'Views should not be in conflict with your identity' - RTHK
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'Views should not be in conflict with your identity'

2021-01-18 HKT 14:04
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  • 'Views should not be in conflict with your identity'
Civil service minister Patrick Nip said it's reasonable for civil servants to express their opinion on certain policies, but it could become a problem if those views are in conflict with their identity as government workers.

He was explaining to lawmakers on Monday what would constitute a breach of the new declaration for the 180,000-strong service, which requires them to pledge allegiance to the Basic Law and the SAR.

Nip stressed civil servants could be sacked for violating the declaration if they commit any act that "aims to undermine the government in the governance of Hong Kong”.

The secretary for the civil service said potential breaches would be decided on a case-by-case basis after looking at the evidence.

"If he expresses his view openly, in his capacity as a civil servant, unless the matter is about the pay and conditions of the civil service, otherwise we'll have to consider whether such an expression would create conflict with his duty in the civil service, and whether that would cause misunderstanding on the administration," Nip said at a Legco panel meeting on the civil service.

Unionist Kwok Wai-keung relayed a question raised earlier by Leung Chau-ting, chairman of the Federation of Civil Service Unions, who wanted to know if it's acceptable for civil servants to be interviewed by "anti-China media".

"If the civil servant says he wants the Hong Kong SAR government policies to be better, it should be improved, that's fine. But if you're talking about media that oppose China, then that should be very clear, the answer should be clear enough," Nip replied.

When asked by the DAB's Leung Che-cheung whether media outlets such as RTHK or the Epoch Times would be considered anti-China, the civil service chief did not give a direct response, saying the answer "is clear enough".

Nip added the oath will be effective only during the civil servants' tenure in government. He said it won't be binding once they resign or retire.

On dual nationality for civil servants, the minister cited existing stipulations under the Basic Law which say apart from some foreigners, they must be permanent Hong Kong residents.