The threat of job termination is hanging over more than 100 civil servants who have not signed a declaration to pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China and to uphold its mini-constitution, the Basic Law.
More than a month has passed since the government’s deadline of end-February for all 180,000 incumbent civil servants to return their signed declaration forms.
As at March 15, the forms were still pending from over 100 of them, the Civil Service Bureau said in response to a written question raised by the Special Finance Committee of the Legislative Council. Bureau officers were checking the numbers with various departments and sending letters to the individuals requesting an explanation, it said.
A detailed status report would be submitted to LegCo’s panel on public service this month.
The bureau further said that members of the public would question the willingness of the non-signees to shoulder the basic responsibility of upholding the Basic Law and serving Hong Kong with loyalty. This might even adversely affect the governance of the entire civil service and the government, it added.
Officials would review these civil servants case by case to decide whether they should be dismissed, and in the process they would get the opportunity to submit clarifications, it said.
As for probationary civil servants and people hired under the Non-civil Service Contract Staff Scheme, their employment would be ended immediately if they declined to put their signatures to the forms, the bureau continued.
Earlier, the government’s demand for allegiance from its employees appeared to have triggered a wave of departures at various departments before the deadline was up. An unnamed civil servant commented that the figure of 100 or so might not be significant on the surface, but in fact many more had tendered their resignations ahead of February, before the declaration forms even landed on their desks.
In its reply to LegCo, the bureau did not directly address lawmaker requests to disclose departmental numbers of those who quit in January and February.
Apart from the loyalty vows, 26 errant civil servants had been suspended from duty as at Feb. 28, according to the bureau, without revealing which departments were involved.
They were currently under police investigation or prosecution for allegedly taking part in illegal activities against a now withdrawn extradition bill. Five others had been convicted in court, and had lodged appeals or were awaiting sentencing, the bureau said. Upon completion of the criminal proceedings, authorities would initiate disciplinary action against those concerned, it added.
Another eight civil servants who were still under probation had been dismissed over alleged involvement in unlawful anti-bill activities, the bureau added.
Up to end-December in the year 2020-21, altogether 17 civil servants were fired after they were convicted over criminal offenses or found breaching disciplinary rules, bureau statistics showed. Six of them were from the police force, making it the government department with the most such cases.
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