Fears over new code for civil servants

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 12:00am

Civil servants should win the confidence of ministers and avoid misleading or deceiving them when advising on policy, according to draft government guidelines.

But some lawmakers fear that the requirement means civil servants will have to curry favour with their bosses in order to keep their jobs.

The Civil Service Bureau has drafted a circular on the relationship between ministers and civil servants after the ministerial system is introduced in July.

Officials have said the civil service will continue to be politically neutral and retain its appointment system and core values such as professionalism.

According to a paper outlining the draft guidelines, the conduct of civil servants should be such that principal officials can be sure that their staff will faithfully fulfil their duties and obligations.

'Civil servants should conduct themselves in such a way as to deserve and retain the confidence of the principal officials,' the paper said.

Frontier legislator Cyd Ho Sau-lan said the Government should drop the provision. 'If civil servants have to try their best to win their boss' confidence, it will easily nurture a culture of shoe-shining,' she said.

Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service Jennifer Mak Yee-ming said the requirement only elaborated on the long-standing requirement of civil servants to work professionally.

She said it was important for the officials to see that their staff were capable of giving objective advice and working efficiently. The Government would consider fine-tuning the wording to dispel worries, she added.

Meanwhile, Constitutional Affairs Secretary Michael Suen Ming-yeung declined to make clear in a government code of conduct that individuals affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party and foreign parties should be barred from taking up ministerial positions.

He said the candidates would have to make known their affiliations, but stressed that their selection would be the decision of the Chief Executive.