It may seem like a break from his former positions as legislator and ombudsman but Andrew So Kwok-wing thinks his work promoting ethical values in education and business is a continuation of his lifelong career in public service. 'A lot of people say we are fighting an uphill battle, but we are not doing too badly within our scope,' he said, referring to his work with the Hong Kong Institute of Educational Leadership, a non-governmental organisation he helped set up about 1997 to promote ethics and personal development. The institute runs training courses at cost for parents, teachers and youth workers. Since his tenure as ombudsman ended in January 1999, Mr So has devoted much of his time to the institute which he serves as chief administrator. 'The idea of an institute to promote basic human values stemmed from my involvement in education,' Mr So said. 'We [at the institute] promote human values such as responsibility and respect,' he said. 'Others may regard love and peace as more important - but we consider a sense of duty, especially among the young - to themselves, to society and family and country - as especially important. 'I won't describe myself as a religious person but I share Christian values. I study Buddhism, Taoism, and I am a Catholic, but I regard my work as spiritual work. Spirituality is anything that transcends the physical - anyone who is doing some good work for society is performing spiritual work. 'I found that such an institute is so important and should be done by an NGO. I believe the private sector and volunteers are more effective than a [government] agency [in promoting value education and business ethics]. Maybe eventually the government would see the need for it, and start working with [NGOs], or they would subsidise it.' The institute derives income from donations and membership fees. One of the institute's successes is its Hong Kong-based spin-off - called the Association for International Business Ethics - which focuses on the mainland, Macau and Taiwan. Its partner in Beijing, the Centre for International Business Ethics, is organising a seminar in the capital this month on corporate ethics and eastern wisdom. Michel Camdessus, former president of the International Monetary Fund, is scheduled to give the keynote speech on finance and accountability. 'There is much to be done on the mainland with its fast economic growth,' Mr So said. Besides running seminars, the centre in Beijing and the association in Hong Kong help corporations develop codes of ethics. 'It's not all talks and seminars. There has to be follow-up whereby people from the same corporation or profession can discuss and develop their own corporate values and cultures,' he said. 'They can then work out a code of ethics and a suitable compliance system based on corporate responsibility.'