Speech at panel on Public Service

Briefing by the Secretary for the Civil Service on the Chief Executive’s 2021 Policy Address

Civil servants’ knowledge of the various aspects of our country

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that the Government would continue to strengthen training for civil servants on the country’s Constitution, the Basic Law and The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“the National Security Law”), and asked whether the Administration would assess serving civil servants’ knowledge in these areas and take into consideration the assessment results in the recruitment, appraisal and promotion processes. They also urged the Administration to deepen civil servants’ understanding of the various aspects of our country.

The Administration emphasized that it was of utmost importance for civil servants to acquire an accurate understanding of the constitutional order established under the Constitution of our country and the Basic Law, enhance their awareness of safeguarding national security, and keep abreast of the latest major developments of the country. The Basic Law Test (“BLT”) had been included in the civil service recruitment process for over ten years. In August 2021, the Civil Service Bureau stipulated a pass result in BLT as an entry requirement for all civil service positions requiring academic qualifications at or above completion of secondary education level. Only candidates who had passed BLT would be considered for appointment. The Administration was also reviewing and updating the assessment content of BLT and would include the National Security Law in the scope of assessment. Moreover, all new recruits would be required to attend foundation courses within their three-year probationary period to enhance their understanding of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“HKSAR”)’s constitutional order, the country’s development and national security. Advanced courses would be arranged for civil servants after they had been appointed on permanent terms.

Civil service training

Details were sought on the extension of the Civil Service Staff Exchange Programme between Hong Kong and the Mainland to cover the Mainland municipalities in the Greater Bay Area. The Administration advised that, under the Exchange Programme, middle and senior-level civil servants from Hong Kong and the Mainland were attached to each other’s side to share experience and expertise, foster networking and communication, and gain first-hand experience of the host city’s latest development. The Administration was following up closely with the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council and the Guangdong authorities on the detailed arrangement, and looked forward to launching the exchange activities as soon as possible.

There was a suggestion that, in view of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 epidemic, the Administration should provide more training programmes, in particular the national studies programmes, through online platform. The Administration advised that, while training programmes in the Mainland had to be suspended due to the epidemic, the Government had continued to strengthen civil service training and introduce new initiatives through e-learning. Such programmes included online talks or webinars by Mainland experts or scholars for civils servants. The Government would continue to strengthen the provision of online seminars and learning resources on various topics on the platform of Cyber Learning Centre Plus.

Non-civil service contract staff

Replacement of NCSC positions by civil service posts

Mr CHAN Chun-ying called on the Administration to replace those NCSC positions which were created to meet the latest expertise in a particular area of the labour market by civil service posts in order to retain talents.

As the engagement of NCSC staff allowed flexibility for trading fund departments to adjust their staffing level, NCSC positions in these departments would not be replaced by civil service posts even though the positions had been identified to have long-term service needs.

Employment of NCSC staff by certain B/Ds

Mr CHAN Chun-ying was concerned about the NCSC staff engaged by the Education Bureau (“EDB”, called on the Administration to review the employment situation of these NCSC staff.

In response to the enquiry about the reasons for EDB to engage over 1 200 NCSC staff in both 2020 and 2021, the Administration explained that some of the NCSC staff in EDB were engaged to meet the operational needs for clerical and janitor services. Some of them were employed to provide services under time-limited funds or grants. In addition, some government schools might engage NCSC staff for their expertise in special school development.