Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Monday appointed Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung as an unpaid personal advisor on matters related to innovation and technology, and also as a non-official member of the Executive Council.
Yang, former executive vice-president of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, will also head a new advisory committee on innovation and technology that will replace the existing steering committee on innovation and technology led by Financial Secretary John Tsang, RTHK reported.
The appointment of Yang to multiple roles has drawn criticism from observers and lawmakers, who wondered if there will be enough oversight on the official’s functions.
Leung’s move came after the government faced difficulties last month in obtaining funding approval from the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee for a proposed Innovation and Technology Bureau.
Filibustering by pro-democracy lawmakers has stalled the government’s plans.
There had been rumors that Yang would head the bureau once it was set up.
Political commentator Ivan Choy, a lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said Yang’s appointment shows Leung’s determination to establish the Innovation and Technology Bureau.
Asked if the move is also aimed at John Tsang, Choy noted that Leung’s supporters have been unhappy with Tsang, and that there could be more rumors about incompatibility of the top two officials in the future.
Ray Yep, a professor at the City University’s Public Policy Department, said it is clear that Leung is still striving to establish the Innovation and Technology Bureau.
Yang’s appointment won’t damage the system, he said, pointing out past instances when there had been appointments of unpaid advisors on finance and economy.
Democratic Party legislator James To Kun-sun, however, criticized Yang’s appointment to multiple roles, saying that it raises the risks of policy confusion and ambiguity of authority and responsibility.
Innovation and technology are currently under the oversight of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau chief.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit also said it is unusual that a person is being offered three posts. The multiple roles give rise to questions whether Yang can be supervised properly, he said.
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