Over 3,700 civil servants resigned from their jobs in the year 2021-22 – more than double the total in the previous year, and the highest since the 1997 Handover to China.

According to information provided by the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) on Thursday, 3,734 people quit their government jobs in the given period.

Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The figure is twice the number of civil servants who quit in the year 2020-21, when 1,863 people resigned.

Since 2017, the number of resignations hovered between 1,300 and 1,900 with the exception of this year.

“At the moment, the resignation of civil servants has not impacted government work much. What is important is that the government is able to hire and retain suitable talent to serve the public,” the Civil Service Bureau wrote in a reply to HKFP.

Among the 3,734 who quit, 32 were administrative officers – a prestigious government role where some go on to fill “leading positions in bureaux or departments,” the CSB website reads.

Hong Kong civil servants at the Central Government Offices in Admiralty. Photo: GovHK.

In contrast, just nine administrative officers resigned from their jobs in 2017-18.

The number of civil servants who resigned in 2021-22 accounted for just over a third of the 10,487 job departures. Other reasons included retiring, finishing their contract, dismissal and death.

Fewer applicants for top roles

Meanwhile, the number of applicants for administrative officer and executive officer roles has also fallen to record lows.

Around 9,700 people applied for the administrative officer role in 2021-22, a sharp fall from four years ago when around 17,000 submitted applications.

Applicants for the executive officer positions dropped to 15,000, down from 25,000 in 2017-18.

Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The falling numbers correspond with a mass exodus that Hong Kong has been seeing in the wake of the national security law, as well as a requirement introduced last year whereby all civil servants must sign a declaration of allegiance. The move prompted a union of civil servants formed during the 2019 pro-democracy protests and unrest to disband. 

Figures published in June showed that a total of 129 Hong Kong civil servants and 535 other government workers resigned or were sacked after failing to take the oath.

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Hillary Leung

Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.