Clarify Tang campaign rumours, says ex-minister
Gary Cheung, Stuart Lau and Tanna Chong
A former civil service chief has called on the government to clarify allegations that Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen has begun an online campaign to promote his candidacy for the chief executive's job by using civil service resources.
Joseph Wong Wing-ping, former secretary for civil service, said he was not convinced by the government position that contract staff were not bound by a rule under which certain groups of civil servants are banned from taking part in campaigns for chief executive elections.
'There are over 10,000 contract staff in the government. Are they moonlighting?' he asked.
'If they're working full-time, then they're not part-time workers.'
Under a Civil Service Bureau rule, administrative officers, information officers, directorate officers and police officers are not allowed to take part in such electioneering.
However, a government source said the general understanding within the administration was that non-civil service contract staff would be exempted from the restriction.
But Wong said the non-civil service contract staff still needed to abide by their contracts.
Denise Hung Hiu-king, a Chinese-language editor at the Information Services Department, named in news reports as having given advice to Tang's online campaign, is a non-civil service contract worker.
Tang has denied doing anything wrong, saying he followed government regulations. The incident was revealed after material related to Tang's online campaign activities were leaked to a news organisation.
A government official, who declined to be named, admitted the leak raised questions about Tang's abilities and his campaign team's competence. 'I think the controversy hasn't ended [yet],' the official said.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said Tang and Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying, both hotly tipped to be front runners for the top job, should quit their current posts and start campaigning as soon as possible.
Leung and Tang have not officially declared their candidacy.