Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung is likely to hand in his resignation next month and leave the post in January as he plans to return to private law practice, Apple Daily reports, citing sources.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is said to have wanted Yuen to stay on in the post, which he has held since 2012, but Yuen insisted on resigning so that he can resume private practice, according to the report.
Before he joined the government, Yuen was practicing law in the private sector.
The justice chief’s office declined to comment on the matter, the paper said.
There has been speculation that Yuen had told Lam before she took office in July that he would stay on his job for six months to help the government finish the preparatory work on the so-called co-location arrangement for the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link.
Lam did not confirm Yuen’s departure when she was asked earlier by media about the rumor.
Apple Daily cited its sources as saying that Yuen may tender his resignation immediately once the National People’s Congress Standing Committee endorses the co-location plan, a move likely in early December.
The committee’s approval and endorsement is the second step of the so-called three-step process designed by the government for the plan.
An agreement signed between the Hong Kong and Guangdong governments last weekend was the first step, while the third and final step will be local legislation in Hong Kong.
According to the Apple Daily report, Yuen will join Temple Chambers, one of the leading barristers’ chambers in Hong Kong.
He is said to have signed a six-year rental agreement for an office in the chambers. Renovation work at the space he has taken up is close to completion, suggesting that Yuen could move in soon, according to a source.
Another source was quoted as saying that Yuen is picking a date for a farewell meal gathering to formally say goodbye to his colleagues.
Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, who represents the legal sector in the Legislative Council, said he too has heard that Yuen could leave the government in January.
Kwok said he gives Yuen credit for the official’s efforts to push arbitration-related matters in Hong Kong, but added that he cannot agree with the way Yuen dealt with the case pertaining to the prosecution and jailing of three prominent former student leaders.
As for Yuen’s successor, the selection work is said to have begun. There is some speculation that the post could be handed to sitting Solicitor General Wesley Wong Wai-chung.
However, a source from the legal circle told Apple Daily that Wong has no intention of leading the Department of Justice, and that the job could go to Paul Lam Ting-kwok, who is currently chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association.
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