Hong Kong officials to be required to swear pledge of allegiance

By on 15/07/2020 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Officials working in Hong Kong’s Central Government Complex will be among those required to swear an oath pledging their loyalty. (Photo by Bernard Spragg).

All civil servants in Hong Kong employed after 1 July will be required to make a declaration to uphold the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, following a meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Public Service on Friday last week. 

The report from the meeting states that introducing the requirement “genuinely manifests the established responsibilities of civil servants under the Basic Law and the [civil service] Code”. 

It adds: “It also enables civil servants to have clearer awareness of the responsibilities and requirements entailed by their official positions, thereby further safeguarding and promoting the core values that must be upheld by civil servants, and ensuring in turn the effective governance of the HKSAR Government.”

Existing staff too

In addition, the panel recommended that all serving civil servants should “also comply with the relevant requirement of taking an oath or making a declaration” and suggested a path towards phased implementation. 

It said that the oath or declaration should first be taken by “all civil servants to be recommended for promotion to a higher rank or confirmation to a rank, or recommended for in-service transfer to another grade”, as well as “civil servants who play a crucial role in the government’s decision-making process or of a higher rank and civil servants who are responsible for discharging more sensitive duties”.

Security law link

The introduction of the measures follows the introduction of The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on 30 June.

“It is the common responsibility of all the people of China, including the people of Hong Kong, to safeguard the sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China,” article 6 of the law reads.

“Any institution, organisation or individual in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall abide by this law and the laws of the region in relation to the safeguarding of national security and shall not engage in any act or activity which endangers national security.”

It adds: “A resident of the region who stands for election or assumes public office shall confirm in writing or take an oath to uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China in accordance with the law.”

The national security law was vigorously opposed by pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong, including some civil servants. However, in a letter sent to government employees on 20 June, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen told civil servants they “have a responsibility to support and implement the national security law.” Efforts by unions to organise a vote in favour of strike action against the law fell flat after the administration warned that participating would breach their code of conduct; the poll subsequently failed to attract the number of voters required to approve industrial action.

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