Just the man for the job

City talk | Siu Sai-wo 4 Jun 2020

Henry Fan Hung-ling is taking up the chairmanship of the West Kowloon Cultural District Foundation from another Henry - Henry Tang Ying-yen.

The appointment is just as expected, but people did at one stage watch for a possible change of plans after Fan took on the weighty role as Hospital Authority chairman a few months back.

Ballooning public medical care expenses of an aging population requires someone with Fan's skills in resource management.

Soon after he took up the Hospital Authority position, he had to deal with the biggest pandemic in a century and a staff strike.

Working hand in hand with chief executive Tony Ko Pat-sing, the strike situation was resolved, and Hong Kong's anti-pandemic efforts have won acclaim globally.

Meanwhile, Fan's rich experience in running private and public organizations, especially his expertise in financial management, is seen to be the main reason for his WKCD appointment.

As the cultural district's construction phase is drawing to an end, depreciation and operating costs of the completed facilities will surge, making cost control an even more pressing concern.

The need for a financially savvy helmsman with a background in business operations and management is further highlighted by the cultural district's disclosure of considerable upcoming deficits.

After a year-long slide of the local economy, the government has committed HK$300 billion to counter-cyclical measures to deal with its fallout.

If local economic recovery takes time, the operation of public bodies will become more difficult and bodies such as Ocean Park and the WKCD will begin facing stiff challenges.

In such troubled times, public and private organizations alike are desperately in need of experts who are competent in fiscal matters as well as in defusing political bombs.

That is why Fan is entrusted with the weighty responsibility of overseeing not just one, but two public bodies in the medical and cultural sectors.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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