Old faces lead Lam's best team

Top News | Phoenix Un 22 Jun 2017

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor says although there is only one new face among her 21 top officials, they all are committed and passionate about her new governance style.

Asked if she had a better team in mind but some candidates refused or were rejected by the central government, Lam said she would not give details of the selection process.

The State Council has formally appointed Lam's team of principal officials, all but one of whom serve in the current administration.

Founding Democratic Party member Law Chi-kwong, who quit the party on Tuesday and will be secretary for labor and welfare, is the only outsider.

Six secretaries, including the top three - Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin- chung, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung - will remain in their positions.

Another four are currently under secretaries who were promoted, including Sophia Chan Siu-chee, who will head the Food and Health Bureau, the only woman in the cabinet.

Four are promoted from the civil service, including Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen.

The Director of the Chief Executive's Office, Edward Yau Tang- wah, is named the next secretary for commerce and economic development.

Paul Chan was not believed to be Lam's first choice but he retained the post because of the Liaison Office's support.

Senior counsel Teresa Cheng Yeuk- wah was said to have been vetoed by Liaison Office director Zhang Xiaoming as the secretary for justice.

Lam refused several times to say if any of her nominees had been voted down by Beijing.

"All 21 were nominated by me according to the Basic Law, and are appointed by the central government," Lam said. "This is already the best team."

The old faces raised doubts about whether Lam's promised "new governance style" can be realized.

"They all agree with my new governance style, that the government should take a more active role," Lam said, pointing out that she has served in the government for 37 years and is an old face herself.

"If I can offer the public confidence in taking a new approach, I can't see why the others can't."

As to her financial officials Lam said they also agreed with her "new philosophy of public finance management."

"Public finance should be handled more vigilantly," she said. She shrugged off remarks by Democracy Camp Meetings convener James To Kun-sun who said her cabinet is a second-tier team and even worse than Leung Chun- ying's secretaries.

Lam argued: "It's good to have no surprises because there is nothing scary, and it's a balanced and pragmatic team."

The average age of her cabinet is 58.7 years, three years older than Leung's team, but Lam said younger people are expected to join as undersecretaries and the Central Policy Unit.

All members of her cabinet are aware of her approach that "one should do his work himself" and does not depend on the Liaison Office to win votes in the Legislative Council.

"But we should go back to the Basic Law to see what issues are our own work and what are related to the central government," she said.

She was also asked whether she will legislate Article 23 and implement national education.

Lam said she will create a favorable social environment before attempting legislation of the national security law.

She admitted that five years might not be enough to complete policies she has promised, but labor issues including the Mandatory Provident Fund offsetting mechanism must be handled immediately after she assumes office.

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