FORMER appointed legislator Andrew So Kwok-wing will succeed Arthur Garcia as ombudsman in February. The appointment of Mr So to be only the second Commissioner for Administrative Complaints since the position was created five years ago was announced yesterday. Mr So, 54, sits on several advisory committees but said he would resign from all public service and retire from his job as international vice-president of Cuna Mutual Insurance before taking up his new post. He said he had to do that to ensure he faced no conflict of interest and that he and his office were both impartial and independent. The ombudsman's job, equivalent to a D8 post in the civil service, comes with a salary of $130,650 a month. Mr Garcia, 69, who has been heading the office since it was set up in 1989, has to step down because the administration considers him to be too old. He has said it would be preferable for his successor to have a legal background and be a local. Mr So disagreed that his lack of a legal background would be a disadvantage, adding that his eight years in Legco - from 1978 to 1985 - would help him. A government spokesman said Mr So was appointed because he had extensive experience in public service and was familiar with the workings of the Government. ''But, more importantly, he is a person of integrity and well-respected in the community,'' he said. Mr Garcia said the appointment was a good one. A primary school teacher from 1960 to 1963, Mr So currently chairs the Board of Education, the Curriculum Development Council and the Target Oriented Curriculum Committee. He is also chairman of the Pay Trend Survey Committee and is on the Standing Commission on Civil Service Salaries and Conditions of Service. He is a member of the Education Commission, two members of which recently resigned in protest that the Government had allowed it to become ineffective with few of its recommendations adopted. Legislator Tik Chi-yuen, who also sits on the Board of Education, said Mr So was a good chairman and receptive to other people's ideas. Another legislator, James To Kun-sun, said Mr Garcia had built up a good image for the ombudsman's office and hoped Mr So would follow that example. ''He has to prove that he is a real tiger, not a paper tiger,'' Mr To said.