SCMP Friday, April 20, 2001

Just call me 'Brother Warm', new FS tells Legco

Financial Secretary-to-be Antony Leung Kam-chung set a nice, informal tone when he met with the Breakfast Group of legislators recently. The seven members inquired how he would like to be addressed when he takes up his new post. Should they call him by his first name or "FS", the two ways they addressed Donald Tsang Yam-kuen?
Mr Leung told them: "Ah Chung sounds better." Roughly translated, "Ah" means "brother", and the translation of his given name Chung means "warm", so it sounds as if relations will be fraternal and friendly - not always the usual state of affairs between government officials and legislators.
Democrat Sin Chung-kai, chairman of the Legco Bills Committee which scrutinised the much-criticised law on photocopying, sparked more criticism from talk-show host Albert Cheng King-hon when he turned down Cheng's offer of 10 minutes' airtime on his radio show to explain his case. Mr Sin's earlier refusal to apologise was likened by Cheng to the American reaction after the release of the spy-plane crew.
Mr Sin replied he had already decided to apologise to the public when Cheng phoned, and he was not prepared to give him an exclusive because he had scheduled a press conference to make the announcement later that day.
Legco convenor Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai is keen to have more open days for the public at Legco, but the Secretariat office does not have enough manpower to handle the numbers wanting to attend. So there is no chance of this happening in the foreseeable future.
Ms Fan says she enjoys the events, as they help the public understand the legislature. As her official duties in the chamber include ruling on matters bound to make her unpopular with one faction or another, it probably helps that she is one of the most popular people there on open days. According to legislators, hundreds of schoolchildren surround her demanding her autograph.
After all the praise heaped on Rosanna Wong Yick-ming following her appointment as chairman of the Education Commission last week comes a sobering note. Turning down press requests for an interview with Ms Wong, an information officer at the Education and Manpower Bureau told a Post reporter: "She wouldn't have much to say at this stage, anyway. She has not even begun her new job."
What a disappointment. Here we were, hoping that she'd be bubbling over with ideas and rarin' to go in one of the most challenging and important posts in Hong Kong.
But apparently some civil servants believe you don't waste a thought on a new job until you're actually in it.
Hong Kong isn't the only place with a problem about medical blunders. Although standards in Britain are nowhere near the parlous state they have slumped to here, Westminster is so fed up with euphemistically named "adverse events" in hospitals, clinics and consulting rooms that it has set up an independent agency to investigate all medical errors in the same way as air accidents are handled.
The aim is to bring such probes under one official body so every sector of the profession can learn from mistakes which individual hospitals or practitioners might try to keep under wraps. It is also intended to protect medical staff, by advising them on safety procedures and cutting down on mistakes, which in many cases are apparently due to the system rather than doctors or nurses.
Sounds like a development that might be worth looking at here.