There must be intense speculation within the civil service over which policy secretaries will be among the first to be chosen by the Chief Executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa to join his office before the handover. Mr Tung revealed that he was considering asking for policy secretaries to be seconded to help him before July 1, a move that caused some surprise in the civil service. While the possibility of seconding senior officials to help the Chief Executive-designate was widely discussed by Preparatory Committee members about a year ago, not many took it as a serious option for Mr Tung, especially after he pledged during his election campaign that he would not make life difficult for incumbent policy chiefs. Now that he has openly voiced his intention to have at least 'one or two' policy secretaries to help him out before the Special Administrative Region government is established, many in the administration must work out what the arrangement will mean to the senior civil service. Officers will inevitably ask who will be drafted to Mr Tung's office and how the question of split loyalties will be addressed. Different theories have emerged over who will be among the first to be recruited. The basic assumption is that they will either have to enjoy a good relationship with China or have the relevant experience in an area seen as a priority by the provisional legislature. Some say those seconded must include the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Nicholas Ng Wing-hui, with his background in electoral and nationality matters. Others suggest that the Secretary for Transport, Gordon Siu Kwing-chue, could be included. He is considered by many in civil service and political circles to have a very good working relationship with Beijing officials. But of those names tipped, the most credible seems to be the Secretary for Home Affairs Michael Suen Ming-yeung. While it is true that Mr Ng can help the provisional legislature, his predecessor, Mr Suen, should be equally, if not more, familiar with subjects such as electoral arrangements for the three-tier political system; the definition of permanent residency; how to enact the Bill of Rights and amend the Societies Ordinance and the Public Order Ordinance. Mr Suen was a member of the British team on the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group between March 1989 and late 1991, the most sensitive period when key issues relating to the Basic Law were settled between China and Britain against the backdrop of a confidence crisis brought by the June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Mr Suen is also the most senior policy branch chief and stands in for the Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang when she is on leave or away from Hong Kong on official duties. Civil service insiders said that if Mr Tung was seeking someone senior enough with the right experience and acceptable to Beijing, then Mr Suen would be an ideal candidate. No one really knows, however, what duties await the secondees. Mr Tung has not yet spelt that out and therefore it would be difficult for outsiders to judge whether logic will apply under the present circumstances. More importantly, the incumbent administration will not necessarily agree to release the officials Mr Tung wants. The British Hong Kong administration is sensitive about the potential problem of split loyalties among senior civil servants. It will want a firm undertaking from Mr Tung that the secondees will not be asked to endorse openly the provisional legislature or be seen to be serving the caretaker assembly. If this tricky issue is not properly sorted out, no matter how intense the rumours within the civil service on who would be seconded, all the speculation may prove academic.