The Hong Kong government has vowed to take “more resolute” action against civil servant misconduct and impose punishment “expeditiously,” after 51 personnel were removed from public service over the past financial year.

central government offices
Central Government Offices. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Formal disciplinary action for serious misconduct or criminal conviction was taken against a total of 1,124 civil servants between April 1, 2017, and March 31 this year, a Civil Service Bureau document submitted to the legislature on Tuesday revealed. Among those penalised, 155 were removed from public service.

In the 2021-2022 financial year alone, the government dismissed 51 civil servants, accounting for around one third of the officers removed from service over the last five years. The authorities pledged to step up their actions against workers who breached the law or committed misconduct, saying punishment should be instituted “expeditiously” to achieve the “necessary punitive and deterrent effect.”

“Going forward, we would continue to require bureaux/departments to take more resolute action promptly against officers with misconduct, so as to enable the cases to be handled in a fair and just manner,” the bureau wrote.

Civil Servants Central Government Offices
Civil Servants going to work at the Central Government Offices. File photo: GovHK.

The progress report submitted by the bureau to the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Tuesday came around two months after a motion on “Reforming the civil service system to enhance government effectiveness” was passed in June.

The motion, drafted by Dominic Lee of New People’s Party, criticised the existing civil service system for giving rise to a culture of “doing less will make fewer mistakes and doing nothing will make no mistakes” among some government workers. The political loyalty of some civil servants had also been in question in recent years, the pro-establishment lawmaker said.

He called on the government to revamp the civil service promotion system by placing a stronger emphasis on work achievements, as well as streamlining the system for terminations of contracts and issuing formal warnings to those who perform poorly. The government should also implement key indicators to evaluate the performance of its workers, Lee added.

Carrie Lam oath-taking
Chief Executive Carrie Lam attends an oath-taking ceremony for civil servants on December 18, 2020. Photo: GovHK.

In Tuesday’s report, the Civil Service Bureau said it terminated the service of 70 government workers by requiring them to retire “in the public interest” under section 12 of the Public Service (Administration) Order in 2021. All cases involved civil servants who refused to declare allegiance to the HKSAR government and vow to uphold the Basic Law.

The government also ended the service of 59 civil servants who were under probation over the past three years. The authorities would continue to “rigorously uphold” the loyalty and integrity of its employees, especially those on probationary terms, the bureau added.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.