The current-term Government has set up the Youth Development Commission to encourage young people to take part in the formulation of public policies. More than half of its 34 non-official members are aged below 35. Mac Chan is one of them. Wearing two professional hats as a solicitor and a mediator, he is also involved in various public duties. From serving on the District Fight Crime Committee and the Equal Opportunities Commission to being a member of the Hong Kong Housing Authority’s Subsidized Housing Committee, his range of public-service commitments is too broad to enumerate.
In 2005, Mac was honoured among the ‘Top 10 Outstanding Youths’ and ‘Star of the Stars’ by the Home Affairs Bureau and the Commission on Youth. It is hard to imagine that, impeccably dressed as he is now, he could have given up his studies for the sake of play. Just how did he turn into a rising legal star?
‘I wasn’t a bright student and liked to play a lot,’ Mac recalled. On entering Form One, everything was new to him. Having engaged in too many extracurricular activities, he could not bring himself to concentrate on his studies. His grades then plummeted and he was reduced to an exam ranking of 99th in the entire Form.
To get the chance to major in his favourite subject, from Form Four onwards, he bit the bullet and studied hard to make up for lost time. ‘I promised myself to go all out. If the results were still unsatisfactory, I would accept that’s all I could manage.’ To his surprise, he passed the public exam with flying colours and entered the CUHK’s Faculty of Law through an early enrolment scheme.
For him, he was able to overcome difficulties and recovered lost ground simply because he could find empathy and solace in the wisdom of ancient sages. There was a time when he frequented the library. On one occasion when he was flipping through an anthology of poems by Wang Wei, the Tang-dynasty ‘Poet Buddha’, he lighted upon the following lines: ‘I walk to where the water ends, / And sit and watch as clouds emerge.’ Mac remarked, ‘The lines made a lasting impact on me. Since then they have been influencing me subconsciously and have even come to permeate my philosophy in life.’
He even said half-jokingly that he was a self-styled ‘Buddha-like youngster’, caring not a jot about personal success or failure. ‘There are bound to be ups and downs in our journey through life. Just as there will be days when the skies are clear, there will be moments when the seas are rough. I don’t wish for success and riches. I just hope that what I do today won’t make me regret years later.’
Mac enjoys work that relates to people, whether it’s being a solicitor, a mediator, or social service. He thinks where different professionals come together, things will fall into place. An elective subject on ‘Introduction to Alternate Dispute Resolution’ offered by the Faculty of Law has a particularly strong effect on him. ‘I appreciate the principle of mediation—to be a good listener and understand the hidden meanings behind what people say.’
‘In school, at work, or in interpersonal relations, we are bound to encounter difficulties. What I have learnt from mediation is to minimize conflict. We can’t handle all the problems by ourselves. Try and get help from others and, sooner or later, the problems will be solved.’
He also shared useful mediation skills in times of adversity. ‘For the thorny issues we face in our daily lives, try to break each problem into ten parts and tackle them one by one. Even if we can’t resolve every issue, to be able to deal with half of them would be quite a feat.’
Mac’s interest in mediation grew after beginning to study the subject at CUHK. Upon graduation, he went on to qualify as a mediator in the Hong Kong Mediation Accreditation Association, specializing in general and family cases, and co-authored a book on the topic with a professor. He believes that everyone can play a role in society with his/her own professional knowledge. In his capacity as an honorary legal advisor for various charities or non-profit organizations including EDiversity and the CODA Hong Kong, he uses his expertise to give back to the community.
When asked what left the most indelible impression during his studies at CUHK, this New Asia College alumnus exclaimed: ‘My three-year stay at Daisy Li Hall, of course!’ Back then, he was always busy planning all kinds of activities, leaving hostel early and returning late. He still remembers vividly walking from the train station all the way up to the College in the middle of the night. During his early years at the University, he was chairman of the Rotaract Club of New Asia College and the CUHK Social Service Team, organizing on an annual basis 12 events including visits to elderly homes. ‘In just one to two hours, the elderly residents shared with us their wisdom and experience, which was profoundly enlightening for me.’
While the punishing schedule for a solicitor typically involves long working hours, Mac has managed to set up a host of charities, serving as their board member or honorary legal advisor. Asked whether he would find it hard to juggle all his commitments, he gazed at his watch for an instant before answering, ‘Life is fair. Everybody has only 24 hours a day. How to make use of our time is an art. Every day, I spend very little time sleeping and I try to make the most of my “waiting” time. I would be working while commuting between home and office. So long as I can find social value in what I do—busy as I am—I still enjoy it.’
After the interview, he had to hurry back from the campus to the hustle and bustle of Central to handle the cases in hand. Yet not a sign of fatigue could be found on his face.
Reported by Christine H., ISO
Photos by Eric Sin