Lawyers make room for new legal chief

GOVERNMENT lawyers are up in arms because Solicitor General-designate Daniel Fung is demanding an office far larger than those of his predecessors.

Two senior crown counsel and a more junior colleague have been evicted to make way for Mr Fung. His new office overlooks Hong Kong Park and the site of the future British consulate-general - one of the best views in the Legal Department.

Angry law officers claim the move has cast a shadow over the October 12 arrival of Mr Fung. Widely seen as the frontrunner to become Hong Kong's first local attorney-general, his task is to speed up the localisation of the Legal Department.

'He's starting off on the wrong foot, upsetting people even before he arrives,' one displaced crown counsel said.

But Mr Fung said yesterday no one had told him of the trouble his new office was causing.

'This all seems a bit of a storm in a teacup. I wish these people would come to me rather than complaining to the press,' he said.


The department has spent $68,000 of public money renovating room 401 of the Queensway Government Offices in Admiralty. It is being joined to two other rooms to form an office measuring more than 30 square metres.

The past five solicitor-generals used a smaller office on the same floor but Mr Fung said this room was not big enough to house his collection of law books.

'I've had to flog off half of them already. The new office is only half the size of my present one in Pacific Place,' he said.

Legal Department staff will meet tomorrow to decide if they can afford new accommodation for the displaced staff. They also have to make room for eight new posts recently created by the Legislative Council. Until then, displaced officers must use temporary quarters.


'I got back from holiday and was told to move. All this has caused a great deal of dislocation and disruption,' senior crown counsel Mark Berthold said. The contents of his former office are now stacked in cardboard boxes in the corridor.

'All this has had a most unfortunate - and perhaps quite unforeseen by Mr Fung - impression on the staff he will be working with.' Others said the use of public funds to build a larger office for Mr Fung should be referred to Director of Audit Brian Jenney.


'This seems like a severe waste of money,' Association of Expatriate Civil Servants president Royston Griffey said. 'I'm especially surprised by it after all the recent comments from Civil Service Branch about overseas officers wasting money.'