Legco president plans fact-finding trip to US to study think tanks

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 July, 2014, 3:28am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 July, 2014, 3:28am

Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing is planning a fact-finding trip to the US over the summer to study the experiences of high-powered think tanks before attempting to form one in Hong Kong.

Tsang told the South China Morning Post that he planned to visit the Brookings Institution, Heritage Foundation and Centre for American Progress, all based in Washington.

"We would like to see how the institutes in other countries operate … and see which way would suit Hong Kong the most," the pro-establishment heavyweight said.

Earlier this year, Tsang, the founding chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong, commissioned a group of experts to figure out how to nurture a mature think tank in Hong Kong.

He said it would help bring the city's policy debate up to the standard required to tackle upcoming challenges.

Tsang said he hoped to finish all the visits by August and complete a report by the end of this year.

Andrew Fung Ho-keung, the chief executive of the Policy Research Institute who is working closely with Tsang on the project, said it was urgent for Hong Kong to develop its policy research.

"The city might have very good infrastructure, but the software is still lacking," he said. "There is yet to be any [policy] research with great impact in this town."

Fung said they would study different aspects of the think tanks, such as their relationship with government, Congress and political parties, as well as their funding and media relations work.

The duo, and a few researchers, will also visit Beijing, Singapore and Taiwan in the coming months, Fung added.

There are several policy institutes in Hong Kong which have formed a close relationship with the government.

The Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, set up in 2006 by the head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Norman Chan Tak-lam, was regarded as former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's think tank.

But the centre's influence has diminished since Leung Chun-ying took office in 2012.

The One Country Two Systems Research Institute, led by executive councillor Cheung Chi-kong - a close aide of Leung - has since gained prominence.