Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is all set to assume her role as chief executive on July 1, and her new cabinet is ready to rock as well.
However, she is still aggressively searching for an information coordinator.
In other words, while her administrative team is ready, her public relations squad has yet to take shape.
Finding a good information coordinator (IC) is crucial to Lam’s implementation of her “New Deal”. During the campaign, she pledged to enhance government efforts in promoting and explaining new policy initiatives to the media and the public.
After having suffered several PR disasters during her campaign, Lam replaced her then press secretary, which she had hired from the private sector, with Terence Yu, a seasoned government executive who used to work under her when she was still serving as secretary for development.
Two months on, with the help of Yu, things have been going pretty smoothly.
However, as Yu’s appointment is only temporary, and he will be returning to his initial supervisory position in the Information Services Department after July 1, Carrie Lam now also needs to find a new press secretary for the Chief Executive’s Office.
It is said that Lam prefers to have an experienced administrative officer (AO) as her new press secretary, not least because she feels more comfortable working with AOs.
Nevertheless, her special requirement is said to have raised some concern as to whether an AO can adequately perform the role since most AOs, both young and old, have little experience in dealing with the media.
In recent months there has been talk of several potential candidates for the IC post.
(Editor’s note: the information coordinator is a high-ranking official who oversees the handling of press relations of the entire government, while the press secretary for the CE’s office only serves the chief executive).
However, according to government sources, these are just rumors because Carrie Lam has not yet short-listed anybody for the job.
Besides, sources said, Lam is known to be quite a demanding boss, and as such, there are only very few people out there who are both capable and willing to take the job.
But there is no great hurry, the same sources said; Lam can take her time looking for the right person to be the next IC after she has assumed office.
After all, among her new cabinet members, three have served as director of information services before.
So if the office of the IC is still vacant after July 1, any of these three bureau chiefs can perhaps take on the role of a de facto IC until Carrie Lam eventually finds the right person for the job.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 20
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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