Theme-based Research Scheme
26 November 2009
Dr York Liao
Steering Committee for Research Themes
The Government of the HKSAR
Room 1150 Wu Chung House
213 Queen's Road East, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Dear Dr Liao,
Theme-based Research Scheme
Thank you for your letter inviting the Hong Kong Democratic Foundation (HKDF) to comment on the proposed Theme-based Research Scheme. The HKDF welcomes the Education Bureau's initiative to allocate additional resources to examine medium and long-term issues and problems facing Hong Kong. An additional sum of around HK$200 million per annum seems to be a reasonable sum to start. The following is a summary of comments made by members of the HKDF.
Theme A - Promoting good health
First priority for funding of healthcare research should be given to projects that evaluate the most cost-effective treatment regimens for major diseases so these can subsequently be adopted by the Hospital Authority as standard protocols (also known as Diagnostic Related Groups - DRGs) and so that the Department of Health can encourage the private sector to adopt and eventually subcontract DRGs from the public healthcare system at standard unit costs. A closely related topic is the funding of research that undertake comparative evaluations in the effectiveness of treating diseases with Chinese and Western medicine, respectively and for evaluating the effectiveness, including cost effectiveness of Chinese medicine treatments as a substitute of surgical intervention, where practicable. Other topics under Theme A) that could be considered include:
Researches into the eradication of chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer disease and other forms of dementia that attack the elderly and the ageing process. This is particularly relevant because of Hong Kong's aging population.
The social and ethical implications of euthanasia and assisted death.
Hong Kong is uniquely placed to conduct research into linking Chinese medicine to promoting good health and a preventive form of healthcare. Essentially, modern (Western) medicine has saved us from many acute forms of disease, but more emphasis could be put on how to bring better quality of life.
Theme B - Developing a sustainable environment
Other than the topics suggested under Theme B, we also suggest that some research should be done on:
Links between pollution and disease.
Alternative energy sources that are suitable for Hong Kong since large scale wind, wave and solar energy farm may have limited application.
How to enhance Hong Kong's current knowhow on green-building design.
Clean energy transport (e.g. electric or hybrid cars) that can cope with Hong Kong's conditions.
Theme C - Enhancing Hong Kong's position as a regional and international business centre
Looking ahead, we believe that China is focused on becoming the largest "Knowledge-based Economy" in the world. Since the "Knowledge-based Economy" was promoted strongly by the Chief Executive in his latest Policy Speech, we believe Hong Kong is at an opportune time to assist mainland China in developing their "Knowledge-based Economy" and reap very substantial economic benefit for ourselves by positioning itself as the "Centre of Excellence for Technology Commercialisation" for the whole of China. This strategy is complementary and supportive of the "Six New Industries" proposed in the Policy Address. We believe that an economic study is necessary at this stage so the implementation measures of the "Knowledge-based Economy" could be explained in term that could be understood by policy makers in Hong Kong and the mainland.
Building a "Knowledge-based Economy" that services Mainland China, Asia and the West will certainly help enhance Hong Kong's strategic position as a regional and international business centre. The concept is a more forward-looking one and probably a more appropriate title for Theme C, considering that you are looking for longer-term "economic transformation" (rather than short-term gains) to enhance Hong Kong's position as an important business centre of China and of the Asia Pacific Region.
In addition to the three topics suggested, the following could also be considered under the "regional and international business centre" or "Knowledge-based Economy" theme:
Research into valuation methods of "Intangible Assets" (i.e. the "Knowledge" owned by enterprises). This needs to be done in collaboration with the international accounting community and Mainland accounting bodies. Implement of such knowhow will help to enhance inbound and outbound investments from China, as well as inbound investments into China and Hong Kong.
Practical ways to help develop Hong Kong into an IP & Technology Transfer and Service Centre for the whole of China (i.e. making best use of Hong Kong's legal and business infrastructure to service China and at the same time create substantial development of high-end, high value-added service capacity in Hong Kong).
How to assist China to build up the knowledge and practices of the "Knowledge-based Economy" (e.g. facilitate knowledge transfer between China and the West, training and education to enterprises and assisting China in developing an "Innovation Strategy" that is compatible to the international IP regime).
How to make best use of Hong Kong's strengths when collaborating with the "Guangzhou Knowledge City" project (a joint venture between Guangzhou and Singapore) and other similar initiatives in the Pearl River Delta area.
How to facilitate a "Virtuous Ecology" to assist the development of the "Knowledge-based Economy" in Hong Kong and in Mainland China.
Other themes to consider in future
Over the past 20 years, HKDF looked into many issues but the following seem to be recurring "future themes" which we hope the Education Bureau could also consider:
Governance, better government and how to enable the community to channel merit-based solutions to the administration: This is important to Hong Kong as the administration may need better ways to register economic development ideas, community aspirations and find better ways to develop and implement merit-based solutions in partnership with the community. There may or may not be a need to overhaul the current consultation system, but the introduction of a more proactive (versus "defensive") consensus building process, a more effective public engagement model and a more proactive decision making process within the HKSARG are the subjects Hong Kong as a whole should look into.
Poverty, social inequality and social mobility: The policy issues and solutions under this theme are diverse. They may include doing cost-benefit analysis on the current policy of restricting CSSA payment to new immigrants from the Mainland, addressing other blind spots in the current social welfare system, finding solutions on how to improve the education opportunity and training standards of the population, overhauling the inadequacy of current institutions that are to be supposed to be doing the job, defining economic development measures designed to increase employment of specific low-income sectors or age sectors, reviewing the current housing policy and financing retirement protection, etc.
I hope our comments have been useful to you.
Hong Kong Democratic Foundation
Reproduction of this paper is permitted with proper attribution to the Hong Kong Democratic Foundation