LCQ10: Oath-taking by public officers
The Public Offices (Candidacy and Taking Up Offices) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2021, which was passed in May last year, has introduced the oath-taking requirement for members of the District Councils (DC members), but it is learnt that as of the end of May this year, there was still a DC member who had not taken the oath. In addition, it has been reported that in September last year, the Chief Executive indicated that public officers other than government employees would be required to take an oath. However, the Government has so far not given a further account of the progress. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether there are DC members who have not yet taken the oath so far; if so, of the reasons for that;
(2) of the up-to-date number of government employees who have taken the oath or signed the declaration that they will uphold the Basic Law and bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region;
(3) of the up-to-date number of government employees who have refused to take the oath or sign the declaration and their reasons for the refusal, as well as whether such employees have left the service; and
(4) whether it has studied the drawing up of a timetable for requiring other related personnel (including employees of government-funded bodies, statutory bodies, and enterprises or organisations receiving financial assistance under various government funding schemes, as well as teachers of aided schools) to take an oath; if so, of the progress; if not, the reasons for that?
As regards questions raised by the Hon Jeffrey Lam on the oath-taking arrangement of public officers, the consolidated reply compiled in consultation with the Home Affairs Bureau and the Civil Service Bureau is as follows:
(1) The Government has implemented the relevant oath-taking requirements for District Council members, in accordance with the Public Offices (Candidacy and Taking Up Offices) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2021. All serving District Council members have taken the oath.
(2) and (3) The Civil Service Bureau introduced, in October 2020 and January 2021 respectively, the arrangements for requiring new appointees to the civil service and serving civil servants to sign a declaration to uphold the Basic Law, bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), be dedicated to their duties and be responsible to the HKSAR Government. Starting from October 2020, prospective appointees to the civil service shall sign the declaration as one of the conditions for appointment, which must be completed before being appointed. Civil servants appointed to senior positions, such as Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments, are also required to take an oath.
At present, all serving civil servants (approximately 180 000), including those who joined the HKSAR Government before July 1, 2020, have signed the declaration. Separately, all of the 129 officers who neglected or refused to duly sign and return the declaration without any reasonable explanation, have already left the Government by end 2021 for various reasons, including termination of probationary service in accordance with the Civil Service Regulations, retirement in the public interest under section 12 of the Public Service (Administration) Order, resignation, or dismissal due to misconduct.
The declaration requirement was also extended to Government staff appointed on non-civil service terms on or after July 1, 2020. All the serving non-civil service Government staff concerned have signed the declaration. As at December 31, 2021, there were 10 319 full-time and 6 899 part-time non-civil service contract staff; as well as 5 195 full-time and 860 part-time post-retirement service contract staff.
After the implementation of the declaration requirement, 149 full-time and 386 part-time non-civil service Government staff who neglected or refused to duly sign and return the declaration without reasonable explanation have all already left the Government by August 2021.
(4) In respect of the oath-taking arrangement of other public officers, the HKSAR Government is actively drawing up an appropriate implementation proposal and will report to the Legislative Council in due course.
Ends/Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:12
Issued at HKT 12:12