Emerging public policy group steps up to the plate

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 February, 2007, 12:00am


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A public policy advocacy group widely seen as a source of political talent in Hong Kong says it is trying to enhance its credibility in light of rising public expectations.

'We need to think about our stance on policy and how to carry out social services in a more systematic way,' said Zandra Mok Yee-tuen, a core member of 30S Group.

The group, which was formed after the Sars outbreak in 2003, shot into the media spotlight last month after three of its core members - Laurence Li Lu-jen, David Cheung Ching-leung and Bryan Wong Kim-yeung - were appointed to the Antiquities Advisory Board.

Their appointment, along with a few other new faces, has widely been seen as an attempt by the government to inject new blood into the expanded advisory body to mollify public concern about preserving Hong Kong's heritage.

It is also being viewed as a first step in absorbing young professionals to take part in policy formulation.

Some pundits believe the group will be a potential source of political talent for deputy ministers and assistants to ministers.

Ms Mok, a former journalist now studying for a doctoral degree at Tsinghua University, said membership and money were the two main issues that the group had to think about when it came to restructuring in the long term.

'Society, as well as the participants, have much higher expectations of us [than before],' she said.

Mr Li agreed, saying: 'If it had not been for such outside expectations, we would have walked more slowly.'

The group is run on a self-financing basis and has 'participants' rather than fee-paying members.

The three members appointed to the advisory board were recommended to the government by executive councillor Bernard Charnwut Chan.

Mr Li is the former director of corporate finance with the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, Mr Cheung is a stock exchange listing committee member and Mr Wong is director of operations services at Hong Kong Disneyland. The group has 18 organisers, all in their 30s, as well as 500-plus 'participants' who join its activities, which range from social services to forums, where guest speakers include government officials. Some of its core members have raised their profiles by regularly writing articles for local newspapers.

Mr Li said the group's aim was to provide a platform for participants who came from all walks of life and with diverse political backgrounds, thus defying any political or other labelling.

Despite their various backgrounds, Mr Li said all shared core values: they loved Hong Kong and wanted to get involved. 'Our generation's common value is participation ... but there are few channels through which we can do so.'

Francis Ngai Wah-sing, another core member who is responsible for organising social services, said their open-minded approach was seen in the co-operation with not only non-governmental organisations but also district councils.

Mr Li said the group was lining up a meeting with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. It will meet his challenger in the chief executive election, Alan Leong Kah-kit, today.