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SCMA and EOC Chairperson Selection Board meet the media

     The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, the Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) Chairperson Selection Board, Dr Leong Che-hung, and two members of the Selection Board met the media today (March 5) on the appointment of the EOC Chairperson. Following is the transcript of remarks by Mr Tam and Dr Leong:

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: The Government announced today the appointment of Dr York Chow as the new Chairperson of the EOC for a term of three years commencing April 1, 2013. The Government attaches importance to the work of the EOC. An open recruitment exercise was conducted by a human resources consultant to select the new EOC Chairperson.

     The Government established a Selection Board for the related work and invited Dr Leong Che-hung, Mrs Laura Cha, Mr Chow Chung-kong, Mr Tsang Kin-ping to join the Selection Board. They have extensive experience and knowledge in the medical, legal, corporate governance, social services and rehabilitation fields. The Board was chaired by Dr Leong. The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs and the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, being the Principal Officials responsible for policies related to the anti-discrimination ordinances and relevant areas, were also members of the Board.

     The Selection Board considered all possible candidates carefully in accordance with objective criteria set out in the recruitment advertisement and recommended to the Chief Executive the most suitable candidate. The recommendation was accepted by the Chief Executive, who decided to appoint Dr York Chow as the EOC Chairperson. Dr Chow has accepted the appointment.

     Dr Chow has many years of experience in the rehabilitation field and working with people with disabilities. He possesses knowledge about and passion for the EOC and anti-discrimination, as well as many years of experience in public administration. We are confident that Dr Chow will work with all members and staff of the EOC for the important work of promoting equal opportunities and eliminating discrimination in the community.

     The Government would also like to thank the contribution of the Selection Board Chairman Dr Leong and the three non-official members in ensuring that the open recruitment exercise was completed in a fair, objective and rigorous manner.

     I will now invite the Chairman of the Selection Board, Dr Leong, to explain the recruitment work.

Chairman of the EOC Chairperson Selection Board: The Secretary (for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs) has already mentioned that the Chief Executive has accepted the recommendation of the Selection Board to appoint Dr York Chow as the next EOC chairperson. I will use this occasion to explain to members of the public how the Selection Board worked.

     We were appointed by the Chief Executive. There are four of us: myself as the chairman of this Board, while as members Mrs Laura Cha and Mr Chow Chung-kong - Executive Council members - as well as Mr Tsang Kin-ping, the chairman of the Alliance for Patients' Mutual Help Organizations. There are also two government officials: the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs and the Secretary for Labour and Welfare.

     In September last year, the Government appointed a consultancy firm to start the application and selection process. We received 36 applications and the head hunter identified 90 persons who could be suitable for the job. We went through the details of them according to the criteria set out in the application process and we selected nine persons who we believed could be suitable for the job. We went for the first interview. Basing on the criteria we expressed and the performance of these candidates, we went for the second interview. Finally, with the same criteria but with more details, we made the recommendation to the Chief Executive and the Chief Executive has accepted our recommendation to appoint Dr York Chow as the next EOC chairperson.

     Dr Chow, as we all know, is passionate on the issue of equal opportunity, has been the chairman of the Paralympics, has done a lot of work on the rehabilitation of the disabled in Hong Kong and has held a lot of high government positions so he has leader skills as well as good communication skills. We believe he is a good person to take this job.

Chairman of the EOC Chairperson Selection Board: Mr Tsang Kin-ping, Selection Board member, actually mentioned that as somebody who has no relationship with the Government, he felt that the whole selection process has really identified the best person for the job.

Reporter: (On the appointment of a former high-ranking Government official as the Chairperson)

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I think having been a senior Government official is certainly an asset rather than a liability for the job, because one of the criteria for the job is that he or she should possess the necessary management skills at very senior positions. Because as you know, the EOC is, in itself, a major organisation in Hong Kong not only in terms of its size but also in terms of the importance of the portfolio that you have to manage on the basis of the existing four legislations. So I would say that having held a very senior position in the Government would certainly help the Chairperson's job. As Dr Leong has mentioned, according to our understanding, Dr Chow has also applied to the relevant consultation committee chaired by Mr Moses Cheng which has very carefully looked at the application, and the committee is satisfied that there is no real or apparent conflict of interest, and in their view it shouldn't create any misperception about the impartiality of Dr Chow to be appointed as the Chairperson. So I think this concern should not be a real concern as such.

Reporter: (On whether the appointment has anything to do with constitutional or Mainland affairs)

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Don't be misled by my title. It's a very short title, covering only constitutional and Mainland affairs. In fact, I also handle Taiwan affairs as well as the human rights portfolio. Equal opportunities actually fall under the human rights portfolio and I have two teams of staff working in this area as well. On the human rights side, we are acting on the basis of existing legislation to handle the appointment. There is absolutely no question of the Central Government being involved one way or another. From the very beginning to the very end, they have absolutely no role at all. It is purely within our autonomy to handle this matter.

Reporter: (On the remarks of Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Fu Ying yesterday)

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I think since the handover, both the Central Authorities and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government have both repeatedly emphasised the importance of ruling Hong Kong in full accordance with the "One Country, Two Systems" principle, which is actually realised in the detailed provisions of the Basic Law. So what I guess the Vice Minister mentioned yesterday was meant to double-underline this very principle that we have been upholding in the past 15 or 16 years so far.

Reporter: (On the number of females or minorities among the finalists)

Chairman of the EOC Chairperson Selection Board: I don't think it is the convention that the Selection Board should reveal the details of the persons who are not finally selected in the whole process. It will be unfair to them. I don't think this should be the convention, because ultimately it is what process we went through to get the best person, and ultimately we propose this person to the Chief Executive which is more important.

Reporter: (On the pay of the Chairperson)

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: The detail I would ask my Press Secretary to give you, but I can tell you that the Chairperson is a full-time job. We are paying him the equivalent of a D8 Directorate Officer's salary which at the current rate should be $219,200 per month.

Reporter: (On whether Dr Chow is receiving in addition any other honorarium from his previous service in the Government)

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I am not sure whether he is a pensionable officer, because this is certainly not a concern as the EOC as of now is not subject to any restriction as I understand. But I would verify and maybe my Press Secretary would give you further information on that. Thank you.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Tuesday, March 5, 2013