Move to pacify civil servants

PROPOSALS to create more senior posts have been put to the Government in a bid to pacify local civil servants whose promotion will be blocked by expatriate contract officers switching to local terms.

The idea was raised yesterday by the heads of several government departments during meetings with the Secretary for Civil Service Anson Chan Fang On-sang, which aimed to find ways of minimising the impact of the new policy on the public sector.

The lands, building, environmental protection and legal aid departments were among the first batch of the 10 sections expected to be hardest hit by the change, to meet Mrs Chan.

It is understood proposals to open more senior posts in these departments were suggested, so local staff expecting to get promoted would still have the opportunity.

But the Government has not made any commitment on the proposals.

The Director of Legal Aid, Lady Pauline Cheung Cheng Po-lin, said that at the meeting she mainly explained the problems her department would face under the new policy.


She said the morale of local staff would inevitably be affected because their promotion prospects would be hindered.

''Of course I would like to find an ideal solution which can satisfy both the local and expatriate officers, but this is not likely to happen overnight,'' she said.

She had put forward some ideas as to how the problems might best be solved, but refused to divulge details.

She added that the Government had reaffirmed it was committed to the localisation policy.


Mrs Chan will be meeting the other six departments this week to hear their views.

Attorney-General Jeremy Mathews last night called a special meeting of the Local Crown Counsel Association (LCCA), before discussing the matter with Mrs Chan this morning.


He was understood to have assured the LCCA that a working group overseeing localisation in the department would look carefully into any new dimension arising from the policy.

He also urged the association to put forward its views to the working group so its concerns could be considered.

Director of Architectural Services Paul Corser said his foremost task would be to maintain the good relationship between local and overseas officers in the department.


''I would not like to see that the new policy will have any effect on this relationship and I will try hard to retain it,'' Mr Corser said.

He said there were plans to phase out overseas contract staff and the department would adjust the programme under the new policy so local officers would not lose out.

Meanwhile, the Senior Non-Expatriate Officers' Association yesterday sent out letters to 16 civil service associations appealing for funds to take the Government to court.


The association is hoping to raise $1 million for initial costs in two weeks before proceeding with legal action.

It is also urging local civil servants to support a signature campaign calling on Governor Chris Patten, to scrap the new policy.