High-ranking officials take oath pledging allegiance to Hong Kong and Basic Law

Chris Lau
·3-min read

More than two dozen high-ranking officials took oaths vowing to uphold Hong Kong’s mini-constitution on Wednesday, becoming the first batch of public officers to fulfil a new requirement to pledge allegiance to the city.

The 12 undersecretaries and 14 political assistants raised their right hands and together recited the oath standing in front of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor before a wall bearing the national and Hong Kong flags in a large venue at government headquarters at Tamar.

The ceremony at the government headquarters. Photo: Handout
The ceremony at the government headquarters. Photo: Handout

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They sang the national anthem shortly before making their pledge, as ministers sat at the back of the room and watched.

Undersecretary for the Environment Tse Chin-wan, the most senior official among them, led the oath, which was spoken in Cantonese, as opposed to the Mandarin Lam and her ministers used during their swearing-in ceremony in Beijing in 2017.

A government spokesman said it “is of great significance” that the undersecretaries and political assistants took the oath to uphold the Basic Law and bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

“They made a solemn promise on their responsibilities, genuinely showing to the community their loyalty and commitment to the Basic Law and the HKSAR, and thereby boosting the confidence of the public in the politically appointed officials,” the spokesman said.

Undersecretaries serve as deputies to government ministers, while political assistants help the ministers with lobbying and liaising with stakeholders, but all are deemed political appointees rather than civil servants.

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The ceremony is part of the government’s new policy to require its roughly 180,000 civil servants to swear allegiance to the city and promise to uphold the Basic Law.

Under the national security law introduced by Beijing in June, public office holders in Hong Kong are required to make the pledges, although critics have largely viewed it as a way to clamp down on dissent among civil servants, thousands of whom took part in anti-government protests last year.

The government has already introduced a declaration form to be signed by those who joined the ranks after July 1.

Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen on Sunday reiterated the government’s plan to extend the arrangement to the remaining employees in the coming month or two.

While lower-ranked workers would be required to sign the form, individuals holding prominent positions must take the oath. Those who refuse to sign could be asked to leave their posts. Those who seriously breached their promise could be violating the national security law, Nip warned.

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The government spokesman said the permanent secretaries who led the 13 policy bureaus and the heads of departments would take part in their oath-taking ceremony on Friday.

“The [Civil Service Bureau] will also promulgate shortly the details of arrangements for requiring serving civil servants to sign the declaration,” he added.

This article High-ranking officials take oath pledging allegiance to Hong Kong and Basic Law first appeared on South China Morning Post

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