Mickey Rowse' may squeak through

Marcal Joanilho

Thursday, October 30, 2003

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

survivor."

He has come under heavy criticism for his handling of the Harbour

Fest.

Critics have accused him of wasting up to HK$100 million of taxpayers'

money.

This came in the wake of a government contract with the American

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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

million instalment.

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

1999.

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

posting".

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

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END


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