Veteran Hong Kong official takes up top post at Immigration Department, succeeding controversial predecessor

Erick Tsang Kwok-wai takes over from Chan Kwok-ki, who is retiring

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 April, 2016, 12:37pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 April, 2016, 12:37pm

A veteran with 29 years of experience at the Immigration Department has been appointed its head, effective on Tuesday, succeeding Chan Kwok-ki, who is retiring after serving the department for 33 years.

There was no shortage of controversy during Chan’s time as director of immigration due to incidents such as Tiananmen dissidents being denied entry to the city.

The Hong Kong government announced on Tuesday that the State Council has, on the nomination and recommendation by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, approved the appointment of Erick Tsang Kwok-wai, who held the position of deputy director of immigration before taking up the top post.

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“Mr Tsang has accumulated nearly 29 years of experience and possesses extensive knowledge, making great strides in enhancing the efficiency and professionalism of the Immigration Department. I am confident that he will rise up to the challenges ahead,” Leung said in a statement.

Leung also applauded Chan’s “admirable efforts” since he was made director in March 2011.

“Since taking up the post as director of immigration in March 2011, Mr Chan has made admirable efforts in ensuring effective entry-exit control and smooth passenger clearance, leading the Immigration Department to become a benchmark for its contemporaries around the globe. We wish Mr Chan a happy and fulfilling retirement,” Leung added.

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Tsang, 52, joined the department as an assistant immigration officer in 1987, then rose through the ranks as principal immigration officer in 2009, assistant director in 2012 and deputy director in 2014.

Chan, 57, joined the department in 1982, also as an assistant immigration officer. He became assistant director in 2007 and deputy director in 2010 before being appointed as director in 2011.

In April last year, the department denied Xiong Yan, an exiled leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, from entering Hong Kong. In 2014, another Tiananmen activist Dr Yang Jianli was barred from entering the city to attend the opening of the museum dedicated to the 1989 crackdown.