Hong Kong’s new police chief faces the daunting tasks of recruiting new blood and repairing a frayed relationship with overseas law enforcement agencies, insiders say. Described by colleagues as low profile and thoughtful, Raymond Siu Chak-yee, 55, was appointed by Beijing on Friday as the new police commissioner, succeeding Chris Tang Ping-keung, who after more than 18 months in the role was promoted to secretary of security. Director of Crime and Security Albert Yuen Yuk-kin is tipped to take over as deputy police commissioner, with the appointment expected to be announced soon. At a press briefing, Siu said the force had overcome unprecedented challenges over the past two years and vowed to ensure public safety and social stability. “We will continue to do our daily work professionally so that … the people can understand the Hong Kong Police Force cares for society,” he said. The force would also ensure upcoming key elections and next year’s celebration for the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty would be held without incident. Senior officers described Siu as a “deep thinker” and “reasonable man”, as well as a “low-profile and hard-working official”. One said Siu was the best man for the job as he had been one of Tang’s protégés for several years. “I’m sure he will be a very competent and capable police commissioner,” another officer said. “He has held a number of challenging posts in the past that have given him a good grounding in the different areas of the force.” Siu joined the organisation as an inspector in 1988 and has served in mostly frontline operational units and in roles gathering criminal intelligence and managing personnel. He was the top operational commander during the months-long anti-government protests that erupted in 2019, in response to an attempt to introduce an extradition bill allowing suspects to be transferred to mainland China. Siu was appointed director of operations in November 2018 and deputy commissioner of police (operations) a year later. He started making more public appearances starting in January when he was featured in a flashy promotional video aimed at giving a public relations boost to the embattled force. The production shows elite officers racing to rescue people taken hostage during a simulated terrorist attack. Can a flashy PR video by Hong Kong police win them new supporters? In an interview with the Post last year, Siu said many of the minors arrested during the protests were goaded into taking part by online messages and were victims of their own poor judgment. The ones who did deserve blame were politicians who had “exploited” young people for their own gain, he claimed. “These are irresponsible and disgraceful acts. Where is their conscience?” he said at the time. “Would they bring their own kids to do the same – to throw petrol bombs, to vandalise shops, to attack officers? Of course not.” He also called accusations of “police brutality” unfair, pointing to protesters’ increasing use of violence. “They talk about human rights, but they brutally assault innocent members of the public. Do you call this human rights? When somebody holds different views from them, they attack and vandalise shops. Do you call this freedom of expression? When you talk about freedom, it has to be orderly.” As of April, the force had arrested more than 10,260 individuals in connection with the social unrest. So far, 2,608 have been prosecuted, of which at least 1,000 have been punished. The violence waned after the Covid-19 pandemic began in January last year and following the introduction of a national security law that June, but the road ahead for Siu was far from easy, according to insiders. One senior police source said: “It’s never easy being a police commissioner. The new chief would have to deal with recruitment challenges and take the force forward without the same degree of cooperation and assistance from overseas law enforcement agencies, another insider said. “I think a lot of them cut ties due to politics. It’s a good time to explore partnerships with other countries, including closer cross-border training and cooperation with mainland China,” he said. Police to assess job applicants for patriotism, values, commitment to serve city More than 5,000 positions remain open in the 33,000-strong organisation. In the past financial year, the force met only 40 per cent of its hiring target of 1,845 recruits, despite receiving more than 11,000 applications. Only 754 applicants were successful, compared with 874 in the previous financial year. To ease the manpower crunch, the force is allowing almost 12,000 veteran officers to apply to continue working until age 60 instead of retiring at 55. The Junior Police Officers’ Association, which represents two-thirds of the force, welcomed the appointments of Tang and Siu, saying: “We believe that under the leadership of the new security chief and police commissioner, Hong Kong society will become more prosperous and stable in future”.