Dick Lee passes the baton to deputy, launching reshuffle of police top brass
Norma Connolly and Albert Wong
A reshuffle of the top tier of the police force is under way after the government formally appointed Tang King-shing to replace retiring police commissioner Dick Lee Ming-kwai yesterday.
Mr Tang, 52, a deputy commissioner, will take up his new post on Tuesday when Mr Lee steps down.
After announcing that the State Council had approved Mr Tang's appointment, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said: 'Over the years, Mr Tang has made great efforts in enhancing the efficiency and professionalism of the police force. I am confident that he will lead the force in meeting the challenges ahead.'
He said Mr Lee had 'entrenched the service quality culture in the force and demonstrated personal care and attention for frontline staff'.
The outgoing police commissioner said his successor would 'take the force forward and continue to ... keep Hong Kong one of the safest cities in the world'.
Mr Lee, a 34-year veteran of the force and commissioner since December 2003, is leaving 10 months before reaching the retirement age of 57. He has repeatedly denied speculation he will become the security minister, saying he is not interested in any paid job. 'It's a very demanding job, I am just an ordinary policeman. I am not eligible.'
Pressed on the issue yesterday by a reporter who asked, 'What if you get a knock on the door?', Mr Lee replied: 'I would tell them they've got the wrong address.'
'For me, retirement means retirement,' he said, adding that he would consider offers to help promote sport in Hong Kong.
Mr Tang will settle into the job with the help of the other deputy commissioner, Gordon Fung Siu-yuen, who is due to retire in January next year.
Police director of operations Peter Yam Tat-wing will take over from Mr Tang as deputy commissioner in charge of operations.
Mr Yam is expected to be replaced by the current director of personnel and training Andy Tsang Wai-hung, who in turn will be replaced by the director of crime and security, Richard Tang Hau-sing.
Mr Tang's position is likely to be filled by assistant commissioner for crime John Lee Ka-chiu.
Mr Tang's appointment was welcomed by lawmakers. Lau Kong-wah, chairman of the Legislative Council's security panel, said he believed Mr Tang had excellent knowledge of police affairs and hoped he would improve internal discipline, since there had been a spate of police leaks and instances of officers committing crimes.
Liberal Party legislator Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said she had confidence in Mr Tang since he had already proven his leadership skills.
However, Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun said Mr Tang could have a difficult time should the administration choose to revive the issue of the Article 23 national security law during his tenure.