New audit chief is the third insider Tung has picked to lead an independent body Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa has named a senior civil servant to head the Audit Commission. That, and the fact he is not a finance specialist, raised concerns yesterday that the watchdog's independence might be compromised. As director of audit, Benjamin Tang Kwok-bun will be in charge of the external audit of government accounts. He will play a key role in ensuring the administration delivers good value for money. Mr Tang, currently the commissioner of insurance, is the third civil service administrative officer in five years to be appointed to head independent watchdogs against government malpractice and abuse of funds. Ombudsman Alice Tai Yuen-ying has served since 1998, while Raymond Wong Hung-chiu was appointed this summer as ICAC commissioner. Lawmakers questioned how Mr Tang could be critical of government officials when many of them were his former colleagues. His younger brother, Tang Kwok-wai, is the director of social welfare. But Mr Tang said he would be impartial and ensure taxpayers' money would be well spent. 'I have told my brother that even father and son would not have any special treatment,' he said. The new audit chief said he would sever all ties with the civil service when he took up the post. He said that, while he lacked professional qualifications, what he had learned in his role as insurance commissioner would have relevance for his new post. Eric Li Ka-cheung, the chairman of the Legislative Council's Public Accounts Committee - the director of audit's counterpart in the legislature - said the appointment of a non-professional accountant was unsatisfactory. 'Civilian officers from the government may just listen to the government. But those who have professional qualifications have their own standard and code to follow and therefore would not easily compromise. That is why appointing a non-professional will undermine the auditor's independent image,' he said. Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, professor of public and social administration at City University, said posting administrative officers to head independent watchdogs would inevitably raise doubts over their independence. 'The appointments to these major watchdogs should be above politics in order to show their independence,' he said. Professor Cheung said the decision not to groom a professional auditor internally showed the government was not happy with the way the commission operated under Dominic Chan Yin-tat. Upon his retirement in September, the outspoken Mr Chan expressed concerns that the watchdog's role would be undermined if he was succeeded by a non-professional. The appointment of Mrs Tai as ombudsman also aroused suspicion that the government was upset with her predecessor, Andrew So Kwok-wing. Mr So was said to have embarrassed the government by conducting his own probe into the 1998 opening of the new airport. Mrs Tai was accused of having a conflict of interest since her husband, Robert Footman, is commissioner of transport. However, her policies and decisions have not drawn criticism. Yesterday's announcement follows criticism of Mr Tung for appointing Michael Wong Kin-chow as Equal Opportunities Commission chief. Mr Wong recently quit. Professor Cheung said: 'Just like the appointments of Alice Tai and Michael Wong, the new auditor appointment shows the government wants to appoint someone to put the house in order.' Mr Tung said he was confident of Mr Tang's ability to lead the commission in providing independent and professional audit services.