President Xi Jinping, after hearing Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s work report via video link last Wednesday, emphasized yet again the importance of always ensuring “patriots governing Hong Kong”. Always ensuring “patriots governing Hong Kong” is a complex and never-ending political system engineering project that requires a mechanism of long-term effectiveness and tireless attention to details as long as possible.
Currently the Hong Kong SAR government is proceeding with the plan for all civil servants who have not taken the oath of upholding the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and bearing allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR of the People’s Republic of China. It is no doubt a necessary step in applying the “patriots governing Hong Kong” principle in the SAR, as stipulated in its Basic Law.
After all, taking the oath or signing the written declaration is merely a formality and an effective system is needed to make sure all civil servants live up to public expectations as well as the legally binding oath and declaration
In the long run, however, the SAR government must work out an effective system to maintain regular and up-to-date education and training for civil servants in correctly understanding the Basic Law, the National Security Law in effect in the Hong Kong SAR and the current situation and condition of the nation, so as to enhance their sense of belonging and pride as Chinese nationals as well as civil servants who genuinely love the country.
“Patriots governing Hong Kong” is part and parcel of the “one country, two systems” principle, as late State leader Deng Xiaoping, chief architect of the political innovation, had repeatedly emphasized before Hong Kong’s return to China. Its far-reaching significance to Hong Kong as well as to the nation is beyond questioning. As President Xi explained, without “patriots governing Hong Kong”, it will be impossible for the central government to exercise overall jurisdiction over the Hong Kong SAR effectively. It is the only way for Hong Kong to maintain its constitutional order enshrined in the Constitution of the PRC and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR; resolve deep-rooted structural problems of Hong Kong society; achieve lasting stability, peace and prosperity in Hong Kong; and contribute to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation to the best of its abilities. Having experienced the trials and tribulations of the “black revolution” of 2019, it is more imperative than ever to ensure “patriots governing Hong Kong” for real.
One becomes a part of the establishment upon joining the public service, which requires everyone to uphold the Basic Law and bear allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR as a matter of course. Right now the SAR government is handing out a standard written declaration of allegiance to civil servants who have not signed it or taken the oath of the same content. They are expected to sign it and hand it back to the Bureau of Civil Service no later than mid-February; while the SAR government is preparing to amend the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance to cover district councilors as well. Members of the public are confident the great majority of civil servants will take the oath of allegiance by signing the written declaration willingly and sincerely. It is hoped that most if not all district councilors would do the same after the amended Oaths and Declarations Ordinance takes effect. Those who refuse to do so are essentially declaring that they do not accept the political system in effect in the SAR and therefore have no reason to stay in the political establishment.
It should be noted, however, there is no guarantee that every civil servant is a bona fide patriot once they take the oath or sign the written declaration of allegiance. After all, taking the oath or signing the written declaration is merely a formality and an effective system is needed to make sure all civil servants live up to public expectations as well as the legally binding oath and declaration, complete with a supervision mechanism to ensure all those working in the establishment not only think and say but also prove they are true patriots with deeds. The ultimate goal is to make sense of national belonging the core motivation of civil servants to bear allegiance to the SAR as well as the country and serve the people sincerely.
First of all, the SAR government must step up education and training of civil servants in correctly understanding the Constitution of the PRC, the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR and the National Security Law implemented in the SAR, and enhance their awareness of the political institution regarding the nation’s constitutional order and Hong Kong’s constitutional status as a special administrative region of the country, so that they know exactly how to uphold “one country” without losing sight of “two systems” while firmly dedicating themselves to protecting the country’s sovereignty, national security and development interest.
Secondly, the government should formulate an effective mechanism of learning and training for civil servants to acquire comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of the nation’s history, culture, social system and governance mechanisms, all-round national development and achievements that will foster true patriotism in their hearts and strong faith in Hong Kong’s future, which is inseparable from the country’s overall development no matter what happens in the world next.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.