Marathon meetings, heated debates and mass demonstrations are the words that come to mind when talking about Hong Kong's Legislative Council (Legco), which has just moved to its new premises in Admiralty. The unsung group of heroes behind the discussions, and certainly those between Legco members and government officials, is the Legco Secretariat, which provides administrative support and services to members, and facilitates meetings.
Angel Wong, acting principal council secretary (special duties) of Legco, says it is the Secretariat's duty to provide support and services to the council, its committees and to the people of Hong Kong.
"The mission of the Secretariat is to provide efficient administrative, secretariat and research support for the council, enhance community understanding of the activities of the council and ensure an effective avenue for redress," she says.
The Legco Secretariat is seeking individuals who are dedicated to serving the council and the public. "They should be responsible, willing to work long hours, knowledgable, and keen to enhance their technical knowledge and professionalism. They should also possess good language and interpersonal skills," says Wong.
Michael Yu, acting head of research at Legco, says his job is to help members learn about issues relevant to Hong Kong. "When a new issue comes up, we have to prepare fact sheets and information notes for members to grasp the full-picture within a short period," says Yu. "It is really demanding to work on such a short deadline, but it is challenging."
Yu adds that employees must be very cautious about how to present their findings, which are read by 60 lawmakers of different backgrounds.
"We want to produce research reports that are readable for all of them," he says.
The research team also goes on trips with Legco members to collect information and assist in writing up reports afterwards. "Report-writing is a huge part of my job," says Yu.
He adds that staff must master writing in Chinese and English. In addition, having a master's degree in law or social sciences-related disciplines is advantageous.
Given the demands of the job, the Secretariat rewards staff with high-level training and career development. Each grade has a career development committee which is responsible for identifying and addressing the training needs for staff in different positions within the department.
Employees are also encouraged to attend the workshops and seminars organised by the Civil Service Bureau to keep them abreast of the latest developments in socio-economic issues. "We have visited legislatures in other places to learn about their operations," says Yu.
The Secretariat also encourages employees to gain exposure by offering a career development scheme in which staff work in other divisions. "Job rotations allow staff to learn," says Wong.