The Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) will terminate employment contracts with 94 of its irregularly recruited staff, as stated in a report released by the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) on March 10. IC president Leung Hio Ming disclosed this information yesterday, during a press conference at the IC office regarding the aforementioned report. All department heads were required to occupy the front rows in the conference room.
The CCAC report highlighted several unlawful hiring practices at the IC. The report was issued just weeks after a leadership change at the IC, in which former president Ung Vai Meng quit unexpectedly and was replaced by Leung, one of the bureau’s former vice presidents.
Leung began by explaining that between 2010 until the present, IC has purchased 32 public facilities and organized many different art events. This resulted in an increased workload, and the department began facing severe pressure in terms of human resources.
“About three fourths of the people will end their relationship with IC between June and September,” revealed Leung. The aforementioned 94 people are still working for the IC.
Leung noted that IC, following the CCAC report, has already terminated its previous employment contracts with these staff members.
However, in order to allow IC more time to adjust itself in terms of human resources, the IC has continued to employ these people through temporary contracts “to meet emergency needs.”
The law states that citing “emergency needs” as justification for a temporary contract allows IC a maximum of one year to resolve its employment difficulties.
Besides the majority who will leave IC before the end of September, the remaining workers will also gradually leave the department before their temporary contracts finish. “They [the 94 people] need time to plan their future,” said Leung.
The CCAC report also pointed out that the bureau had appointed two department heads who had less than five years of working experience.
Leung claimed that the above happened because several Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) functions, employees and facilities were merged with IC, which had appointed 14 department heads back in January 1,2016.
“Due to the deviation of the IC’s understanding of legal articles, flaws arose within the institute’s administrative behaviors,” explained Leung. According to him, Chief Executive Chui Sai On waived working experience requirements for the two department heads.
Last Friday, while attending a meeting at the Legislative Assembly, Chui said that he would never, within his term, make use of his rights to waive working experience requirement for any kind of leadership.
The new IC president also expressed that he “completely agreed with and respected the CCAC.”
Regarding the parties responsible for the aforementioned human resources problem, Leung said that “all department heads and leaders are responsible for the problems, as the problems spread widely all over IC.”
“They [the issues found] do not involve interests or violations of the law,” said Leong, adding that “many levels have problems.”
Although the improper recruitments were approved by IC leaders as well as by other IC high officials, Leong did not disclose any accountability or punishment to be undertaken by these leaders.
However, he repeatedly indicated that these mistakes happened only because of the IC’s imperfect knowledge of the region’s laws, and were therefore unrelated to corruption.
Leung further repeated several times that “the [CCAC] report had great impact over the IC, and a great influence over the society.”
He also expressed his hope that society will continue to support the IC, and look at it in a comprehensive and objective way.
Alexis Tam says Ung is not involved in corruption
The Commission Against Corruption report was released a few weeks after IC former president Ung Vai Meng stepped down from his position.
Regarding the doubts whether Ung was involved in the improper recruitment of human resources, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam spoke in Ung’s support last Sunday, asserting that no corruption was involved in the recruitment.
“He was not familiar with the laws, [and] is not involved in any corruption,” said Tam, adding that Ung might not have a deep understanding of the city’s laws regarding the employment process. “He was not aware that it was a mistake back then,” Tam said.