Personnel screening is no ‘white terror’

The China Post staff

The Chief of the Cabinet-level Central Personnel Administration(CPA) yesterday rebuffed criticism of the proposed loyalty checks for civil servants as a form of “white terror,” saying that the screenings will be carried out in an open, transparent and systematic manner.

During the so-called “white terror” era, all government employees were screened, however, under the new regulation, only public servants employed in the fields of national defense, foreign affairs, science and technology, intelligence and investigation, finance and economics and mainland affairs will be subject to integrity and loyalty checks, said CPA Director-General Lee Yi-yang. “There is absolutely no similarity between the current loyalty checks and white terror,” he stated. According to Lee, only 4,000 to 5,000 of the total 800,000 government employees will undergo the integrity and loyalty checks. Over 70 percent of those being screened work in intelligence and investigation units.

The whole procedure will be open, transparent, democratic and systematic, employees will be notified prior to the screening, and also informed of the results. During the “white terror” era employees were totally unaware of the checks being carried out. Lee explained. The CPA chief also stressed that personal ideology and political affiliation do not constitute any part of the integrity and loyalty screenings. Saying that the checks will be carried out by investigation units instead of personnel units, Lee added that a civil servant can also file for an appeal should he or she consider the screening result to be unfair. Under the CPA’s plan, a government employee will face action if they have been involved in sabotage, espionage, treason, terrorist actions, provoking riots, or, most controversially, if they has close relatives residing in Hong Kong or mainland China.

The CPA’s announcement, last week, of regulations for the proposed integrity and loyalty checks even drew criticism from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party Legislative Whip, Wang To. Wang accused the government of backward thinking and said that such investigations could easily be used to instigate a political witch-hunt.