Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Simon Peh Yun-lu says that he alone decided to remove Rebecca Li Bo-lan as acting Head of Operations, and that no one else – including the Chief Executive – had interfered in the process.

Peh’s comments came after the ICAC announced last Thursday that it was replacing its acting Head of Operations Rebecca Li Bo-lan with Ricky Yau Shu-chun starting July 18. Many have asked the corruption watchdog to explain the unusual staff shake-up to the public, while the Democratic Party have raised questions over whether the decision was related to investigations into the Chief Executive’s HK$50m UGL payment controversy, which Li had been involved in.

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File photo: HKFP, Tom Grundy.

“I carried out an assessment, and in terms of the needs of the position, I felt that she had not met the criteria. Therefore, [I] asked her to put an end to her acting position and to return to her original post. This situation has happened in the past in the ICAC. After Li found out, Li notified me that she would terminate her employment contract early. I asked her to reconsider, but two days later she submitted written notice notifying me [of the decision to terminate early]… and it would take effect on the 18th,” Peh said.

Peh said that the assessment of her work performance was conducted by himself, as Li’s direct supervisor, and he had then notified Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying of the decision. Peh said that Leung did not take part in the decision-making process and that that no one had interfered or given their opinion. 

When asked by reporters whether this had anything to do with Li’s previous cases such as her involvement in the UGL case, Peh repeated that this was to do with her work performance and there were no other considerations. “I hope that after the clarification, there will be no more speculation.”

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Simon Peh speaking at the press conference. Photo: Now TV screencap.

“These are matters of assessment or staff changes… they are private and it is not appropriate to publicly discuss them,” Peh added. He also refused to disclose further details on the assessment.

Peh also said that prior to Li taking up her post, he had a long discussion with her on what criteria she would need to meet in order to be promoted. They would then meet weekly, sometimes more often, to discuss issues such as the work of the operations team and management issues.

“I have said this is my own judgment and my own decision and I will not comment on any case under our investigation,” he said.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.