AT 40, BERNARD CHAN is enjoying a smooth ride in the fast lane of politics after entering the profession seven years ago. He succeeded in capturing the Legislative Council insurance functional constituency seat in 1998, and was re-elected in 2000 and 2004 respectively. Last October, he was named by the exiting chief executive Tung Chee-hwa to sit on the Executive Council - the city's highest policy decision-making body. Seven years after becoming the youngest member of Legco, Mr Chan remains the youngest face in the legislature formed in the 2004 elections. He may not be a household name, but pundits have no doubt he will be one of the major players in the political scene in the next 10 to 15 years. The grandson of Chin Sophonpanich, who founded Bangkok Bank, the largest private bank in Thailand, Mr Chan was born in Hong Kong in 1965. His father, Robin Chan Yau-hing, keeps a low profile but is a long-standing Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress and is highly-respected in pro-Beijing circles. Recalling his youth, Mr Chan confessed he did not enjoy his school days at St Joseph's Primary School, and things went from bad to worse at secondary school in St Joseph's College. 'I remember the class teacher announcing my results in front of the class and saying: 'You have no future. You're hopeless',' he says. He ended up at Rosaryhill School, where, among other things, he learned to act responsibly and behave like a leader after he was made a prefect. After spending two years of high school in a Pennsylvania boarding school, Mr Chan went on to Pomona College in Los Angeles, majoring in studio art (some of his unique dot paintings can be found on his website: www.bernardchan.com ). While enjoying his liberal arts education at university, he began a lengthy battle against a rare illness - inflammation of the arteries. 'My doctor once told me to live like a 50-year-old to conserve myself, but I decided if my life were to be short I'd rather enjoy it.' He means it. His business title is short: executive director of the Asia Financial Group and president of Asia Insurance. His public service record tells a fuller story. Executive and Legislative Council membership aside, he chairs the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and the Standing Committee on Disciplined Services Salaries and Conditions of Service. Other public duties include membership and directorship of the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation, Lingnan University, the Community Investment and Inclusion Fund Committee and the Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council. He holds 45 paid directorships and is a member of 43 boards, committees and other organisations. A legislator with no party affiliation, Mr Chan has been a key member of The Alliance (previously the Breakfast Group). He may not be considered a democrat, but he supports the idea of a timetable to introduce universal suffrage in Hong Kong. With a strong business and professional background, Mr Chan has played a unique role in building bridges between the haves and the have-nots. As head of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, he has been instrumental in launching the caring company programme that aims to promote corporate involvement in charity. Asked about his role model in life, Mr Chan said his grandfather was a major source of inspiration. 'I read things about him from books ... Put simply, success is not about the money you make, but the dignity and appreciation the community gives you. That makes you understand and appreciate the goal of life.'