The Hong Kong government should look to foreign countries on how to improve social cohesion, a UN official said yesterday. The disbanding of a government panel to study the topic was a 'drawback' for building solidarity, she said. The comments came as the results of a survey showed that the administration's style of governance was perceived as the most serious factor undermining social cohesion in Hong Kong. Gloria Kan Li, from the United Nation's Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the government and non-governmental groups should step up efforts in building solidarity. 'The government should be more open and see how things work in other countries and societies on the international stage. It should learn from other countries where developments have had good results and are supported by the people,' she said on the sidelines of a University of Hong Kong conference on social cohesion. The Central Policy Unit set up a panel last year to study social cohesion in Hong Kong. But the panel, which consisted of leading academics and social figures, was disbanded in July after submitting a report to the chief executive. A spokeswoman for the unit said the results of the study would not be made public and would be used for internal reference. Mrs Kan said the panel might have helped to build solidarity in Hong Kong. She also said the UN could help the Hong Kong government assess and develop social cohesion if requested. A survey by the social sciences faculty at the University of Hong Kong also found the administration's style of governance was cited by respondents as the main factor in undermining social cohesion, followed by the influence of pro-China groups, the chief executive and his principal officials. 'People in Hong Kong believe our political leaders and parties cannot be trusted ... It is a serious warning because if it doesn't improve, no social cohesion can be achieved,' said associate professor Joseph Chan Cho-wai, who conducted the survey. Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said that government efforts to promote social cohesion should capitalise on volunteerism and community participation.