Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Dr York Chow has been in his new role for just over a month. In an interview with news.gov.hk, he said he has taken time to meet with the community and now better understands local needs.
These meetings, he said, have inspired him to try to formulate policies according to people's views and needs.
"I think I have been very much stimulated and inspired in the last month," Dr Chow said. "I was supported by a lot of colleagues in the bureau. They brief me, they educate me, so to some extent I have learned a lot during this short period of time.
|Multi-faceted role: Dr York Chow sees the implementation of the flu vaccination programme; in an interview with news.gov.hk; and gathering views from seniors.|
"At the same time, I started to have a strong feel for what the community's like, and have been able to meet a lot of people from different sectors, welfare, food as well as healthcare," he added.
His is a big role, encompassing three all-important areas - health, welfare and food. Asked whether he had mapped out his priorities yet, Dr Chow said he would put equal emphasis on issues under his purview.
"Of course, we need to have a lot of feedback - from the public, from the Legislative Councilors, from our government colleagues - about how to move ahead. At the moment, we need to address the safety of our city, particularly against any infectious diseases, or poisoning of our food," he said.
He also hopes to address the healthcare financing model and welfare for the underprivileged.
"These are the things that I'm addressing, and even within each area we have identified some focus that we hope we can address first."
From the executive suite to the Executive Council
Before taking on this role, Dr Chow had served the Hospital Authority for two decades, most recently as Cluster Chief Executive. Aged 57, he is an orthopaedic surgeon by profession. He was appointed Chief Executive of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 1992. In 2001, he was appointed Chief Executive of Queen Mary Hospital, and as Cluster Chief Executive of the Hong Kong West Cluster in 2002.
When asked how his professional life is different now that he has moved from an executive suite to serving on the Executive Council, Dr Chow admitted he is now in a "totally different role".
"I used to be a backstage manager. Doctors and nurses are on the front stage," he said.
He finds he is much more exposed now that he must represent the Government. He must ensure the public understands what the Government's philosophy is, what the policies are.
"There is a large communication role on top of the strategy, planning and development. So it is very exciting and I really enjoy it," he said.
History of volunteer and community work
Married with two daughters, Dr Chow participates actively in voluntary and community work. He served as Vice-Chairman of the Hong Kong Sports Development Board and the Sports Institute, and as a member of the Rehabilitation Task Force.
He has been Chairman of the Hong Kong Sports Association for the Physically Disabled since 1986 and has been elected as Vice-President of the International Paralympic Committee since 1997. He is also a Council Member of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
How does he like to unwind in his "down" time?
Sports, classical music tops pastime list
"I have a pattern of daily activity and a weekly exercise programme for swimming and exercise," he said. "But every evening I try to find at least half an hour to listen to music."
Classical music is his favourite, particularly Mozart and Beethoven's symphonies.
"That's the time I relax and recap what I did the whole day."
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