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Interesting articles in Wah Yuen Pao

Wah Yuen Pao is the newsletter of the Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants' Association (HKCCSA) - the largest civil service union in Hong Kong. In its May issue, there are several articles on the new government and the civil service that are well written and well worth reading.

I share the views put forward in several articles covering a new partnership culture between the Government and civil servants and the importance of preserving stability while seeking reforms. I must thank the HKCCSA for looking at these issues.

I attach great importance to communicating with our civil servants. Since the election, I have arranged two meetings encompassing eight major civil service bodies, including the HKCCSA, and we had discussions lasting over three hours. I will continue to maintain a close relationship with these civil service bodies, and I will certainly listen to the views of civil servants and back them up when necessary.

The editorial of the latest issue of Wah Yuen Pao contains some penetrating views on the forming of the new government. The following paragraphs are especially enlightening:

"The HKCCSA is of the view that it is in the public interest to have the new-term government in place on 1 July, so that it can set out at once to cope with deep-seated issues that have remained unresolved for years with focused energy and lead Hong Kong people gradually out of the present predicament. This should be accorded top priority. As for the organisation of the new government and the direction of its policy implementation, views may vary and options are many. It is hard to say which is the most effective. Endless arguments will only waste our time. The cruel fact is that we are facing severe challenges both internally and externally and we just cannot afford any more waiting.

But of course, whether CY Leung, our fourth-term Chief Executive, and his governing team can lead Hong Kong out of this predicament through the visions and initiatives set out in his Manifesto cannot be proven until they take office. Unless there is an ulterior motive, the people of Hong Kong should be happy to see his work succeed.

Some argue against the proposed reorganisation by suggesting the following: the delineation of powers and responsibilities remains unclear under the accountability system; the creation of deputy secretary posts is nothing but multi-layering; cooperation between civil servants and politically appointed officials leaves much to be desired; civil servants are at a loss as to how to work with deputy secretaries and political assistants; permanent secretaries and deputy secretaries have to present themselves at the LegCo and hence continue to be politically accountable; and the civil service is a pool of talents so there should be suitable candidates for filling the posts of directors of bureaux or for supporting the work of directors of bureaux. Some also hold the view that the public and civil servants should be consulted on the reorganisation proposal and that it is not a must for the new structure to be in place on 1 July.

Civil servants should know their roles

The HKCCSA's stance is that the said issues relating to the accountability system are not something new and it is of course necessary to draw on past experience. (We formally urged the current Government to conduct a review in August last year, but our request has been declined.) However, if reorganisation does not commence until a review is completed, that will mean a lapse of months - a waste of time indeed. It is in fact possible to rationalise and improve cooperation between civil servants and politically appointed officials as well as between the executive and the legislature through actual operation and a new partnership."

I hope that the new government organisation will have the support of the community and that the Legislative Council will give the green light as soon as possible. After taking office, the new governing team will do their utmost to work for the well-being of Hong Kong by "seeking changes while preserving stability".

May 18, 2012