In good hands
Legislative councillors often say the people are their 'boss'. They are responsible for many things, including passing laws, debating issues of public interest, and examining and approving budgets.
Young Post meets Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan.
Most importantly, a legislative councillor should serve the public faithfully. They are elected by the people to solve problems and improve social conditions.
Lawmakers should also be good listeners and enjoy meeting people. Handling suggestions and complaints is a vital part of their job. They have a heavy workload. Chan, a member of eight panels and other committees, says her schedule is sometimes packed with meetings from 9am to 10pm.
Legislators should also be willing to acquire more knowledge, Chan says. Sometimes they may have to get involved in issues outside their specialty. They have to spend a lot of time reading books and documents while keeping up with the latest local affairs. They should have strong principles and not be swayed by emotion.
They should do their job without fear or favour and monitor the government's work.
A background in political science or law will be helpful. Chan graduated with a Bachelor of Law and a Postgraduate Certificate in Laws from the University of Hong Kong. She says familiarity with the legal system could make things easier at the start.
However, Chan emphasises it's important to have different views so that there's constructive debate in the Legislative Council.
According to Chan, district council assistants start at HK$7,000 to HK$8,000 per month. Legislative council assistants, who have more experience and a heavier workload, can expect a monthly salary of HK$9,000 to HK$10,000.
Chan joined the Civic Party in 2006. Within a year, she was elected to the Central and Western District Council of Hong Kong (Peak Constituency) with party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee and fellow district councillor Amy Yung Wing-sheung.
Then, in 2008, she ran in the Civic Party's first Legislative Council election and won by a wide margin. Chan advises aspiring legislators to join a political party and meet likeminded people.
Other options include becoming assistants to district or legislative councillors or launching concern groups to tackle important issues like air pollution and education.
Later, with adequate experience, they can take part in district or legislative council elections.
As she works her way up, Chan has more responsibilities. She is now involved in planning, arts and culture, and environmental issues. She wants to keep the promises she made to the public during the elections.
Where to apply
You can try to join political parties, district and legislative councillors' offices and concern groups. They are great places to accumulate experience, skills and knowledge and expand your social network.
A day at work
Almost every day is a working day for Tanya Chan. Her daily schedule usually includes eight appointments. In Legco meetings, Chan reads the government's written replies beforehand, listens to other legislators' speeches and prepares oral questions to clarify certain issues.
She also looks at the two weekly motions and decides whether they need amendments. Chan also has to give media interviews, answer letters from the public, and join campaigns. She regularly organises team meetings on vital social issues.
Recently, she has been dealing with complaints about the Mid-Levels property project, The Icon. Sometimes, she goes on site visits. For example, she visited a place in the Mid-Levels where a dog was poisoned, along with officials from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Chan usually spends late evenings getting ready for the next day's work. She goes through the Legco agenda and related documents, and prepares questions.