Democrat questions John Lee’s suitability for CS role

Democratic Party chairman Lo Kin-hei on Friday questioned John Lee’s suitability for the role of chief secretary, saying his limited experience in government and shepherding of the ill-fated extradition bill in 2019 count against him.

Lee, formerly the secretary for security, was appointed to the number two position in the Carrie Lam administration on Friday, with the approval of the central government.

The 63-year-old had spent three decades in the police force before joining the government’s security bureau and being promoted to undersecretary for security in 2012, and security secretary in 2017.

“I have serious doubts about his ability to coordinate between different departments and different bureaus because his background is just from the police,” Lo said.

“I think his ability in pursuing for the extradition bill in 2019 tells everybody he may not be a very competent person.”

The Democratic Party leader however doesn’t believe the appointments signal a change in direction for the government.

“I think the direction of the government is clear for some time already, and I believe everybody is expecting that there will be different sort of restrictions or other measures to regulate different sectors in society – I think that is something that we have been expecting for some time, and we are seeing this for some time already,” Lo said.

“But at the same time, I think that the appointment itself would give a stronger impression to Hong Kong people that the government will do it more quickly and more directly in the future.”

Lee’s position as security chief will be filled by Chris Tang, who has served as Police Commissioner since November 2019.

“I think he may be one of the least popular commissioner for police in recent history,” Lo said.

“Of course, they can make whatever appointment they want, but for Hong Kong people I think we expect him to be accountable for what he did, for what the Hong Kong police did wrong – instead of being promoted as secretary for security, I think that’s for sure.”

Lo added that he isn’t sad to see Matthew Cheung leave his position of chief secretary.

“I can’t say I pity his departure, because he’s part of the government that brings Hong Kong into this situation now,” he said.