The Hong Kong police force has brought a top officer out of retirement to tackle the city’s escalating protest crisis in an unexpected emergency move.
Former deputy police commissioner Alan Lau Yip-shing, a respected veteran who oversaw operations during the 2014 Occupy protests and the 2016 Mong Kok riot, was officially appointed by the government as duty commissioner on special duty for a period of six months on Friday.
Lau, well known for his tough style of leadership, was also in charge of security when President Xi Jinping visited the city in 2017.
Lau began his one-year pre-retirement leave in November, when he hit the mandatory retirement age of 57.
The main duties of Lau, who will report for duty on Friday, would be assisting the police commissioner in handling large-scale public order events, and steering the forthcoming major operations, including celebratory events for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, according to the announcement.
Several police sources he had been appointed to take charge of the response to the protest violence, which has been spreading and intensifying over the past two months, with police stations, frontline officers and even their homes coming under attack.
Sources said Lau returned to police headquarters in Wan Chai on Thursday to prepare for his new role, and would be meeting all top brass and district commanders on Friday morning to discuss strategy.