Chief Executive denies ‘conflict of interest’ over Karolinska’s HK research lab

In response to the cover story of Next Magazine’s February 16 edition on Karolinska Institutet (KI), suggesting that there was a linkage between the wellknown Swedish medical university’s decision to accept donation from a prominent HK businessman to establish a research facility in Hong Kong and his son’s admission to post-doctoral research at KI. Karolinska

The Chief Executive’s Office issued the following statement:

The Chief Executive (CE) has all along been dedicated to promoting the development of innovation and technology in Hong Kong. During his duty visit to Sweden last May, he called on the renowned KI and KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

KI is a world-class medical university and has been working closely in medical research with a number of tertiary institutions in Hong Kong, such as the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Since early 2010, Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, the Innovation and Technology Commission and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation had already been in touch with KI to explore co-operation opportunities.

For every overseas duty visit, the CE introduces to institutions in the cities he visits the unique role of Hong Kong as a “super-connector” in linking the Mainland of China and the rest of the world. During his visit to Sweden, he made the same introduction to KI with a view to further promoting co-operation among Hong Kong, the Mainland of China and Sweden. KI’s management agreed to this idea.

Like many dedicated members in the community, Mr Lau Ming-wai has all along been very supportive in financing education services in Hong Kong. During a conversation with Mr Lau last year, the CE mentioned his duty visit to Sweden and the room for co-operation between KI and Hong Kong. Mr Lau expressed interest and subsequently liaised with KI on his own accord, without the involvement of the CE. The CE did mention to Mr Lau during that conversation that his son was going to undertake post-doctoral research at KI. He also declared the same during internal discussion on relevant issues within the Government.

The admission of the CE’s son to post-doctoral research at KI is an independent decision by KI having regard to his professional standards. He plays no role and does not hold any position at the Ming Wai Lau Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

The CE has reiterated many times that innovation and technology are the important driving forces of the economy. The Government must proactively promote their development to strengthen Hong Kong’s long-term competitiveness. The establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau to provide top-level and more focused leadership is therefore necessary, pressing and of utmost importance. It is also in line with the expectation of the industry and the overall interests of Hong Kong.

KI set up a regenerative medical centre in Hong Kong in order to promote co-operation among Hong Kong, the Mainland of China and Sweden in scientific research. It will also enhance our city’s strength in this field. The CE has no “secret card” with Mr Lau Ming-wai as claimed by Next Magazine. The accusation made by the magazine that the donation by Mr Lau reflects “the intricate relationship between the CE and powerful individuals and that he is paving the way for his son” is completely unfounded.

Source: Office of Hong Kong Chief Executive

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