HK Home Affairs Bureau senior official steps down, citing family time

16-Jan-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A senior Hong Kong home affairs official has resigned citing family reasons, becoming the second top political appointee to leave since city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor took office in July 2017.

In a statement issued on Friday, the government confirmed that Jade Lai Wing-yu, political assistant to the secretary for home affairs, had tendered her resignation “due to her need to take care of her family”.

“She is currently on leave and will leave the government effective January 20. The secretary for home affairs, Caspar Tsui, thanks Ms Lai for her contribution during her tenure and wishes her a happy life,” the spokesman added.

Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.

In a message on her Facebook page on Friday, Lai indicated a move to Singapore was likely in the works.

“Home is where the heart is… My friends know that my husband is a native of Singapore. He lived in Hong Kong for many years because of me, and has now returned to Singapore,” she wrote.

“I decided to quit because our son is still young, and needs his mother by his side to take care of him.”

Lai thanked Tsui for his support, saying it was her honour to have served the government and people of Hong Kong for more than seven years.

The news of Lai’s resignation comes barely a month after she took an oath on December 16 pledging allegiance to Hong Kong aside 25 other high-ranking officials, swearing to uphold the city’s mini-constitution.

The group was the first batch of public officers to fulfil the new requirement under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Lai, in her early 40s, joined the government in November 2013 as the political assistant to then secretary for labour and welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung. She became the political assistant to the home affairs chief after Lam took office in July 2017.

Before joining the government, Lai was a deputy director of the Hong Kong United Foundation, an INGO set up by a group of professionals supporting Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong’s chief executive from 2012 to 2017.

Lai also once worked for local think tank the Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre as its deputy director and director of advocacy.

In April last year, Pauline Yeung, political assistant to the secretary for financial services and the treasury, also tendered her resignation, exiting the government a month later.

Yeung’s resignation was revealed just days after Christopher Hui Ching-yu replaced James Lau as the city’s financial services chief.

A ministerial reshuffle at that time also saw Tsui promoted from his former post as undersecretary for labour and welfare to his current position as head of the Home Affairs Bureau.

It is quite embarrassing as she just took the oath last month as a political appointee, and now she jumps ship

Lam Cheuk-ting, former opposition lawmaker

Pro-establishment lawmaker Leung Che-cheung, chair of the Legislative Council’s home affairs panel, said the timing of Lai’s resignation was “not good”.

“It has a negative impact on the government’s image,” he said.

Leung also said that compared to other political assistants, Lai spent less time communicating with lawmakers.

“Her style was different from others, and she was not as nervous about the panel meeting as others. Maybe that’s because Tsui has a different mission for her, and she could spend more time liaising with other stakeholders instead,” he added.

Former opposition lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, vice-chair of the Democratic Party, said Lai’s resignation reinforced the perception of some that Lam’s governing team was in disarray.

“It is quite embarrassing as she just took the oath last month as a political appointee, and now she jumps ship,” he said.

Another former opposition legislator, Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, also said Lai’s departure could cause people to worry about the morale among Hong Kong’s top officials.

“The political atmosphere has completely changed since they took office in 2017. Even if you can force them to take their oath, their allegiance might not be sincere, and they will make their own choice about staying or leaving,” he added.


Category: Hong Kong

Print This Post

Comments are closed.