Tang King-shing's four-year roller coaster ride comes to an end

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 January, 2011, 12:00am

For Tang King-shing, his four years as police commissioner were like a ride on a roller coaster. He started as a popular police chief with an elite anti-terrorist background and turned out to be a contrite leader who openly apologised to victims of police scandals.

'I am an optimistic person; I address the problem and deal with it once I've found it,' Tang said yesterday, when asked if he had any regrets.

During his four years in charge, the reputation of the force was pummelled by a string of scandals for which the police chief made public apologies at least three times, including to victims who were raped and molested by a detective in Mong Kok police station in 2009. Tang also apologised to drivers ordered by officers to form a 'human roadblock' in Kwun Tong to stop illegal car racing in July 2009.

Although some officers objected to Tang's style and dubbed him 'Sorry sir', police staff associations recognised Tang as 'a competent and caring leader', saying those scandals weren't his fault, but sprang from long-term problems within the force.

'He made an achievement in enhancing internal communication, building up trust between staff associations and management,' Hong Kong Police Inspectors Association chairman Tony Liu Kit-ming said.

Some senior officers called Tang a good man 'with good integrity' and a person willing to bear responsibility.

But a human rights group found fault in Tang's tougher approach to protests, saying he infringed on freedom of expression.

'The number of protesters being arrested and prosecuted rapidly increased once Tang took office in 2007,' Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai said. In 2006, only two people were prosecuted for participating in protests, but 19 were prosecuted in 2007, Law said.

Looking ahead to retirement, Tang said he will probably spend time on what has been a personal interest since childhood - stamp collecting.

'My father was a seaman; I started collecting stamps from his letters to home.

'Every stamp has its value and a story behind it which is worth finding out,' Tang said with a smile.

After a lifelong career in the police force, 'at this moment, I don't have a plan to find a new job', he said.