Director of architectural services Winnie Ho Wing-yin will likely lead the new Housing Bureau as incumbent and retired officials appear set for promotions when incoming Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu forms his cabinet, according to sources.
This came as the restructuring proposal to expand the cabinet to 15 bureaus and add three new deputies - to the chief secretary, financial secretary and justice secretary - was passed yesterday by the Legislative Council.
It is understood that Lee will announce his cabinet in the next several days.
The existing Transport and Housing Bureau will be split into two, with incumbent secretary Frank Chan Fan expected to leave the government.
Ho, in her mid-50s, is expected to be the secretary for housing while retired permanent secretary for development Lam Sai-hung will likely become the secretary for transport and logistics.
Ho won praise for coordinating the construction of makeshift hospitals while her Architectural Services Department cooperated with the Development Bureau, sources within the political circle said.
"As she is an architect, she is familiar with the modular integrated construction, which will help the new administration speed up construction in the future," they added.
But she was criticized by lawmakers last month over the projected over-budget of the Legislative Council Complex expansion by HK$390 million, or 33 percent. That will take the total cost to HK$1.56 billion.
Ho joined the government as an architect in 1992. Since then her career has been closely associated with the development of public buildings, infrastructure and urban planning.
She was posted to the Development Bureau in 2010 and assumed the post as deputy head of its Energizing Kowloon East Office in 2012. She became the director of the Architectural Services Department in 2020.
Lam, 60, retired as the permanent secretary for development (works) in October last year. The civil engineer joined the government in 1986 and worked as an assistant engineer, chief engineer and principal government engineer.
He was promoted to project manager of Hong Kong Island in 2015.
He became the director of civil engineering and development from 2016.
Sources said Lam once worked at the Railway Development Office under the Highways Department and will be capable of leading railway projects, including the construction of the Northern Link.
Separately, undersecretary for the environment Tse Chin-wan is tipped to succeed his boss, Wong Kam-sing, to become the environment minister.
Tse, 66, has worked in government for almost 40 years and held key positions at the Environmental Protection Department. He was appointed deputy environment minister in 2017.
The restructuring proposal, incurring HK$95 million more in yearly expenses, was approved by 77 lawmakers. One was against and one abstained.
It will take effect on July 1 as incoming Chief Executive Lee and his cabinet take office. There will be a new Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau.
Among 80 lawmakers, the Third Side's Tik Chi-yuen - the only lawmaker who is not from the pro-Beijing camp - voted against the plan. Independent lawmaker Ambrose Lam San-keung from the legal sector abstained.