Chief Executive Carrie Lam has finally appointed the last two political assistants to top officials. All vacancies are now full, four months after she took office.
Apple Ho, 43, currently the deputy director of news and public affairs at Commercial Radio, will become political assistant to the financial secretary.
Kelvin Cheng, 38, a Hospital Authority manager for the planning and implementation of clinical public-private partnership programmes, will become political assistant to the secretary for food and health.
There are 12 undersecretaries and 14 political assistants in total. Lam said she was grateful that all vacancies have been filled under the expanded political appointment system.
“They are passionate, capable, committed, they agree with my ideals, and they are willing to become officials in the currently very complicated environment,” Lam said.
Lam said 12 of them, out of the 26, were below 40, showing that the government wishes to develop political talent.
Eight of the 26 were female – with health chief Sophia Chan and Ho, more than 20 per cent of appointees are women. Lam said she has reached her goal of attracting more women to become officials.
Apple Ho was a former chairperson of the Hong Kong News Executives’ Association. She will be the third political assistant to the financial secretary who comes from a media background, after Frankie Yip and Julian Law.
RTHK journalist So King-hang has long been rumoured to be the political assistant to the secretary for food and health. But he did not get the job, according to media reports, because his hiring was opposed by the pro-Beijing camp, which finds his chairing of the weekly City Forum programme to be “biased.”
Previously, Lam had to defend her choices of new officials, since four undersecretaries and political assistants she selected were defeated pro-Beijing election candidates.
Meanwhile, Lam said the newly revamped Central Policy Unit – to be renamed the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Unit – will have six major functions, including attracting 30 young people to join the government policy-forming process.
She wrote a commentary in several newspapers on Friday explaining the reforms.