With the Steering Committee for Logistics Development in place, all eyes have turned to the crucial selection of members for the Logistics Council of Hong Kong. The council, the private/public-sector nerve centre of Hong Kong's drive to become the region's premier logistics hub, is expected to be appointed by Port and Maritime Board (PMB) secretary Alex Fong Chi-wai before the end of the month. But with so much at stake, industry watchers are apprehensive that politics, rather than a wide industry knowledge, will play too big a part in the selection of the council's private-sector members. Mr Fong has said he doubts there will be any surprises in the council's selection, which some in the industry have taken to mean Hong Kong's most influential companies in the trade transport and infrastructure fields are likely to be represented. From the maritime sector, Orient Overseas Container Line is strongly tipped to be represented, as is Hutchison Whampoa subsidiary Hongkong International Terminals, with executive director Eric Ip's name being mentioned for a seat on the council. From aviation, Cathay Pacific is a strong bet, most likely to be represented by Swire chairman James Hughes-Hallett, a known proponent of a cautious approach to liberalisation of the SAR's aviation policies. From the express sector, DHL chairman Po Chung has been actively positioning himself to play an important role in the future of the logistics industry. Mr Po this month requested at least one audience with Financial Secretary Antony Leung, the chairman of the steering committee, to 'put forward some ideas', according to a source close to the PMB. Coincidently, DHL has been silent among integrators in criticising what key executives from United Parcel Service and Federal Express have called 'Hong Kong's restrictive aviation regime'. From rail, a Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp executive is likely to make the cut, as is an influential person from the trucking industry. To represent the multinationals, Li & Fung chairman Victor Li is a hot favourite as a council appointee although, as he also is chairman of the publicly funded Airport Authority, he also could sit on the public side of the council. From the construction and infrastructure industry, Hopewell Holding's Sir Gordon Wu, chairman of the PMB, is a front-runner. There also is an obvious need for the council to have an appointee from the information-technology sector, preferably one who is not affiliated with a particular mode of transport. 'It is essential the person have a broad knowledge of how IT is applied to the logistics industry as a whole, not just one sector of it,' a supply-chain management specialist said. The problem, according to critics, is that all these companies' representatives would lean towards a uni-modal perspective of the logistics industry when the emphasis should be on integrating the supply chain to add value for the multinationals. Also, given the possibilities discussed above, the private sector would be represented by at least eight seats, and that is not including a presence of midstream and river-trade or warehousing and consolidation specialists. With the number of public members expected to be similar, the council would already have more than 20 members, a number some on the Committee for Logistics Service Development (CLSD) find prohibitive. 'You would try to give input at the meetings, but there were just too many people,' said one CLSD member. 'Any more than 15 members would be a problem.' One solution put forward, albeit a radical one, is that the council should be made up from the companies which know the comprehensive needs of the industry better than others, the multinationals. It was envisioned the private members of the council could be from major global shippers in five or six key industries: textiles, apparel, pharmaceuticals, electronics, toys and perishables. When the strategies are finalised to integrate Hong Kong's fragmented supply chain with the source of the goods in the Pearl River Delta, project teams could be selected from the modes of transport and industry to which they relate. Having project teams directed by the council was one of the suggestions put forward by the PMB-funded McClier report, a broad framework for the Government's logistics initiative, and it is a favoured strategy of Mr Fong. This scenario would mean Mr Fong would have to tell some of Hong Kong's most influential business people they would not be getting a seat on the council.