Civil servants to pledge allegiance to Basic Law

Local | 17 Jan 2021 6:44 pm

Civil servants are an important part of the government’s management team and have a responsibility to uphold the Basic Law, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said.

The government issued a notice to various bureaus and departments last Friday (Jan 15) requiring existing civil servants to sign a declaration or take an oath pledging allegiance to the Basic Law within a month.

In a blog post today, Cheung wrote that civil servants, as an integral part of the SAR government, have an absolute responsibility to uphold the Basic Law and implement the One Country, Two Systems principle.

He added that the oath or declaration is not merely a short oath or a piece of paper, but has a significant symbolic meaning behind it.

“The oath or declaration is a public confirmation and manifestation of the responsibility and expectations of civil servants, … and a collective demonstration of the civil service’s loyalty and commitment to the Basic Law and the SAR,” Cheung said.

“This allows them to be more clearly aware of their responsibilities, commitments and requirements, and reinforce the core values that the civil service team should uphold to ensure effective governance by the SAR government,” he added.

Cheung also said it has always been the responsibility of civil servants to uphold the Basic Law, and that there is a public expectation that they will uphold the Basic Law, be loyal to the SAR, perform their duties faithfully and hold accountable to the SAR government under the Basic Law and Civil Service Code.

More than 4,000 civil servants who joined the government after July 1 last year have signed the declaration as part of the terms of appointment for civil servants, according to Cheung.

“As Hong Kong faces unprecedented difficulties and challenges, I call on my colleagues to continue to work hard, to stand firm in their positions, to serve the community to the best of their ability, and to help Hong Kong emerge from its predicament,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, the Union for New Civil Servants, established during the anti-fugitive bill movement, has been disbanded, saying some executives may no longer be able to stay in the government.

The announcement on Saturday came a day after the government issued a notice requiring all civil servants to sign the declaration, adding that refusing to sign or ignoring the requirement might result in termination from the civil service.

Michael Ngan Mo-chau, the chairman of the union, said they were left with no choice but to disband the union in order to protect members’ information.

“Judging by the government’s remarks, our executives might not be able to stay in the government anymore, which also means that they will lose their membership, so it is necessary to deal with members’ information in the meantime,” Ngan said.

Established in September 2019, Ngan also said that the union has been under fire since its inception, and that the pressure on union executives is unimaginable.

He also said the union had not been as outspoken as before on the issue because it might put the union executive’s personal safety and members’ personal information at immense risk.

“We have been gathering our members’ concerns regarding the requirement, and we have conveyed their views to the government,” Ngan said.

“It is inappropriate to further comment on something that we have already taken a stance on, which will put us in immense risk. Being ‘unable to comment’ is also a kind of comment sometimes,” he added.

The union has been regarded as the opposition within the government, as Ngan and union treasurer Angel Lai Ka-yan both saw their promotions come to nothing after joining the union, although the government denied that this was due to political reasons.

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