18 Feb 2010

Mr. Michael Rowse: The Harbourfest Disaster

Mike Rowse was the first Director-General of Invest HK, the investment promotion agency established by the Hong Kong Government in July 2000, up to his retirement in December 2008. The agency won several awards during his tenure and was recently recognized as the best investment promotion agency in Asia. Immediately before that posting, Mike had served as Director of the Financial Secretary’s office (1997-2000), and from 1999-2000 concurrently as the first Commissioner for Tourism. In those twin capacities, he was the lead negotiator with the Walt Disney Company which resulted in the building of Hong Kong Disneyland.


An outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Hong Kong in early 2003 killed almost 300 people in a few short weeks and left hundreds more with long term medical problems. It also had a severe - but luckily short term - impact on the local economy. A Government campaign to help the community cope with the economic consequences, and then revive the economy, was broadly successful and by the end of the year Hong Kong was steaming ahead in its usual full throttle way. But one item within that Economic Relaunch programme became a political hot potato. The controversy led to disciplinary action being taken against the head of a small government department though no minister was held politically accountable. In 2007, Mike was found guilty by an internal disciplinary panel and, having suffered a small penalty, took legal action to clear his name. He sought a Judicial Review in the High Court of three decisions against him, one each by the Chief Executive, the Chief Secretary
for Administration and the Secretary for the Civil Service. Moreover the grounds he cited to justify the review were by implication critical of actions and decisions by the Secretary for Justice and the Financial Secretary of the time. In effect therefore he was taking on all five of the most senior political leaders, a royal flush of the Administration so to speak.


Yet not only did the civil servant win the court case (heard in 2008), he kept his job and retired a few months later with honour. And the Judge who ruled in his favour got promoted to the Court of Appeal.


VISITING ROTARIANS
John Dunkley from of the Rotary Club of South Foreland and DGE of District 1120 and his wife Rtnne Sue.


GUESTS
Rtn Shri came with his friend Argha Sen, President Peter brought his friend, Mr. Didier Barbas, Rtn Martin came with Ms. Gouke Van Voorst and Mr. Richard Carrey;
PP Kishore came with his wife Elizabeth, his friend Ms. Gillian Arnold and her husband Silvano, Rtn Maud came with her father, mother and sister; Rtn Rebecca also came with her husband, mother and father in law.


ANNOUNCEMENTS
The 50th District Conference will be held on 17 & 18 April 2010 at Hong Kong Disneyland, please register online.

Rotary Macau Horse Racing Day will be held on 13 March 2010 at the Macau Jockey Club, Taipa, Macau.

District Tennis Competition will be held on 11th and 25th April on Kowloon Tsai Park.
We collected $2,480 from raffle and contributions; the raffle prizes were fortune books donated by PP George and the winners were Rtn Tobi and PP Kishore’s guest Ms. Gillian Arnold.

 

 

Mr. Mike Rowse


Today, we had the induction of new member: Rtn Shri proposed Mr. Argha Sen to be our new member, which was approved by the board and his classification will be Marketing and Customer Relations Management.