Leung Chun Ying

Lawmaker revives unpopular IT bureau debate

C.Y. Leung failed to create bureau to energise the IT sector, but new lawmaker says it's vital

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 2:59am

A newly-elected lawmaker has revived the unpopular debate around creating a bureau to kick-start Hong Kong's lagging technology industry.

While lawmakers blocked Leung Chun-ying's proposal for bureaus for culture and technology earlier this year, before he was elected chief executive, Charles Mok says his plan has the weight to succeed.

Mok, a pan-democrat who won the information technology constituency in Sunday's Legislative Council election, made the bold claims in an interview yesterday. The chairman of the pan-democratic think-tank Professional Commons defeated incumbent lawmaker Samson Tam Wai-ho, after losing to him four years ago by a mere 35 votes.

Reflecting on his rivals' four years in office, Mok said the prospects for the information technology industry in that period had stagnated.

He cited the key to progress as splitting the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau into two departments - one for commerce and the other for technology and communications.

"With that, the administration could [be more focused on] drawing up a comprehensive policy on [the IT industry's development]," Mok said.

Though Leung was blocked, Mok is confident that creating a two bureau system could win lawmakers' support as the new plans would be far better focused than the earlier, broader proposals.

Hong Kong may lag behind other economies, such as Taiwan and the mainland, but it still has the potential to become a regional IT hub, he said.

"Our advantages are the professional quality of the people, their creativity and [willingness to] comply with rules and regulations, and our rule of law," Mok said. "The way forward is not for local IT firms and the government to focus only on opportunities in the mainland. We should focus on Hong Kong."

Mok urged the administration to launch initiatives - such as tax incentives and government-supported programmes - to encourage local firms to use Hong Kong IT services and products to help small and medium-sized firms expand.