LCQ5: Employment of staff at CEEO
Following is a question by the Hon Fred Li Wah-ming and an reply by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Miss Denise Yue, in the Legislative Council today (May 16):
Recently, the Chief Executive-elect (CE-elect) has appointed Miss Ran Chen, who has a background of Communist Youth League membership, to the post of Project Officer in the CE-elect's Office (CEEO). However, according to the press reports, as Miss Chen has been residing in Hong Kong for only six years and nine months, she is not a Hong Kong permanent resident. Article 99 of the Basic Law provides that public servants serving in the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region must be permanent residents of the Region and therefore, Miss Chen is not eligible to join the Civil Service. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether the Civil Service Bureau has assessed the impact of approving this application on the existing systems of civil servants and non-civil service contract staff; and
(b) whether the authorities will, in response to the queries and objection raised in society at large in respect of such an appointment, re-assess if the appointment procedures and decision are correct, and consider withdrawing the appointment, as well as ensure that all sensitive and important appointments in the future will comply with the existing appointment procedures and requirements?
My consolidated reply to the two-part question raised by the Hon Fred Li is as follows.
The first part of Article 99 of the Basic Law states, and I quote, "Public servants serving in all government departments of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region must be permanent residents of the Region, except where otherwise provided for in Article 101 of this Law regarding public servants of foreign nationalities and except for those below a certain rank as prescribed by law." End of quote.
The second part of Article 101 states, and I quote, "The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region may also employ British and other foreign nationals as advisers to government departments and, when required, may recruit qualified candidates from outside the Region to fill professional and technical posts in government departments. These foreign nationals shall be employed only in their individual capacities and shall be responsible to the government of the Region." End of quote.
In April this year, the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) approved an application from the Chief Executive-elect's Office (CEEO) to create two additional non-civil service Project Officer positions and one additional non-civil service Public Relations Officer position until June 30 this year, to meet the service needs of the CEEO.
In accordance with the existing system, the CEEO applied to the CSB for approval to employ Miss Ran Chen, a non-permanent resident, to fill one of the Project Officer positions. In its application, the CEEO explained it is not desirable to conduct an open recruitment exercise to identify a suitable candidate to fill the Project Officer position since the opening is for less than three months, since work must start immediately, since the duties involved include policy studies and speech drafting and the appointee must be conversant with the CE-elect's policy manifesto and its underlying rationale. The CEEO considers Miss Ran Chen is a qualified candidate for the position because she had worked for the CE-elect in his Election Campaign Office for more than six months. Having taken into account all the relevant factors, including the operational need of the CEEO, the time constraint, the duties of the Project Officer position, the continuity between these duties and the work involved in formulating the CE-elect's policy manifesto during his election campaign, as well as Miss Ran Chen's participation throughout the formulation of the CE-elect's policy manifesto and the community liaison work she did during the CE-elect's election campaign, the CSB approved the CEEO's employment of Miss Ran Chen on non-civil service contract terms and waived the "permanent resident" requirement.
The CSB and the CEEO processed Miss Ran Chen's appointment in accordance with the existing recruitment requirements. The CSB considers that the said appointment would not have any negative impact or adverse effect on the existing civil service and non-civil service recruitment systems. The Administration will not re-assess its decision on the said appointment or consider rescinding the said appointment.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012