Four top ministers will reportedly leave the Carrie Lam government, and the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Secretary Patrick Nip will take over as head of the Civil Service Bureau as part of the first major cabinet shuffle by the chief executive, sources said on Tuesday.
RTHK understands that the current civil service chief Joshua Law will leave government, along with Home Affairs Secretary Lau Kong-wah, Innovation and Technology Secretary Nicholas Yang and James Lau - the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury.
It's believed that Nip will be replaced by Immigration Director Erick Tsang.
Sources say Under Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Caspar Tsui, will be the new home affairs chief; the Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services Alfred Sit will be the new IT tsar; and Christopher Hui, an executive director of the Financial Services Development Council, will take over the reins from James Lau.
The news of the pending reshuffle comes days after an embarrassing government U-turn on the status and powers of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong.
Nip had said on social media on Monday night that he was very sorry for the "mistakes, confusion, and misunderstanding" caused by a series of contradictory press releases on the liaison office controversy that were released at the weekend.
The government had at first seemed to disagree with the liaison office which insisted last week that it is not subject to Basic Law Article 22 which prohibits interference in Hong Kong affairs. But by the third statement, the SAR government had decided the liaison office was indeed correct.
The administration's latest position is that the liaison office enjoys "supervisory powers" over Hong Kong and that it was not set up under Article 22 as many presumed.
On Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said "some officials" may not have understood the Basic Law.
Nip has been constitutional and mainland affairs secretary since July 2017.
Most recently he had been helping to arrange the evacuation of Hong Kong residents stranded in Wuhan and Hubei province, where the coronavirus pandemic began.
He had also been responsible for a highly controversial bill to outlaw disrespect for the national anthem which is still making its way through the Legislative Council.
Last updated: 2020-04-21 HKT 19:16