Government told to learn from mistakes and ensure appointment is transparent The government was yesterday urged to recruit the new head of the Equal Opportunities Commission through an open and accountable process, in the wake of reports that the post had been offered to a former civil servant. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), an academic and an EOC board member have warned the government to learn from its mistakes and ensure the new chair is not appointed hastily, or it will risk further damaging the commission's credibility. Sources said this week that the government had offered the post to EOC board member and former deputy director of the Social Welfare Department Patricia Chu Yeung Pak-yu. Mrs Chu was appointed to the board of EOC commissioners in May this year. She could not be reached for comment yesterday. Fellow board member Chan Yu said she did not wish to comment on particular individuals who may have been approached for the post, but said she hoped the process of appointing a new chair would not be shrouded in secrecy. 'It is the procedure and criteria for appointment that will make all the difference to the reputation of the EOC and the perception of the public,' she said. Spokeswoman for the Women's Coalition, Lam Wai-ha, said she did not know much about Mrs Chu but warned the government it could not afford to repeat the mistake of recruiting the wrong person for the job. Former EOC chairman Michael Wong Kin-chow resigned two weeks ago after only three months in the post. Mr Wong was a relative unknown in the field of equal opportunities and resigned after a scandal sparked by his dismissal of a senior officer appointed by his predecessor. 'After the last experience, and given that all along people have been asking for an open recruitment, the government really needs to state clearly the criteria for appointment and openly recruit,' Ms Lam said. 'This is a publicly funded job, and it would be better for the government to consult the NGO community about the criteria to be used. 'What has happened reveals a lot of problems in the EOC that we have been talking about over and over again - the government did not take notes until something disastrous like this happened.' Carole Petersen, associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, agreed, expressing hope that the government would learn from its mistakes and prevent the EOC from being further distracted from its job. 'I think the best way really is to appoint an interim chair for six months to a year while a new chairperson is recruited in a transparent manner,' she said. The Home Affairs Bureau said the law did not require 'presentation of the candidate to NGOs or Legco before the appointment is finalised, nor seek consultation from NGOs'.