LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 549/96-97
(The minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/PL/SE+PS
LegCo Panel on Security and
LegCo Panel on Public Service
Minutes of Joint Meeting
held on Monday, 28 October 1996 at 10:30 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building
Members Present :
- LegCo Panel on Security
- Hon James TO Kun-sun (Chairman)
- Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
- * Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
- * Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
- Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
- Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
- Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
- Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
- Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
- * Hon IP Kwok-him (Chairman, LegCo Panel on Public Service)
- * Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
- Hon LO Suk-ching
- LegCo Panel on Public Service
- Hon LEE Kai-ming (Deputy Chairman)
- Hon CHAN Wing-chan
- Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
- Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
- Hon David CHU Yu-lin
- Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
(*also a Member of LegCo Panel on Public Service)
Members Absent :
- LegCo Panel on Security
- Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo #
- Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong *
- Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee *
- Hon Margaret NG *
- Hon TSANG Kin-shing *
- Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling *
- LegCo Panel on Public Service
- Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP *
- Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP *
- Hon Michael HO Mun-ka *
- Hon LEE Cheuk-yan *
Public Officers Attending:
- Agenda Item II (10:35 am - 11:15 am)
- Mr Philip CHAN
- Acting Deputy Secretary for Security 1
- Mr A J MULLINS, QPM, CPM
- Director of Personnel and Training
Royal Hong Kong Police Force
- Mr NG Wai-kit, CPM
- Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police (Personnel)
Royal Hong Kong Police Force
- Agenda Item II (11:05 am - 11:15 am)
- Mr W K LAM, JP
- Secretary for the Civil Service
Clerk in Attendance:
- Mrs Sharon TONG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 1
Staff in Attendance:
- Miss Salumi CHAN
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 1
- Mr Paul WOO
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 5
I.Election of Chairman
Mr James TO was elected Chairman of the Joint Panel Meeting.
II. Staff Wastage and Localization of the Police Force
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 210/96-97(01))
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 262/96-97)
Briefing by the Administration
2. Mr A J MULLINS briefed members on the latest manpower situation of senior levels in the Police Force (the Force). A copy of his speaking note was tabled at the meeting.
[Post-meeting note : The speaking note was circulated to absent members after the meeting under LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 262/96-97.]
Manpower forecast of senior police officers
3. Members noted from paragraph 3 and Annex A of the Administrations information paper that according to the latest manpower forecast, about 6.1% (or 173) of serving officers at the rank of Inspectorate and above could leave the Force by June 1997. In response to Mrs Selina CHOWs enquiry, Mr MULLINS advised that the 173 assumed leavers under this "worst case scenario" included those 23 officers who were eligible but had yet to decide whether to take early retirement before July 1997 under Her Majestys Overseas Civil Service (HMOCS) Compensation Scheme.
4. Members were concerned that the manpower situation of the Force by July 1997 might even worse than this "worst case scenario". Mr MULLINS doubted if that would occur. He pointed out that for an officer to retire under the HMOCS Compensation Scheme, he must give 6-month notice, excluding any leave period. As such, the 23 officers who had not yet decided must make up their mind by 31 December 1996. Regarding the non-HMOCS pensionable officers, they must give 12-month notice for early retirement. Mr MULLINS assured members that there should be no problem of the manpower situation of the Force by July 1997.
5. Mr IP Kwok-him was concerned whether the majority of the 173 assumed leavers would leave the Force at more or less the same time, for example, two months before the change of sovereignty in July 1997. If that would be the case, the operation of the Force would be affected, particularly when security measures were to be stepped up towards 1997. Mr MULLINS advised that the number of officers involved was very small and that there should be no question of the Force being unprepared for any major event that it might be called upon. The Administration would know precisely by early January 1997 the number of police officers who would remain by 1 July 1997. It was estimated that 97% of all serving officers would remain in the Force including more than 93% of Inspectorate officers and above.
6. Mr IP Kwok-him asked for further information about these 173 assumed leavers, such as the exact date of their leaving the Force and the number of officers leaving in each month. Mr Philip CHAN agreed to provide the information in due course for members reference.
7. Mrs Selina CHOW asked whether the Force had taken any measures to induce the officers to stay, in particular those who had not yet decided whether to take early retirement. Mr MULLINS advised that in the past 18 to 24 months, the Commissioner of Police had personally interviewed each of the senior officers and asked whether they wished to stay in Hong Kong or not. Certainly, the Force regretted the loss of any officer. However, individual officers who wished to leave for their own personal reasons were entitled to do so.
8. Mrs Selina CHOW asked whether consideration had been given to offer contract terms as an inducement for the officers concerned to stay. Mr MULLINS advised that the subject was not just for expatriate officers in the Force, but for the whole of the civil service. This was a matter on which the Secretary for Security and the Commissioner of Police had briefed the Security Panel in November 1995 when it was confirmed that there was no question of a general offering of contracts to individual government officers.
Experience of qualified officers
9. Members noted from paragraph 4 of the Administrations information paper that promotion to higher ranks was based on merits and potential of the officers concerned. According to the figures provided at Annex B of the Administrations information paper, those qualified officers at the ranks of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) who were considered fit for promotion to the next higher rank had only an average of 3 years of experience at their present ranks. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong wondered whether 3 years of experience at their present ranks was sufficient for them to demonstrate their ability and potential to take up heavier responsibilities at the next higher rank. Mr MULLINS considered it sufficient. He pointed out that though the 38 qualified officers at the rank of CSP had only an average of 3 years of experience at their present rank, they had an average of 28 years of experience in the Force. Out of these 38 officers, 6 would be selected for promotion or acting appointment to fill the anticipated vacancies at the next higher rank (Assistant Commissioner of Police) in the coming months. Mr MULLINS assured members that as a whole, there were suitable qualified officers available to fill the anticipated vacancies in the Force.
10. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong considered that the small pool of suitable qualified officers available would leave the promotion board with little option in selecting candidates for promotion or acting appointment. It had to select one from four or one from six, even though the candidates concerned had only a few years of experience at their present rank. Mr CHEUNG suggested the Force management to introduce measures to help the newly promoted officers adapt to their new posts so as to maintain the quality of the services provided by the Force. Mr MULLINS advised that in past years, preparations had been made by way of training and broadening of experience of the officers concerned.
Criteria for assessing suitability for promotion
11. Mr Fred LI asked whether the Administration would take into account the factor of localization in selecting suitable candidates to fill the vacancies arising from departing expatriate officers. Mr MULLINS advised that promotion was mainly based on merits and experience. The Administration would look for the best available candidate for the post concerned, irrespective of whether he/she was a local or an expatriate officer. Those vacancies arising from departing expatriate officers might not necessarily be filled by expatriate officers. They could be filled by local and expatriate officers.
12. Mr Fred LI further asked whether the Administration would, in considering an officers suitability to fill a vacancy at a senior rank of the Force, take into account his/her ability to communicate in Chinese. Mr MULLINS advised that it would be a consideration, but not a major consideration. In fact, the Administration had introduced the policy of greater use of Chinese in all departments with an aim to improve the standard of written Chinese and Putonghua.
13. Referring to paragraph 4 of the Administrations information paper where it was stated that promotion was based on merits and potential of the officers concerned, Mr CHAN Wing-chan asked how individual officers potential would be assessed. Mr NG Wai-kit advised that the promotion board would make the assessment basing on the candidates past performance records and their performance at promotion interviews.
14. Responding to a further question from Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Mr NG Wai-kit advised that in accordance with the Civil Service Regulations, chairman and members of a promotion board should be of suitable seniority as follows :
Chairman of at least two ranks above the rank
|promotion board||of eligible officers being considered for promotion
|Members of promotion board||one substantive rank above the rank of eligible officers being considered for promotion
15. In response to Mr Fred LIs enquiry, Mr MULLINS confirmed that since 1994, the Police Force had ceased to employ officers at the Inspectorate level from the United Kingdom.
The cases of 3 police officers applying for retirement shortly after promotion
16. Ms Emily LAU remarked that she had raised a question at the LegCo Sitting held on 23 October 1996 on the cases of two police officers applying for retirement a few months after their promotion to the rank of SSP. She asked whether these two officers had breached the Civil Service Regulations under which officers were required to serve in the Government for not less than 12 months after promotion. In response to Ms LAUs question, the Secretary for the Civil Service had advised that the Administration had received three such applications and had then introduced suitable administrative procedures to prevent recurrence of similar incidents. Ms LAU requested the Administration to elaborate on the third case and the relevant "suitable administrative procedures".
17. Mr MULLINS advised that in respect of the first two cases, the two SSPs concerned were genuinely "undecided officers" at the time the promotion board was held earlier this year. Both of them were aware of the relevant requirements of the Civil Service Regulations. The Force Management, in consultation with the Civil Service Branch, the authority on promotion, considered that it would be unfair to the "undecided officers" if they were denied the right to be considered for promotion. Finally, it was decided that the two officers concerned should be promoted. Regarding the third case, the officer concerned had in fact signified his intention to stay with the Force before his promotion from the rank of Chief Inspector to Superintendent of Police. For personal reasons, he then applied for retirement under the HMOCS Compensation Scheme.
18. Regarding the first two cases, Ms Emily LAU queried why the two officers concerned were promoted, even though the Administration was not clear whether they would stay or not, i.e. whether they would serve in the Government for not less than 12 months after promotion as required under the Civil Service Regulations. The Chairman asked whether these two cases had been handled in accordance with the existing policy. Mr MULLINS emphasized that the two officers concerned had been promoted with full consultation with the relevant policy branches. It was agreed that even though they were undecided, they should be promoted. The Administration had adopted an additional measure so that when an "undecided officer" was promoted, he would be reminded in writing of the relevant provisions of the Civil Service Regulations.
19. In the circumstances, members decided to invite Secretary for the Civil Service (SCS) to join the discussion. The SCS joined the meeting at this juncture.
20. In response to the Chairmans enquiry on the existing policy governing promotion in the civil service, Mr W K LAM advised that before conducting a promotion board, the management of the relevant government department would write to each of the candidates being considered for promotion requesting a written reply on whether they would continue to serve in the Government for not less than 12 months (excluding any leave period) following the effective date of promotion. Their written replies would then be passed to the promotion board for consideration. Those replied in the negative would not be considered for promotion.
The Chairman and Ms Emily LAU asked for clarification on whether "undecided officers" would be considered for promotion. Mr W K LAM considered it inappropriate to comment on individual cases. As a matter of policy, only those who had given a definite reply that they would continue to serve in the Government would be considered for promotion. However, there had been cases where the officers concerned gave conditional replies, saying that in principle, they were prepared to continue to serve in the Government for not less than 12 months but they might change their decisions subject to changes in circumstances. This kind of replies would also be passed to the promotion board for consideration. It was expected that the promotion board would make a sound judgement based on good common sense.
In response to Ms Emily LAUs enquiry on the "proper administrative procedures" mentioned at paragraph 16 above, Mr W K LAM advised that the Administration had fully reviewed the situation. It had informed the management of all government departments that the Civil Service Branch should be notified immediately of similar cases in future. As the three cases in question were officers on the HMOCS Compensation Scheme, to prevent recurrence of similar incidents, the Administration had decided to defer the announcement of promotion results until after 31 December 1996 which would be the deadline for HMOCS officers to exercise their option to retire before 1 July 1997.
III. Close of Meeting
The meeting ended at 11:15 am.
15 November 1996
# -- Away from Hong Kong
* -- Other Commitments
Last Updated on 21 August 1998