Top brass needed for tech role, says IT chief

Local | Sum Lok-kei 13 Oct 2017

Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung fended off questions of being sidelined after the chief executive announced on Wednesday she will personally lead a steering committee on innovation and technology.

Yang yesterday said Carrie Lam's leadership will allow the government to speak on a level field with mainland officials in developing the Hetao district in Shenzhen, which he said may become the hub of innovation in the Big Bay Area. Chairing the steering committee might be out of his league, he said.

High-level leadership is required, as many bureaus and departments are involved in developing innovative technology in Hong Kong, he said.

"It is not a matter of division of labor, Lam made us work as a team since the start of the current term government," said Yang, who was appointed in November 2015 after a long battle to set up the bureau under former CE Leung Chun-ying.

Yang said the success of innovation and technology in Singapore is also due to its prime minister's direct involvement.

The Innovation and Technology Bureau's role is to coordinate the numerous bureaus and departments involved in the steering committee and facilitate discussions. "She is not taking the job away," he said.

Yang also disclosed more details on the "e-ID" - a digital identity that will be provided to all Hong Kong citizens for conducting online transactions. It is likely all future government services will be linked to the e-ID but it will be optional for private commercial transactions, he said.

Yang said the e-ID will make use of cloud technology, and will be "free and clear of privacy issues." Unlike the e-Cert that is offered by Hongkong Post, citizens will not have to carry it physically, Yang said.

To obtain the e-ID, one has to be identified at a trusted source.

According to Lam, the e-ID is part of the HK$700 million government spending in turning Hong Kong into a smart city.

The CE also said in her policy address that the government will review existing legislation to "relax restrictions" on innovative technology. But some popular online services, including Uber, may not be on the short- list to get the government's green light. "I don't want to use Uber or Airbnb as targets," Yang said.

The steering committee will meet to discuss how to remove obstacles for innovative enterprises, he said.

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