OUTGOING Secretary for Education and Manpower Michael Leung Man-kin rejected claims that he is to retire because of the increasing political pressure on the civil service. 'I have faced much more difficult jobs before,' he said, recalling the riots in the 1960s. 'There was more violence than in the Legislative Council . . . I'm quite used to this kind of challenge,' said Mr Leung, 56, who spent 30 years in the Government. Mr Leung, known for his no-nonsense approach, surprised colleagues at a Legco sitting last month with an angry outburst during a debate on the compulsory provident fund scheme. A senior official said: 'I think Michael got a bit fed up with the need to . . . canvas votes for government bills. 'He might think that he no longer suits the new political culture.' Under the terms of the Government's new pension scheme, Mr Leung is allowed to retire any time between 55 and 60. He described his decision to retire as normal, adding he wanted to spend more time on his private life. Since he does not hold a foreign passport, he wants to stay and serve the community, he said. It would be too early for him to say whether he would accept an offer from China, he added. Mr Leung's successor, Home Affairs Director Joseph Wong Wing-ping who took up his present post last year, described his new job as the biggest challenge of his career. A British Dependent Territories Citizen (BDTC) passport holder, Mr Wong said he hoped he could continue to work in government after 1997. The Secretary for Trade and Industry designate, Denise Yue Chung-yee, rejected fears about too many younger officers being promoted to senior posts. 'I don't believe there will be a lack of succession [to middle or senior levels] in the Government. 'We should not be old-fashioned and stick to the belief that only those administrative officers who have served for more than 30 years can be promoted to a senior level,' she said. Ms Yue, a British National Overseas passport holder, said she hoped to continue serving Hong Kong people. Kwong Hon-sang, who will succeed James Blake as Secretary for Works, said it was ability and performance that counted. Mr Kwong, also a BDTC holder, said he expected to work in Government after 1997. He said he was confident that he would be able to convince China of the need for the Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme. Regina Ip, who succeeds Miss Yue as Director-General of Industry, refused to disclose her nationality, saying that it would not be necessary to do so unless she was promoted to a principal official.