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Transcript of media session on appointment of new Privacy Commissioner

     The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, and the Chairman of the Privacy Commissioner Selection Board, Mrs Laura M Cha, met the media today (July 24) on the appointment of the new Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Mr Allan Chiang Yam Wang. Following is the transcript of the media session :

Reporter : Given Mr Chiang's track record of the Design Centre with management issues with the Director of Audit as well as the Post Office involving privacy issues, why is the Government still convinced that he is a suitable person for the job?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Mr Chiang has extensive experience in public administration. He has demonstrated a commitment to full implementation of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. He has also indicated an intense interest to pursue this particular portfolio in the interest of the community. We believe that previously as regards the recommendations made by the Director of Audit for improving the management of the Design Centre and also with regard to the issue of the pinhole camera in the Post Office, Mr Chiang has demonstrated a full commitment to improving their public administration. We have confidence that in his new capacity as Privacy Commissioner, he should be able to protect the privacy of the Hong Kong community.

Reporter: You also mentioned that there are management issues. The Director of Audit two years ago mentioned the Design Centre's fund management, public spending issues. Why is he still the right person for the Privacy Commissioner post?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: All public organisations are subject to the scrutiny of the Director of Audit, and it is very important that these recommendations are fully implemented. We believe that the public administration record of Mr Chiang is a wholesome one and that he has demonstrated the ability and the commitment to further the interests of the Hong Kong community in his public roles.

Reporter : This case shows that another public servant, who had more than 30 years of experience in the public sector, is again appointed. Does that mean that the pool of talent available to the Government is actually very small?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Hong Kong is a community of seven million people. In conducting these recruitment exercises, we have an open approach. We have invited Members of the Executive Council and other non-officials to take part in the recruitment process. So far as we are concerned, we have considered a full slate of over 120 applicants. We have interviewed 10 candidates. There have been two rounds of recruitment interviews. We believe this process is a wholesome one, and a comprehensive one. We also believe that Hong Kong has a pool of talent which will allow both people with private sector experience and public administration experience to apply for these positions. But the most important thing is, the recruitment process itself is open and the criteria adopted are objective.

Laura, do you have anything to add?

Chairman of the Privacy Commissioner Selection Board: Yes, I'd like to add that, the fact that Mr Chiang was a former civil servant should not be a strike against him. We at the selection committee were completely blind to the background as to what his --- the fact that he was a prior civil servant should not be a demerit so to speak. We purely looked at his experience and his record, and his dedication and commitment to privacy protection in Hong Kong.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Thank you very much.

(Note : Please refer also to the Chinese transcript.)

Ends/Saturday, July 24, 2010