Commerce minister Gregory So Kam-leung has said he will go on a long vacation with his wife after July 1 when the new administration starts, suggesting he may not stay in office during the next term. At least three other principal officials have also said they will not stay.
So has been the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development since 2011, after three years as the undersecretary. He received a moderate popularity rating in a poll by the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme conducted early last month.
He said on a RTHK radio programme on Friday that government policies have continuity, no matter who is in charge.
So said: “I can say on July 1, I will go on a trip with my wife, to visit our family… it is relatively long.”
Asked by the host if it means he will not stay in the administration, he said: “Travelling and getting some rest. This is my plan for now.”
But he added his “heart to serve society” had not changed.
So, a lawyer by training, was a vice-chairman of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong party before joining the government.
After he was appointed as undersecretary in May 2008, local media reported he also held Canadian citizenship. The government explained that undersecretaries were not principal officials stipulated by the Basic Law so he did not need to give up his citizenship. However, So decided to give it up following the scandal.
He was also criticised in 2009 for showing his official name card as a proof of his income to extend the visa for his family’s foreign domestic worker, which was accepted by the Immigration Department under their discretion.
In 2011, his residence at Hong Lok Mansion on Macdonnell Road was found to have illegal structures. He had to restore them to the original state.
And So was recently slammed by lawmakers over the government’s failure to negotiate a better expansion deal with Hong Kong Disneyland.
It was rumoured that So was one of the officials that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying wanted to replace, after he sacked two principal officials, but So stayed since there was no appropriate replacement for him.
There are 13 top secretaries of government bureaus.
Transport minister Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, education minister Eddie Ng Hak-kim and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen have announced they will leave the government in July.
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Stephen Sui Wai-keung said in April that he has not been approached by Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam. Democratic Party veteran Law Chi-kwong is expected to replace Sui.
Justice secretary Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung and health secretary Ko Wing-man have been rumoured to have made plans for leaving the administration and going back to their professions.
Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok, 65, is expected to retire from the principal official role. He was recently rumoured to have been selected as the next head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Carrie Lam had said that Eric Chan Kwok-ki, head of her office before she becomes Hong Kong’s leader, will be the future director of the Chief Executive Office on July 1.