In June 2019, the CCAC received a report from “workers of the Policy Research and Regional Development Bureau”, who mentioned a number of irregular acts carried out by Mi Jian as the Director of the Policy Research and Regional Development Bureau (DSEPDR) and as the Chief of the former Policy Research Office and requested for the CCAC’s investigation. Following the investigation, the CCAC considered that most of the allegations mentioned in the report were unable to be substantiated or did not constitute a violation of law. However, the DSEPDR has hired workers without going through open recruitment processes. Such practices did not accord with the principles of fairness and openness set up in the legal regime of recruitment of public servants of the Macao SAR.
A number of complaints were mentioned in the report, including Mi’s attitude towards other people, asking others to address himself as “professor” all the time, splitting the contracts in order to circumvent the regulations on public tendering, concocting various pretexts for study tours abroad, redoing the signboard of the bureau, placing table tennis table in the office and smoking in the office, etc. It was found in the investigation that some of the complaints were groundless and therefore did not involve illegality or irregularity, while some were obviously beyond the scope of the CCAC’s jurisdiction over investigation of power abuse or administrative illegality.
The report alleged that Mi rent an upscale apartment with public money. The CCAC found in the investigation that the housing subsidy received by Mi was higher than the amount provided for in Law no.2/2011 (Regime of Seniority Premium, Housing Subsidy and Family Subsidy) when he was a principal adviser of the former Policy Research Office under a labour contract. According to the law, employees hired under a labour contract may enjoy benefits different from those for general public servants, so the practice in question did not contravene the law. After taking up the positions as Chief of the former Policy Research Office and Director of the DSEPDR, he has been hired under fixed-term appointment in lieu of the labour contract, which means the salaries and benefits to be received shall follow the general regulations of the civil service laws. Therefore, the housing subsidy received by him has changed to an amount equal to 40 salary points.
According to the report, Mi allegedly practiced cronyism by hiring his PhD students to work in the service without having them go through open recruitment processes. The CCAC found in the investigation that the former Policy Research Office and the DSEPDR did once hire a few researchers under labour contracts who were exempted from going through the open recruitment processes. They were among the six personnel mentioned in the complaint letter. The CCAC also found that the six researchers knew Mi or somehow had connection with him before the employment. Some were Mi’s PhD students, some were candidates recommended by his former colleagues, and some were people he met in the academic seminars.
During the investigation, the directors and chiefs of the DSEPDR disclosed to the CCAC that, due to the special nature of the work of the Bureau, they have very demanding requirements on the quality of researchers. The candidates must hold a doctoral degree and have the relevant work experience. Moreover, they may only be employed after they have passed a stringent background check. As the civil service laws set forth that a bachelor’s degree is one of the qualification requirements for the post of senior officer, the DSEPDR believed, after consultation with the Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau (SAFP), that it was impossible to recruit the relevant researchers through the central recruitment system. As a result, its researchers have all along been hired under labour contracts and without being subject to open recruitment processes.
During the recruitment of researchers, duties were delineated according to the types of work to be performed. The principal adviser Mi was responsible for identifying researchers in the fields of politics and law. Mi told the CCAC that, not long after the establishment of the former Policy Research Office, it had tried to look for qualified policy and law researchers in Macao but did not succeed. After discussion with the SAFP and approval of the superior, the former Policy Research Office started to look for suitable candidates in other places.
Local candidates were given priority when selecting researchers and non-locals would be considered only when there was a lack of local candidates. Mi stated that he chose suitable candidates through different methods. Among the candidates, some were his former PhD students, some were recommended by his former colleagues or students, while some candidates were the scholars he met when attending academic seminars. Having asked them if they were interested in the jobs, Mi requested them to send their resumes to the former Policy Research Office in order to conduct recruitment process.
For this purpose, a jury panel comprising the former Chief, the Deputy Chief and the principal adviser of the former Policy Research Office were formed and the relevant candidates were invited to take part in the recruitment process. The selection methods adopted were determined by the jury panel. The recruitment process consisted of interview, while written exam might be given depending on whether the jury panel deemed it necessary to test their writing skills. Subsequently, the former Chief drew up a proposal for employment of the passing candidates. Information shows that all of the invited candidates had passed the recruitment process and were employed by the former Policy Research Office eventually.
Following the analysis, the CCAC considered that although the former Policy Research Office’s employment of the researchers under labour contracts without going through open recruitment processes was not illegal, there were defects in the method of the selection of the candidates and it did not comply with the principles of fairness and openness provided for in the legal regime of recruitment of public servants, which inevitably gave rise to doubts about cronyism. In addition, among the workers hired by the DSEPDR without going through open recruitment processes, not all of them were researchers. In fact, some of them were administration and finance workers. Therefore, there was no sufficient justification for the exemption of open recruitment. In the CCAC’s opinion, the DSEPDR should thoroughly reflect on its recruitment processes, strictly abide by the regulations on open recruitment provided by the legal regime of the public service and put an end to the abuse of the mechanism of exemption of open recruitment.