Honing political skills high on the agenda

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 August, 2007, 12:00am

New faces on the political scene are considering the forthcoming district council elections as an exercise in honing their political skills.

The administration is planning to create new posts of deputy and assistant secretary to train political talent, and when it comes to developing skills in communicating with the people, nothing beats the baptism of an election campaign, say aspiring politicians.

'In the past, policies could be ironed out in an office building,' said Ronald Chan Ngok-pang, who once toyed with the idea of applying for a job as an administrative officer, the traditional career path for aspiring policymakers.

'Nowadays, a seasoned politician should have election and policymaking skills,' he said, adding that he was interested in running in the November 18 polls for the experience.

Zandra Mok Yee-tuen, a core member of the 30S Group, a network of new political talent, said her group would not formally endorse any election candidates, but would do its best to support any of its members who wished to run.

'I feel we've needed fresh faces on the political scene since 2003,' she said. 'But regarding the district council elections, it's not just about what fresh ideas these new people can bring to politics, but also about what the experience of electioneering can give to the candidates.'

Aspiring candidates are hoping their fresh outlook will mobilise the middle class.

Ronald Chan, 24, who describes himself as being 'very typically middle class', is a founding member of the Savantas Policy Institute, a think-tank chaired by former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee.

He said that if he were to run, it would not be under Savantas since it was not a political party.

Victor Chan Ka-ming, 40, another 30S Group member, is also considering running in the elections under his Civic Party status, serving residents in North Point and Fortress Hill.

'Hong Kong has its fair share of old faces in politics,' he said. 'We, the new breed, tend to do things differently - more investigation, more research. The Civic Party in general will bring a new dimension - we have lawyers, accountants and architects.'

The middle-class Cyberport area in Pok Fu Lam, where Ronald Chan works, has traditionally been difficult to mobilise politically, especially since luxury residences such as Bel-Air and Baguio Villas do not allow district workers to knock on doors. However, he hopes his youthful perseverance will reward him.

'There are not a lot of problems that I can help resolve. These residents are mainly doctors, lawyers - they are already very resourceful themselves, which means it's rather difficult to speak to them face to face,' he said.

To create opportunities for communication, he has had to rise at dawn and join in tai chi sessions in a playground near Baguio Villas for 11/2 months. On other occasions, he sets up a stall at the exit to the residential complexes, greeting residents and waving banners as they drive by.

Victor Chan, a business manager, holds three to four sessions a week at his 'mobile service stations' in his area. He agreed that his mostly middle-class residents had less incentive to seek help from a district worker.

'But my feeling is if I stay here long enough, they will start to open up to me with their problems,' he said.