Pledge of allegiance on the cards for funding recipients

Top News | Maisy Mok 21 Sep 2021

Organizations receiving government subventions could be required to pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong government, says Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen.

Authorities are also considering requiring the same oath to be taken by companies that apply for government funding, Nip said in response to a question by commercial sector lawmaker Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung before the Legislative Council's panel on public service yesterday.

Lam noted that many small and medium-sized enterprises had applied for government funding amid the pandemic, such as the "innovation and technology fund for better living" and "dedicated fund on branding, upgrading and domestic sales."

In response, Nip said the government is looking into whether subvented organizations and people who apply for government funds have to pledge allegiance and that Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu is currently planning the oath-taking arrangements for public officers.

"The government is currently studying the arrangements for oath-taking for public officers in public organizations and statutory bodies as well as the coverage [of the implementation]," Nip explained, adding that public officers have the responsibility to uphold the Basic Law. There will be an announcement later on, he added.

Civil servants were first ordered to sign declarations or take an oath last October. Around 300 more civil servants have resigned in 2020-21 compared to the previous year, Nip said, but it is uncertain whether they quit due to the requirement.

The Civil Service Bureau issued a circular in May requiring nongovernment staff appointed on noncivil service terms on or after July 1 last year to sign the declaration.

The majority of the 149 full-time noncivil service government staff that have neglected or refused to do the same have either resigned or had their contract terminated.

Around 380 noncivil service government staff that have neglected or refused to do so have left the government.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on September 12 that public officers will be next to pledge allegiance, without naming any organization.

Politicians expected that some staff of statutory bodies - such as the Hospital Authority, Airport Authority and the Equal Opportunities Commission - would be covered.

At the same time, the Home Affairs Bureau said the second oath-taking ceremony for district councillors will be held on Friday at North Point Community Hall.

Fifty-six district councillors are in this batch, including those from the district councils of Yau Tsim Mong, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon City, Wong Tai Sin and Kwun Tong.

Those required to take an oath include Democratic Party vice chairwoman Edith Leung Yik-ting, a district councillor of the Kwun Tong Central constituency.

Former lawmaker James To Kun-sun is a Yau Tsim Mong district councillor.

The first batch of 25 district councillors from Hong Kong Island was ordered to pledge allegiance on September 10.

Seven activist district councillors were disqualified, including Wan Chai district council chairwoman Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying.

maisy.mok@singtaonewscorp.com



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