But Patricia Chu is given only a one-year term as part of a 'transitional measure' Patricia Chu Yeung Pak-yu was yesterday appointed chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission in what a senior official said was a 'transitional measure'. Mrs Chu, a former deputy director of the Social Welfare Department, was given only a one-year term. Previous EOC chiefs have been given three years. Her widely expected appointment came despite warnings from legislators, human rights academics and activists, who said that putting a former government official in the post would not help the EOC's image as an independent body. The EOC has been embroiled in controversy since October when director of operations Patrick Yu Chung-yin, who worked as a human rights expert in Ireland, revealed he was sacked before he could start his job by Michael Wong Kin-chow, the then chairman. A claim of unfair dismissal grew to include claims against Mr Wong's conduct as a judicial officer before he took up the EOC post. The scandal eventually led to his resignation, leaving the EOC's reputation more damaged than at any point in its seven-year history. Home Affairs Secretary Patrick Ho Chi-ping yesterday defended Mrs Chu's appointment. 'Mrs Chu firmly believes in human rights for everybody, and also equality between men and women. She is highly respected as a person of principles and integrity in the social welfare field. She has wide experience in public service and in staff management,' Dr Ho said. When asked why she was given a year, he said: 'There has been some instability lately, especially in personnel matters. We need to maintain some sort of stability and this is a transitional measure.' Mrs Chu said her first priority after assuming office would be to rebuild the credibility of the EOC. 'I am confident of doing this. What has happened is already a matter of the past and I hope all staff and members of the EOC will work together to restore the credibility of the EOC,' she said. Answering critics who question her lack of a legal background, Mrs Chu said her extensive experience in social welfare gave her an edge in fighting for the underprivileged. Board member Nelson Chow Wing-sun said he did not doubt her competence, but expressed concern that her civil service background might lead the public to doubt the EOC's independence. The Society for Community Organisation was more critical, saying in a statement: 'Mrs Chu has been a high-level civil servant and this casts doubt on whether she will be able to handle complaints and possible litigation against the government and public organisations fairly and impartially.' But another board member, Raymond Wu Wai-yung, welcomed the appointment, saying Mrs Chu had extensive experience in public administration.