Anti-triad squad to probe top cop

Top News | Sophie Hui 13 May 2021

Director of national security Frederic Choi Chin-pang, who was caught patronizing an unlicensed massage parlor during a police raid, has been put on leave and is under investigation by anti-triad bureau officers, Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung said yesterday.

Tang said he was not aware that senior assistant commissioner Choi, 50, in charge of the department for national security law enforced by Beijing since June, had resigned following the scandalous behavior.

Tang said Choi is now on leave pending the investigation and would not carry out duties.

Choi was ordered to take a month's leave since he was found in the raid last month, with police refusing to say when it happened and where.

"We have assigned the organized crime and triad bureau to investigate this incident as we want to ensure the investigation is fair, just, in-depth and professional," Tang said in a 12-minute press conference at police headquarters in Wan Chai yesterday.

He did not reveal further details of the case, but admitted the investigation subject was Choi after being repeatedly asked by reporters.

Tang said the police placed a great deal of emphasis on professional conduct where its officers were concerned, and a probe will be carried out into any accusation of inappropriate behavior in accordance with the established mechanism.

Asked if the police needed to make a report to Beijing's office for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong and the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the SAR, Tang said it is an internal investigation and is not related to other departments.

The police will report to the Civil Service Bureau after the investigation.

"Of course this incident will have an effect on the overall situation of the police force, but I think the work of the national security department will not be affected by an investigation into an allegation against an individual officer, because we are a team and we work as a team," Tang said.

Asked if he will resign because of the scandal, Tang said: "There may be many people who want me to resign because they think I am righteous, and my work on national security has made them have no space [to commit crimes]. I will not let them have this opportunity.

"I will handle this case impartially. If I have any fault on this matter, I will bear the responsibility in accordance with our regulations."

Asked if the force had been trying to cover up the scandal before the media reported it earlier yesterday, the police chief said there are many factors that need to be considered when deciding whether to openly disclose a case immediately.

Tang insisted he had been transparent by answering the media's questions yesterday.

Earlier in the day, Undersecretary for Security Sonny Au Chi-kwong said the matter will be handled fairly and impartially, and will be followed up in accordance with civil service regulations.

Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said a police officer who patronized an unlicensed massage parlor could have committed misconduct in public office if he or she knows that the parlor is unlicensed.

He also said it would be a criminal investigation if the anti-triad bureau takes over.

New People's Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who is also a former secretary for security, believed the police will conduct a fair investigation.

She also hoped the public would not jump to a conclusion that Choi is guilty as under common law principles, people are innocent until proven guilty.

"I think this incident fully illustrates that every person is equal before the law, irrespective of whether this person is a police officer or a member of the police national security team," Ip said.

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