As Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung is set to retire in mid-November, another round of musical chairs is expected to be played among high-ranking officers in the police leadership soon.
Among them, Chief Superintendent John Tse Chun-Chung, of the Police Public Relations Branch (PPRB), returned from a two-week vacation on Monday and appeared again at the daily press briefing he has been conducting since the anti-extradition bill protests began in June.
Many are under the impression that Tse will continue to assume his vital PR role for the force, but the latest news is that the senior officer will leave the PPRB and transfer to the Force Selection Board, where he will deal with promotions from chief inspector to superintendent, for several months.
It is understood that he will leave the PPRB as early as next month.
Afterwards, Tse may be redeployed to the frontline and serve as the new commander of the Kwai Tsing District in New Territories South.
Over the past four months, Tse has taken center stage in explaining and defending the actions of the police force, particularly with regard to the anti-government protests, during the daily press briefings.
While Tse has been highly praised for his job performance within the police force, he has come under heavy fire from netizens for his remarks.
A figure within the police force has said that even though Tse’s reassignment to the Kwai Tsing District is just a “horizontal transfer”, the new position might do him good as far as his law enforcement career is concerned.
Ever since he was promoted to superintendent, Tse has been assigned with the PPRB and stayed there even after he was promoted to chief superintendent.
At the PPRB, Tse has spearheaded many initiatives to enhance the public communication platforms of the police.
Having worked for a long time at the police headquarters, Tse is highly experienced in dealing with the press. However, because of that, he lacks practical experience as a field commander in charge of frontline police operations.
Tse, therefore, should seize the opportunity to be re-assigned as commander of the Kwai Tsing District in order to receive more practical training in police management and operations.
The police source said that since Tse is only in his early 40s, time is on his side, and his upcoming transfer will certainly help him advance his career in law enforcement.
As to who is going to succeed Tse, the latest talk is that an initial choice has already been made.
There has been a lot of chatter within the police force that Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen of the Personnel Wing will take the helm of the PPRB by the end of the year.
Having graduated from the Department of Government and Public Administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Kwok once served as the personal assistantof former police commissioner Tang King-shing and also as district commander of the police’s Airport District.
It is said that Kwok is on pretty good terms with the media, and is even seen by some as a “second-in-line” police chief hopeful.
But the key to success in any police PR initiative is that frontline officers must enforce the law impartially and should never bend the rules.
In the daily press briefings, police bosses could continue to explain away lapses and abuses made by frontline officers, but that would not help improve the rock-bottom relations between the police and the public – no matter who is put in charge of the PPRB.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct 22
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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