Oath order drives backstabbing

Local | Maisy Mok 21 Apr 2021

Backstabbing among civil servants has intensified after government staff were told they would have to pledge allegiance to the SAR administration, a unionist claimed.

More than 10,000 cases of civil servants ratting on each other have been reported, said Leung Chau-ting, chief executive of the Hong Kong Federation of Civil Service Unions.

"Usually, complaints are reported to individual departments," Leung said yesterday. "If a matter cannot be solved within the departments, then the case will be sent to the Civil Service Bureau."

The number of complaints increased "dramatically" since the administration revealed arrangements for taking oaths and signing declarations last October, but the actual figure is unknown.

Leung said he has informed Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen that backstabbing is time-consuming and wastes manpower, but received no response.

In one case, a newly hired civil servant was reported by a colleague for reposting political content on social media before he was hired.

The case was referred to the Civil Service Bureau and it took two months to settle, with the complaint found to be invalid.

"The colleague had been feeling anxious for two months," Leung said. "He suffered from a loss of appetite and was unable to sleep."

Leung said the federation now hosts classes for new hires to teach them about the guidelines. They are also reminded to delete all content on social media to avoid reports being made by colleagues.

"As a civil servant, it's best not to get involved in politics," Leung added. And new civil servants looking for career advancements "should follow their boss' instructions, especially during such a sensitive period."

As of April 1, a total of 129 civil servants have refused to sign the declaration.

Leung described them as "brave" for being willing to sacrifice their jobs to test the administration's bottom line. He believed most of them have only worked in the civil service for a short time.

Nip said on Monday that the administration will speed up the task of terminating the services of people who refused to sign declarations.

Non-civil service contract workers will also be required to sign the declaration, with arrangements to be announced next month.

Besides contract workers, the declarations will go to those rehired after retiring from the civil service, but employees in subsidized institutions in the medical, education and social welfare sectors will not yet be required to sign, Nip said.

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