Musical chairs is never a fun game in Hong Kong

June 24, 2014 15:14
At his pleasure: Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (center) wants his men in, Marvin Cheung (left) has quit, and Allan Zeman says he is being forced out. Photos: HKEJ

Who would like to come forward to serve in the administration of Chief Executive Leung Chung-ying

Spare some pity for Allan Zeman, who was forced out of Ocean Park with a frank revelation that “I felt kind of angry for a while” because the government did not discuss it with him beforehand.

The man who developed Ocean Park into one of the world's best theme parks often went an extra mile, even playing the role of a jellyfish, a woman or a zombie to drum up interest in the leisure destination. He's sometimes called the local version of Richard Branson because not many businessmen had the guts to do what he did for the park.

The ending was sad, however. Zeman said he wanted to stay because he was having so much fun in the role; the government, intent on showing who's the boss, chose to ignore him.

Zeman's case is not an isolated one. Marvin Cheung Kin-tung was asked to join the Airport Authority in 2003, the same year Zeman took over Ocean Park, and elevated to chairman in 2008. But he abruptly quit last month, citing health reasons. Many believe it probably had to do with his not being happy with the job than anything else (although he recovered from blood cancer years ago).

Cheung was reported to have had several boardroom fights with Vincent Lo Hong-sui, a devoted Leung follower, and was opposed to former Executive Council member Franklin Lam Fan-keung’s appointment to the airport authority, also a Leung supporter. (Just before his retirement, a gossip magazine came out with pictures of Cheung using a company car to pick up family members.)

Cheung had not uttered a word after stepping down.

It is widely believed CY Leung has started the reshuffles by driving out supporters of former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, whom he defeated in the 2012 chief executive election, and installing his own people as his third year of administration approaches. Leung had been patiently masterminding the personnel changes in his first year of office before letting the word out to the heads of the agencies concerned about his decisions, or, in most cases, he would extend an appointment for another year before making his move, as what happened at the Airport Authority.

Needless to say, Leung's supporters are getting the plum posts. Vincent Lo would be allowed to run the Airport Authority in the coming year before swapping chairmanships with Jack So Chak-kwong of the Trade Development Council. Leung’s campaign manager Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun was earlier installed as head of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks.

All these changes may serve as a cold reminder of what Li Ka-shing said in March. Explaining why Hong Kong is losing its edge, he said: "Capable people are not coming forward, but incapable people are fighting for the jobs."

Next in the crosshairs are two troubled semi-government organizations – West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and MTR Corp – which have been drawing endless criticisms on how the government handled never-ending projects with never-enough budgets.

Word is out that West Kowloon Cultural District Authority is looking for a new chairman, although the post is traditionally occupied by the chief secretary. The authority is contemplating to retire most, if not all, members who have served for at least six years, and they include the "Three Musketeers", namely Zeman, Ronald Arculli and Victor Lo Chung-wing.

At the MTR Corp., meanwhile, would former minister Frederick Ma Si-hang take over as chairman from Raymond Chien Kuo-fung, who has put in 11 years in the rail operator?

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EJ Insight writer