Outrage at choice of new CSD boss

Prison officers have criticised the Government for appointing a senior police officer as their boss.

The appointment of Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Benny Ng Ching-kwok as Correctional Services Department Commissioner would damage the morale of prison officers, said a union spokesman. Mr Ng, 52, will take over from Raymond Lai Ming-kee when he retires in March after 35 years in the Government, it was announced yesterday. Prison staff are to hold an emergency meeting next week to discuss plans to fight the appointment.

Correctional Services Officers' Association spokesman Stephen Wong Wai-hung said: 'We regret this decision and are disappointed. Our staff . . . work hard so that maybe one day, one of us could lead the department.

'But it seems our staff cannot be promoted to commissioner. It is regrettable.' Mr Wong said the association's views were explained to the Government eight years ago when another former police officer, Eric McCosh, was appointed as commissioner.

'They have had years to plan for this and there are talented people in the service who could do the job. We even reminded the Civil Service Bureau of our views in July this year.

'But it seems our views have been neglected,' said Mr Wong.

He said the association's anger was not directed at Mr Ng personally but government policy in general.

Secretary for Civil Service Lam Woon-kwong said: 'Mr Ng has wide experience in a variety of fields in a disciplined service.

'His professional knowledge and proven leadership well qualify him for this appointment.' Mr Ng has been in the police force for 32 years since joining as probationary inspector in 1966.

Legislators were divided on the appointment.

The Frontier's Emily Lau Wai-hing worried the move would hit staff morale and said successors should be groomed from within the department.

However, Democrat Cheung Man-kwong said: 'If it is difficult to find someone from within the department to succeed the top post, it's acceptable for someone from other disciplinary forces to fill it.'