Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Thursday, Feb 29, 2024

Poor performing Hong Kong civil servants will face the boot: leader John Lee

Poor performing Hong Kong civil servants will face the boot: leader John Lee

Chief executive unveils raft of new measures to improve how city is run, but critics ask whether efficiency will truly be improved.

The buck will have to stop somewhere, Hong Kong’s leader made plain on Wednesday as he warned that consistently underperforming civil servants typically used to an “iron rice bowl” could face being fired in a “timely manner”, as he unveiled a revamp to improve governance and accountability.

Under a new reward and punishment system for the city’s 180,000 civil servants, those who exhibit “excellence” will also be publicly recognised by the new “Chief Executive’s Award for Exemplary Performance” on a regular basis from next year.

Enhancing governance capability, one of the “four hopes” President Xi Jinping laid down for the city government, took up a major chapter in John Lee Ka-chiu’s maiden policy address.

City leader John Lee has said management of the civil service is “the backbone of the government”.


The array of measures he unveiled to fulfil his “result-oriented” approach to governance also included setting up a high-level policy unit, a few steering committees and task forces for policy coordination, and for the first time – listing 110 indicators in the annex to ensure progress could be tracked.

Lee stressed the indicators were not there to punish anyone when the goals were not reached.

“If an indicator is not met, we may have to see if there are some special reasons,” he said. “But of course, if it is because of [the official] being lazy, then, there may be consequences.”

Asked if the numerous new bodies would result in needless duplication of internal efforts, Lee, who joined the civil service as a policeman, said in a press conference: “Without coordination and command to unite forces, those taking part are only a motley crew. It’s difficult to achieve things.”

Targeting the management of the civil service which he regarded as “the backbone of the government,” Lee said the civil service disciplinary mechanism would be adjusted so that appropriate punishment could be “promptly imposed” in a fair and just manner on officers.

“For officers whose performance remains persistently substandard despite supervision and assistance, their appointment should be terminated in a timely manner,” he warned in his speech.

Half a year after the city went through its worst coronavirus outbreak in March, Lee, who rose to the top post in July, vowed to enhance existing mobilisation protocols to ensure sufficient manpower could cope with emergencies. Regular drills would also be conducted, he said, to ensure preparedness.

Politically, the Civil Service Code would be updated to sufficiently reflect that government workers should have “strong awareness of safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests” and put the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong” into practice.

Among the new bodies to be set up later this year is the Chief Executive’s Policy Unit, which directly reports research outcomes on mainland policies, as well as international trends, to the city leader.

There will also be a new steering committee on the Northern Metropolis, a mega urban development plan, and another on Rule of Law Education, to be chaired by the justice minister. At least two task forces will be established – one on strengthening cross-border legal assistance and another on rebuilding the image of Hong Kong.

Under the existing mechanism, the government dismissed 51 civil servants in the 2021-22 financial year alone and took formal disciplinary action for serious misconduct or criminal conviction against 1,124 civil servants between April 1, 2017, and March 31 this year.

Leung Chau-ting, chairman of the Federation of Civil Service Union, warned that if frontline workers were unclear about how the revamped punishment system would be implemented, their morale would be greatly affected.

“For example when the government was criticised for the delayed treatment of Covid-19 patients in quarantine facilities, should frontline colleagues take the blame?” he asked.

Leung also argued that monetary rewards could serve a better purpose than public recognition to boost engagement, considering that doxxing was common in the current political climate. He also warned such a system would encourage an “apple polishing” culture in the government.

Alexa Chow Yee-ping, a veteran human resources consultant, said that if the punishment system was properly imposed, it would be a “giant step” towards breaking the public perception that civil service jobs provided “iron rice bowls” - a Chinese phrase used to describe those who will not be fired no matter how egregious their mistakes were.

She dismissed concerns that the revamp would deter talent in private firms from joining the government, saying the government was always “the most stable employer” amid the global economic turbulence that saw waves of downsizing in corporations.

“Sacking the bottom 10 per cent is not uncommon in private firms. It’s totally reasonable for the government to fire those who underperform,” she said.

New People’s Party lawmaker Dominic Lee Tsz-king, whose motion passed earlier in June calling for reform of the civil service system, welcomed the moves.

He believed that the city leader was under pressure to identify pain points in the mobilisation protocol after the inadequacies with civil service deployment prompted Beijing to offer help during the fifth wave of infections.

But centrist lawmaker Tik Chi-yuen expressed concerns that efforts by the chief executive to strengthen governance could be undercut by the newly formed task forces and committees.

“One more committee means one more meeting, which also means one more secretary,” Tik said. “Is this really increasing efficiency ?”

Newsletter

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
0:00
0:00
Close
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
×