Hong Kong’s politically appointed civil servants pledged allegiance to the city and swore to uphold the Basic Law in a ceremony on Wednesday, in accordance with the government’s new requirement.

Twelve undersecretaries and 14 political assistants of the government took an oath under the supervision of Chief Executive Carrie Lam at the ceremony held at the central government offices.

Photo: GovHK.

Permanent secretaries and department heads will take oaths in a ceremony on Friday.

Earlier in November, Lam said in her policy address that “civil servants must dedicate themselves to their duties and be responsible to the HKSAR government.”

Secretary for Civil Service Patrick Nip then announced that civil servants must take an oath or sign a declaration to pledge their loyalty to the SAR, otherwise their promotion “would be impacted.”

“At least their promotion would be impacted. As for whether they would be able to stay in the civil service, I think some people would question that, if you refuse to sign a declaration, confirm that you would uphold the Basic Law, or pledge loyalty to the SAR, are you suitable to stay in the civil service? We have to deal with this problem,” Nip said on a RTHK programme.

Photo: GovHK.

According to Nip, around 2,980 new recruits who joined the government on or after July 1 have already taken the loyalty pledge following an official notice last month.

National security

During last year’s anti-extradition bill protests, thousands of civil servants protested against the government in a rally held in Chater Garden, and hundreds of them signed an online petition against the government’s handling of the protests.

The requirement for civil servants to pledge loyalty came after the legislation of the national security law in June this year.

The law, imposed by Beijing, bans secession, subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts – broadly defined to include disruption to public transport and other infrastructure.

Beijing also passed a decision in November that people who collude with foreign governments, refuse to accept China’s rule over Hong Kong, or endanger national security would be seen as violating the allegiance pledge.

The decision led to the disqualification of four pro-democracy lawmakers that month.

Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.