On the eve of a new Special Administrative Region government taking office, a guessing game is going on as to who will fill the top jobs.
Since there has been no official word yet on the lineup of bureau secretaries, pundits are throwing out names for key posts such as chief secretary for administration and financial secretary.
The post of secretary for education is also a focus, and possible candidates include Hong Kong Institute of Education president Anthony Cheung Bing-leung and University of Science and Technology vice president Wong Yuk- shan.
Also on the list is current Permanent Secretary for Education Cherry Tse Ling Kit-ching.
While most people think the job will go to a non-civil servant, I would not be surprised if it is filled by an official as quite a few bureau secretaries under the accountability system were originally from the civil service.
Their appointments were considered safe choices on account of their ample grounding in policy making and implementation work.
In fact, several popular policy secretaries are in this group, showing that technocrats do have an advantage when they switch to political work.
The choice of education secretary must be handled with extra caution as the position is responsible for a broad spectrum of matters sensitive to teachers and parents.
Ongoing thorny issues include the implementation of the new 3-3-4 education system, the Diploma of Secondary Education Examination and the supervision of direct subsidy schools.
An education secretary from the ranks of the civil service would be familiar with policy issues and have no problem fitting into the bureaucratic machine.
On the other hand, the advantage of having someone from the outside is that he or she could bring in new ways of thinking.
Tse was tipped probably because of her long involvement in education work.
She was deputy secretary for education and manpower from 2001 to 2005, and then returned to the Education Bureau as permanent secretary in late 2010 after completing a term as commissioner for labour.
However, as political appointees, bureau secretaries will have to make compromises in formulating policy decisions.
There is also uncertainty as to whether Tse, a relatively young highflier, is willing to cut short her civil service career at this time. Siu Sai-wo is chief editor of Sing Tao Daily