Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen will leave the government early next year, Hong Kong’s legal sector lawmaker has said.

Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok said sources had told him that Yuen will leave his position next January. He said his understanding was that a senior barrister from outside the government will be appointed as the successor, but he did not know who it will be.

Yuen stayed on from the last administration to handle the controversial joint checkpoint arrangement of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

Rimsky Yuen
Rimsky Yuen. Photo: In-Media.

The government had said it expected that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress will approve the second step of a three-step process in a meeting scheduled in December. Yuen will apparently then resign at the end of the year.

The last step of the process will be to pass local legislation at the Legislative Council, which will likely be approved with the support by the pro-Beijing camp.

The Department of Justice has said it would not comment on rumours. However, there has been speculation over his future after he was reappointed as Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s legal chief in July. He had served for five years in the Leung Chun-ying administration.

Occupy trio

Kwok said Yuen has made several achievements on promoting an arbitration service in Hong Kong, but he had different opinions to him over issues such as the handling of the sentence review of Occupy activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow.

Dennis Kwok
Dennis Kwok. Photo: In-Media.

After the trio was sent to jail, Reuters cited an unnamed senior government source as saying that Yuen overruled prosecutors who initially recommended not pursuing the case further, and insisted on re-opening the case.

Media reports on Wednesday also cited unnamed sources in saying that Yuen will resign by January, but Kwok was the first to publicly comment on the matter.

Apple Daily cited a source as saying that Yuen will return to the Temple Chambers and the six-year lease will start in January. The source also said Yuen had privately set a farewell date with friends.

Reports suggested Solicitor General Wesley Wong may be appointed as the next justice chief.

Kwok said Wong would be an appropriate choice as they have worked with each other for years, and he understood that Wong knew legal policies very well. However, Kwok said sources told him the successor to Yuen should be a senior barrister from outside the government.

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.