Justice chief Elsie Leung Oi-sie has spoken of her frustration and distress at the fierce criticism levelled at her during her three years in the job. The 61-year-old Secretary for Justice admitted there were times when she felt she could take no more and had considered quitting. In an interview with the South China Morning Post to mark her reappointment last month, Miss Leung said a sense of duty had driven her to continue. 'When I think about it more carefully, I have to consider my obligation to the place where I was born and brought up, my obligation to the people of Hong Kong when I took office. Then I think the only way is to sail through,' she said. Miss Leung said she would have declined the offer of staying on for another two years if there had been a successor. 'I don't think I can go on very much longer. I would certainly have to fulfil my commitment for the next two years.' Miss Leung has come under fire during her term over restricting the right of abode for mainland children of SAR citizens and the subsequent reinterpretation of the Basic Law by the National People's Congress Standing Committee, and the decision not to prosecute newspaper tycoon Sally Aw Sian, who had been named a co-conspirator in the Hongkong Standard circulation fraud case. Other controversial issues included the trial and execution of SAR resident 'Big Spender' Cheung Tze-keung on the mainland and the Beijing Liaison Office's exemption from liability under certain Hong Kong laws. 'I didn't expect the manner in which [criticism] would come, but I knew it was going to be difficult. I knew I would be open to all sorts of criticism,' Miss Leung said. 'One feels frustrated, one gets disheartened, one gets distressed. But when you are convinced you are right then, of course, compared to the thing you have to do, I suppose that should have a less important place.' She said she also drew on the support of friends and colleagues: 'I am very much impressed by the support of those within the department.' Miss Leung said her first reaction to criticism was to consider whether her critics were right, and even if she was convinced they were not, she would look for better ways of dealing with the issue. The toughest time came after the row over the Sally Aw case, when Miss Leung survived a no-confidence motion in Legco in March last year. 'It was very difficult for me during those days when Legco members made the motion of no confidence. Even now, from time-to-time, when there is criticism of me in the newspapers, I feel distressed. But I am compensated by seeing all these developments, putting the SAR on a solid foundation, people's confidence in the rule of law - both in Hong Kong and overseas - and people's understanding of the new constitutional order.' As a solicitor in 1997, she initially turned down the offer to be the SAR's first Secretary for Justice. 'I was quite happy in my role then. I was not interested in politics. I have been active in community service and I was happy with that role.' Miss Leung said she faced a steep learning curve when she finally agreed to take the job. 'Everybody told me at that time the Secretary for Justice was a difficult job. It does not mean because it is a difficult job no one should do it. It is also no excuse for not doing it well.'