Public Policy Research - Layman summaries of projects funded in 4th Round

CityU 1001-PPR-4
In Search of Family-friendly Policies in Low-income Neighborhoods: A Life Course Perspective
PI: Dr Wing-chung Ho

This study used both quantitative and qualitative data to examine the structural constraints faced by mothers and their life-course strategies used to manage work and childcare in low-income communities in Hong Kong. The data were drawn from a survey (N=1,429) on mothers living in five communities. The analysis mainly focused on a subset (N+889) of the data which covered two low-income communities, Tin Shui Wai and Sham Shui Po; and eventually on a sample of this subset (N=285) with which individual in-depth interviews were conducted. Drawing upon interviews with mothers most who were from poor households and of migrant backgrounds, the study showed that respondents relied on a different strategies related to childcare while under financial pressure. The data demonstrated that there was a lack of affordable and accessible daycare services which are a fundamental component of any family-friendly policy. Findings also pointed to the problematic policy priority of helping poor households solely by increasing temporary job opportunities in the communities. In the concrete terms, policy implications such as the setting up of the voucher system of child daycare service and the Pyramid of Family-friendly Services were discussed.

CUHK 4003-PPR-4
Developing a Policy Framework for Integration of Traditional Chinese and Allopathic Medicine in Hong Kong Using Delphi Technique
PI: Prof Griffiths Sian

Nature: This project aims to devise a policy framework for fostering inter-professional collaboration (IPC) between western medical doctors (WMD) and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners (TCMP)

Significance: Use of both western and traditional Chinese medicine (WM and TCM) is common amongst Hong Kong patients, particularly those who are middle aged and chronically ill. Despite the professionalization of TCM practice in the past decade, TCMP remains largely segregated from WM practice. Strategies for coordinating the two modalities are long overdue. To inform future TCM development within the local healthcare system where WM is historically the mainstream, consensus based policy solutions for fostering WMD-TCMP IPC are the first step for improving quality of care for patients who choose to use both.

Value: Strengthening primary care is a major component in Hong Kong healthcare reform strategy. As an integral part of primary care, TCM service must be harmonized with other health services, so that the virtues of continuity, coordination and comprehensiveness would be preserved. A WMD-TCMP IPC framework will form the cornerstone for this harmonization process, and will contribute to the future design of seamless WM-TCM care in Hong Kong.

CUHK 4005-PPR-4
Inter-city Competition and Cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen in the 11th Five-year Plan Period
PI: Prof Jianfa Shen

The project has developed a conceptual framework of inter-city competition and cooperation in a unique institutional context of "one country-two systems" in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Asymmetry urban governance is identified as a major challenge for inter-city cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Hong Kong government's "non-intervention policy" differs significantly from Shenzhen government's "developmental state" approach to urban economy. The concepts of relative competition and absolute competition are proposed. Policy makers and the public should differentiate relative competition from absolute competition.

Through public surveys and interviews, this research has examined the urban development strategies and the position of inter-city cooperation in two cities. The changing context of urban development in two cities and the emerging consensus among the public are key factors facilitating the progress of cooperation. Policy suggestions are proposed on inter-city competition and cooperation. For examples, more information and visiting exchange are needed between the officials and residents in the two cities to ensure better understanding. The Lok Ma Chau spur line should be built as a priority. The most important need of airport cooperation is to improve ground transport to two airports for residents of both cities.

CUHK 4010-PPR-4
Social, Psychological, and Safety Impact of Interactive Media on Children
PI: Prof Louis Wing-chi Leung

This study investigates the social and psychological factors associated with internet risks adolescents face online-especially in being the target of harassment, privacy violation, and exposure to pornographic and violent content. Results show that over 10% of the children and adolescents in Hong Kong can be classified as internet addicts suffering from various symptoms such as feeling preoccupied with the internet, losing control in the amount of time online, using the internet to escape from problems or feeling lonely or depressed, loss of a significant relationship, job, or educational opportunity because of the internet, and having a strong preference for online relationship rather than offline. The significance of the study includes policy recommendations for educators, policymakers, and parents to detect and recognize the warning signs early from addiction symptoms and information literacy deficiency as to assist the formulation of problem deterrence or prevention policies. Schools should adopt an "information literacy" curriculum more seriously. Parents should be reminded that the most important safeguard for adolescents from internet risks is parental involvement and the computer should be in a highly visible place; and children should be taught that the internet is a resource, not just a place to have fun.

PolyU 5006-PPR-4
Chinese Language Education for Limited/Non-Chinese Speaking Ethnic Minority Children in the Public School Sector: Challenges and Opportunities
PI: Dr Lornita Yuen-fan Wong

The research project tried to (i) investigate strengths and weaknesses of non-Chinese speaking children learning Chinese in primary schools in the public sector, (ii) identify good practices at school to help NCS children learn the Chinese language for schooling and development, and (iii) classroom practices or policies that Hong Kong can learn from Singapore and Malaysia. Findings as listed above are significant and crucial in the following:

(i) There is an urgent need to review current policies regarding the Chinese language curriculum and various support services for NCS children to learn at schools.
(ii) Meeting with school teachers, social workers, community leaders and parents by the research team for data collection and sharing of some preliminary findings had bridged the cultural gaps and facilitated intercultural communications among parties concerned, and subsequently providing directions for further exploration of effective teaching and learning strategies for the Chinese language education of NCS children.
(iii) Incorporating and strengthening issues of multicultural education/globalization in the local mainstream education system, for both teachers and pupils, will provide a more supportive and secure environment for learning and developing a sense of belonging and affirming the NCS children's identities in Hong Kong.

HKUST 6003-PPR-4
MPF Fund Styles, Flows and Related Allocation Decisions
PI: Dr Lynn K F Pi

Most of us have an MPF account and we need to decide in what funds our retirement money goes. How much do we know apart from the fact that there are six main types of funds to choose from? Do the funds generally invest according to their stated objectives and declared sectors? Are the funds likely to keep their investment attributes for a long time? Should we make voluntary contribution into MPF funds or invest in retail open-end funds?

This is the first formal study of investment styles of Hong Kong's MPF funds. We explain what kind of investment is likely to result in the same returns of the MPF fund. We show that almost all MPF funds make significant changes in their investment styles since their inception. Moreover, we identify which type of fund has the largest shifts, which type is the best in timing the market, and which is the most aggressive. And when compared to retail funds, MPF funds are more similar in their investment strategies. These information can help people understand much more about the fund's risk and return, in other words, their MPF portfolio's performance, in addition to those provided on the Fund Fact Sheet.

HKUST 6007-PPR-4
Hong Kong People in Mainland: A force for Integration?
PI: Dr David Stephen ZWEIG

The goal of this study was to assess the extent to which Hong Kong People living on the Mainland had integrated into Mainland society. Drawing on previous research, we believed that Hong Kong People living on the Mainland could respond to life there (and the process of leaving Hong Kong) in four ways: 1. totally assimilate into Mainland life, seeing themselves completely as Chinese and give up their Hong Kong identity; 2. integrate into Mainland life, feel more Chinese, but maintain their Hong Kong identity as well, thereby developing a "dual identity;" 3. reject the Mainland's culture and any sense of becoming Chinese and hold on tightly to their Hong Kong identity; 4. lose their sense of identity entirely, feeling neither Hong Kongese or Chinese.

We carried out extensive interviews in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and in the Pearl River Delta, collecting a total of 270 face-to-face interviews, including 40 in Hong Kong who could serve as a comparative group, since we interviewed 40 people who had never lived in the Mainland. We also carried out a significant number of interviews with students; 100 in Beijing, over 130 in Guangzhou, and 160 students in Hong Kong who had never studied in the Mainland. In this way, we can compare attitudes towards the Mainland between people who have lived on the Mainland and those who have not.

This study was the first study of its kind to assess whether living and working on the mainland helps integrate Hong Kong with the mainland and helps Hong Kong people feel more positive about the mainland.

Our most important finding is that Hong Kong people who moved to Mainland felt more positive about the Mainland after they moved there and much more positive than people who had never lived there. Thus, having Hong Kong people living on the Mainland is indeed a force aiding the integration of Hong Kong back to China.

HKU 7009-PPR-4
Sustainable development in urban renewal - a social, physical and engineering assessment
PI: Dr Daniel Chi Wing Ho

The lack of proper maintenance and management has led to serious problems of building dilapidation in Hong Kong. Building-related incidents, such as falling concrete pieces, tragic fires, and building collapses, have attracted public attention to the issues of building condition and safety. Urban renewal is necessary to tackle the problem of building dilapidation. This project proposes a multi-disciplinary approach to deal with these problems by examining the social, physical, and engineering dimensions of urban renewal.

A building performance framework (Dilapidation Index, DI)was developed and surveys were carried out in four districts: Sham Shui Po, Yau Tsim Mong, Central and Western, and Wanchai. The DI servies to indicate a building's level of and proneness to dilapidation. The results indicated that management has an important role to play in immunizing a building from dilapidation in the medium and long terms.

The structured questionnaire survey was developed to explore the aspirations of residents in the abovementioned four districts towards two options, namely redevelopment and rehabilitation. The outcomes revealed that redevelopment was a more preferred option.

From the engineering assessment, despite the varied conditions, the majority of Hong Kong's older buildings shared similar defects, including carbonation penetration, spalling concrete, and high chloride content.

HKU 7010-PPR-4
A comprehensive policy framework for public private partnerships schemes in Hong Kong
PI: Dr Thomas Shiu Tong Ng

As the social awareness of citizen increases, more and more people in the society would strive to ensure the new facilities and/or services provided are to the best interest of the society at large. There is no exemption to public-private partnerships (PPP) schemes especially when private investors should come up with innovative ideas for facilities and/or services delivery. In the absence of a rigorous mechanism to incorporate social concerns in the PPP process, a comprehensive policy framework has for the first time been devised through this study. The proposed framework is an extension to the existing guideline as developed by the Efficiency Unit of the HKSAR Government, and it contains not just the detailed procedures in particular the public engagement process, but also the evaluation methods, implementation and involved parties, expected outcomes, and proposed timeframe. Besides, an analytical model has been developed to help decision-makers assess the satisfaction of various stakeholders involved in a PPP scheme. The findings of this study should make the PPP process more systematic. More importantly, the framework would ensure the concerns of the society be properly identified and addressed at each stage of a PPP project and hence increase the chance of project success.

HKU 7013-PPR-4
Locating Hong Kong in global networks of professional migrants
PI: Prof Siu Lun Wong

This project has three components. The first is the completion of the mailed survey in Hong Kong in 2009. The emphasis of the survey is on subjective social indicators relating to perceptions, aspirations, values and degree of satisfaction of the highly skilled/professional migrants to Hong Kong. The second component is to conduct further face to face, in depth interviews with the target population, to supplement the quantitative data derived from the mailed survey. The third component is the compilation of a web-based survey data bank consisting of the mailed questionnaire survey findings, the transcripts of the interview, the chronology of the change of immigration policy on professional migrants illustrated by news clipping and policy papers.

In the context of Hong Kong, this study of professional migration pattern serves at least four functions. First, it is a response by local social scientists to heightened demand for understanding the overall population structure which has become an increasing concern on key issues such as aging and fertility decline. Second, it alerts us to aspect of city competitiveness which merits in-depth investigation, such as cross-border activities, free flow of professional, and the transferability of social welfare. Third, it furnishes empirical information and theoretical analysis for the formulation and implementation of immigration policies in areas such as selection of talents, granting of permanent residential rights, and the establishment of credential system. Fourth and last, it reminds us to keep a close tab on certain issues such as pollution, culture diversity, and the increasing cost of living. It may also help us to anticipate and/or overcome potential tension in the local labour market because of the increasing number of outside professionals.

PolyU 8001-PPR-4
HOPE for the Challenge to Learn: Development and Evaluation of the ÆHands On Parent Empowerment (HOPE)?Project to Empower Socially Disadvantaged Parents as Active Agents in their Children's Learning
PI: Dr Man Cynthia Leung

In Hong Kong, there are 150 new arrivals from China daily, about 9% of whom are children aged 0 to 4. The median domestic household income of new arrival families is well below that of the Hong Kong general population. Although education is the best long term investment to tackle intergenerational poverty, there is no support provision for new immigrant children at preschool level. To break the cycles of disadvantage, to address educational inequality and to build up social capital, this project developed a culturally relevant, evidence-based primary preventive strategy to empower new immigrant parents to teach their preschool children learning skills, so they can take responsibility for their children's education. The programme was conducted in small group format, using modeling and role playing to ensure the parents' mastery of necessary child stimulation skills. The results showed that there was decrease in child behaviour problems and parenting stress, and increase in social support, after programme participation. The programme was welcome by preschools and home-school co-operation was enhanced. This project is a step towards evidence-based policy, emphasizing primary prevention through early intervention for young children and their parents.

HKIEd 8005-PPR-4
A Formative Review of Applied Learning Policy and Its Implementation in the Hong Kong Trials
PI: Prof Richard Bagnall

The study reported here sought to elucidate and articulate the nature, interpretation, implementation and reception of Applied Learning policy and its development in Hong Kong.

The aim of the study was to critically elucidate: the approach to developing the policy; the nature of the policy; how the policy has been interpreted and implemented in the policy development trials; its impact on participating students, teachers, providing institutions and schools; the implementation issues that have arisen; and suggestions for refining the policy to address those issues. The study used a diversity of interview and focus group data and document analysis.

It was found that, although the policy and its development were strongly grounded in good intentions, the policy emerged as being limited through a range of failures to respond appropriately to contextual realities and the policy development process itself suffered from communication failures and inconsistencies. While Applied Learning courses continued to be of limited appeal to higher-achieving students, the policy compromised the vocational appeal and utility of Applied Learning to the extent that it emerged as being of limited value and appeal to those for whom it was primarily intended and who are now less likely to be able to succeed through it.