Sixteen years after its return to China, the city is to get its first Hong Kong Chinese director of public prosecutions - senior barrister and former deputy High Court judge Keith Yeung Kar-hung. The appointment of a new DPP is a time for reflection on the independence of the office in upholding the city's core value of the rule of law. The announcement coincided with an unusual appearance by retiring DPP Kevin Zervos to explain a decision not to prosecute in a case that had been heavily politicised, which served to underline the importance of the DPP's independence. This case arose from allegations of misconduct in public office against executive councillor Franklin Lam Fan-keung after claims he had used inside information to sell two flats ahead of new housing stamp duties. Lam quit Exco despite the decision not to prosecute. The DPP has a key role in upholding the rule of law, without fear or favour, along with an independent judiciary. But the Department of Justice has argued that he is not independent under the Basic Law, which says the department shall control criminal prosecutions free from interference. The department, however, is headed by a political appointee who reports to the chief executive. In this respect Hong Kong is out of step with comparable jurisdictions that have defined the independence of public prosecutors from political masters. Critics of the department's interpretation have argued that a constitutional convention could be established that leaves decisions whether to prosecute solely to the DPP, thus strengthening his freedom from interference. Like his predecessors, Yeung will have to deal with politically sensitive cases and perceptions of politically motivated investigations. Critics of the appointment have pointed to potential conflict of interest arising from previous lawyer-client relationships. If he is to bring relevant practice experience to the table, it would be odd if there were none. In this respect, we must trust in the department's assurance of mechanisms to ensure the justness and fairness of prosecution decisions.