Hong Kong on Monday said it will speed up the process to terminate services of “disloyal employees.”
Hong Kong Civil Service Minister Patrick Nip said about 129 civil servants refused to pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong government, RTHK News reported.
“We will consult the Public Service Commission and we will be fast-tracking the procedures [of termination]. This will be over and done with within a couple of months, I am sure,” Nip said.
The move comes after the civil servants refused to declare their loyalty to the local government in the semi-autonomous region under China and uphold the Basic Law, the de facto constitution of Hong Kong.
The need to pledge allegiance came after year-long anti-government demonstrations in 2019 which triggered a volley of changes in the administration of Hong Kong by China, including imposition of a controversial national security law and radical reforms in the electioneering system.
According to Hong Kong Civil Service Bureau, Hong Kong has a 170,000-strong government workforce of whom 129 failed to sign the declaration form which was issued this January.
Nip said those who refused to sign the document “disagreed with its content, while others thought the arrangement undermines freedom of speech, or said it was in conflict with their foreign nationalities.”
None of these reasons were accepted, he added, and said 25 people had resigned while “the rest have been suspended from duty or put on unpaid leave.”
“Even if they hold foreign passports, I don’t think there’s an issue in that. Because as a permanent resident or as a civil servant of the Hong Kong, it’s the basic responsibility to bear allegiance to Hong Kong and the administration,” Nip said.
The minister also said those among the staff found to have violated his or her oath “the administration will initiate a disciplinary hearing.”
In coming days, he added, declaration arrangement for contract staff will be announced.