The new political assistant to the commerce and economic development bureau is in the process of giving up her foreign passport despite it not being a requirement for the position, the bureau’s secretary said on Wednesday.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau and Undersecretary Bernard Chan met with reporters after Chief Executive Carrie Lam appointed 10 new undersecretaries and eight political assistants on Tuesday. Yau said that Elizabeth Fung, the new assistant, was unable to attend due to a work commitment.

When asked if Fung held any foreign nationalities, Yau said that – as far as he knew – Fung was in the process of giving up a foreign passport. When asked what nationality Fung held, Yau said: “You should ask her.”

Political Assistant to the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Miss Elizabeth Fung Hoi-yung. File photo: HKGov.

According to Article 101 of the Basic Law, British and foreign nationals previously serving in the public service in Hong Kong, or those holding permanent identity cards, may serve as public servants in government departments at all levels.  The only roles which are limited to Chinese citizens and permanent residents of the city are the secretaries and deputy secretaries of departments, the directors of bureaux, the commissioner against corruption, the director of audit, the commissioner of police, director of immigration, and the commissioner of customs and excise.

On Wednesday, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip told reporters that undersecretaries and political assistants were not required to give up their foreign right of abode as part of their new role. He said: “You [the media] care a lot about this issue.”

Photo: HKFP.

Fung is a member of Path of Democracy, a think tank headed by former lawmaker Ronny Tong. She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration in International Development, and currently works at an international public relations consultancy firm. Yau said that Fung will take up her new role as political assistant in September. 

Jun Pang

Jun Pang is an independent writer and researcher. She has previously worked in NGOs advocating for refugees' and migrants' rights in Asia and Europe.