More than 600 civil servants are to take a half-day off today to protest against plans to hive off the Survey and Mapping Office of the Lands Department. In what might be the last major opportunity to voice their opposition, the staff will gather outside the Legco building when officials brief lawmakers on the plan this morning. Officials say turning the 1,300-strong division into a commercially operated body with the Government as the sole shareholder would generate $285 million in profit in the next five years. The staff may either opt for retirement with compensation and be re-employed by the new body, or serve on secondment and make a final decision in two years. Wong Wah-hung, head of the Association of Government Land and Engineering Surveying Officers, said 610 colleagues had applied for a half-day off to join the rally. He said the initial response to a staff survey showed most rejected the plan. 'We have received 61 questionnaires so far and 60 are against it,' he said. This is the fifth time staff have applied for leave to protest. Mr Wong, who believed 70 per cent of the staff would opt for secondment, said they would discuss the way forward after analysing the survey.