Hong Kong’s anti-corruption agency the ICAC finally appoints a new No 2 in Ricky Yau

The last formally appointed deputy commissioner left three years ago, with the position filled on a temporary basis since then

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 August, 2018, 8:10pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 August, 2018, 11:37pm

Hong Kong’s corruption watchdog formally appointed its top investigator on Monday, elevating Ricky Yau Shu-chun to head of operations.

The 53-year-old will also be deputy commissioner at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the body’s No 2. He had been doing the job in an acting capacity for two years.

Last month, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told lawmakers she had instructed ICAC commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu to “handle staff succession well”.

“I have called on [Peh] to handle the staff succession well in order to ensure the smooth operation of the ICAC,” Lam said in response to Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, who said Peh’s failure to appoint a No 2 was affecting the agency’s long-term policies and strategies.

The ICAC reports directly to Hong Kong’s leader, who appoints the commissioner.

The last deputy commissioner was Ryan Wong Sai-chiu, who left the ICAC three years ago.

Rebecca Li Bo-lan was then appointed acting deputy commissioner and acting head of operations. She was demoted in July 2016, resulting in her leaving the anti-corruption body.

Pro-democracy lawmakers linked her demotion to a probe she was leading into the HK$50 million payment that former chief executive Leung Chun-ying received from the Australian company UGL.

Yau then took over.

In a press release announcing Yau’s appointment on Monday, Peh said: “Under the leadership of Mr Yau, I have every confidence the Operations Department will continue to uphold its professionalism and effectiveness in the fight against corruption.”

Yau joined the ICAC in 1994 as an investigator. He rose through the ranks to be assistant director in 2007, before being made director of investigation in 2014.

The deputy commissioner earned his bachelor’s degree in social sciences from the University of Hong Kong and later finished his master’s degree at Aston University in Britain.

Lam Cheuk-ting, who was previously an ICAC investigator, said many working at the organisation had longed for Yau’s formal appointment.

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“Yau is one of the most experienced officers at the ICAC … he is the only suitable option after Li’s departure,” he said.

The democrat accused Peh of lacking leadership skills.

“It is irresponsible for Peh to leave such a crucial post vacant for three years,” he said.

Lam Cheuk-ting also said he would not classify Carrie Lam’s involvement as “interference”, as the chief executive was not meddling with matters related to the watchdog’s investigations.

Peh told the Post in an earlier interview that there was no “fixed term” for an acting position and that the agency had been functioning well.