The secretariat of Hong Kong’s legislature faced fresh accusations of political bias on Thursday, after a security guard said she was asked to declare her political stance during her employment in a questionnaire.
A woman, surnamed Wong, said she faced “constant bullying” from her supervisors after refusing to fill out a form in October 2017 that asked if she was “yellow” or “blue” – referring to colours symbolising the pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camps.
Over the year that followed, Wong received unreasonable complaints and her work evaluations turned negative, she said. Wong was employed as a security guard in August 2016 with a three-year contract. However, she said he had to seek medical attention to deal with stress, and will leave her job at the end of this month.
The woman spoke at a press conference on Thursday, wearing a disguise and accompanied by Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam. Tam said he had written to the Legislative Council Commission demanding an explanation, adding that the incident showed that the legislature’s administrators were not as neutral as they claimed.
An independent commission of enquiry would be needed for the incident, Tam added, otherwise he would not rule out an investigation under the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance.
When asked whether there was evidence to support Wong’s claims, Tam said that he had proof but would rather reveal it during the investigation stage.
Shortly after four pro-democracy lawmakers were ousted from the legislature in 2017, Wong recalled that she and other members of her security team were asked to declare their political affiliations.
The form included her name and the names of her colleagues, and there was no option to pick “neutral,” she said.
Wong also recalled instances where her bosses warned against interacting with “people [she] should not talk to.” Once, she was spotted talking to pro-democracy activist Raphael Wong, who was then working as a political assistant.
Another time she tried to guide a well-known elderly protester – affectionately known as “grandma Wong” – out of the road and back onto the curb, but later was reprimanded for leaving her post.
On Thursday evening, the legislature’s president Andrew Leung said that the allegations were very serious, and will be discussed when the Legislative Council Commission meets on May 20.
“We will deal with this as seriously as possible,” he said.
Kenneth Chen, the legislature’s secretary-general who heads the secretariat, refused to give a straight answer over whether the “blue or yellow” forms existed. Chen said he had just received the documents submitted by Tam and needed more time to study them.
However, he maintained that he had never asked his employees to declare their political stances.
“Political neutrality is a core value and operating principle of the secretariat,” Chen said, adding that the secretariat takes all complaints seriously and will cooperate with the Commission.
Asked if Chen should step down, Leung said that “there were only allegations but no proof,” and that the incident did not reach a level that required Chen to be suspended.
The secretariat had been under fire for intervening in the legislative process of the Hong Kong government’s extradition plan, with democrats accusing it of abusing its power to side with the pro-Beijing camp. In that case, Chen also denied any wrongdoing on the part of the secretariat.
The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters. HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.