CS secretary says room for political life in new code - RTHK
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CS secretary says room for political life in new code

2024-06-08 HKT 11:30
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  • CS secretary says room for political life in new code
The Secretary for the Civil Service, Ingrid Yeung, on Saturday said the new set of rules that government workers must follow wouldn’t restrict them from having a personal political life.

The updated Civil Service Code set out 12 core values public servants must follow, including being professional and staying neutral when it comes to politics. It also asked them to not publicly criticise government policy.

Speaking to reporters, Yeung said civil servants can still take part in social activities or public campaigns during their private time, but they need to be careful about being perceived to represent a government standpoint.

“We have set out very clearly in the code that civil servants can also have their political life. They can join social activities, except where we have strict rules about not being able to join. But the principle is when they join social activities, they have to ensure that their participation in these social activities will not cause a conflict of interest with their jobs,” she said.

“And also their joining would not allow people or attract people to believe that they are representing the government's position, the activities they join have government backing or allow people to think that they are actually representing a larger group of civil servants’ views.”

She also noted higher rank civil servants, or those taking leadership roles, should be even more cautious.

“It's difficult to draw a solid line below which [rank] you can be very care-free about what you speak and about which you have to be really very cautious. As you move up, I think civil servants will have to really take care,” she said.

Separately, Yeung was also asked whether the proposed 3 percent pay rise for all civil servants this year, a move that faced strong opposition from unions, would affect morale. The level of increase is significantly lower than the rises of up to 5.47 percent suggested by a pay trend survey.

“I believe that civil servants will be able to understand that there are constraints on what the government can do this year especially given our very tight financial situation and also I think as we progress with our various initiatives to improve livelihood and to improve the economy, there will be recognition of the public on what civil servants have done and this is also something that will be able to boost morale,” she said.

Yeung said that the final decision would be made by the Executive Council, but noted that the room for adjustment is limited.

CS secretary says room for political life in new code