The Equal Opportunities Commission launched a hunt for a new chairman yesterday after its chief decided to step down in January in favour of his new role as Executive Council convenor.
A three-week open recruitment exercise is under way and a five-member selection board, chaired by former Exco member Dr Leong Che-hung, will interview shortlisted applicants from as early as next month.
The executive director of Hong Kong Unison, Fermi Wong Wai-fun, hoped the new chairman would defend human rights fearlessly.
"I hope it is a genuine search for the right person and not some window-dressing effort," Wong said.
The next commission chairman will get a three-year contract with a basic salary of HK$219,200 a month, a fixed cash allowance and a gratuity payable upon completion of the contract.
Candidates are required to have at least 15 years of relevant experience in public administration and a track record in public or community service in the city.
The incumbent, Lam Woon-kwong, was appointed in 2010.
At the time, critics said he had a limited background in human rights and questioned his impartiality because he had been a career civil servant.
Doubts over Lam's suitability as EOC chairman re-emerged in July after he became the new Exco convenor, leading the body of chief advisers to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's administration.
Critics wanted him to quit either post to allay fears of a possible conflict of interest.
The commission is a statutory body that looks into discrimination on the grounds of sex, disability, race or family background.
Lam decided to remain as council convenor and to stay with the commission until his term expires at the end of January.