Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs Alice Mak said future district councillors must serve as the government's eyes and ears and live up to people's expectations.
In an exclusive interview with RTHK ahead of Sunday's district council elections, Mak also said voters have the responsibility to select patriots who listen to the public's views.
“The voters may have to study their election platforms and to understand the background of the candidates to see whether he or she is a patriot. This is most important," she said.
"Apart from that, they have to consider whether the candidate is familiar with the local issues or do they have a track record in serving the community.
"So [councillors] must reach out to the residents very often. So you will expect that they will set up district local offices in the districts and they may have a regular meet-the-people scheme. They may organise different events or activities so that they can approach the residents to listen to their views."
On the appointment of members to the district councils, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang has said candidates who lose on Sunday will not be appointed, while Chief Executive John Lee said people must be patriots and contribute to district affairs, among other things, to be appointed.
Mak said when appointing councillors, the government will look at whether the candidate is patriotic and passionate about community affairs.
Asked about a new mechanism to monitor councillors’ performance, she said it allows people to report those who're not doing their job, adding that it may result in suspension from duty without pay.
“So when the district council member is not performing their duties wholeheartedly, or they don't set up offices in the district or they don't have any plans to reach out to the residents, then the residents may launch a complaint to the district council chairman who will then consider whether it's valid, and will propose to the (Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs) to form a committee to investigate the case.”
On voter turnout, the minister said it's affected by various factors such as the weather, and that it's unrealistic to set a hard target.