Students and Alumni

Alumni Success Stories: Crusader for Social Justice Finds his Niche

The Hon WAN Siu-kin Andrew
Department of Applied Social Sciences
Graduate of 1994

Growing up in a grassroots family, WAN Siu-kin Andrew learned to spot inequalities and social injustices at an early age. By the time he reached his teens, he had developed a fervent desire to do something to help those in need. So, he chose to study Social Sciences at City University of Hong Kong (CityU), which offered the options of leaning more towards sociology or social work.

“I am furious when someone is mistreated, and I chose social work because I wanted to be able to do something concrete and effective about it,” says Wan, now vice-chairman of the Democratic Party. “The classes were enlightening and my teachers explained how to safeguard social justice and make the society fairer.”

As a student, his first work placement was with a YWCA community development team at Shek Lei in the New Territories West, where the government was going to redevelop one of the city’s oldest public housing estates. The team’s main task was to tell tenants about their rights and ensure every family got adequate alternative accommodation.

“I realised this was exactly the kind of work I wanted to do, so after graduation I joined the YWCA,” Wan says. “They sent me to Tai O on Lantau to help people living in stilt houses built with galvanised iron sheets – cold in winter and baking hot in summer – to relocate to government housing.”

A year later, he returned to the New Territories West to do community development work in Shek Yam public housing estate, which neighbours Shek Lei.

His subsequent involvement in politics started in the early 2000s, after returning from Essex University in Britain with a master’s degree in sociology. The first step was to join the Neighbourhood Workers Service Centre, a grassroots help agency, before standing as a candidate in district council elections.

“I was 34 when I first ran and won,” he says. “My constituency was Shek Yam – I felt it was fate, being drawn back to the same area once again. Every young person has their own vision of society and I wanted justice and a fair distribution of resources.”

He was to find that studying social work was a great help as he came to terms with the challenges facing a rising politician. Knowledge of subjects like psychology, Hong Kong’s legal system, welfare laws, social policy and management gave him a good allround understanding of key issues and how to proceed.

CityU’s courses and work placements also helped to develop skills in critical thinking and analytical reasoning, as well as the ability to give convincing explanations and presentations. He also learned how to organise people effectively.

Nowadays, as a lawmaker, Wan’s duties include monitoring the government, questioning policies, and acting as a bridge between the people he represents and the authorities. As a party vice-chairman, he has to energise colleagues and contribute to election strategies, policy platforms and fund-raising initiatives.