Guess who is the highest-paid public servant in Hong Kong?
It may come as a surprise to many, but the answer is Fred Lam Tin-fuk, who has been chief executive of the Airport Authority (AA) since October after earlier serving as Trade Development Council executive director for more than 10 years.
Now, some legislators are questioning why a person like Lam with no employment background in the aviation industry is paid more than other top department chiefs in the government.
The lawmakers have sought detailed explanation on the matter, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday.
Lam’s basic annual salary, excluding variable remuneration and bonus, is HK$6.12 million (US$789,070), according to a reply given by Transport Secretary Anthony Cheung to a query from Democratic Party legislator Emily Lau.
The amount is HK$1.8 million, or 42 percent, more than that paid to his predecessor Stanley Hui Hon-chung as well as higher than the HK$6 million paid to Norman Chan Tak-lam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the report said.
In fact, Lam’s pay is also higher than most of his overseas counterparts. Sean Donohue, chief executive of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport — which is the third busiest in the world by aircraft movements – is paid about HK$3.14 million a year, 44 percent less than Lam. Al Denso, who is in charge of UK’s Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, is paid about HK$2.39 million
Lau said that Lam, unlike Stanley Hui, has never had experience in managing an airport, and one can tell from his pay that the government has no guideline in setting the pay for AA chief. The pay is totally absurd, she said.
Labour Party leader Lee Cheuk-yan said he was also shocked to learn about Lam’s basic salary. He asked the government to reveal in detail how it decided public servants’ remunerations.
Cheung said the pay level for AA chief is decided by its board and that the remuneration has to be “reasonable” to attract a capable person, who has to deal with a lot of heavy responsibilities including boosting the passenger and cargo throughputs at the airport and overseeing plans for a new runway.
As a decision on the salary has to take into account both domestic and international factors, it is not appropriate to compare the AA chief to other government posts, he said.
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