Former director of immigration Eric Chan Kwok-ki has been chosen to head the chief executive-elect office.

Chan’s appointment, which will take immediate effect, came more than a month after Carrie Lam was chosen as the city’s next leader in late March. Chan’s role will be to help Lam in forming her cabinet, as well as assist with the transition into the next government, and to liaise with the public and media.

Carrie Lam and Eric Chan. Photo: GovHK.

The Chief Executive-elect office was established a week before Lam was chosen. Former postmaster general Jessie Ting filled the number two-ranking role as the secretary-general at the time, but the head of the office had remained vacant.

“My criteria in forming the team… are really people who are committed to Hong Kong, who have the ability and the compassion to serve the people of Hong Kong, in these respect, KK [Chan] perfectly fills the bill,” she said.

Asked why she did not choose a career bureaucrat to head her office, as past chief executives did, Lam said her cabinet will be a team.

“Among the team, including myself, no-one knows how to do everything – but we will help and cooperate with each other,” she said.

Carrie Lam and Eric Chan. File Photo: GovHK.

Chan, 58, took leave before retirement in April last year. He joined the government as an assistant immigration officer in 1982, and became the director of immigration in 2011.

Chan said he supported Lam’s manifesto and her “new style of governance.”

“I believe under Mrs Lam’s leadership, Hong Kong will have a better future,” he said.

Chan praised Lam’s previous support of the discipline forces, when he was still the director of immigration: “When she suggested to offer me such a position, I agreed immediately without any hesitation.”

Eric Chan (left). File Photo: GovHK.

Chan was earlier tipped to be the new secretary for security, or the head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The security bureau is usually led by a former immigration chief, as the incumbent Lai Tung-kwok is expected to retire as his term ends.

‘Hot kitchen’

Lam has spoken of the difficulties she has faced in forming her cabinet, making reference to the political climate. Chan has been tipped to head her office since mid-April, when Lam received her appointment as the next chief executive in Beijing.

Asked why he wanted to join the “hot kitchen,” he said that every job has its difficulties.

“But I believe a good leader can reduce the heat of the kitchen, and that the public will be accepting – I am very confident,” he said.

Chan will receive HK$298,000 per month as the head of the office. The office will complete its term on June 30.

Eric Chan. File Photo: GovHK.

Lam said it was her plan and intention to nominate Chan to transition into the Chief Executive Office on July 1 when she takes power.

She said the head of the Chief Executive Office does not require an appointment from the central government in Beijing, since it was not a principal official position.

“I can tell you quite confidently now that you will be seeing Mr Chan as the future director,” she said.

If Chan stays after July 1, he will receive HK$333,900 per month.

Lam said there was “good progress” in forming her cabinet, but did not disclose details.

The Chief Executive-elect office has been embroiled in controversy over its expenses. Following complaints from lawmakers, its costs were reduced by around 11 per cent.


Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.