The troubles that struck Michael Wong Kin-chow during his brief spell as head of the Equal Opportunities Commission arose for a variety of reasons. One of them was that he was simply not the right person for the job. However, the question of timing also lay at the root of his problems. Consider the date on which Mr Wong's appointment was announced - July 2. This was just a day after half a million people marched through the streets, abruptly changing the political climate. From the very beginning, it seems likely that his fate was sealed. But another factor would have made life tough for anyone taking up the job: Mr Wong was stepping into the shoes of Anna Wu Hung-yuk. Ms Wu had turned the EOC into a body with teeth. She boosted the commission's reputation but at the price of straining her relationship with the government. The administration handled her removal badly. Last year her contract was renewed at the last moment; when it came to an end in July she was not informed she was to be replaced until her contract had almost expired. Ms Wu had enjoyed strong support from the non-governmental organisations that work closely with the EOC. She and the groups had tight political links and the way in which she was displaced provoked anger. This was the tough environment in which Mr Wong started work. He was right when he said yesterday he had suffered political attacks. But he should have known that in the free-for-all of Hong Kong politics, public pressure and scrutiny were inevitable. That pressure included publication of a number of allegations. The media had a duty to report them. There may well have been examples of the press going too far and treating him unfairly. But facing up to this is part and parcel of public life in a city with a free press whose vigour sometimes exceeds its maturity. Mr Wong was not helped by his reputation for being rather conservative and not having a track record in the field of human rights. Rightly or wrongly, the impression the government created when it appointed him was that it wanted to turn back the clock - to the days when the commission adopted a softly softly approach. This perception grew stronger when it emerged that one of Mr Wong's first acts as chairman had been to axe the new director of operations, Patrick Yu Chung-yin. This was unwise, as Mr Yu had good credentials for the job - solid experience in the anti-discrimination field. He yesterday revealed documents that showed why he had been sacked and it appears to have been largely as a result of comments made to this newspaper, in which he expressed a desire to help Hong Kong bring in anti-racial discrimination laws, an area of his particular expertise. They would appear to have been appropriate remarks for someone in his position. His dismissal reflects badly on the commission - and on Mr Wong. It hardly needs stating that it was politically inept. Now the government must appoint a new chairperson and, with the new mindset adopted since July 1, it has a chance to put things right. The administration can show how much it has learned. The appointment process must be fair and open. The successful candidate need not have the forthright style of Ms Wu. But he or she should be someone who is sympathetic to the ideals of equal treatment and fair play for which the EOC stands. These ideals, along with others such as freedom of expression and association, are an essential part of what makes Hong Kong what it is - and gives it an edge over other Asian cities. The EOC has a part to play in ensuring our city remains an attractive place in which to live and work. The government now has a chance to put the troubles of the last four months behind it. It should take it.