Legco panel urges job rules apply to ex-ministers too

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2011, 12:00am


Lawmakers say former government ministers should face tougher restrictions on their choice of post-service jobs.

The call came after a Legislative Council panel discussed the government's latest measures to tighten restrictions on post-service work by directorate-level civil servants.

Former secretary for security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, the panel chairwoman, said the looser standard for ministers was unfair to civil servants.

'The political appointees enjoy greater power but control isn't as tight. This is unfair to senior civil servants,' said Ip, the chairwoman of the New People's Party.

Secretary for the Civil Service Denise Yue Chung-yee said she would convey the legislators' stance to the Chief Executive's Office and the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau.

At present, politically appointed officials are required to consult the Advisory Committee on Post-office Employment for Former Chief Executives and Politically Appointed Officials if they wish to take up a new job within a year of quitting the government, but not thereafter. The committee's advice is not binding.

In contrast, directorate-grade civil servants are subject to a 'sanitisation period', during which no paid work is allowed, and a control period of two years - three for permanent secretaries. They have to apply for approval from a different body, the Advisory Committee on Post-service Employment of Civil Servants, before they can take up the job.

Unionist lawmaker Li Fung-ying said the nature of political appointees' jobs was even more sensitive than that of the top civil servants, making it necessary for the government to stiffen the rules.

'The political appointees have more power and handle more sensitive information than directorate-grade civil servants,' Li said.

'I hope the authorities can consider this seriously.'

Yue said differences between the two employment systems had led to the different control regimes.

'Politically appointed ministers serve the same duration as the chief executive, and they do not enjoy pension benefits, which are granted to the civil servants after they retire,' she said.

The 30 new measures to tighten restrictions on post-service jobs for former civil servants stem from a controversy in 2008 when former permanent secretary Leung Chin-man went to work for a developer.

In 2004, when Leung was director of housing, the developer's parent company had been in a consortium that bought a housing estate from the government at a steep discount.