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Govt preparing mass civil servant oath exercise

2020-11-26 HKT 17:07
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  • Govt preparing mass civil servant oath exercise
The government says it has entered the final stages of its preparations to make all civil servants take an oath of allegiance, with tens of thousands of government workers expected to make their pledges in one mass exercise.

At a press conference on Thursday, Civil Service Secretary Patrick Nip said rather than roll out the oaths in phases, all civil servants who haven't already made their vows of loyalty will be told to do so in one go.

“We have come to the view that basically the act of confirming in writing the upholding of the Basic Law and pledging allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is a basic requirement of the Civil Service, and so basically all civil servants, serving and newly recruited, should do so,” Nip said.

“So, basically there is no particular reason that we have to do it by phases if logistically we can handle it. In our plan to do it in one go, the majority of the civil servants will do it by signing a declaration.”

Nip also noted that the national security law stipulates that anyone running in elections or taking up public office should take an oath or sign a declaration to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the SAR.

He said his bureau is consulting the Department of Justice on what action can be taken against any civil servants who refuse to make the pledge.

“Omitting this step is a rather serious matter," he said.

Nip added the government will “in the near future” consult major civil servant groups and address their concerns on the matter, and will make an announcement as soon as possible.

The head of a major civil servant union says the government must explain the consequences if anyone refuses to pledge loyalty to the Basic Law and the SAR.

Leung Chau-ting, chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Civil Service Unions, said some civil servants have expressed worries about the requirement, questioning if that amounted to a unilateral change to the employment agreement on the part of the government; and if it does constitute a breach of contract, whether civil servants will be entitled to compensation.

Leung also said the authorities must state clearly the bottom line of what civil servants could say or do after they sign the declaration, as well as what punishment would be entailed and the timetable of implementation.

New civil servants recruited since July 1 are already being told to take the oath, and Nip said by the end of October, around 2,980 people had completed the procedure.

No employment agreement was rescinded as a result of a recruit failing to make the declaration, he said.
Last updated: 2020-05-26 HKT 18:30