The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is going to announce the oath-taking procedures for its public officials, which requires all civil servants to take an oath or sign a declaration of support for the Basic Law and allegiance to the HKSAR, local media reported.
The HKSAR government will notify the oath-taking arrangement in late December or in early January, said Hong Kong Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen on Sunday.
After the notice is issued, civil servants have about a month to sign and arrange the oath taking ceremony through departments and the policy bureau, while the permanent secretaries and department heads will take the oath separately, according to the Sing Tao Daily.
Nip stressed that the oath itself is pledge-based, adding “Violation of the oath itself is not a criminal offence, but whether the violation is illegal is the part to be considered.”
He explained that civil servants should understand the responsibility before joining the government. If a civil servant refuses to sign the oath, it raises questions about whether the responsibility of being a civil servant is not accepted, so an explanation will be required from him or her, which will then be followed by existing mechanisms.
Furthermore, if the civil servant has misconduct or has been convicted by the court of a criminal offense, the civil servant will take disciplinary action, serious dismissal or be ordered to retire; if the civil servant is considered unsuitable for service in the civil service based on the public interest, he/she will also be required to retire.
In the past few months, the HKSAR has been working to fix its oath-taking system to let the officials better serve the SAR. In Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s 2020 Policy Address in November, she vowed to amend the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance as well as the Legislative Council Ordinance within this year, and to deal with the legal consequences and relevant statutory procedures for breaching the oath of office.
Officials from the central government also voiced support for Hong Kong to amend its oath-taking system, pointing out that it is a common practice adopted worldwide for civil servants to swear allegiance to the state.
Source: Global Times