Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung started his new job yesterday, as legal experts expressed hope he would take a more active role than his predecessor in upholding the rule of law. Arriving at his office, Mr Wong said he already had a full schedule, but was unfazed by it. 'I am very excited as I have lots of work to do and everything is new to me. I will actively deal with it,' said Mr Wong, who later had a meeting with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and other ministers. Legal experts said they hoped Mr Wong could lead the department in taking a more active role. University of Hong Kong assistant law professor Eric Cheung Tat-ming said that under Elsie Leung Oi-sie, the department gave the impression of being a mere 'service department'. 'One problem with the former secretary was that the Department of Justice was downgraded to a kind of service department serving different government departments and bureaus - more like a private lawyer serving a client,' he said. 'But we did not see leadership in pursuing legal policy that upholds human rights, the 'one country, two systems' principle, the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.' Professor Cheung said his expectation, and the hope of some insiders in the department, was that it should have a stronger say. He cited the covert surveillance issue as an example. In 1996, a Law Reform Commission report on regulating the interception of communications concluded the law regulating covert surveillance breached the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Basic Law. 'But the secretary took no action to require the administration to amend the law until a few months ago, after a District Court judge ruled against the government on this,' Professor Cheung said. Experts agree that Mr Wong's background in constitutional law, as opposed to Miss Leung's background in family law, would serve him well and may make a difference to his approach. Prominent senior barrister Alan Hoo, a close family friend of Mr Wong, proposed making the prosecution division independent to avoid perceptions of political interference in decisions.