District problem-solvers find support
District councillors can make a difference in solving problems concerning people's livelihoods even though their powers are limited, say a think-tank and a group seeking bolder reforms in district management.
SynergyNet and the District Council Reform Alliance, founded by a group of district councillors, academics and commentators, have compiled a booklet detailing cases where councillors have strived to solve problems concerning people's livelihoods in different districts. The booklet, which cost about $70,000 to produce, looks at cases in eight districts, including Shamshuipo, Tuen Mun, Wong Tai Sin, Tin Shui Wai, Wan Chai and Discovery Bay.
Ray Yep Kin-man, research director of SynergyNet, said the group compiled the booklet to let people know district councillors could do something meaningful even if they had limited powers.
He said jokes had been cracked that all district councillors could do was organise picnics and 'snake banquets' for residents. 'Our study shows that some dedicated councillors can really help resolve problems at a district level,' Mr Yep said.
Wong Tai Sin district councillor Lam Man-fai said the bad public impression of district councillors was due to their limited powers. 'If they are given real power, they will be able to do more serious work and [be] held accountable to their supporters.'
Mr Lam, who has served his district for more than 18 years, tells in the booklet of his fruitless efforts over the years to preserve Nga Tsin Wai walled village in Wong Tai Sin. Mr Lam realised he had to co-operate with legislators to assert more influence. After his efforts to preserve the village failed, he turned to forming a Kai Tak alliance with Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Chan Yuen-han, proposing a history trail in southeast Kowloon.
'Partnering with reputable legislators definitely helps. It's much more useful than shouting in the district,' he said.