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Speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration


Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, at the opening of the Civil Service Management Forum today (August 26):

Good morning everyone and welcome to this opening session of the civil service management forum.

The theme of the forum is "A world-class government for Asia's world city". The format of the forum is somewhat unusual, as we will adopt the RootMap learning method throughout. I was first introduced to the RootMap methodology at the time I was mulling over the implications of the Accountability System for the civil service. I believed that a seminar applying this method would bring the management of the civil service closer together as a team and would sharpen our focus in appreciating and tackling the challenges of governance in modern age Hong Kong.

Over the next four days, you will be among more than 14,000 colleagues taking part in this forum. It is the first time that the government has involved so many officers in a single forum, over such a compact space of time.

It is also the first time in Asia that this particular communications tool has been used. In a few minutes you will see just how different this approach is. The emphasis is on discussion, and not on offering the right or wrong answers. It is on holding a frank and open dialogue with those around you. Speak freely, share your experiences and listen to what others have to say. Collective effort will naturally generate the balanced answers. It is, most of all, an occasion for us to discover ourselves as a team.

The RootMap Learning method inspires innovative and interactive discussions. The name RootMap itself attracts me.

First, we have embarked on a new form of government in Hong Kong. The accountability system is almost two months old and is beginning to take root. Indeed, the system is less important than the ideals which it embraces. The ideals of a more open and inclusive government whose members define career success and satisfaction on the basis of a deep and true sense of service to the people of Hong Kong. We must now look ahead, make good on our promise and realise these ideals.

The new Principal Officials cannot do this on their own. They will look to you for advice and draw on your experience when plotting the course forward. I know that they will be able to rely on you. And I have told them so.

We can never over-emphasise the importance of service. That is the core of our existence and the source of our pride as public servants. It goes to the very root of what we do at work every day. And it applies equally to every person in every grade at every level.

Second, in examining the many and varied challenges that cross our paths we must get to the root of the problem. Quite often that will mean some painful and unpopular recommendations. The Principal Officials need to hear them in meeting rising community expectations. A band-aid solution implies sloppy thinking and the public will tell what it is. Intellectual rigour in policy-making must remain the hallmark of our fine civil service. The days of mass production in policy-making are over. Quality is the key to durable success. If we aim to deliver quality, which we must as a competitive economy, we have to start from the root. Our people demand no less.

Third, despite the rapid changes taking place we must preserve the basic tenets that make you all part of one of the best civil services in the world. Honesty, integrity, fair play, meritocracy, diligence and dedication - all of these are the strengths of the Hong Kong civil service. And all of these should continue to form the roots of our administration in the future, whatever challenges and pressures we face. We should embody these values in going about our work and particularly in making policy recommendations.

Hong Kong has set itself the goal to become 'Asia's world city'. It is our benchmark and one we must always strive to reach and surpass it in our daily work.

An objective this week is to help ourselves achieve a deeper and common understanding of this goal. In particular, we hope it reinforces the critical role that the civil service plays in bringing this vision to life and in meeting the needs and aspirations of the community. Globalisation, China's entry to the WTO, growing competition from neighbouring cities, the increasing pace of technological development, skill mismatch in our workforce, the need for life-long learning - all of these will impact on the work of civil servants in the next few years, and beyond.

But to achieve our goals, there will be a greater need to break down the barriers between bureaux and departments. This does not narrowly mean wholesale organisational mergers, although it can be one option. I mean departments and their bureau working as an integrated team. This will require a change in mindset.

We will also need to work more closely with the private sector, NGOs and the public to ensure that our policies and practices have the support of the community. In other words, as you have just seen in the video, we will need to work in partnership both inside and outside government.

Today's forum is but one step in that process. Gathered here, under one roof, we share a unique opportunity to tap the experience and expertise of colleagues from a wide range and ranks and grades. As you will discover, it doesn't matter whether you are an AO, EO, LO or IO; architect, engineer or lawyer; doctor, dentist or nurse; policeman, teacher or safety inspector. It doesn't matter whether you work in a bureau or department, a unit or a division. What matters is that when we work together as a team, when we use our imagination and ingenuity, we can solve any problems that come our way.

We should also remember that we are all part of the community we serve. We all share the same concerns, the same anxieties and the same dreams as anybody else. We all want our children to receive a good education. We all want cleaner air. We all want Hong Kong to remain an open, free and plural society under the rule of law. But as civil servants you all play a direct role in making that happen. You can, and do, make a difference through what you do every day at work.

I am sure that you will enjoy today's forum. I am looking forward to receiving the valuable feedback that will flow from these discussions. I will be writing to department heads to ask them to follow up on what will transpire in these discussions and to draw up a strategy in response.

Finally, please let me thank you all personally for your hard work and dedication over many years, and for your participation today.

Thank you.

End/Monday, August 26, 2002


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