It is said that the best chairman of the troubled West Kowloon Cultural District Authority did not stay long enough, but then he is not available for another four years.
We are talking about Rafael Hui, someone who appreciates art but is being kept as a jailbird, not the newly appointed chairman, Henry Tang, who will return to the seat after six years on October 1.
Tang’s appointment appeared to be a win-win solution for all, and no doubt it was a political deal that Chief Executive Carrie Lam wanted to orchestrate.
Lam wants to send a message that she wants to unite all parties to achieve the “Hong Kong camp” aspiration — once proposed by former chief executive Leung Chun-ying but failed to execute — without dividing Hong Kong into the Leung and Tang camps.
Yesterday, Lam said she could not think of a better candidate than Tang to take over the helm of the project again. In fact, he is the only non-official candidate she considered for the position.
After losing the top job to Leung in the 2012 election, Tang has been left idle with no public office. He is a national committee member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and earlier this year was made an independent non-executive director of Bank of East Asia.
For a 65-year-old man who comes from a well-connected family and with a long record of government service, his years in the wilderness were a waste.
Tang’s appointment also opens the door for more engagement with what is known as the “Tang camp”, which has spent five golden years doing nothing but criticize the Leung administration.
One example from this camp is former Legco chairman Jasper Tsang, who was appointed to the Task Force on Land Supply, which Carrie Lam created to reach public consensus on how to ease the housing shortage.
Tang’s appointment also eased the burden of Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, who seemed to have a full plate and has been struggling to get the job done in the project since he took over nine months ago.
By appointing a non-official candidate to a position that has been taken up by the chief secretary since the establishment of the authority, the government is able to build a buffer against any controversies from the troubled project.
Now if this model works, expect the government to reach back to Donald Tsang’s administration which had a diverse group of talent who were appointed to public service.
Look out for James Tien and Allan Zeman, both of whom made a good switch from textile to tourism, to be back at the Tourism Board and Ocean Park.
And later John Tsang, who ran against Carrie Lam six months ago and now rediscovered as a key opinion leader on social media.
Well, John can do more than that, too.
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