A better monitoring system needed to ensure civil servants' loyalty

2021-01-29 12:09:47

Witnessed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, permanent secretaries, heads of department and directorate civil servants at the rank of D6 or above swear to uphold Hong Kong's Basic Law, bear allegiance to the HKSAR, be dedicated to their duties and be responsible to the HKSAR government during a ceremony at the Central Government Offices, Hong Kong, Dec 18, 2020. [PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT] The "Union for New Civil Servants" (Union), which was established in the wake of the anti-extradition movement in 2019, recently disbanded itself. With an anti-government agenda, the Union organized various campaigns to undermine the SAR government, support violence perpetrated by rioters and indiscriminately attack the SAR government. Those actions clearly breached the civil service code of conduct. Now that the National Security Law has been enacted and the requirement of "patriots governing Hong Kong" is to be implemented strictly, members of the Union have attempted to rid themselves of their anti-government movements while continuing to enjoy the benefits, or perks, of civil servants by falsely swearing their allegiance. In no way shall it be permitted! The black sheep in the civil service must be identified and got rid of before they have another chance to wreak havoc on Hong Kong’s governance. The SAR government will have to keep civil servants in check with a better monitoring system to ensure that they faithfully perform their duties and serve Hong Kong sincerely. The Civil Service Bureau recently issued a circular requiring all civil servants who were appointed to the civil service before July 1, 2020 to sign a declaration that they will uphold the Basic Law and bear allegiance to the HKSAR of the People’s Republic of China. Those who fail to hand in the signed declaration within four weeks risk losing their job, as the bureau could consider terminating the employment contracts with them. With such a requirement put in place, it was not surprising that the Union hastily announced its dissolution. But it remains to be seen whether its members are sincere in reversing their anti-government course. The Union was founded by Michael Ngan Mo-chau, one of the campus "activists" who joined the illegal "black revolution" in pursuit of Hong Kong independence with fellow separatists. Their purpose of forming the Union was to gain political profit and advance their separatist agenda by messing up Hong Kong from inside the SAR government. During the "black revolution", members of the Union held multiple illegal gatherings inciting strikes and supporting such separatist advocacies as "five demands, not one less". They also joined illegal rallies and marches organized by "black revolution" leaders to disrupt government operations from the inside. They went so far as to co-organize a fake "referendum" on whether they would stage a strike in opposition to the introduction of the National Security Law for Hong Kong. Their behavior is the definition of "biting the hand that feeds you" and, most importantly, violated the civil service code of conduct as well as betraying the ethics of the civil service. No functioning government in the world would tolerate unscrupulous employees like them. For instance, three Capitol Police officers have been suspended while 17 others are under investigation after then-president Trump’s supporters stormed the seat of the US Congress in Washington DC on January 6. Meanwhile, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a stern warning that if any NYC civil servant was found to have attacked the federal government and/or stormed the Capitol on January 6, they would be kicked out of the NYC government immediately. None of the Union members who joined violent attacks on the SAR government during the "black revolution" would have been allowed to stay in the civil service, according to US government rules and practices. Therefore, under such circumstances, Michael Ngan had no choice but to dissolve the Union, so that they can pretend they have left their criminal past behind and keep earning civil servant salaries and enjoying other benefits by taking the legally binding oath with their fingers crossed. However, what the Union did to undermine the SAR government and harm the overall interest of Hong Kong society during the "black revolution" cannot be erased from public memory simply by disbanding it or calling it quits without any consequences. According to the disciplinary mechanism embedded in the Civil Service Code, Public Service (Administration) Order and the Public Service (Discipline) Regulations, if civil servants commit improper conduct, including non-compliance with directions or instructions given by the administration, resort to behavior that will damage the reputation of the government, etc., they will be subject to disciplinary actions or in the worst case, dismissal. Now that the requirement to sign a declaration or take an oath of allegiance is in line with the principle and bottom line of "patriots governing Hong Kong", the SAR government should take this opportunity to rid the civil service of subversive elements and make sure the civil service system is manned by people who are loyal and reliable. That would be the key to maintaining the uninterrupted, long-term success of "one country, two systems", as well as the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. The author is a current affairs commentator.The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.