Larry Kwok named as new chairman of police watchdog
Government expresses ‘trust’ in lawyer with mainland connections
A corporate finance solicitor with mainland political connections has been appointed chairman of the police watchdog, in a move critics say puts a question mark over the body's impartiality.
Larry Kwok Lam-kwong will tomorrow start a two-year stint as chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which supervises the 28,000-strong police force.
But critics have already questioned the move, announced only two days before Kwok starts work, as it breaks with a tradition of giving the role to senior barristers. They also point out that Kwok was not previously a member of the commission.
IPCC member Eric Cheung Tat-ming called the move strange and described Kwok as "an unknown face both inside and outside the IPCC".
Sources said the choice was made after the government failed to secure its targeted senior counsel.
Kwok spent a decade as a Guangxi province Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegate, a role he held until about a year ago.
Human Rights Monitor said yesterday that Kwok's strong political affiliations raised fears over his impartiality.
But Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said Kwok was a suitable choice and he trusted the new chairman to uphold the IPCC's impartiality.
"The government's long-standing appointment policy is one based on talent," Lai said.
"I do not believe that a past position taken up by an individual in any organisation would affect his performance in his new position."
Yesterday the outgoing chairman, Jat Sew-tong, refused to comment on his successor. However, he previously urged the government not to choose a candidate with an obvious political affiliation. Jat told the Post last year that the position should be given to a barrister rather than a solicitor, as the public perceived barristers to be impartial.
IPCC secretary general Ricky Chu Man-kin said Kwok's political background would not affect how the commission treated complaints.
But both Cheung and Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun said Kwok would need to win over the public with his performance.
Kwok could not be reached for comment.