HK officials pledge allegiance to SAR, vow to uphold Basic Law

By Wang Qi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/16 19:43:42

Hong Kong government holds an oath-taking ceremony for undersecretaries and political assistants on Wednesday. Witnessed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the 12 undersecretaries and 14 political assistants vowed to uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and swore allegiance to the HKSAR. Photo: AFP

 All undersecretaries and political assistants of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government took the oath of allegiance to the HKSAR Basic Law and the HKSAR on Wednesday morning, a move that will be completed by all Hong Kong civil servants by the end of next month, Hong Kong media reported. 

The oath-taking ceremony was held at government headquarters, and it was administered by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

In a three-minute video clip released by Hong Kong's information service department, 12 undersecretaries and 14 political assistants were seen singing the Chinese national anthem at the oath-taking ceremony.  

"I will serve the HKSAR by upholding the Basic Law, carrying out loyal service to the HKSAR, performing my duties faithfully, abiding by the law, performing my duties honestly, and serving the HKSAR," said the Hong Kong civil servants in the video. 

"They made a solemn promise on their responsibilities, genuinely showing the community their loyalty and commitment to the Basic Law and the HKSAR, and thereby boosting the confidence of the public in politically appointed officials," a spokesman for the HKSAR said.

Hong Kong Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen on Sunday said that civil servants should understand their responsibilities before joining the government. If a civil servant refuses to sign the oath, it raises questions about whether the responsibility of being a civil servant is accepted.

Civil servants who joined the administration since July 1, after the enactment of the national security law for HKSAR, are required to make such declarations, said the HKSAR government. 

Senior civil servants within the bureaucracy, including permanent secretaries and department heads, will reportedly follow suit on Friday, RTHK reported. 

As of June 30, there were about 177,300 civil servants in Hong Kong, accounting for 4.6 percent of Hong Kong's workforce, media reported. 

Compared with the previous vague and lax requirements for civil servants, the HKSAR government will improve its control efficiency from a legal perspective, Tian Feilong, a legal expert on Hong Kong affairs at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times.

In the past few months, the HKSAR has been working to fix its oath-taking system to let officials better serve the HKSAR. In Lam's 2020 Policy Address in November, she vowed to amend the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance as well as the Legislative Council Ordinance within this year, and to deal with the legal consequences and relevant statutory procedures for breaching the oath of office. 

"The first batch is always demonstrative… The oath indicates that Hong Kong's civil servants accept the jurisdiction of relevant laws, especially the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on the qualification of Legislative Council members, and the general disciplinary norms for public officials," said Tian.

The HKSAR government should, as soon as possible, arrange for a wider range of public officials, including district councilors, to take the oath, said Tian, noting that the move is a measure to improve and reform the administration of Hong Kong.

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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