Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that she hopes former finance chief John Tsang will respect the relevant system governing post-office employment rules, like other politically appointed officials. This was so as not to raise any concerns amongst the public, she said.

Tsang, also a former chief executive candidate, was invited by public broadcaster RTHK to host the new season of Hong Kong Stories. He failed to declare the role to the Advisory Committee on Post-office Employment of Officials, saying that the work was unpaid and he was not employed. Tsang said the broadcaster suspended promotions for the show following enquires from the Chief Executive’s Office.

carrie lam
Carrie Lam on Tuesday. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam said that the system requiring politically appointed officials to declare employment fulfils the expectations people have of officials after they leave their posts.

“On the other hand, it also takes into account that these officials who left their posts have a right to work, and it should not restrict them such that they cannot do anything [under the system].”

Lam said that there have been few problems over the past years, adding: “It is true that the system has no legal basis; it’s not that if you violate it, there would be legal action or they would face prosecution – there isn’t that at all. There’s also no punishment. This so-called regulation can be said to be respecting the system.”

John Tsang
John Tsang. Photo: RTHK Screenshot.

Lam said that details on the committee are provided in the government’s employment documents, and when officials sign they are expressing their acknowledgement and support towards the system. She also said it was not that the wording was unclear about the type of work which requires declaration with the committee, but rather that the government had laid out general terms.

She said that the relevant officials will usually seek advice from the committee as to whether they were taking up paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time positions, and committee members will give fair and objective advice. Lam added the committee was managed by the Office of the Chief Executive and that there was no political intervention.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.