Translated by:Wenyou ,Taiwan Litchi
In the wake of the “Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement” campaign, Carrier Lam government has asked civil servants to pledge blind allegiance to the government, and a “white terror” has been unleashed among its servants. The Apple Daily has learned that an Immigration Officer, who is still on probation, has been demoted back to his original rank of Immigration Assistant three months before he was supposed to be appointed to the post, allegedly because of comments he made on the Internet, such as supporting the setting up of an independent commission of investigation, opposing the abuse of force by disciplined services personnel and not showing his appointment card. The government’s new labor union president, Michael Ngan Mo-chau, said he had received a number of complaints from servants about the interception of photos on the Internet, and that many of them had changed their social accounts to private ones.
Demotion of Officer to Assistant by screenshot punishment
A civil servant has again been suppressed by the authorities for his comments on the Internet. The Apple Daily has learnt that a member of the Immigration Department (ImmD) surnamed Ng, formerly of the rank of Immigration Assistant (IA), was promoted earlier after passing an internal assessment, and was arranged to be transferred to the rank of Immigration Officer (IO), where he was originally scheduled to serve his three-year probationary period in about two or three months’ time, then failed to be formally appointed. The Immigration Assistant (IA) grade is an assistant rank in the Immigration Department, while the Immigration Officer (IO) is similar to the Inspector rank in the Police Force. IA generally can be promoted to IO through servants’ public application or internal promotion.
However, the ImmD officer was suspected to have expressed dissatisfaction with the remarks he made on the Internet during the ” Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement ” campaign in support of the establishment of an independent commission of investigation, as well as the abuse of force by some disciplined services officers and their failure to show their appointment cards, etc. It has been learnt that some people have presented the screenshot and the relevant messages and made complaints to authorities, and ImmD has recently demoted its Immigration Officer posts back to the rank of Immigration Assistant.
The mouthpiece of The Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government,in the style of the Cultural Revolution criticism, published the full names of its staff members and their wives.
It has been learnt that this is not the first time that an ImmD staff member was taken to task by his supervisor for making comments on the Internet. In June this year, “Wenweipo”, a mouthpiece of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, criticized another ImmD officer in the style of the Cultural Revolution, including publishing the officer’s full English name and his wife’s name, alleging that he had queried on the Internet the Police Force’s non-compliance with the Police Force Ordinance in law enforcement, and that his remarks were “smearing the Police Force” and “openly supporting thugs”. At the time, the report claimed that the Immigration Department was following up the case seriously.
The government’s new labor union president, Michael Ngan Mo-chau said they had received several requests for assistance because of the remarks made on the Internet, and many colleagues had complained about the remarks being recorded from the Internet.” He said that the authorities has been taking a serious view of the situation, and that even if the complaints are not substantiated, many colleagues worried that it will affect their future career.
Servants have changed their website name and no longer discloses their social media accounts, The “White Terror” is approaching.
Michael Ngan Mo-chau mentioned, many civil servants has changed their social media accounts name, or transformed into personal accounts, in order to avoid the complaints of their internet remarks, which it shows the presence of “White Terror”,and it shows the difficulty for servants to publicly address personal opinions on internet. He said the government’s current practice of using vague expressions such as “embarrasses the government” and “affects public perception” is inadequate to protect civil servants, and clear guidelines should be provided.
In April this year, Patrick Nip Tak-kuen took over as Secretary for the Civil Service, and “a big reshuffle” was underway in the civil service. Michael Ngan Mo-chau, the new chairman of the Civil Service Union, who initiated the rally last year, was demoted from an Assistant Labour Officer I to II in the Civil Service Bureau.
Patrick Nip Tak-kuen: Civil servants must be loyal to CE
Patrick Nip Tak-kuen also said that civil servants, apart from being civil servants of the HKSAR Government, are also “state servants” under “one country, two systems”, who are involved with two identities, and civil servants must be “politically neutral”, meaning that they must be loyal to the Chief Executive regardless of their political or personal beliefs. Last month, Patrick Nip Tak-kuen further required new civil servants to sign a document affirming their support for the Basic Law and allegiance to the HKSAR, while civil servants on service have to sign a pledge of allegiance for promotion or transfer.
The Civil Service Bureau (CSB) wrote to heads of government departments last Friday, stating that any probationary civil servant arrested and prosecuted for engaging in unlawful public activities should be dismissed immediately, regardless of the outcome of the trial. Chief Executive Carrie Lam recently responded by describing the government as an “employer” and denying that it was not “judgment before inquest”.
Immigration Department: No statistics available on the number of “conviction due to free speech”
ImmD replied that since June last year, a total of nine ImmD officers had been interdicted for various reasons, and no officer had been demoted or dismissed. As to whether any of these officers had been interdicted due to comments made on the Internet, the ImmD said that it did not have a breakdown of the reasons for interdiction, nor did it keep statistics on the number of officers whose acting appointments had been cancelled.
In addition, the ImmD received a total of 119 complaints about its staff or services during the above period, but did not have a breakdown of the nature of the complaints. According to the ImmD, it has all along been handling disciplinary matters in accordance with the established procedures and mechanisms, and has been following the relevant guidelines such as the Civil Service Regulations, the Public Service (Administration) Order and the Immigration Service Ordinance.
Civil Service Bureau: views of civil servants should not be in conflict of interest with their official position
The Civil Service Bureau has replied that the Government attaches great importance to the conduct of civil servants. The Government will uphold the principles of natural justice and impartiality under the established mechanism to deal with any misconduct or breaches of government regulations or codes of conduct. Internal investigations into suspected misconduct will be conducted by the relevant departments. If, after investigation, it is considered that there is evidence of misconduct on the part of a civil servant, the department concerned will consider whether disciplinary action should be taken. The punishment for disciplinary action includes verbal warning, written warning, reprimand, severe reprimand, demotion, compulsory retirement or dismissal, etc.
The Bureau also stated that the Government had always upheld the freedom of speech, but like any other jurisdictions, such freedom was not absolute. In expressing their views in public, civil servants should ensure that such views do not give rise to any real, perceived or potential conflict of interest with their official capacity or duties, or may be seen to compromise the important criteria of impartiality and political neutrality in the discharge of their duties.