HK leader wants her team to embrace new technologies

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Lam looking to set up civil service academy similar to Singapore model

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam wants her new administration to embrace new technologies and to set up a training academy for the city's civil servants to keep up with the times.

On the second day of her two-day visit here yesterday, Mrs Lam said she looks forward to more exchanges and collaborations with Singapore, her first overseas destination since taking office last month.

She said Hong Kong's 170,000 civil servants deserve a well-resourced training facility similar to Singapore's Civil Service College, where she was at yesterday.

"I visited the Civil Service College five years ago.

"The reason why I came again is... to explore in Hong Kong a dedicated civil service academy or college in order to provide more training for our civil servants, especially in areas such as leadership, public participation and also in terms of the application and use of technology," she told reporters.

Mrs Lam, who had 37 years of experience in the civil service, was Chief Secretary, the city's No. 2 official, before she became Hong Kong's first female Chief Executive.

She hoped the new training college would be set up within her five-year term of office, which is due to end in 2022.

She said the plan is at "a very preliminary, conceptual stage" and that the Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr Law Chi Kong, will visit Singapore for more discussions.

Besides the college, Mrs Lam, 60, also visited the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and GovTech Hive, an innovation lab for digital services under GovTech.

I’ve picked these three points of visit because of my vision for what I want to do back in Hong Kong.Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, on why she chose to visit the Civil Service College, URA and GovTech Hive

"I've picked these three points of visit because of my vision for what I want to do back in Hong Kong," she said.

At a briefing session held at GovTech Hive by Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Education, and Mr Chan Cheow Hoe, deputy chief executive of GovTech, Mrs Lam was interested to find out how data and technology can be used in the provision and delivery of public services, and how to overcome institutional inertia towards new technology.

She told Singaporean officials that while Hong Kong had a similar government agency, it was nothing like Govtech Hive.

Mrs Lam later asked, to laughter from the rest of the group, if there were "off-the-shelf solutions".

She said the Hong Kong government had found it hard to overcome the difficulties it encountered in using new technologies and data-sharing to come up with solutions that benefit the people.

At a media doorstop, she made clear that she was not criticising her civil service colleagues.

But as it would for "any institution that has been well established for many years and doing things in the same manner for many years", it is not easy to think out of the box and to try new ways, she said.

"So we do need some sort of disruption... to stimulate my colleagues to really think in a more innovative way," she said.

There needs to be "a wider application of technology" if Hong Kong wants to stay competitive and become a smart city, she added.

Mrs Lam left for Thailand, her second and last stop, last night.