The government on Monday said officials will speed up work to sack more than 100 civil servants who have refused to declare their loyalty to the SAR.
The Civil Service Bureau said 129 members of the 170,000-strong government workforce have failed to sign a declaration form, issued in January, to pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR and uphold the Basic Law.
Speaking at a Legco meeting, civil service chief Patrick Nip said some of those who refused to sign the document disagreed with its content, while others thought the arrangement undermines freedom of speech, or said it was in conflict with their foreign nationalities.
Nip told lawmakers that none of these reasons were accepted, and excluding the 25 people who resigned, the rest have been suspended from duty or put on unpaid leave.
"Even if they hold foreign passports, I don't think there’s an issue in that. Because as a permanent resident or as a civil servant of the Hong Kong SAR, it's the basic responsibility to bear allegiance to Hong Kong and the administration," he said.
The minister said the government will speed up the process to terminate the workers' services.
"We will consult the Public Service Commission and we will be fast-tracking the procedures. This will be over and done with within a couple of months, I am sure," Nip said.
But his comments weren’t enough to put the pro-Beijing councillors’ minds at ease.
Luk Chung-hung from the Federation of Trade Unions said he's worried that those who did return the form may not be genuine and will keep working against the government.
Nip said if a member of staff is found to have violated his or her oath, the administration will initiate a disciplinary hearing.
He also said the government will announce the declaration arrangement for contract staff next month.