The No 2 officer in Hong Kong’s police National Security Department has been placed on leave pending an investigation after he was caught in a raid on an unlicensed massage parlour, sources told the Post on Tuesday.
The stunning revelation about Senior Assistant Commissioner and Director of National Security Frederic Choi Chin-pang marks the first big scandal for the department since it was set up last June immediately upon the imposition of a law banning acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
Choi was ordered to step away from the role for nearly a month, a senior police insider said, without disclosing details such as the time or location of the incident as it involved sensitive figures.
“Although visiting or buying service at an unlicensed massage parlour might not constitute an offence that could result in an arrest, Choi could face a disciplinary hearing as his conduct affects the force’s image and damages its reputation,” the source said. “Officers are still investigating the case.”
A police spokesman only said an inquiry involving alleged misconduct by an officer was under way.
“The officer concerned is on leave pending investigation,” he said. “The force attaches great importance to officers’ integrity. We will probe and follow up the case fairly in accordance with the mechanism.”
Choi joined the force in 1995 and was promoted to senior superintendent in 2014, then given the job of leading a Security Wing formation tasked with intelligence operations, investigation, analysis and liaison. He was made senior assistant commissioner and director of the National Security Department in July.
Choi was among seven top officers honoured by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor for their contributions in safeguarding national security at a ceremony at Government House in February.
A government statement at the time noted the force had within “a critical time span” urgently prepared the needed manpower, equipment and strategies to carry out Beijing’s new law.
“Seven relevant police officers made personal sacrifices to safeguard national security and ensure the full implementation of the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, demonstrating steadfastness and fearlessness,” the statement said.
Washington sanctioned all seven individuals, freezing their assets linked to the United States after accusing them of undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy, a charge both Beijing and the local government dismissed as foreign interference.
The department has arrested 107 people on suspicion of national security offences, with 57 prosecuted so far.