Three former senior government officials yesterday criticized the government's handling of the new political appointees.
Former Treasury secretary John Chan Cho-chak said the government was politically insensitive while former security secretary Regina Ip Lau Suk- yee said the administration displayed political misjudgment.
Former secretary for the civil service Joseph Wong Wing-ping said the government not only got it wrong with paying different salaries but should also have warned the new appointees against holding two passports.
"The government started off on the wrong foot. It should not keep the nationality and salaries of the appointees secret since the public has the right - and expectation - to know," Chan insisted.
Chan, who is also the former senior executive director of Kowloon Motor Bus, added: "Even listed companies have to disclose the remuneration packages of management. Since the government is using public money it should disclose the salaries."
Ip said the appointees should give up their foreign nationalities.
"When I was director of immigration in 1996, I was told that if I wanted to continue to serve Hong Kong after 1997 I should renounce my British citizenship," Ip told The Standard.
"These people will be principal officials. They should give up their foreign passports to show they are truly determined to serve Hong Kong."
Both Ip and Chan said legislation on nationality was not required but the government should remind appointees of this requirement before they accept the posts.
Wong, now a part-time professor of government and public administration at the Chinese University, said the government "got it wrong" by paying the appointees different amounts.
He also said undersecretaries should not hold foreign passports to show their loyalty to Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, who renounced his Canadian citizenship, said he felt a bit nervous taking up the new post.
Undersecretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam- leung also assumed office yesterday and said he felt excited about his new job.