Moving with the times amid seismic shifts is challenging, even more so for a 190,000-strong government bureaucracy inherited from the colonial era. The need for the Hong Kong civil service to reform has become evident as the reach of the national security law imposed in the wake of the 2019 social unrest continues to unfold. Patriotism and allegiance aside, there is much work ahead to bring the management of the civil service in line with the new political order and challenges facing the city. This is also recognised in the latest policy address . In addition to preparing a new government structure for the next chief executive to consider, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor rightly acknowledged the importance of nurturing a team that is loyal to the country; adept at policymaking and execution; and driven by a strong sense of responsibility and commitment to serve. They are fundamental to the implementation of the governing principle of “one country, two systems”; but have not been made policy priorities until now. The revamp has raised concerns as to whether civil service jobs will lose their appeal. The new rule for staff to pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Basic Law has seen some 130 officers lose their jobs . More administrative officers, the backbone of policymaking, have also resigned in recent years due to various reasons. The latest annual recruitment for the lucrative posts also received 30 fewer applications. Observers warn of further decline when hopefuls are tested on national security in addition to the Basic Law and other skills starting from next year. With still thousands of applicants to choose from, fears of talent shortages may seem overblown, but it does not reflect well on the government when more people resign or stay away from recruitment. The restructuring spearheaded by Lam will result in the creation of more bureaus and positions. They are as much opportunities as challenges. It is important that the new jobs are filled by the right people. There is more to good governance than just patriotism. From training to promotion, there is much room for improvement. The former will be reinforced when an interim civil service college is established by the end of the year, paving the way for a purpose-built building for a new training academy by 2026. The latter will be enhanced under a review by a senior appointment mechanism that aims to employ the most competent. The new political order and a mounting backlog of problems facing the city have made the revamp a priority. Gone are the days when officers just followed the rule book to discharge their duties. The civil service must be reformed and rise to the challenge.