Sze voices confidence in future of officials

CHINA'S appointment of former Executive Councillor Sir Sze-yuen Chung as a Hongkong affairs adviser proved that Beijing would accept anyone who had really served Hongkong, regardless of their position, according to the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Michael Sze Cho-cheung.

Speaking at a luncheon meeting yesterday, Mr Sze said he was not worried that China would purge Hongkong government officials who had pushed for Governor Mr Chris Patten's political reforms.

Conceding that he had been criticised by at least two Chinese-language newspapers, Mr Sze said those attacks were insignificant compared to those faced by Sir Sze-yuen during the days of the Sino-British talks on Hongkong's future.

Sir Sze-yuen had taken a strong stance to defend Hongkong's rights in the negotiations.

''The number of times Sir Sze-yuen was criticised [by pro-China newspapers] is much more than me. What sort of treatment had he received during his Beijing visit?'' Mr Sze said.

''But now, [Sir Sze-yuen] has become a respectable Hongkong affairs adviser to China.'' The former Executive Councillor is a member of the Business and Professionals Federation, which has urged Mr Patten to amend his political package to be in line with the understandings in diplomatic exchanges.

Apart from assurances given by Chinese officials that Beijing would not purge any Hongkong government officials after 1997, Mr Sze said there were sufficient safeguards for the civil service in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.

''If one believes in the principle of 'one country, two systems' and 'Hongkong people ruling Hongkong', there is no need to worry,'' he said.

''We are serving Hongkong now and after 1997. Since we are serving Hongkong, there is no question of squaring the account after the autumn harvest.''