Yesterday's announcement ends speculation over the top legal post - but at a price. The praise from Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa is hardly enough to remove doubts over Miss Leung's credentials to uphold the rule of law. More importantly, critics will see the move as a lack of commitment by the Tung administration to do so. Miss Leung's authority and image have been hit by a spate of controversies since the handover, and the end of her original appointment next month could have provided a natural way out. Mr Tung and Miss Leung could also have cited her health as a reason for her departure. The option had apparently been considered, especially after she survived a Legco no-confidence vote in March last year over the failure to prosecute newspaper tycoon Sally Aw Sian in the Hong Kong Standard circulation fraud case. Press reports quoted sources close to her as saying she was in despair and would not accept an invitation to stay. But a decision not to renew her appointment would have been interpreted as a blow to the authority of Mr Tung and Beijing, and a white flag to her vocal critics. It would also have been seen as an admission that Miss Leung was responsible for fears about the rule of law and 'one country, two systems'. Reappointing her to head the Justice Department runs the risk of reopening wounds, as well as giving the impression the administration is unaffected by the controversies and has not taken rule-of-law concerns seriously. The reappointment has come at a time when local and international confidence in the rule of law remains weak and there are fresh fears about freedoms in Hong Kong and its autonomy. There is mounting pressure from pro-Beijing figures for Miss Leung to act on matters such as media coverage of Taiwanese independence, the drafting of an anti-subversion law, and curbs on the trading of looted relics.