Chan, 53, had been tipped for the job of secretary for security, but pointers yesterday steered him closer to incoming chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet- ngor.
As an insider put it, Chan is a sociable person with good communication skills. That would make him a great help to Lam in dealing with political parties and the media as her CEO director.
Chan was appointed director of immigration in 2011 by then-chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen but left the department last April after serving in it for 33 years. He was on pre- retirement leave, according to government records.
It has also been reported that Lam has asked the present director of the Chief Executive's Office, Edward Yau Tang-wah, to stay with the government, which would likely mean a promotion.
Now in line to become secretary for security is John Lee Ka-chiu. That would mean stepping up from undersecretary for security, a job he took on after being a deputy commissioner of police until 2012.
It would also make Lee the first secretary for security to have risen from the ranks of the police. The post has since 1997 gone to immigration officers.
Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung is meanwhile likely to become secretary for education, which would be a climbdown.
But Cheung has made it known he wants to stay in government service no matter his position.
Permanent Secretary for Food and Health Patrick Nip Tak-kuen is also said to be in line for a key job in Lam's team. And the Democratic Party's Law Chi- kwong is favored to join Lam's top team, though the position remains the big question.
Law has been a non-official member of the Commission on Poverty since 2014 and is also chairman of the Community Care Fund task force. He worked with Lam previously when she was chief secretary in consulting the public on retirement protection.
Law said yesterday he had no comment on any future role and refused to say if he plans to quit the Democratic Party.
But Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said he has no knowledge about plans for Law to join the Lam administration. Wu added that members of the party would have to cancel their membership before taking up any official position, and there has been no such application from Law.