The government has decided to keep Stephen Lo Wai-chung, who leads the Hong Kong Police Force, in his post for one more year after he reaches the retirement age in November this year.
According to an announcement Thursday, Lo will stay on as the Commissioner of Police for an additional 12 months, holding the job until November 18, 2019.
Lo, who will reach the retirement age of 57 on November 19 this year, has been granted service extension to ensure smooth leadership transition within the police, a government spokesman said.
According to Hong Kong Economic Journal sources, the main reason why the government wants Lo to stay on longer is because his two deputies will also reach their retirement age within the next 12 months, and hence unlikely to take over Lo’s post.
This means a younger candidate would be identified for the job. By giving Lo a 12-month extension, authorities hope to have the replacement get ready for the top post.
It is understood that Alan Lau Yip-shing, deputy commissioner of police (operations), is scheduled to commence his pre-retirement leave from late November before he retires near the end of this year as he reaches 57.
Another Lo deputy is Winnie Chiu Wai-yin, 56, who currently serves as deputy commissioner of police (management). As Chiu will the retirement age in August next year, she is out of contention as the government wants someone who can have longer tenure as police chief, sources believe.
There is speculation that after Lo steps down in November next year, the job will go to Chris Tang Ping-keung, who is currently the operations director in the force.
Over the next one year, Tang will be groomed for the key position, getting him ready for the added responsibilities, according to the HKEJ sources.
Tang, who is 53 years in age, has received training at various institutions in mainland China and overseas, including at the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy in Quantico, the United States; the China Executive Leadership Academy in Shanghai; the Chinese Academy of Governance, Beijing; and the Royal College of Defence Studies in London.
He was promoted to the rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner and appointed as Director of Operations in 2017.
According to the sources, he is likely to take over from Lo, who joined the force in 1984 as inspector and was promoted to the deputy commissioner in 2013.
Lo had replaced Andy Tsang Wai-hung as Police Commissioner in May 2015, about six months after the months-long pro-democracy Occupy movement ended in December 2014.
During that period, Lo was in charge of the special “Solarpeak” operation on handling the protests.
Welcoming the government’s decision to grant him service extension, Lam Chi-wai, who chairs the Junior Police Officers’ Association, said Lo’s continuance in the top post for some more time will help facilitate smoother transition of the senior management of the force.
Lam had words of praise for Lo, describing him as a leader who is willing to listen to the opinions of subordinates, and someone who attaches great importance to the issue of morale and welfare of frontline staff.
Calling the service extension normal, Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who is deputy chairman of the Legislative Council’s Panel on Security, pointed to Lo’s record in anti-crime fight.
Under Lo, the overall law and order situation in Hong Kong has continued to improve in the recent past, the lawmaker said.
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