Civil servants denounce election smear tactics

Updated: 2017-03-25 07:22

By Joseph Li in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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 Civil servants denounce election smear tactics

Li Kwai-yin, vice-president of the Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants' Association, expresses her concern about the mudslinging practices at play in the Chief Executive election. Joseph Li / China Daily

The Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants' Association, the city's largest civil service group, hopes the imminent Chief Executive election is run in a clean, healthy and harmonious atmosphere.

Li Kwai-yin, vice-president of the association, regretted that she saw a spread of "black materials" - unsubstantiated, anonymous allegations - against candidates.

The three candidates are former chief secretary for administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, ex-financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.

Earlier, former head of Democratic Party Emily Lau Wai-hing quoted an anonymous source as saying that if Lam were elected at least three senior officials at permanent secretary level would resign.

After checking, Li said 15 of the 18 serving permanent secretaries had reached the retirement age of 55. As one needs to apply a year before to retire early, Lau's accusation seems groundless and malicious.

Lam was also said to have scolded a veteran permanent secretary to tears. However the official in the news, Elizabeth Tse Man-yee from the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, denied the news.

"These things were obviously targeting Lam. Any allegations must be factual, while people are irresponsible to spread unsubstantiated, anonymous allegations," Li said when asked whether there is a smear campaign which also harms the political neutrality of civil servants.

The association, together with other civil service groups, met Lam last week to give their views and expectations before sending their written views to all three candidates.

Civil servants denounce election smear tactics

Only Lam responded, inviting them to a meeting on March 16. Li was a bit disappointed by the snub from the other two candidates, especially Tsang, who had once been a civil servant. Li said she could not understand their electioneering strategies.

Li said: "We hope whoever the new CE is will continue the partnership and cooperation between the government and the civil servants."

The association hopes the new government will take steps to enhance the quality of civil servants by broadening their international vision and knowledge about the nation, enabling them to face political, social and economic challenges.

Li emphasized: "Civil servants are the cornerstone of public governance. Whoever becomes CE will need civil servants to execute the government policies."

To maintain political neutrality, civil servants do not name their favorite candidate.

The association's proposals included extending by five years the retirement age of disciplined and general-grade staff who joined after June 2000, because they are not pensioned colleagues and receive only provident funds. It is also proposed they be offered medical and dental services after retirement.

"We are glad that Lam's election manifesto has covered retirement age extension, while she responded positively to our other suggestions," Li revealed.

"Given she is former chief secretary for administration, she knew government operations very well and grasped our concerns. As the meeting was not too long, we hope to have exchanges with the new CE after the election," she added.

(HK Edition 03/25/2017 page3)