Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce chairman James Tien Pei-chun has attacked the Government's longstanding policy of 'positive non-interventionism' in the technology area as 'do nothingism'. He said it was 'about as sensible as wearing a raincoat in the sun'. Mr Tien, speaking at a Hong Kong Society of Accountants manufacturing forum, said he was sceptical about the Government's recently stated commitment to a science park concept, and to the information technology area generally. He urged the Government to be more active on the tax front to assist the medium and high-technology sectors through tax breaks and preferential tax treatment to foreign computer multinationals such as International Business Machines Corp. 'The Government's role is to actually facilitate research and development (R&D),' Mr Tien said. Mr Tien, who is also a legislative councillor, acknowledged that the Government had started to pick up its act in the area. He said the Government's recent announcement that the Applied R&D Scheme had sanctioned 14 projects for $50 million in just under three years was an example of an improving government-driven culture in the area. Another recently introduced scheme, known as the Co-operative Applied Research and Development Scheme (CARDS) had in 1995 - its first year - granted $16 million for mainly electronic products. This culture for developing high-technology industries needed to go much further, Mr Tien said. 'Frankly, $66 million for practical R&D is rather miserly.' The Deputy Secretary for Trade and Industry, Francis Ho Suen-wai, said the provision of tax incentives did not ensure a strong electronics industry. While fiddling with the tax system was an option open to the Government, factors like whether operating in the sector was commercially viable would determine the fate of the technology sector. It was profitability which would ultimately determine investment, not the incentives the Government could provide on the tax front. Hong Kong already was advantaged by low across-the-board tax rates by world standards, he said.