Hong Kong – Transcript of remarks by SCS at media session at HK Children’s Hospital (with photos/video)

Transcript of remarks by SCS at media session at HK Children’s Hospital (with photos/video)

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     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Mrs Ingrid Yeung, at a media session after inspecting the first-day operation of the Children Community Vaccination Centre at Hong Kong Children’s Hospital concurrently providing vaccination service for children with the Sinovac and BioNTech vaccines this morning (August 15):

 

Reporter: Secretary, how’s the pace of young kids getting vaccinated? Because an expert said when the vaccination rate reach 20 per cent, it will go up quickly. So is the pace now quick enough? And also do you know about the procurement of BioNTech vaccines for young children? Is there a date for it?

 

Secretary for the Civil Service: I hope the pace will be quicker but I note that we have only begun the vaccination for infants aged 6 months to 3 years old for less than two weeks. Right now we have more than 3 000 infants between this age bracket who have got vaccinated. I hope the pace will quicken. But I am confident that as school opens, as many more schools organise outreach services for their students, and as parents become more aware of the benefit of having the vaccination, the percentage will go up. We are still discussing with the pharmaceutical company that produces BioNTech vaccine for the infant formula of the BioNTech vaccine, procurement of this vaccine for use. When we have further news, we will let everybody know.

 

Reporter: Would it be illegal to create a private social group like the “Civil Service Secrets” to express their dissatisfaction about the Government, and what is the criteria to…would it be illegal for that discussion?

 

Secretary for the Civil Service: The Secretary for Security has clearly explained yesterday that simple criticism of the Government would not be illegal. For the civil service, we have plenty of established channels for colleagues to reflect their views to the management. We are very open to colleagues’ views. In fact, I do have regular meetings with staff unions from time to time and I received a lot of criticisms about government policies, human resources management policies, etc. Government departments and bureaux also have their own departmental liaison channels with civil servants. So I don’t think there is no channel for civil servants to express their views except on private social media platforms. And even on private social media platform as long as the information is not confidential and as long as it is a normal sort of criticism of government policies, it is no problem for civil servants to express them. Thank you.

 

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Hong Kong – Transcript of remarks by SEE

Transcript of remarks by SEE

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     ​Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Mr Tse Chin-wan, at a media session after attending a radio programme today (July 30):

 

Reporter: Mr Tse, please explain why does the Government has the idea of trying to rezone the conservation area? What task does the Government want to achieve with those idea?

 

Secretary for Environment and Ecology: I think I have explained that in a lengthy way before your arrival. In Hong Kong, I can see that our conservation strategy is facing a lot of stress because of two issues, one is that in the past our conservation strategy is done by assigning certain land to be undeveloped. For example, through the planning process, we may assign certain piece of land to be a conservation area. In that area, no development will be allowed. Of course that has served the purpose of conservation to some extent, but actually we have also seen that because of lack of management and lack of attention, the conservation value of that piece of land can be deteriorating. Nam Sang Wai is a very good example. If you go there, you can see that many of those fish ponds have dried up, many have been filled up with earth and a lot of wetland has disappeared. In the past, that sort of what I called it “passive approach” of conservation does not work very well in Hong Kong.

 

     The second angle is that Hong Kong is a city where land is very scarce. We need land for development and if we do nothing and continue our current approach of conservation, then conservation will be under a lot of pressure. Sometimes some conservation areas under debate that the areas have been protected and people have lost that piece of land for development. Sometimes some lands under debate and argument are used for development and those opt for and support conservation will feel that they have lost a battle. I think this is not a good approach from conservation angle, I called it a lose-lose situation. Therefore, Hong Kong should go for a new approach, which I call it “proactive conservation”. Under that strategy, we should identify those areas with high conservation value and try to recover the adjacent land which have been abandoned and deteriorated, and as such have lose its conservation value. We should recover those areas so that we can form a contiguous and larger piece of land for conservation.

 

     I have spoken to several ecologists and they agreed that it would be much better from a conservation point of view that these land to be conserved should be continued and under certain management, so that it would not deteriorate in the longer term. Therefore, if we go for “proactive conservation” approach, it will help enhance our ecological protection, so that at the end we will have a better biodiversity in Hong Kong. For the special species protected, it will become more prosperous.

 

     In fact, along that principle, we will be able to identify the land to be protected, and the rest will be outside our new protection area, that is what we are doing for the Northern Metropolis. Through a study being conducted by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, they are trying to identify the land to be protected so that we will form a big wetland park around 2 000 hectares. Through the study, they will identify where should be the core area to be protected, where should be assigned as the adjacent land to be recovered and where should be the boundary of the new wetland park. After the study, we can define the boundary of the wetland park.

 

     The boundary of the wetland park may not be the same as the current boundary of wetland protection area or wetland buffer area. You mentioned whether we are going to redraw the boundary. It may happen because of the new boundary of the wetland park. We are not redrawing it for the purpose of development, rather, we are going to redraw the boundary because of the new wetland park.

 

 (Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Hong Kong – Transcript of remarks by SCS on civil service pay adjustment at media session (with video)

Transcript of remarks by SCS on civil service pay adjustment at media session (with video)

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     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Mrs Ingrid Yeung, at a media session on offers of 2022-23 civil service pay adjustment at Central Government Offices this afternoon (July 5):



Reporter: The first question is to ask you how do you think that this current pay adjustment will be taken by the civil service? Will it affect their morale and, also just added on a little bit, will it also affect their trust in the mechanism to determine this pay rise as well? The next question is to ask about the mechanism itself. This period of salary adjustment has been subjected to a lot of controversy and a lot of debate, will the department consider adjusting or perhaps revamping the adjustment mechanism, and if so, how will you go about it? Could you again elaborate on the rationale behind this 2.5 per cent suggested increase? Because this is quite a steep drop from what was mentioned before in the pay trend survey from 7 per cent all the way down to only 2.5 per cent.



Secretary for the Civil Service: The net Pay Trend Indicators (PTIs) have never been the sole consideration in civil service pay adjustment. It is only one of the six factors that we should take into account. For your first question whether staff morale will be affected, I hope civil service colleagues and do trust civil service colleagues will understand the rationale behind. As Hong Kong’s economy is recovering, and Hong Kong is progressing on the recovery path, I’m sure our civil service colleagues, as both civil servants and as Hong Kong citizens will strive their best to help the recovery and to do their best to help Hong Kong to get back to normality. So I don’t think civil service morale will be affected. And in fact, civil service morale and civil servants’ contributions in the fifth wave, in the anti-epidemic work as well as in other areas have been greatly appreciated by the CE-in-Council (Chief Executive-in-Council) when making this decision.



     As for the mechanism, I think we have to differentiate between the mechanism and the pay trend survey methodology. As I said, the net Indicators which are the outcome of the pay trend survey is only one of the factors to be considered in the civil service pay adjustment exercise. The entire mechanism requires us to consider six factors in total, balancing six factors taking into account the current situation. So the methodology itself will be reviewed by the committee doing the pay trend survey every year before they start a fresh round of survey, so I’m sure the committee this year will look at the methodology again and see if there can be adjustments. But for the adjustment mechanism itself, we believe the six factors have provided us a very good basis for consideration. All the necessary factors that should be taken into account are present here in this basket of factors. So I think the mechanism itself has been serving us very well, and I do not believe that there should be any major changes to the mechanism.

 

Reporter: Just to follow up on previous questions. Could you explain the rationale behind the standard pay adjustment for senior, middle and also junior civil servants? Because back in 2019, the percentage was higher for junior and middle civil servants. And the second question has to do about the 2.5 per cent increase. You said the civil servants would understand the rationale. Could we also ask about …? Because the CPI in the past two years was already 1.9 per cent combined, so it was 1.6 per cent in 2021 and 0.3 per cent in 2020, so how would you compare the percentage increase in the CPI or the inflation, and also the pay rise this time?

 

Secretary for the Civil Service: Thank you for your question. For the rationale, as I explained just now, the net Pay Trend Indicators is one of the considerations we have taken into account, but we’ve also taken into account other considerations. This is a special year. Our economy is just recovering from the fifth wave of the epidemic. There have been improvements in recent months, but whether the local economic situation will continue to improve depends very much on whether the epidemic will be under control. There are also uncertainties in the bigger global scene. There are geopolitics considerations, tense international relations, inflation in other countries has also been high. So there are a lot of uncertainties there. Hong Kong being an open economy is bound to be affected by what’s happening elsewhere in the world. This year, we are having a deficit budget. There will be a deficit as forecast by the Financial Secretary of more than $50 billion. So we believe this year when dealing with civil service pay adjustment, we should be more prudent and the 2.5 per cent increase across-the-board is a decision taken after balancing all the relevant factors. That is the rationale behind. As for the change in cost of living, the CPI (Consumer Price Index), every year when the CE-in-Council makes a decision on civil service pay adjustment, the CE-in-Council has taken into consideration all the factors relevant for that year. We do not carry the factor that was relevant for the past year into this year’s consideration. So this year, we have taken into account the CPI increase in the 12 months from April 2021 to March 2022 over the previous 12 months, and the percentage increase is about 1.7 per cent.

 

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Hong Kong – Opening remarks by SCS on civil service pay adjustment at media session (with video)

Opening remarks by SCS on civil service pay adjustment at media session (with video)

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     Following is the opening remarks by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Mrs Ingrid Yeung, at a media session on offers of 2022-23 civil service pay adjustment at Central Government Offices this afternoon (July 5):



     The current-term Government highly values co-operation with the civil service, and expects the civil service to continue to discharge their duties professionally and efficiently to meet public expectations. The Government fully understands the concern of civil service colleagues about the timetable of the civil service pay adjustment exercise. In addition, civil service pay adjustment will have a bearing on non-civil service contract staff, as well as the subventions received by subvented organisations and the pay of their staff of these organisations.



     In order to expedite the exercise, the Government has decided to significantly compress the work timetable and handle this issue at the first meeting of the current-term Executive Council.



     Having taken into consideration the six relevant factors under the established mechanism, namely the state of Hong Kong’s economy, changes in the cost of living, the Government’s fiscal position, civil service morale, the net pay trend indicators (PTIs) and the pay claims of the staff side, the Chief Executive-in-Council (CE-in-Council) has decided earlier today that an offer be made to the staff side of the four civil service central consultative councils, under which the pay for civil servants in the upper, middle and lower salary bands and the directorate be increased at the same rate of 2.5 per cent for 2022-23, effective retrospectively from April 1. 



     Hong Kong’s economy has been in a complex situation in the past year. Despite the strong rebound in 2021, the economy was severely hit in the first quarter of 2022 amidst the fifth wave of the epidemic. Although the business atmosphere and the employment situation have changed for the better in recent months, there remain uncertainties in the overall economic situation. The offer to increase the pay at the same rate of 2.5 per cent across the board is a decision taken after balancing factors including the increase in the cost of living in the past year, the changes in the economic situation, the Government’s fiscal position, the positive net PTIs for all three salary bands for 2022, and the exemplary commitment of civil servants from all ranks in fighting the epidemic.



     Moving forward, I will meet with the representatives of the four central consultative councils tomorrow (July 6) to listen to their views on the pay offer. We will then proceed to seek the CE-in-Council’s decision on the final pay adjustment magnitude after taking into account the response from the staff side. Thank you.

Hong Kong – Transcript of remarks at press conference on Principal Official appointments (3) (with video)

Transcript of remarks at press conference on Principal Official appointments (3) (with video)

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Reporter: I actually have a question for Ms Mak. Being a new minister in a new position, what are the key performance indicators you set especially for youth services. Thank you.

 

Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs (designate): As I said in my opening remarks that youth matters, we will focus on youth work and I will work closely with all sectors in the society and community to develop youth policies that young people can see hope and opportunities. After July 1, I will discuss with my team to formulate constructive and practical youth policies, and especially our major task is to develop the youth development blueprint as stated in the Chief Executive-elect’s manifesto.

 

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)