He is due to retire in two years, but the new director of the Hong Kong Observatory is planning further ahead. 'I have the next five years in mind when I draw my work plan for the future,' said 58-year-old Lee Boon-ying, who was appointed yesterday. 'We have a long-term vision. I asked my colleagues in an earlier brainstorming session what they wanted for the next five years, not two.' Dr Lee has been with the Observatory for 30 years. The former assistant director was selected over Wai Hon-gor, a younger assistant director, who had been tipped for the top job. The Civil Service Bureau said it had considered Dr Lee's age and was satisfied he was the most suitable person. A spokeswoman said the bureau took into account the job requirement, operational needs and Dr Lee's experience and personal attributes in making the decision. Having to replace Lam Chiu-ying, who was recognised as one of the city's most outspoken and charismatic weather chiefs, Dr Lee said he did not feel under pressure. 'I won't be a second Lam Chiu-ying, I am never as outgoing as he is, but I will do my best.' Dr Lam - who suffered a few setbacks with forecasting errors - has warned his successor to be sensitive to public opinion. Dr Lee accepted the advice but stressed that he would always base his decisions on scientific evidence when deciding which typhoon signal should be hoisted. Some of the biggest criticisms aimed at the Observatory during Dr Lam's watch came after Typhoon Prapiroon in 2006, when the No 3 storm signal was raised instead of the No 8, which would have shut most of the city. TV footage showing pedestrians toppled by winds that reached No 8 strength in some places and triggered a debate about how the Observatory decided which signal to hoist. Dr Lee said: 'At present, the forecasting system's reliability level is about 80 per cent to 90 per cent; we should work to improve the system.' Johnny Chan Chung-leung, an old schoolmate of Dr Lee and director of the Guy Carpenter Asia-Pacific Climate Impact Centre at City University, said Dr Lee would not waver in the face of political or public pressure when making a decision. Looking ahead, Dr Lee said he would work with his team to set up an alert system to warn the public, especially young hikers, about the danger of heat stroke. The Observatory will also strengthen communication with various sections of the workforce - including cargo handlers and those working in the open.