Chief Executive-Elect Carrie Lam’s former campaign chief Bernard Chan has said that she is having difficulties forming her administration, likening it to inviting potential ministers into a “sea of fire.”

So far, several incumbent Hong Kong bureau chiefs have hinted that they would not remain in the next administration, including Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man, and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam.

Bernard Chan
Bernard Chan. Photo: NowTV screenshot.

Lam told reporters last week that she had “nightmares” in which she would not be able to find enough personnel to form an administration by July 1, when current chief executive Leung Chun-ying will step down.

‘Sea of fire’

In a Commercial Radio interview on Sunday, former campaign chief Chan attributed Lam’s difficulties in forming an administration to the lack of a system by which people could serve Hong Kong society. “It’s like we’re begging people to join [the administration], asking them to walk into a sea of fire.”

Chan said that it was appropriate to promote several bureau under-secretaries to become secretaries in the new administration.

See also: Female majority cabinet unlikely, says Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam

“It would be a great risk to ‘airlift’ everybody into the administration from outside,” he said. “You don’t know whether these people are used to working inside the government, and [the government’s] style and methods.”

Various local media have reported rumours that Under-secretary for the Environment Christine Loh could become the bureau’s new secretary, while Under-secretary for Security John Lee would be similarly promoted.

Democratic Party member and University of Hong Kong professor Law Chi-kwong has also been touted in the media to join Lam’s cabinet.

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. Photo: Carrie Lam via Facebook.

Chan added that if the Chinese Central Government appointed personnel from different political camps into Lam’s administration, it would help to build trust in Hong Kong.

“However, joining the government means teamwork, and these people may have to draw a line against their former political affiliations,” he added.

Asked whether he would serve as the convener of the Executive Council – the larger cabinet comprised of Lam’s administration as well as non-official advisers – Chan said that he has not yet discussed the issue with Lam. He added that he thought it possible to abolish the post.

A businessman from a Thai-Chinese banking family, Chan has served as a non-official member of the Executive Council since 2012.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.