Civil service academy planned for Hong Kong

By on 08/08/2017 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief executive, Hong Kong SAR (Image courtesy: Bundesministerium fur Europa, Integration und Ausseres).

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has pledged to set up an academy for civil servants after visiting the Singapore government’s training college.

Lam toured Singapore’s Civil Service College (CSC) during her first official visit to the Lion City since taking office on 1 July. Following the tour on 3 August, the former chief secretary said she had first visited the college five years ago, according to Singapore newspaper the Straits Times.

“The reason I came again is…I really want us to explore in Hong Kong a dedicated civil service academy or college in order to provide more training for our civil servants, especially in several areas such as leadership, public participation and also in terms of the application and use of technology,” she said.

Lam, 60, who joined the Hong Kong civil service in 1980, said the plan was still at “a very preliminary, conceptual stage” but she hoped that the new training college for civil servants would be set up within her five year term of office, which is due to end in 2022.

She said Hong Kong’s 170,000 civil servants deserved a well-resourced training facility in the face of new challenges and her tour of the Singapore college had been “very enlightening”.

Hong Kong’s secretary for the civil service Joshua Law Chi-kong would visit Singapore for further discussions, she added.

Sharing ideas for reform

Lam exchanged views on civil service training and reform with Singapore’s deputy prime minister Teo Chee Hean over lunch at the National University of Singapore’s Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise.

She went on to visit GovTech Hive, an innovation lab for digital services run by the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (Gov Tech), and attended a briefing at the city-state’s Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Gov Tech minister Dr Janil Puthucheary and deputy chief executive Chan Cheow Hoe briefed Lam on new hi-tech initiatives in Singapore such as the OneService app, which helps residents to report issues to municipal authorities, and myResponder app, which alerts first aiders to nearby heart attack incidents.

Lam said she had found it difficult to push Hong Kong officials to use new technology and share data, according to Hong Kong newspaper the South China Morning Post.

“I am not criticising my own civil service colleagues when I make that comment,” she said. “But you will understand that in any institution which has been well-established for many years and doing things the same way for many years, especially when we are subject to resource constraints …it is not easy to think outside of the box and try new ways. So we do need some sort of disruptions…to stimulate my colleagues to really think in a more innovative way.”

Wider application of technology would help Hong Kong to stay competitive and improve the delivery of public services, she added.

Close relations reaffirmed

At the end of her two-day visit, Lam was hosted by prime minister Lee Hsien Loong and emeritus senior minister Goh Chok Tong at Istana, the official residence of Singapore’s president Tony Tan Keng Yam.

Lee and Lam reaffirmed the close relations between the two cities and discussed deepening cooperation in areas including trade and investment, finance and civil aviation, as well as exploring potential collaboration on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, according to a statement from Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

They also welcomed the conclusion of negotiations on 31 July between Hong Kong and the Association of South East Asian Nationals over a free trade agreement.

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See also:

Hong Kong court backs gay marriage rights for civil servants

Christine Loh, Under Secretary for the Environment, Hong Kong: Exclusive Interview

Carrie Lam: what we know about Hong Kong’s chief executive-elect

About Liz Heron

Liz Heron is a journalist based in London. She worked on daily newspapers for more than 16 years as an education correspondent, section editor and general news reporter. She was Education Editor of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and has contributed to a wide range of British media including The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC.

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