Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Public Service
Review of the Organisation of the Protocol Division of the Administration Wing of the Chief Secretary for Administration's Office
With the reunification, the Protocol Division of the Administration Wing of the Chief Secretary for Administration's Office has assumed a range of new duties and responsibilities and its workload has grown tremendously. In view of these developments, we have conducted a review of the organisation and staffing level of the Protocol Division. This paper sets out our findings and recommendations.
2.The head of the Protocol Division, designated as the Director of Protocol, was pitched at a level equivalent to D1 in 1971. The staffing structure of the Protocol Division was last reviewed in 1987. Since 1988, the Division has been staffed with three officers (1 Director of Protocol, 1 Protocol Officer and 1 Assistant Protocol Officer) and this staff complement has remained unchanged for about 10 years. The team was supported by six clerical and secretarial staff, making up a total approved establishment of nine staff for the Division.
3.Before the reunification, the Protocol Division was mainly responsible for -
- overseeing and assisting the Consular Corps in Hong Kong;
- processing and vetting recommendations for honours and awards under the British system;
- extending courtesies to international dignitaries visiting Hong Kong;
- planning, organising and arranging programmes for visits of British royalty (about two to three visits a year); and
- advising on protocol matters and etiquette.
4.The Review found that the scope and complexity of the Protocol Division's work have grown significantly since its establishment was last reviewed, and particularly since the reunification.
5.The Protocol Division's current roles and responsibilities are -
- to maintain close liaison with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (MFA Office) on consular relations matters pertaining to the Consular Corps in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR);
- to administer and provide assistance to the local Consular Corps;
- to extend courtesies to VIPs and foreign dignitaries visiting or transiting Hong Kong;
- to provide planning input to and advise on the future operation and management of the Government VIP Lounge at the new airport at Chek Lap Kok;
- to plan and co-ordinate visits to the HKSAR by state visitors, PRC leaders and other international dignitaries and to arrange delivery of the visit programmes;
- to develop and administer a new honours and awards system;
- to advise on the use of the National and HKSAR flags and emblems, protocol matters and etiquette; and
- to organise official ceremonial events such as the National Day Flag Raising Ceremony and an annual ceremony to commemorate those who died in the defence of Hong Kong.
6.The Review recommends that -
- the existing post of Director of Protocol should be upgraded from D1 to D2 and should be designated as an open directorate post within the civil service;
- a new post of Deputy Director of Protocol ranked at D1 should be created;
- the Division should be expanded to consist of the following posts (20 in total) -
1 post of Director of Protocol (D2);
1 post of Deputy Director of Protocol (D1);
2 posts of CEO;
3 posts of PO or SEO;
3 posts of APO or EOI; and
10 other secretarial and clerical staff
- the Protocol Division should be organised into two sections, each headed by a Chief Executive Officer. One section (the Visits/Honours Section) will be responsible for handling official visits and for processing honours and awards, the other section (Consular Affairs Section) will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the Consular Corps, for protocol and ceremonial matters, as well as the internal administration of the Protocol Division; and
- the Protocol Officer grade should be " executivised " in the longer term.
The existing and recommended organisation of the Protocol Division are at Appendices I and II
Changes in Roles and Responsibilities
7.Administration and servicing of the Consular Corps in Hong Kong is one of the main functions of the Protocol Division. This includes maintaining a database for and arranging the gazettal of consular appointments, processing applications of consular privileges and immunities, organising orientation and visits for members of the Consular Corps, and liaising with and giving regular assistance to the Consular Corps, such as vetting of local employees of consular missions, etc.
8.The growth in the number of consulates/honorary consulates in Hong Kong over the years has brought additional workload for the Protocol Division. There were 73 consular missions in Hong Kong when the establishment of the Protocol Division was last reviewed in 1987 (51 in 1971 when the ranking of the Director of Protocol post was pitched at D1 level) compared to 93 at present, representing an increase of 30% in ten years.
9.Work in this respect has also increased in complexity as well as in volume. With the reunification, countries represented in Hong Kong have exchanged letters or entered into consular agreements with the PRC Government for the maintenance of their consular posts here. Protocol Division has to process applications for consular privileges and immunities in accordance with the new sets of terms and provisions that now prevail. The Protocol Division has to liaise closely with relevant parties on the new issues involved with a view to ensuring the smooth implementation of the new agreements.
Liaison with MFA Office
10.With the establishment of the MFA Office on reunification, the Protocol Division has to liaise closely with the Consular Department of the MFA Office on consular relations matters pertaining to the Consular Corps in Hong Kong. This liaison work is a new function, as there was no equivalent arrangement before 1 July 1997.
Courtesies for Visiting Dignitaries
11.The Protocol Division ensures that national or international dignitaries visiting or transiting Hong Kong are accorded suitable courtesies, including the use of VIP facilities at the Kai Tak International Airport and other immigration control points.
12.In line with international protocol, the Director of Protocol or his/her representative would extend courtesies to the most senior of the visiting dignitaries (Heads of State, Heads of Government, Foreign Ministers, PRC leaders) by greeting and seeing them off on behalf of the HKSAR Government, and co-ordinating with the Hong Kong Police for the provision of suitable security coverage for the visitors. While there are no readily available statistics on the number of greeting/seeing-off actually performed by the Protocol Division in past years, it is noted that the number of VIP parties serviced at the Government VIP Lounge has been increasing at an average annual growth rate of about 5% in recent years. (The number of VIP parties in 1994, 1995 and 1996 were 3 404, 3 609 and 3 774 respectively.) In the year 1997 (up to November), the number of VIP parties which made use of the Government VIP facilities at the Airport was 5 210 involving 274 formal greeting/seeing-off by the Protocol Division.
13.A new and important duty for the Protocol Division is to plan and co-ordinate the visit programmes and reception arrangements for state visitors and PRC leaders coming to Hong Kong.
(a) State visits
14.These are visits by Heads of State (Presidents or reigning monarchs) or Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) coming to the HKSAR as part of their state visit programmes to China. Before the reunification, there were no state visits to Hong Kong. There were just working or private visits of foreign dignitaries, which were primarily co-ordinated by the respective consulates in Hong Kong, with advice and facilitation from the Protocol Division as necessary. After the reunification, apart from dealing with routine working and private visits of foreign dignitaries, the Protocol Division has to take on the planning and implementation of large-scale state visits, for the Hong Kong part of the programme for which the HKSAR administration is responsible.
15.It is estimated that there will be about 10 to 12 state visits of Head of State or Head of Government to Hong Kong each year. Such visits involve meticulous planning to the last detail and ensuring that all arrangements are exactly right. As the state visitors would usually travel with a very large delegation (often exceeding 50 persons including officials, businessmen and press), advanced planning and careful co-ordination of the itinerary and transport arrangements are required. This calls for a significant amount of work and manpower in programme planning, co-ordination and delivery. Also, input at directorate level is required to determine the orientation and balance of the visit programmes for the state visitors, and to accompany the state visitors during their stay in Hong Kong.
(b) Visits of PRC leaders
16.In the past, PRC leaders visiting Hong Kong were received by the New China News Agency, Hong Kong Branch. With the establishment of the Government of the HKSAR on 1 July 1997, the Protocol Division may also be responsible for receiving PRC leaders visiting Hong Kong. (We understand that the term " PRC leaders " refers to officials at the rank of vice-premier and above. There are some 70 officials in this category.) Any reasonable forecast of the demand on this front can only be made in the light of operational experience. For planning purpose, it is estimated that there will be about 20 such visits a year which require Protocol Division's assistance, of which 10 will be originated by the HKSAR Government and 10 at the invitation by non-government organisations. Similar to state visits, such visits require input at directorate level to determine the orientation and balance of the visit programmes, and impose on the Protocol Division a significant amount of work in programme planning, co-ordination and delivery.
VIP Facilities at the new airport at Chek Lap Kok
17.The Government VIP Lounge at the new airport will be run by the Hong Kong Airport Authority on behalf of the Government, whereas the VIP Lounge at Kai Tak Airport is currently operated and managed by the Civil Aviation Department.
18.With the impending relocation of the airport to Chek Lap Kok, the Protocol Division is heavily involved in providing planning input and working out the new operational arrangements for the VIP facilities at the new airport. The Protocol Division needs to devote considerable staff input in specifying Government's detailed requirements to the Hong Kong Airport Authority and in ensuring that the planned facilities and services would meet the specified requirements. Under the arrangement for the new airport, the Protocol Division will be responsible for overseeing the operation and management of the Government VIP Lounge run by the Hong Kong Airport Authority and closely monitoring the recurrent cost for the hire of this service.
Protocol, ceremonial matters and honours and awards
19.With the reunification, many of the established practices in dealing with protocol, ceremonial and etiquette matters have to be reviewed. The Protocol Division needs to develop a new set of protocol and ceremonial arrangements appropriate to the HKSAR. The Division is also responsible for developing and administering a new honours and awards system for the HKSAR.
Upgrading the post of Director of Protocol to D2
20.In view of the level and complexity of the work handled by the Protocol Division, the Review recommends that the Division should be headed by an officer of sufficient seniority to provide the overall leadership and direction required for running the range of services for which the Division is responsible, especially in the face of the new operating environment described above. A more senior officer is also necessary to manage the increased responsibility in terms of financial and manpower management efficiently. It is therefore recommended that the post of Director of Protocol should be pitched at the level of D2 on the Directorate Pay Scale. The job description for the post is at Appendix III.
Creation of one supernumerary post of Deputy Director of Protocol (D1)
21.Given the growing functions, additional responsibilities and new tasks being taken up by the Protocol Division, the Review recommends the creation of a supernumerary Deputy Director of Protocol (D1) post, for a tenure of three years, to assist the Director of Protocol to handle important issues such as compiling a manual for protocol and ceremonial matters, liaising with the Hong Kong Airport Authority on the planning and commissioning of the Government VIP Lounge at the new airport at Chek Lap Kok; assessing the standard and cost-effectiveness of the Government VIP service provided by the Hong Kong Airport Authority in due course; and developing and administering a new honours and awards system for the HKSAR.
22.The Director of Protocol has a representational role to perform, attending various official functions and extending courtesies to international dignitaries on their visits to Hong Kong. The enhanced responsibilities and increased range of matters requiring his/her personal attention had generated a considerable amount of competing claims on his/her time. It is important therefore that there is a Deputy Director of Protocol to deputise for him/her in these representational duties. It is undoubtedly true that substantial, albeit intangible, benefits in the form of goodwill and understanding can accrue to Hong Kong from proper reception of important visitors if a favourable impression is created, and that such benefits can be forfeited if reception arrangements are poor or indifferent. In certain cases, therefore, it would not be appropriate to desirable to delegate the Director of Protocol's representational duties to a non-directorate officer.
23.The Review finds it necessary and appropriate to create an additional D1 post to the Protocol Division to assist the Director of Protocol to solve the front-end loading issues. The continued need for the Deputy Director of Protocol post will be reviewed in three years. The job description for the post of Deputy Director of Protocol is at Appendix IV.
Open Directorate Post
24.The Director of Protocol is proposed as a departmental post rather than general grade post so as to open the field to as many officers within the civil service as possible. It is therefore not intended that the post would be the promotional rank of a particular grade.
Staffing Requirements for Visit Duties
25.The Review recommends the creation of a Visits/Honours Section in the Protocol Division, to be headed by a CEO and supported by two teams each comprising 1 PO/SEO and 1 APO/EOI to handle official visits as described in paragraphs 13 to 16 above, and to assist the Deputy Director of Protocol in processing honours and awards under a new local system which is being developed. He will lead his team of staff in devising the new operational arrangements for the VIP facilities at the new airport at Chek Lap Kok, and assist the Deputy Director of Protocol in overseeing the operation of the VIP Suite run by the Hong Kong Airport Authority and monitoring the recurrent cost for the hire of this service.
Staffing Requirements for Consular and Ceremonial Matters
26.In the light of the additional work described in paragraphs 7 to 12 above, the Review recommends that a section comprising 1 CEO, 1 PO/SEO and 1 APO/EOI be set up to take care of consular affairs and ceremonial matters. The CEO will liaise closely with the MFA Office on the management of Consular Corps and will assist the Director of Protocol in organising ceremonial events. The CEO will be underpinned by a PO and an APO.
27.As one PO and one APO posts are already on the Protocol Division's approved establishment, the creation of an additional CEO post for consular and ceremonial duties is required.
28.Given that the number of foreign missions in Hong Kong has increased by 30% since the establishment of the Protocol Division was last reviewed in 1987, and the new operating environment brought about by the reunification, the recommended strengthening of the Division's staffing complement for consular and ceremonial matters is considered necessary.
Protocol Officer Grade posts
29.There are at present only two officers in the Protocol Officer grade. As candidates from the private sector is unlikely to have the required expertise in handling protocol matters, there is a strong case to " executivise " the grade in the longer run. This would enable Executive Officers to fill posts in the Protocol Division. This proposal is in line with the established principle that wherever possible, smaller grades (in this case there are only two officers) should be merged with larger grades to resolve career development and succession problems, and to improve staff management and promotion opportunities for staff.
Secretarial and clerical staff
30.In view of the proposed increase in staff in the high ranks(from three to ten), there is a need to create four additional secretarial and clerical staff posts to support the operation of the Division.
31.The notional annual mid-point salary cost and full annual average staff cost (including salaries and staff on-costs) of the additional 11 posts are $6.39 million and $10.13 million respectively.
The Way Forward
32.Four Executive Grade officers have been made on loan to the Division to cope with the upsurge in workload in the past few months. We will shortly approve under delegated authority the creation of six non-directorate posts, by redeploying our existing resources, to regularise the loan arrangement. We will submit the proposals for strengthening the directorate structure of the Protocol Division to the Establishment Sub-committee for recommendation to the Finance Committee for approval.
Chief Secretary for Administration's Office
|Post Title :||Director of Protocol
|Accountable to:||Deputy Director of Administration
Main Duties and Responsibilities
- To provide steer and leadership for the Protocol Division, and to ensure its quality of work and efficiency.
- To be responsible for all day-to-day management matters relating to the Consular Corps and other foreign missions in Hong Kong, including their privileges and immunities.
- To liaise with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in respect of consular relations matters pertaining to the Consular Corps in Hong Kong.
- To receive, and where appropriate as in the case of state visitors and PRC leaders, devise and organise visit programmes for important visitors.
- To advise all Government departments, and where requested, non-government organisations on matters of precedence, protocol and etiquette; and to develop a set of protocol and ceremonial arrangements appropriate to the circumstances of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
- To be responsible for the efficient and effective provision of Government VIP facilities, operated through the Hong Kong Airport Authority, at the new airport at Chek Lap Kok.
- To compile and maintain a Precedence Table for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and to advise on the eligibility for the use of the Government VIP facilities at various immigration control points.
- To be responsible for organising official ceremonial events such as the presentation of honours, the National Day Flag Raising Ceremony, and an annual ceremony to commemorate those who died in the defence of Hong Kong.
|Post Title : ||Deputy Director of Protocol
|Accountable to:||Director of Protocol
Main Duties and Responsibilities
- To deputise for the Director of Protocol in receiving important visitors and in attending official and social functions as the representative of the HKSAR Government.
- To assist the Director of Protocol in overseeing the planning and co-ordination of visits by state visitors, PRC leaders and other international dignitaries.
- To assist the Director of Protocol in the liaison with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in respect of consular relations matters pertaining to the Consular Corps in Hong Kong.
- To assist the Director of Protocol in developing a set of protocol and ceremonial arrangements appropriate to the circumstances of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and to compile the necessary protocol manuals.
- To ensure the smooth commissioning of the Government VIP Lounge at the new airport at Chek Lap Kok; to set standards for and monitor the services to be provided by the Hong Kong Airport Authority in operating the VIP Lounge; and to ensure the smooth and efficient operation of the Government VIP facilities at the new airport and to ensure prudent resource management.
- To take charge of the administration of the new honours and awards system for the HKSAR.
- To provide support at directorate level to the Visit Section and the Consular Affairs Section.