Former police commissioner Andy Tsang has been tapped for the role of vice-chairman of the National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC) – a rare instance of a Hongkonger appointed to a top governmental post in China.

Tsang, who served as police chief during the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, met with China’s deputy minister for public security Wang Xiaohong on Monday.

Wang reportedly commended Tsang for “special contributions” to fighting crime and protecting the public during his tenure as police commissioner, and singled out Tsang’s achievements in “tackling organised crime with vigour and a sense of responsibility.”

Andy Tsang
Andy Tsang.

The NNCC’s new appointment was a sign of the Chinese government’s determination to fight drugs, Wang added.

At the meeting, Tsang recalled China’s historical affliction with narcotics, and said he would do his best to contribute to the war against drugs.

Tsang told RTHK on Tuesday that his new job was a “monumental mission” that would draw on his previous experience in international cooperation.

He added that it was “heartening” to know that the Chinese government appoints officials based on meritocracy, and does not draw any distinction between Hongkongers and mainlanders.

Tsang retired from the Hong Kong Police Force in May 2015 and received the city’s top honour two months after his retirement.

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However, the discipline of the police force during the Umbrella Movement has been repeatedly called into question. Images and videos of suspected police violence against unarmed protesters were widely circulated online, including TVB footage that showed seven police officers beating a handcuffed protester.

In September 2016, Tsang joined a private firm – Chen Hsong Group – as a strategic consultant. Tsang was said to be responsible for reviewing security-related issues of the company, and providing leadership training and “personal advice” to management.

The government imposes a “control period” on high-ranking officials seeking outside employment after leaving the civil service. The period typically lasts for two to three years, during which any employment requires the government’s approval.

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Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.