Civil service groups tell lawmakers to pass reforms
Trade unions representing civil servants got behind their new boss yesterday, calling on lawmakers to approve Leung Chun-ying's government reshuffle 'as soon as possible'.
But the four unions that backed the shake-up quickly found themselves accused of an unprecedented breach of civil servants' political neutrality.
Chief executive-elect Leung wants to make changes that include creating posts of deputy financial secretary and deputy chief secretary, setting up a culture bureau and reallocating some functions of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau. Some lawmakers say the changes are being rushed through before he takes office on July 1.
The Chinese Civil Servants' Association, the largest civil service union, issued a letter in which it said: 'It is unnecessary to [condemn] Mr Leung's proposals, so endless debates can be avoided and time need not be wasted.'
The Senior Government Officers Association, Government Employees Association and Civil Servants General Union issued a joint statement yesterday in which they said: 'The new chief executive is a man of aspirations and commitment. We hope the public can give the new government a chance to seek changes in a stable environment.'
Joseph Wong Wing-ping, a former civil service minister, said the comments amounted to an unacceptable breach of neutrality, the like of which had never been seen before. 'This is a violation of [civil servants'] principle of political neutrality, if not suspiciously like a conflict of interest,' he said.
Asked for its policy on neutrality in civil servants' public statements, the Civil Service Bureau cited a document on the issue submitted to the Legislative Council in 2009, which reads: '[Civil servants] should ensure that their ... discussion on public matters is compatible with the need to maintain a politically neutral civil service.'
Pan-democratic lawmakers say they are determined to examine Leung's reshuffle plans closely. Lee Wing-tat, of the Democratic Party, said it had prepared 50 motions for when the issue comes before Legco, demanding Leung consult the public on his reforms.
Lau Kong-wah, a vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the pan-democrats' strategy amounted to quasi-filibustering.
Lau again urged legislative councillors to pass Leung's reforms before he took office.