More legal rights for government workers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 May, 2010, 12:00am

The government is to propose an amendment that will allow staff legal representation in disciplinary hearings, with written, audio and video recordings permitted as records of their hearings.

The Civil Service Bureau intends to brief the Legislative Council public service panel on the law amendment on June 21. The move comes after a Court of Final Appeal ruling in March last year that a rule barring police officers from hiring lawyers to represent them at disciplinary proceedings was unconstitutional. The ruling resulted in the reinstatement of Constable Lam Siu-po, who had been forced to retire in 2002 after an internal hearing convicted him of misconduct.

The police force is handling 98 disciplinary hearing cases, a spokeswoman said. The police conducted a force-wide consultation exercise last year on a review of the disciplinary system.

The Civil Service Bureau chaired a task group comprising all disciplinary services departments, to consider follow up action arising from the top court's ruling. Arising out of that meeting the bureau decided to propose amending the Police (Discipline) Regulations and the Traffic Wardens (Discipline) Regulations, and suggests officers in hearings will be allowed legal or other form of representation in the disciplinary hearings. The amendment will allow the use of audio or video records as formal records of the proceedings. Currently the records of proceeding are in written form.

Police staff association representatives yesterday met the deputy secretary of Civil Services Bureau. The chairman of the Police Inspectors' Association, Tony Liu Kit-ming, suggested the government should have a more comprehensive amendment to solve problems such as different disciplinary proceedings faced by constables, inspectors and superintendents.