The next secretary for labour and welfare has said he considered becoming a taxi driver after retiring from university teaching, instead of becoming a top official.

Law Chi-kwong was an associate professor in social work at the University of Hong Kong and a co-founder of the Democratic Party. He was part of the new cabinet unveiled on Wednesday, the only newcomer recruited from outside the government.

“Until now, I didn’t quite understand why anyone would love to be a principal official,” Law said with a laugh during a RTHK radio programme on Thursday.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong.
Upcoming Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong. Photo: GovHK.

“I have thought about being a taxi driver; it may be better for getting in touch with more people from different backgrounds,” he added.

Law said he was willing to serve society in different roles, but he understood that the public have high expectations for officials: “It is not exactly an attractive job.”

Law had long been working with Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam on poverty alleviation issues as the chairperson of the Community Care Fund Task Force under the government’s Commission on Poverty.

He said he understood that soon he will represent the government and he has to be careful with speaking publicly, unlike when he was teaching and doing research.

“But if, as an official, you don’t express your own views, how can you listen to opinions from other people?” he said.

Law Chi-kwong Carrie Lam
Law Chi-kwong and Carrie Lam. File Photo: GovHK.

Law has often been called the “brain” of the Democratic Party.

“The years of work I did at the Democratic Party – this emotional [tie] can’t be erased easily. I would not deny I still have an emotional tie with the Democratic Party,” he said.

Law would not comment on the choice of his undersecretary and political assistant, but confirmed he would be the one choosing them.

On policies, Law said Hong Kong has to deal with the ageing population, as he estimated the populace over 85-years-old in 30 years would be 4.2 times the current figure. Those over 100 would be ten times the current one. He said there may be a need to import labour for jobs such as elderly care, but – at the same time – local labour should be protected as well.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.