Date
28 July 2017
Iris Tam (L) says it is best that she quit the URA as she wasn't able to resolve differences with the urban renewal body's chairman Victor So (R) on the agency's mission and direction. Photo: HKEJ
Iris Tam (L) says it is best that she quit the URA as she wasn't able to resolve differences with the urban renewal body's chairman Victor So (R) on the agency's mission and direction. Photo: HKEJ

Tam leaving URA due to ‘fundamental differences’ with chairman

Urban Renewal Authority (URA) managing director Iris Tam has told colleagues that she had resigned due to fundamental differences with chairman Victor So on aspects related to URA’s philosophy, mission and direction.

Tam, who resigned suddenly on Monday, told staff in an email that she felt that it would be in the best interests of URA that she left her position as early as possible in view of the differences with So, RTHK reported.

Tam said she has tried her best to reconcile the differences but didn’t meet with success, prompting her to quit.

She stressed her belief that the URA “must always put its social mission before profit considerations in selecting sites for redevelopment, helping owners rehabilitate their buildings, and contributing towards heritage preservation and revitalization.”

Tam, who will leave her post on June 30 following her resignation, emphasized that she finds it totally unacceptable to position URA as a developer or a land assembly agent to supply sites for developers.

Meanwhile, Victor So said in a statement after a board meeting Tuesday that the mission of URA has not changed since he assumed office. But he said that it is only normal that a loss-making organization seeks to cut its losses.

So refuted claims that he had suggested cooperation between URA and Richfield Group Holdings Ltd. (0183.HK), a company that specializes in buying out old flats for redevelopment.

Some sources told RTHK that Tam’s departure might be related to a consultant report on the review of URA’s corporate structure.

The urban renewal body’s board has urged Tam to rethink her resignation, but the managing director is said to have reiterated that she won’t change her decision.

Legislative Councilor Frederick Fung said the URA must break the shackles of having to be financially self-sustaining before it can achieve good results in urban redevelopment work.

Tam’s resignation is a timely warning to the government that the URA should not become a property developer, Fung said.

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EL/MY/RC

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