Proficiency in Chinese not always requirement

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 May, 1998, 12:00am

I refer to the letter headlined, 'Waive language rule for important job' (South China Morning Post, May 8).

For the benefit of your reader I would like to clarify a few misconceptions in the letter regarding the language proficiency requirements for appointment to the Civil Service in general, as well as the recruitment of geologists in the Civil Engineering Department (CED).

Regarding language proficiency requirements for appointment to the Civil Service, it is the Government's policy objective to develop a civil service which can operate efficiently and effectively in both the Chinese and English languages. In line with this objective, new recruits pursuing a career in the service on permanent and pensionable terms must, in general, possess appropriate levels of proficiency in both Chinese and English.

On the other hand, in cases where there are difficulties in finding qualified and suitable candidates for the job, grades may offer agreement terms to engage staff on a fixed-term basis, without specifying a Chinese language requirement.

Individual department heads may decide to take on candidates who are not proficient in Chinese on agreement terms, if Chinese language proficiency is not required during the course of the agreement, or they foresee no difficulty accommodating an appointee who is not proficient in Chinese during the term of the agreement. As a matter of policy, there is no question of posts being left unfilled because of the application of a Chinese language requirement.

We understand that there are a few vacancies for geologists in the Geotechnical Engineering Office of the Civil Engineering Department, and that the GEO is dealing with the temporary shortfall, without detriment to public safety, by engaging consultants and internal redeployment of engineers.

BERNADETTE LINN for Secretary for the Civil Service