The man who helped ban smoking in Hong Kong's bars and restaurants has been chosen to replace the hugely respected "flu fighter" Dr Thomas Tsang Ho-fai in leading the city's defence against epidemic diseases.
Dr Leung Ting-hung, 55, an epidemiologist - a specialist in the transmission of disease - will take over as controller of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) on December 29, the health department said yesterday.
His appointment was welcomed by Tsang, 46, who was nicknamed Super-Detective Fai for his starring role in tracking the source of severe acute respiratory syndrome back in 2003 and whose resignation in September came as a shock.
"Dr Leung is actually a more senior doctor than I am and he has a wide range of experience in different aspects. I am positive about the future of CHP under his leadership," Tsang told a farewell news conference.
Leung is currently head of the surveillance and epidemiology branch within the Centre for Health Protection and, as then deputy director of health, was a key figure in pushing through the 2007 anti-smoking legislation.
Tsang cited personal reasons when he tendered his resignation in September after 20 years in public service. And yesterday he remained coy about his future. He did, however, hint at going into teaching one day. He added light-heartedly: "I think private beauty centres and pharmaceutical factories would be better to leave me alone … as I am not handsome, plus there are certain restrictions under the civil service ordinance after my departure."
Recalling the Sars tragedy and the Ngau Tau Kok estate in Kwun Tong where 42 victims died, Tsang revealed: "I did cry under pressure …and I still go back to visit Amoy Gardens every year."