A retired senior graft-buster has been appointed deputy commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, raising doubts about succession plans at the city's anti-bribery agency.
Ryan Wong Sai-chiu, 60, was appointed yesterday as the ICAC's deputy chief and head of operations, meaning he will be managing all investigators at a time when some of Hong Kong's political elite are embroiled in graft-related scandals.
He retired as a director of investigation in January.
Commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu, who earlier said a long-term succession plan was in place and competent officers had been groomed to take up senior jobs, said Wong had 'solid, profound investigative and management experience'.
Wong will succeed Daniel Li Ming-chak, also 60, who begins his pre-retirement leave today.
Li's term was extended twice to look into allegations that former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen had received favours from his tycoon friends.
Former ICAC investigator Stephen Char Shik-ngor said it was 'obvious that the ICAC, like many other government departments, has succession problems'.
The appointment means that Rebecca Li Bo-lan, a director of investigation who had been widely tipped as Daniel Li's successor, will not be promoted this time.
Describing Wong as highly experienced and even-handed, Char, now a barrister, said it would be good to let Wong lead investigations for several years before promoting Rebecca Li, as she was hard-working but relatively inexperienced.
Rebecca Li was only promoted to director last year, while Wong served as a director of investigation for six years and also had 16 years of management experience.
Section 6 of the ICAC Ordinance states that the chief executive shall appoint a deputy ICAC commissioner. But chief executive Leung Chun-ying delegated that power to Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in this case.
A spokesman for Leung's office said that since there had been complaints against Leung for making false election claims, the power to make appointments was delegated to Lam to ease doubts among the public.
Wong, who will now serve a three-year term, joined the ICAC with Daniel Li in 1977. He was promoted to assistant director in 1996 and to director of investigation in 2006, in a 35-year career in the ICAC.