Hong Kong's 180,000 civil servants were told on Friday that they will be given four weeks to sign a declaration that they will uphold the Basic Law, pledge allegiance to the SAR, be dedicated to their duties, and be responsible to the government – or face the sack.
Department heads are required to take an oath.
The Civil Service Bureau said all civil servants should in "no uncertain terms acknowledge and accept these basic duties" as this has all along been what the government and society expects and requires of them.
"Negligence or refusal to take the oath or to duly sign and return the declaration by a civil servant casts serious doubts on his or her willingness to take up these basic duties and his or her suitability to remain in the civil service," a Civil Service Bureau statement said.
The government will then decide whether the officers in question should be terminated after listening to their representations, it added.
In a circular to civil servants, officials say it's not feasible to list "exhaustively" all types of improper conduct that may constitute a breach of the oath of upholding the Basic Law as they may come in many different forms.
However, it said advocating Hong Kong independence, refusing to recognise China's sovereignty over Hong Kong, soliciting intervention by foreign forces into the SAR's affairs and carrying out activities that endanger national security are definitely not allowed.
It also explained that any act that "aims to undermine the government in the governance of Hong Kong" will also be seen as violating the declaration. This could include seeking to "incite discontent in the society against the administration of the government of the day thus instigating or aggravating social instability".
“Merely expressing views in public to oppose certain policy or decision of the government will not normally constitute improper conduct,” it said.
“In sum, while civil servants enjoy the rights enshrined in the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance (such as the freedoms of speech, peaceful assembly and association), they must also be well aware of the requirements and responsibilities brought on them by their official positions,” it said.
The Civil Service Bureau said it will take appropriate action against officer who has allegedly committed misconduct and consider whether it's suitable for the officer to discharge his official responsibilities.