Top Lam aide given job as national security chief

Local | Michael Shum 3 Jul 2020

Eric Chan Kwok-ki, the director of the chief executive's office, has been appointed secretary-general of the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of Hong Kong.

The government announced that Chan was appointed by the State Council yesterday following his nomination by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and was sworn in later in the afternoon.

This came two days after the national security law for Hong Kong took effect, with the law stating that a secretariat headed by a secretary-general shall be established under the committee.

Under the law, the committee analyzes developments and formulate policies as well as coordinate work to safeguard national security. A Beijing-appointed adviser will also sit in on meetings.

The law also states that the committee's work shall not be interfered with, information relating to the work should not be disclosed and decisions made by the committee should not be subject to judicial review.

Chan, 61, will still serve as director of the chief executive's office, having done so since 2017 after retiring as the director of immigration in 2016. He served in the immigration department for 33 years.

On the appointment, Lam said: "Mr Chan has had distinguished performance in leading the office. I have no doubt that he is capable of taking up the post of secretary general of the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR, in addition to his existing post, to lead the secretariat to support the committee to fulfil its crucial responsibility to safeguard national security."

Sources believe Chan's appointment will be temporary, as he already has a heavy workload, and his appointment was due to the government's having to set up the department quickly.

"As it is related to national security, and the secretary-general has to be appointed by the central government, the chief executive has to nominate someone reliable and trustworthy," sources said.

The State Council also appointed Au Ka-wang director of immigration.

Au joined the department in 1988, was promoted to assistant director in 2018 and deputy director a year later. He has been acting director since April.

Au said he was honored to be appointed director and thanked Beijing and the chief executive for their confidence in him.

"The immigration department, as a member of the disciplined forces, has a huge responsibility to safeguard national security, and we will put forward our utmost effort to fulfill it," Au said.

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