Give Dr Leung a break

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 February, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 February, 1995, 12:00am

ON a cold Monday morning, spare a seasonal thought for Ronald Leung Ding-bong, the overworked chairman of the Urban Council. Dr Leung revealed yesterday that when not feeling the heat for the new Hong Kong Stadium, which he masterminded, he is being forced to join fact-finding missions to the far corners of the globe because colleagues value his social skills.

Only someone who has devoted his lifetime to public service would accept such arduous tasks as studying Australia's liquor-licensing laws, Japan's street sweeping and Toronto's cultural facilities. And what were the social skills that kept Dr Leung so much in demand? His neighbours on Old Peak Road have complained of marathon karaoke sessions, late-night parties and clattering mahjong tiles. It sounds as if Dr Leung's participation in eight overseas trips in the past three years may have performed two functions: keeping his colleagues awake, and allowing his neighbours to sleep.

However, there are two serious points to be made about the Urbco excursions. First, if Dr Leung's colleagues lack social skills to represent Hong Kong overseas, they should either stay home, or pay for their own foreign travel. Second, if Urbco trips are such casual affairs that Dr Leung's social skills are needed, it is questionable whether the trips are likely to do Hong Kong much good. Dr Leung even says that he only took part in half the study tour of Australia because of a prior business engagement in Japan. Does that mean that only half the Australian tour was necessary, or that Dr Leung only did half a job? Dr Leung is a warm and friendly man with a record of public service. No one doubts he is popular among his colleagues, too. However, spending public money is a serious business, and when Dr Leung faces the voters, they may not want to hear I Did It My Way.