Police Commissioner Eddie Hui Ki-on is taking the unprecedented step of writing an open letter to his officers to boost flagging pre-handover morale. It is understood Mr Hui will seek to calm growing fears of an exodus of top officers because of concern it could prompt widespread resignations among junior ranks. The South China Morning Post reported earlier this month that nearly 30 per cent of the force's 152 general stream officers from senior superintendent to deputy commissioner had applied for retirement or early retirement before July 1 next year. Critics claim the departure rate is alarmingly high for the command echelon, but management says it is lower than expected considering its own manpower survey, from last year, showed 43 per cent of top officers were either planning to leave or were still undecided. Sources said Mr Hui's letter, expected to be circulated via the force's electronic mail system, was a rare move since news of the police manpower situation was previously only sent to commanding officers. 'He wants to send a message to all officers that there will be sufficient qualified people to fill vacancies,' a source said. 'It is also believed that those who want to leave have already left or applied to leave. 'But there should be counselling for junior officers since some of them may be swayed by the departure of their seniors and think of quitting themselves.' The source said the letter aimed to 'put things in the right perspective', as in the worst scenario only a few per cent of all 2,800 officers from the rank of inspector to deputy commissioner would be leaving before the handover. However, staff contacted yesterday said they would not be affected by any wastage figures because the decision to leave or stay was a personal one. Local Inspectors' Association chairman Tony Liu Kit-ming said his members 'see the manpower loss as a chance to improve our promotion chances'.