New civil servants to face tests on national security

The government says newly recruited civil servants will in future have to take a test on the national security law.

In papers submitted to the legislature, the Civil Service Bureau says the tests, in addition to those already given on the Basic Law, are expected to be introduced by the middle of next year.

“To ensure new recruits have a basic knowledge about the Basic Law and the national security law, we will review and update the contents of the Basic Law tests, and the security law will be within the scope of the tests,” it said.

The bureau says the new requirement will encourage potential recruits to learn more about the security legislation.

It says it is necessary for civil servants to have a correct understanding of the security law, and their correct understanding of the constitutional order is vastly important for the robustness of the One Country, Two Systems principle.

The bureau adds that it has strengthened the training of staff over the constitution, the Basic Law and the national security law, and a more systematic training structure will be established to set out mandatory courses for different levels of staff.

Lee Fong-chung, who chairs the Senior Government Officers Association, said with a change in the political environment, it’s only natural for the government to introduce the security law tests.

“The [existing] Basic Law tests are quite simple, consisting of 15 multiple choice questions. I believe the national security law tests will be similar,” he said.

“I think anyone who wants to join the government should [find it] easy to prepare for the exam.”

However, Leung Chau-ting, from the Federation of Civil Service Unions, said he was concerned the new tests will make the job less attractive.

“When the pay for civil servants is similar to the private sector, civil service jobs may not be that attractive nowadays, especially for young people. I believe more recruitment conditions means you’re making it more difficult to hire talented people, it will only hurt the government,” he said.

Leung said the government could instead require civil servants to take courses on the security law at the future civil service academy.