The chief of Hong Kong’s Census and Statistics Department has denied keeping a blacklist of junior colleagues who will never be promoted, but claimed he possessed a “list of colleagues with potential.”

On Thursday, an anonymous whistleblower provided local radio station D100 with voice recordings of commissioner Leslie Tang and deputy commissioner Marion Chan speaking about a list of colleagues.

The whistleblower claimed that the department was rumoured for decades to have kept a white-list of colleagues who would definitely receive promotion, and a blacklist of those who would never be promoted.

Leslie Tang Wai-kong (C) and Marion Chan Shui-yu (L). Photo: GovHK.

“There’ll be a lot of trouble if things like this get revealed,” said commissioner Tang in the recording. “They’ll say: ‘Oh, so it’s actually useless however hard I worked, because from the very beginning you’ve already…” Tang then broke into laughter.

He added that a statistician named Annie was to be removed from a list – though it is unclear whether he was referring to the white-list or the blacklist.

“Have a look a see who else we can add. Put Henry Cheung in. I don’t think you need to put too many, because our original idea was that we would promote these people, but at the time they had not been promoted yet.”

‘List of colleagues with potential’

Tang admitted on a D100 show on Thursday to being the speaker, and identified another female voice in the recording as deputy commissioner Chan.

He denied there was a blacklist or a white-list in the department, but claimed he kept a “list of colleagues with potential”.

“My responsibility is to make sure that there is enough talent in the next 20 years,” said Tang. “I have to give opportunities to those who are not yet talent but have the potential.”

“It’s not that [the list] ‘cannot be revealed’, these words have negative connotations,” he added. “It’s just confidential.”

Leslie Tang speaking to 2016 census officials. Photo: GovHK.

A Census and Statistics Department spokesperson told HKFP that promotions are made in line with existing Civil Service Regulations. She likewise denied the existence of a white-list or a blacklist, and declined to comment on the “list of colleagues with potential”.

The spokesperson said that each employee would be assessed annually by his or her direct supervisor. Another member of staff – usually the assessor’s own supervisor – would provide a second independent opinion.

A promotion board would then select employees for promotion on the basis of character, ability, experience and position-specific guidelines, she added.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.