MOST expatriate civil servants who a year before the handover were undecided whether to continue serving the SAR, have chosen to retire. Civil Service Bureau figures showed 255 of the 539 members of the former Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service (HMOCS) had stayed on. But the remaining 53 per cent - many of whom were undecided before the handover - had gone. They were asked by the Government to indicate by July 1996 whether they intended to stay, to help civil service planners make allowances for changes due to the handover and continued localisation. At that time, only 199 people indicated they would leave. The remainder said they would stay or were undecided. The final wash-up shows three who originally wanted to stay have since quit, while most of those who said in 1996 they were undecided have opted to retire. Civil servants employed under HMOCS terms before the handover included 68 administrative officers, 38 judiciary officials, 285 police officers and 148 from other departments. But the bureau keeps no breakdown on final figures to show the wastage rate for individual departments. Another set of bureau figures showed wastage at directorate level hit a five-year peak in 1997-98 when 218 officials, or 15.5 per cent of those employed, retired or resigned. A spokesman said many had chosen to leave before the handover. Directorate-level wastage rates were 10.2 per cent in 1996-97, 8.9 per cent in 1995-96, 10.9 per cent in 1994-95 and 7.4 per cent in 1993-94. Secretary for Civil Service Lam Woon-kwong said in April the wastage rate for directorate-level officers was at a record low this year, with only 30 applying to leave in the coming year. It was unclear whether the 30 included Secretary for Security Peter Lai Hing-ling, 47, who announced his resignation last month. There are now about 1,300 directorate-level officers.