SCMP Friday, February 16, 2001


Experienced hand heartens business leaders

SUZANNE HARRISON

The business community was cautiously optimistic about Mr Leung's appointment yesterday.
He will leave his position as Asia-Pacific chairman of JP Morgan Chase to take up the "poisoned chalice" of tax reform.
Cheung Kong (Holdings) chairman Li Ka-shing said Mr Leung's appointment was a "good arrangement" as he had many years' experience in the financial sector and was knowledgeable in global finance affairs.
David Li Kwok-po, chairman of the Bank of East Asia, said he believed Mr Leung would abandon his private business ties to serve Hong Kong wholeheartedly.
Sun Hung Kai Properties vice-chairman Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong said Mr Leung was experienced in both the political and business sectors as he was also an Executive Councillor. A banking source close to Mr Leung said: "As an outsider, it's going to be a challenge. There are some who are going to say he is there because he is available, not because of his skill. People, as they enter a job, are often described as not being up to the task . . . but I'm sure history will show he will do a better job than the doomsayers all think."
He said it was likely Mr Leung would be more "ministerial" in his approach.
With the Government's traditional revenue source - land sales - diminishing, the new financial secretary has to find different revenue sources while facing pressure to increase social spending.
Nomura Securities economist William Overholt believes Mr Leung will take a quiet but firm approach. "He brings private sector experience and that is something that has often been lacking," he said. "I think he's proven to have a very wide-ranging mind, and the fact that he took on the job of recommending education reforms and came up with innovative proposals shows he has a flexible mind."
Mr Overholt said Mr Leung had a "quiet and scholarly sort of personality" with strong ideas.
Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce director Eden Woon said Mr Leung's three-year tenure on the Executive Council would help equip him for his new role.
The path to power
1952 Born in Hong Kong on January 29
1970 Graduated from Ying Wa College
1970 Began three-year economics and statistics degree at HKU, engaged in student activism
1973 Joined Citibank as trainee manager
1982 Management development at Harvard Business School
1987 Named head of Citibank investment banking, North Asia
1987 Appointed to University Grants Committee
1990 Became director of Provisional Airport Authority
1992 Appointed to Central Policy Unit
1992 Became head of Citibank Hong Kong
1993 Became head of University Grants Committee
1993 Appointed to Foreign Exchange Advisory Committee
1993 Appointed to Education Commission
1995 Named head of Citibank's Asia-Pacific branch
1996 Joined Chase Manhattan
1997 Appointed Executive Councillor
1999 Harvard University advanced management course
2001 Financial Secretary-designate