Date
21 October 2018
Senior counsel Teresa Cheng in 2008 was elected president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the first ever Asian female to assume the position. Photo: HKEJ
Senior counsel Teresa Cheng in 2008 was elected president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the first ever Asian female to assume the position. Photo: HKEJ

Teresa Cheng widely tipped to be next justice secretary

Rumor has it that Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung is determined to step down and return to private practice by the end of this month.

When Chief Executive Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor took over the reins of government in July, Yuen was invited to remain in office as justice chief. A government source, however, said Yuen only wished to serve for just another half a year at most.

Well, six months have almost passed, and the pro-establishment camp still believes it is best for Yuen to remain in office in order to handle the highly controversial co-location arrangement for the Express Rail Link. But it is said that Yuen was very insistent on his departure, citing health reasons.

With Yuen set to quit, all attention is focused on who would be the next justice secretary.

Senior counsel Teresa Cheng yeuk-wah is widely tipped for the job. A prominent barrister, Cheng in 2008 was elected president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the first-ever Asian woman to assume the position.

Appointed a senior barrister in 2000, Cheng specializes in areas of law in construction as well as international commercial joint venture contracts and investment arbitration. It is said that she had declined Lam’s job offer when she was recruiting her cabinet members earlier this year.

Cheng publicly criticized last year’s ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague over the South China Sea dispute.

She has also talked several times about Hong Kong’s potential for developing arbitration service under “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

Given that, senior counsel Ronny Tong Ka-wah believes Cheng is likely to be trusted by Beijing.

Pro-establishment lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun has raised doubts about Cheng’s ability to handle sensitive political issues, but he acknowledges her solid legal credentials.

It is widely believed that Cheng will find no difficulty in getting Beijing’s approval. After all, as far as Beijing is concerned, it is the candidate’s political loyalty and trustworthiness that truly count when it comes to key personnel appointments.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 11

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/CG

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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