Hong Kong social worker body given powers to swiftly deregister national security offenders

Hong Kong lawmakers have approved a bill to allow the city’s revamped social worker regulator to deregister members convicted of national security offences and certain crimes, in a bid to depoliticise a sector whose members were heavily pro-protesters during the 2019 social unrest.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Chris Sun Yuk-han argued on Wednesday that the amended Social Workers Registration Ordinance would provide a “better” and “more secure foundation” for the operation of the Social Workers Registration Board, dismissing concerns that it would discourage people from joining the profession.

The amendments passed by the Legislative Council will increase the size of the board from 15 members to 27, as well as the proportion of government appointees.

The board, which oversees 27,000 people in the industry, will also be empowered to quickly deregister those convicted of certain crimes and permanently disqualify anyone involved in serious offences such as endangering national security.

The amendments were submitted to the legislature for scrutiny after Sun earlier accused the board of failing to stop national security offenders from becoming registered professionals.

Critics previously expressed concerns that the overhaul would have a huge impact on the industry in the long run, such as undermining its professional autonomy, the right to speak on social issues and the sector’s morale.

The passage of the amendments follows a wave of resignations from seven of the board’s eight elected members, including former chairman Ng Yut-ming, with the move seen as an act of protest.



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