Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng said Thursday that morale among Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) officials was “very high at the moment” – despite the bureau’s frequent leadership staff changes.
The policy secretary’s remarks came after the bureau announced on Wednesday that he has appointed Chan Kai Chon, who is currently the director of the bureau’s Macau Museum of Art (MAM), as a vice-president of the bureau effective from tomorrow, replacing Kent Ieong Chi Kin. The bureau has two vice-presidents.
Tam made the remarks while speaking to reportersat the public Conde de Sao Januário Hospital Centre on the sidelines of an inspection visit to the hospital where he was briefed by Health Bureau (SSM) officials on the hospital’s ongoing measures to tackle the city’s peak flu season.
Wednesday’s IC statement merely said that the bureau terminated Ieong’s position as a vice-president on January 1 upon his personal request. It did not elaborate on the request’s motives.
The government appointed Ieong, who then headed the bureau’s Performing Arts Development Department, as a vice-president of
the bureau in February 2017.
The bureau, which was set up in 1982, has been hit by frequent leadership staff changes over the past few years.
The Cultural Affairs Bureau has been headed by Mok Ian Ian since February last year. Mok succeeded Cecilia Tse Heng Sai who resigned in late January last year for health reasons.
The government appointed Tse in December 2017 as the bureau’s president effective from December 19, when Tse succeeded Leung Hio Ming who resigned in early December 2017 after holding himself accountable for the illegal hiring fiasco at the bureau which was disclosed by the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) in March 2017. Leung succeeded Guilherme Ung Vai Meng as the bureau’s president when the latter retired in February 2017.
The government said in early December 2017 that the outcome of disciplinary proceedings launched in April 2017 against Ung, Leung and Chan Peng Fai (then vice-president) determined that the trio were to be suspended for 60 days, 45 days and 10 days respectively for being accountable for the bureau having hired a large number of staff on “unjustified” acquisition of
services (AoS) contracts between 2010 and 2015 – as disclosed by a hard-hitting CCAC report.
Both Leung and Chan Peng Fai responded to the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings by requesting the “termination of their appointments” as the bureau’s president and vice-president respectively which their superior – Tam – promptly accepted.
Ung had headed the Cultural Affairs Bureau since 2010. His predecessor Heidi Ho Lai Chun da Luz had held the post since 2000. Ho was at the helm of the bureau for the longest period since its establishment in 1982.
Tam also said that it was Ieong who had requested the termination of his position as the bureau’s vice-president. The policy secretary said that he had tried to persuade Ieong to stay on as he was working hard in his position as vice-president of the bureau. Tam went on to say that he finally accepted Ieong’s resignation as the latter insisted that he was “not suitable for holding this position”.
Tam insisted that the bureau’s staff changes have not and will not affect its operation, adding that the bureau’s human resources were “in good condition” in terms of the quality and number of its staff.
When asked if the bureau’s frequent leadership staff changes over the past few years would negatively affect its staff’s morale, Tam replied that “exactly the opposite is true” during the period, indicating that staff morale was high.
Tam said that some staff members of the bureau had told him that morale amongst the bureau’s employees was “very high at the moment,” adding that all the staff were“very willing” to work for the promotion of the city’s arts and culture.
Tam said that public opinion survey findings showed that culture and education ranked second in residents’ satisfaction with the local government’s administration.
Tam also said that Mok, the bureau’s current president, was doing a “very good job” in her post such as in rectifying the bureau’s previous management issues. The policy secretary also said that the bureau’s work was widely acknowledged by residents.
According to an announcement signed by Mok and published in the Official Gazette (BO) on Monday, Ieong remained in the Cultural Affairs Bureau from January 1, working as a senior public servant when his position as a vice-president of the bureau came to an end.