Hong Kong’s police force has brought a senior officer out of retirement to serve as a temporary second-in-command tasked with handling the ongoing anti-government protests and the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China celebrations.

Alan Lau, who served as deputy commissioner of police before retiring at the end of last year, has been appointed Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Duties) starting Friday. The government said that the post was a temporary and supernumerary, and the main tasks were to assist the police chief with handling large-scale public order events and steering forthcoming major operations.

alan lau yip-shing
Alan Lau. Photo: GovHK.

The government press release also mentioned that Lau will help oversee the celebratory activities in relation to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1.

Lau joined the force in 1984, and was promoted to director of management services in 2013, and then to the deputy commissioner of police (operations) in 2014. During his tenure as the second-in-command of the police force, Hong Kong saw the 2014 pro-democracy street occupations as well as the 2016 Mong Kok unrest that took place over Lunar New Year.

According to Apple Daily, Lau was responsible for setting up an internal review committee after the Mong Kok unrest. He also said that the police would arrange training personnel to act as consultants for frontline commanders.

Protesters have called for an independent commission of inquiry to look into police tactics during the recent protests – though Chief Executive Carrie Lam has dismissed the possibility, instead backing a study by the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC).

china extradition august 3 kowloon
Photo: May James/HKFP.

Beijing has expressed support for the Hong Kong police. On July 29, a spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office (HKMAO) said: “We especially understand and sympathise with the tremendous pressure felt by the police and their families.” Carrie Lam and her top officials have also expressed support for the force.

Meanwhile, protesters and NGOs continued to criticise the use of force by police, saying that officers contravened internal guidelines as well as applicable law. At a protesters’ press briefing named the Citizens’ Press Conference, representatives said on Thursday that the force was engaged in mass arrests and spreading white terror.

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.