It is the consensus
of Hong Kong people to strive for a harmonious
society. This is also a common goal of the government
and the NGOs. In order for this vision to be realized,
a Genuine Partnership between these two has to
be established first.
As genuine partners, the NGO-Government relationship
should not be one based solely on a contractual
or funder-recipient relationship. Instead, NGOs
and the government should be the two legs simultaneously
walking towards this goal of harmonious society.
Hong Kong people are zealous to build a harmonious
society with justice and equity. In fact, as mentioned
by the Chief Executive in the Council for Sustainable
Development's 2005 Report on the Engagement Process
for a First Sustainable Development Strategy:
"One of the key principles of sustainable
development is that we should all work together,
as concerned stakeholders, to maintain and improve
the social, economic and environmental conditions
of our planet for coming generations. However,
in a large and dynamic city like Hong Kong, there
are many stakeholders with different backgrounds
and points of view. The challenge for the Council,
therefore, has been to develop a process of engagement
that takes account of the diverse opinions and
preferences of stakeholders and allows us to point
a way forward that will make Hong Kong more sustainable
... we note that there is a growing level of awareness
in the community of how important sustainable
development is to maintaining and improving the
quality of life in our city ... we appreciate
the need to build on the lessons of this exercise
to improve the engagement process and to enhance
the capacity of the community to tackle the challenges
of sustainable development in the many areas in
which it affects our lives."
And thus, the Council has identified ways of
enhancing the engagement process:
- A process for selecting new areas for engagement
should be established that would allows take
holders to have a greater say in the choice
of topics and the parameters of discussion.
- Future engagement exercises should involve
extensive outreach aimed at different levels.
Appropriate resources should be put in place
to enable all groups to participate in the process
and contribute to strategy formulation.
- The involvement of individuals who are representatives
of stakeholder groups but who can also maintain
independence (e.g., as Conveners or Support
Group members) throughout the exercise should
- One of the key areas to build on is the continued
engagement of Hong Kong's youth population.
The Youth Forum provided a valuable means of
reaching out to the young people of Hong Kong
and highlighted the fact that one of the cornerstones
of sustainable development is concern for the
well being of future generations.
It is our hope that the Chief Executive will
realize that these suggestions can also be applied
to the arena of social welfare service, including
the infrastructure for social welfare planning.
For a start, then, a Genuine Partnership has to
be built between NGOs and the government.
The same logic is found in other urban planning
issues, such as the Planning Guideline No.39 by
Town Planning Board, which stipulates that "In
view of the rising community aspiration for a
higher degree of transparency and participation
in the planning system, and to provide a channel
for the public to contribute to the determination
of planning parameters for major development/
redevelopment projects, District Councils (DCs)
should be consulted on all planning briefs."
Hence, the Chief Executive should, in his Policy
Address, recognize the Genuine Partnership between
NGOs and the government, and establish a formal
mechanism so as to make social welfare planning
more effective with greater public engagement.