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This page is updated on 2006-07-27 12:04
Christian Service News
Issue 40 (July 2003)
Index of This Issue
Chief Executive's Column
The Role of The Third Sector
Chief Exectuive
NG Shui Lai
In the past few months Hong Kong had been greatly affected by the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The impact of it went far beyond the health arena. Rather it uncovered the common mind shared by each and everyone in the community.

No doubt the Government and health authorities were at the front lines during this "war" against SARS. However, one can witness the extent of community support by an overview of the strong community network and the healthy tradition found in all civil societies at large. Comparing ourselves with neighbouring communities, we can conclude that the strong tradition civil society at large in Hong Kong did contribute to the way our community handled its crisis.

Many had argued that civil society as such is not just aims at serving the purpose of an isolated phase of work (e.g. a social service organization providing social service) but is an important factor which contributes to the democratic process within society and fosters the stability of a community.

Civil society very often has been referred to as the third sector alongside with the business sector and the government. In Hong Kong, voluntary social service agencies are by and large the strongest members in the third sector. It was voluntary agencies that first responded to the urgent social needs of the 50's. Due to the colonial rule, it was the voluntary agencies that advocated better social policy and the participation of each citizen in the political process until the late 70's when political reform aimed at representative government began to take shape.

Hong Kong is still in the process of trying to discover how to have a more representative government. The present situation in our society calls for a more cohesive inclusion of all sectors. The recent SARS outbreak demonstrated that a strong third sector is important for the foundation of today's society. The Government and each one of us should work hand in hand to create an environment in which the third sector could be enabled to develop.

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