On 26 March 2013, the Judiciary announced the appointment of eight Senior Counsel of the HKSAR. Two of the eight Senior Counsel appointed, namely, Mr Wesley Wong Wai-chung and Mr Simon Tam Man-fai were from the Prosecutions Division. The official ceremony was held at Court No. 1 of the High Court on 11 May 2013.
Both Mr Wong and Mr Tam are serving directorate officers at the Division, having spent their entire legal careers so far in the public service. Save for the fact that they studied at different times in the same local secondary school and joined the Government at different years (Mr Tam in 1981 initially as Court Prosecutor and Mr Wong in 1993 as legal trainee), the two gentlemen crossed paths with each other in more ways than one.
They both read law together at the University of Hong Kong and were conferred with a Bachelor of Laws degree (with honours) in 1992 and obtained the Postgraduate Certificate in Laws in 1993, at which year they started their pupillage together at the then Legal Department (more affectionately known as the “Attorney General’s Chambers”) and were called to the Hong Kong Bar.
Since his appointment as a legal officer, Mr Wong has served at 13 different posts during his 20 years with the Department of Justice. He is said to be a very versatile counsel and has involved himself mostly in civil litigation and criminal prosecution work. He prosecutes trials and appeals at various levels of court on an everyday basis, gives legal advice on civil and criminal issues to various law enforcement agencies, bureaux and departments and actively participates in the management of the Department. Apart from appearing in court, he had sat on the rules committees of the higher courts and also promoted government bills, including those bringing legislative changes, among other new initiatives facilitating long term development on legal services, to localise and adapt the appointment of Queen’s Counsel in anticipation of the resumption of sovereignty in 1997 and leading to the implementation of the Civil Justice Reform in 2009. Mr Wong is one of the four Deputy Directors of Public Prosecutions and heads Sub-division II (Advocacy) whilst at the same time being the Chief of Staff responsible for all management and policy development of the Division.
Mr Tam, a very experienced advocate, has over the years, prosecuted a number of sensitive and high-profile cases. These include the brutal murder of “Ha Je”, a female newspaper vendor who met her unfortunate death in an armed group attack by machetes; the Revenue Tower murder in which the body of a female Thai tourist was discovered on top of an overhanging air-duct some tens of feet above the ground inside an engine room in the Revenue Tower; the case concerning the strangling of a young female member of an airline ground crew whilst she was alone on her way home at night; and the case of a serial killer who had within 21 days strangled two sex workers to death after drugging them with chloroform in their “one-woman brothels”. Mr Tam also conducted the appeal of a murderer who had killed a young girl, dismembering her body in his home into small pieces and flushing them down the toilet. He also assisted the coroner in conducting the death inquest in respect of the nine people who lost their lives in the fire which broke out in Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok, in 2011. Mr Tam is currently a Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions at Sub-division II (Advocacy) of the Division.
Mr Tam recalled an incident which happened in the 1980s when he was then a Court Prosecutor prosecuting at the Causeway Bay Magistracy. On that particular occasion, whilst walking to court, he got caught in heavy rain. Upon arrival he was totally drenched, and so were the defence lawyer and the Magistrate. On that occasion, the court ordered Mr Tam and the defence lawyer to take off their clothes, with which Mr Tam duly complied. He took off almost everything – his clothes, shoes and socks – except for his undervest and trousers. He even placed his pair of leather shoes on the Bar table. Until now, he is still intrigued by the charisma of the Magistrate who insisted that “The show must go on!” whatever happens.
Upon “taking silk” (so-called because of the silk gown Senior Counsel wear), both Mr Wong and Mr Tam felt deeply honoured but would regard the appointments as a form of recognition to the important work performed at a high standard by and an encouragement to all staff of the Department as a whole for the benefit of the HKSAR community. They valued the opportunities afforded to them by the Department and the support they received from their colleagues.
Mr Wesley Wong, SC (right), and Mr Simon Tam, SC (left)