Hong Kong unions likely to ‘tread carefully’ as mandatory allegiance requirement for civil servants heralds ‘arduous’ era for city’s labour movement

Asia World

“[The oath] will let civil servants understand their responsibilities and the requirements brought about by their public duties, and will further protect, consolidate and promote the core values of the public service to ensure effective governance,” he said.

In a guideline handed down to civil servants which spells out the definition of oath violations, the administrations has made it clear that anyone who aims to destabilise the administration or attempts to stir up anti-government sentiments triggering social unrest will be deemed to be violating their oath.

The same will also apply to those who express their personal views through “unsuitable mediums” or means that give people an impression that their remarks are tied to their role as civil servants.

Leung, who had held multiple rallies in the past calling for pay rise, said he hoped civil servant unions would think twice before organising such demonstrations in future.

“What can the unions do when there are so many limitations?” he said. “They can only echo the government as it’s impossible for them to argue otherwise.”

A crackdown on dissent within the ranks of the civil service has been escalating ever since thousands of employees joined the protests that erupted in June 2019 over a since-abandoned .
Members of the Union for New Civil Servants protest against the governments' handling of the coronavirus pandemic, outside the Legislative Council Complex in February 2020. Photo: Winson Wong

Members of the Union for New Civil Servants protest against the governments’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic, outside the Legislative Council Complex in February 2020. Photo: Winson Wong

All 180,000 civil servants in the city will be required to sign a declaration that they will uphold the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, be dedicated to their duties and be responsible to the government. Those who refuse to sign could be asked to leave their posts.

Senior civil servants, such as department heads, will also be asked to take an oath.

Union for New Civil Servants chairman Michael Ngan Mo-chau said on Saturday night they had to take the “reluctant but necessary” action to dissolve the association to protect members’ information.

Ngan first came to the public attention in August 2019 when he co-organised a rally for government employees to voice their opposition to the extradition bill. The government formally withdrew the bill in October that year.

He subsequently formed the new union.

In February last year, his 3,000-strong association organised a rally slamming the government’s handling of the and accusing it of allocating protective gear unfairly among different departments.

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