C.Y. Leung's office defends hiring choice

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 April, 2012, 12:00am


A top official in the chief executive-elect's office has given an assurance that contract workers will not automatically be carried over to the next administration.

This follows a controversy over the hiring on contract of a mainlander by Leung Chun-ying's office.

Meanwhile, executive councillor Cheng Yiu-tong proposed in a media interview that the next government expand the political appointment system. He said Exco members should have political assistants of their choice.

Speaking at RTHK's City Forum, Alice Lau Yim, secretary general of the chief executive-elect's office, stressed that it hired former Leung campaign aide Chen Ran - a nonpermanent resident and a former member of the Communist Youth League of China - as a project officer based on her talent and not her political background. Chen was appointed without a recruitment call on a non-civil service contract until June 30.

'We did not require her to declare her background,' she said. 'We have no plans now to carry over any contract officer in the office of the chief executive-elect to the future Chief Executive's Office.'

Lau dismissed suggestions that Chen's hiring had set a precedent, saying the government had hired dozens of non-permanent residents as civil servants and contract staff members before.

Asked if Chen might have an edge over other candidates when competing for jobs in Leung's office from July 1 onwards, Lau said that under an open recruitment of contract staff, candidates' abilities would be considered comprehensively.

After the forum, So Ping-chi, honorary chairman of the Senior Government Officers Association, pointed out that existing rules allowed the chief executive to hire his special assistants, private secretary and drivers without an open recruitment.

Lau said Chen had to be 'politically neutral, incorruptible and upright and enforce policies in accordance with the law' as long as she worked for the government.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Cable TV, Cheng, honorary president of the Federation of Trade Unions, floated the idea that political assistant positions should be created under executive councillors, who should be given the freedom to choose their aides. He said as Exco members had to help the chief executive with policymaking, they would find it easier to do the job well with the aid of political assistants.

At present, there are nine political assistants, who work in bureaus and the financial secretary's office.

Cheng also called on Hongkongers to support Beijing when it stepped into Hong Kong's affairs 'with good intentions', for instance by doing the city favours.

Separately, Legco president Tsang Yok-sing said the Legislative Council Commission would convene today to continue discussing its choice for the next secretary general to succeed the incumbent, Pauline Ng Man-wah. Earlier, a source said undersecretary for education Kenneth Chen Wei-on was a shoo-in.