Council Meeting ( Agenda ) 8 May 2002

A 01/02-24

Legislative Council

Agenda

Wednesday 8 May 2002 at 2:30 pm

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / Instruments L.N. No.
1.Civil Aviation (Aircraft Noise) Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule) Notice 200260/2002
2.Statutes of the University of Hong Kong (Amendment) Statute 2002 61/2002
3.Tax Reserve Certificates (Rate of Interest) (No. 5) Notice 200262/2002


Other Papers

1.No.80-Report of changes to the approved Estimates of Expenditure approved during the third quarter of 2001-02 (Public Finance Ordinance : Section 8)
(to be presented by Secretary for the Treasury)

2.No.81-Audited Statement of Accounts of the Language Fund, together with the Director of Audit's Report, for the year ended 31 August 2000
(to be presented by Secretary for Education and Manpower)

3.No.82-Audited Statement of Accounts of the Language Fund, together with the Director of Audit's Report, for the year ended 31 August 2001
(to be presented by Secretary for Education and Manpower)


II. Questions

1. Hon Tommy CHEUNG to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that the Housing Authority ("HA") is considering selling its shops in public housing estates. Some of its commercial tenants are worried that shops in public housing estates might be acquired by rich consortia, resulting in a monopolistic situation and thereby threatening their livelihood. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)if the HA will consult commercial tenants in public housing estates on the idea of selling the shops, and the ways to address the tenants' concerns;

    (b)if the HA will consider giving priority or offering preferential prices to sitting tenants when the shops are put up for sale; and

    (c)the timing for the HA to launch the plan, the ways in which the shops will be sold and how their selling prices will be determined?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Housing

2. Hon Miriam LAU to ask:
(Translation)

Despite the widening of some sections of Hiram's Highway and Sai Sha Road to dual two-lane standard, the carriageway between Ho Chung and Sai Kung town centre as well as that between Sai Kung town centre and Nai Chung are still single two-lane carriageways. Serious traffic congestion occurs on the two carriageways, thus affecting the tourism development in Sai Kung District. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it has assessed when Hiram's Highway and Sai Sha Road will reach their design capacity;

    (b)consideration will be given to advancing the completion of the road-widening works on the carriageway between Ho Chung and Sai Kung town centre, and widening the carriageway between Sai Kung town centre and Nai Chung to dual two-lane standard; if so, of the details of the plans and the implementation timetables; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)the road systems and transport facilities in Sai Kung District will be planned afresh so as to tie in with the tourism development of the district; if so, of the relevant details?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Transport

3. Hon Fred LI to ask:
(Translation)

Oil companies raised oil prices three times in March and April this year. These companies are criticised for being "quick-in-raising and slow-in-reducing" when adjusting oil prices, and for not providing the Government with the import prices of oil on the ground of commercial secret, resulting in the Government not having adequate information to monitor the retail prices. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has considered collecting oil duty according to the import prices instead of the retail prices so as to enable the Government to have a full picture of the oil prices;

    (b)whether it has considered introducing a mechanism to monitor oil prices effectively in the long run; and

    (c)as the Government has stressed that it would conduct a study on introducing competition, including the possibility of providing sites for the development of oil storage facilities and filling stations for new operators, whether it has assessed the time needed to complete the study and the possible site area involved; and whether it has put in place any plan to introduce anti-trust laws as a complementary means when introducing competition?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Economic Services

4. Hon LEE Cheuk-yan to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the use of employment agencies which provide government departments with staffing support, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the departments which used the service of such agencies in the past year, and the total amount of service fees paid to the agencies by these departments with breakdowns by ranks of the numbers of staff employed as well as their average salaries;

    (b)whether the agencies are required to state the amounts of salaries paid to the staff when submitting their tenders; if so, whether the amounts of salaries paid to staff constitute a major factor in determining the award of a tender; if there is not such a requirement, whether it will consider including it in tender invitations; and

    (c)whether it will discontinue using the service of such agencies and instruct the departments concerned to employ staff directly, to facilitate personnel management, boost staff morale and enhance service quality?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for the Treasury

5. Hon Ambrose LAU to ask:
(Translation)

It is reported that the Police will shortly strengthen efforts against illegal gambling on football matches. In this regard, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the measures to be taken by the Police to avoid interfering with the customers and normal operations of places for leisure such as pubs and cyber cafes during inspections for combating illegal gambling on football matches; and

    (b)upon receipt of reports, whether the Police will take law enforcement actions against people betting on football matches, including members of the public who place bets at home through the telephone or Internet; if so, of the details of the actions?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Home Affairs

6. Hon LAU Ping-cheung to ask:
(Translation)

Under the policy of the Housing Department ("HD"), tenants who have been living in public rental housing ("PRH") for 10 years or more are required to declare their household income and assets once every two years. Those with a household income exceeding the prescribed limit have been required to pay 1.5 times or double net rent since 1987; and from 1996 onwards, those whose household income and net asset value exceed the prescribed limits must surrender their PRH flats to the HD. Nevertheless, if the tenants concerned have housing needs, they may apply for a fixed term licence to stay in their flats temporarily for a period of not more than 12 months, during which a licence fee equivalent to market rent will be charged for their stay. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the number of tenants who were respectively required to pay 1.5 times or double rent in the past three years;

    (b)the respective numbers of tenants who were required to pay a fixed term licence fee equivalent to market rent, and PRH flats surrendered by tenants because their household income and net asset value exceeded the prescribed limits, over the past three years; and

    (c)the mechanism in place to check or review the information on income and assets provided by tenants who have been living in PRH for 10 years or more, and the percentage of cases in which sampling investigations have been conducted on the information provided?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Housing

*7. Hon WONG Sing-chi to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that the Government is reviewing the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance ("CSSA") Scheme and the Old Age Allowance Scheme. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the current number of elderly people who rely mainly on the old age allowance (commonly known as "fruit grant") to meet their living expenses, together with a breakdown of the number by age groups (each covering five years);

    (b)of the progress of the review on the Old Age Allowance Scheme, the items being studied, and when the report will be completed and published; and

    (c)whether the areas of study have been set for the review of the CSSA Scheme, including the desirability of setting an upper limit on the annual expenditure for the Scheme?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Health and Welfare

*8. Hon Howard YOUNG to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that the Transport Department implemented a three-month taxi hiring scheme in mid-November last year, enlisting 23 participating taxi associations whose members provided transport services for duty travel of officials below the director/commissioner rank in various government departments, at prescribed fares which were lower than the rental of government vehicles so as to enable the departments concerned to cut costs. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the government departments which participated in the scheme, as well as details regarding the number of hiring made, the mileage travelled and the time involved etc;

    (b)whether it has assessed the effectiveness of the scheme; and whether the scheme will be extended to all government departments; and

    (c)whether it has considered including in the scheme the fleet services provided by other private operators; if so, whether the service providers will be selected through tender exercises; if not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for the Treasury

*9. Hon HUI Cheung-ching to ask:
(Translation)

The Hong Kong Airport Authority ("AA") has reportedly stated that in the year 2000, 430 000 passenger trips were made by Hong Kong citizens travelling to and from other Mainland cities via the Shenzhen Airport, and it has estimated that the figure would rise to one million this year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it knows the respective annual growth in the number of passenger trips made by Hong Kong citizens who have turned to using the airports in the Pearl River Delta region to fly to Mainland and overseas cities, since the commissioning of the Hong Kong International Airport ("HKIA"); and whether it has projected the growth in the next three years;

    (b)it has assessed the economic loss suffered and to be suffered by the AA each year since the commissioning of HKIA and over the next three years as a result of Hong Kong citizens turning to using the airports in the Pearl River Delta region; and

    (c)measures were adopted in the past two years to attract Hong Kong citizens to use HKIA; if so, of the effectiveness of the measures; and whether it will consider implementing more measures to further attract the citizens to use the airport; if it will, of the details?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Economic Services

*10. Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding slippage in the construction works on new school premises of government and aided secondary and primary schools, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the schools whose new premises were completed in accordance with the planning schedule and put to use in September of that year when the new school year began, and those whose new premises failed to meet the schedule, in each of the past five years, with a breakdown by school districts and the profile of slippage for less than three, six, nine and 12 months or more than one year respectively;

    (b)of the schools whose new premises will be completed this year in accordance with the planning schedule and put to use in September of this year when the new school year begins, with a breakdown by school districts; and the schools the construction works of whose new premises are expected to be delayed, as well as the length of slippage;

    (c)of all the causes of the slippage in the construction works;

    (d)as delays in construction works on new school premises have often occurred over the years and caused confusion in school operations, such as upsetting the plans for their conversion into whole-day schooling, causing new schools to defer their first school day or to have to use the premises of other schools temporarily, whether the Education Department has provided any support to the affected schools; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (e)of the long term measures to solve the problems of frequent slippage in the construction works on new school premises?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Education and Manpower

*11. Hon Michael MAK to ask:
(Translation)

The utilization ratio between public and private medical services is 94 to 6. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)how the current utilization ratio between public and private medical services compares with that ten years ago; and the cause of change in such ratios;

    (b)of the respective numbers of health care personnel/medical staff employed in public and private medical sectors and their ratios against attendance in the respective sectors in each of the past ten years;

    (c)whether it has conducted survey and analysis on the financial status of patients utilizing services in public hospitals and private ones; if it has, of the results; if not, whether it will conduct such survey and analysis;

    (d)whether it has considered balancing the current utilization ratio between the public and private medical services by increasing the fees of public medical services or other means; if it has, of the details; and

    (e)whether it has set any targets for changing the current utilization ratio between public and private medical services; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Health and Welfare

*12. Hon Cyd HO to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that Greenpeace, a green group, discovered early last month that a local food manufacturer used genetically modified ("GM") soya beans imported from the United States of America ("USA") to manufacture bean curd dessert and fresh soya milk, and the soya beans contained an unidentified DNA segment. Some scientists have pointed out that the DNA segment may give rise to new protein in the soya beans as well as changes in their original genetic structure and metabolic system. The consequences of human consumption of such soya beans or their products are unknown. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the foods for sale in Hong Kong containing such GM soya beans or the unidentified DNA segment; if no information is available, the reasons for that;

    (b)whether it has approached the manufacturer of such soya beans in the USA for more information; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (c)whether it has taken any measures to ensure that the health of Hong Kong consumers is not impaired by the eating of such soya beans;

    (d)whether it will consider requiring the local food manufacturer concerned to recall its bean curd dessert and fresh soya milk; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (e)given the recent series of GM foods-related incidents, whether it will consider expediting the introduction of a mandatory labelling system for GM foods; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (f)given that the Administration advised this Council on 15 December 1999 that GM foods could be treated as safe as conventional foods if their components were found to be substantially the same, whether it will review such a point of view in the light of this incident and put in place a mechanism for regulating and assessing GM foods; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for the Environment and Food

*13. Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung to ask:
(Translation)

The Chinese Medicine Ordinance (Cap. 549) provides that a person who applies to undertake the Chinese Medicine Practitioners ("CMP") Licensing Examination must have completed such undergraduate degree course of training in Chinese medicine practice or its equivalent as is approved by the authority concerned. Moreover, people practising Chinese medicine on 3 January 2000 may have their names entered on a list as listed CMP. They may undertake an assessment within a specified time in order to obtain the status of registered CMP. Regarding the recognized academic qualifications of local CMP and on-the-job training for them, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the subjects, contents and other details of such courses or their equivalent as are approved by the authority concerned;

    (b)among all the listed CMP, the number and proportion of those who possess the approved or equivalent academic qualifications; and

    (c)of the measures being taken to enhance on-the-job training for CMP?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Health and Welfare

*14. Hon LAW Chi-kwong to ask:
(Translation)

In 1997, the Building Authority revised the Design Manual: Barrier Free Access to require that buildings should provide proper accesses and facilities for persons with a disability and of other categories. Such requirements include, inter alia, that buildings should have at least one barrier-free entrance, and ramps with handrails on both sides should be provided at places with changes in level. A rehabilitation agency has recently conducted a survey on buildings in various districts in Hong Kong, which reveals that the design of some buildings does not comply with such requirements. For example, barriers are found along the access of the only entrance, ramps that should be provided are not available, the persons-in-charge of the buildings do not remove facilities which contravene the regulations and install proper ones until after having obtained the occupation permits, etc. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it has assessed the causes of such malpractices? Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Planning and Lands

*15. Hon Abraham SHEK to ask:


Regarding the applications for change of land use, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the total number of approved planning applications for conversion of industrial land to other uses in 2000 and 2001, as well as the sizes and locations of the sites concerned;

    (b)whether, in approving the applications for change of land use, it has considered its impact on the overall plan for land sales by auction and the future housing supply; if so, of the results of its consideration; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether, in the interest of the public, it will suggest to the applicant to consider co-operating with the Urban Renewal Authority to develop the land concerned; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Planning and Lands

*16. Hon Albert CHAN to ask:
(Translation)

I have received complaints alleging that some residents' coach operators at Tin Shui Wai have been prosecuted by the Police for breaching the requirement on the routing fixed by the Transport Department ("TD"), while no actions have been taken by the Police against the free shuttle bus services provided by the operators of Kingswood Ginza and the Park'n Shop in the same district, which are operated without approval from TD. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the prosecutions by the Police against the illegal operation of residents' coaches in Tin Shui Wai in 2000 and 2001, with details of each prosecution, including the number of coaches involved, the routing, destinations, frequency and time of the service, fare per journey and the result of prosecution; and among those prosecutions, of the cases involving the shuttle buses of Kingswood Ginza and the Park'n Shop;

    (b)when the Police became aware of the alleged illegal operation of such shuttle bus services; whether the Police have subsequently prosecuted and warned the operators concerned; if so, of the respective numbers of prosecutions made and warnings given; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)of the criteria adopted by the Police in prosecuting operators of illegal non-franchised buses; and whether different criteria are adopted by the Police when making prosecutions because of the operators' different backgrounds?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Transport

*17. Hon CHOY So-yuk to ask:
(Translation)

A professor was reported as having stated that certain volatile contaminants emitted by factories in the Pearl River Delta blown in by the wind to Hong Kong produce a type of toxic ozone smog through the photochemical process after mixing with the nitrogen dioxide in the air. The smog affects the respiratory system of human beings and may even induce heart diseases. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of days in each of the past five years on which the ozone concentration in local ambient air was recorded as being in excess of the standard in the air quality objectives;

    (b)whether such days usually fell within certain months and their occurrences were related to the directions of the seasonal winds; and

    (c)of the measures to reduce the incidence of ozone smog?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for the Environment and Food

*18. Hon SIN Chung-kai to ask:
(Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council whether it will review the policy which bans the lighting of firecrackers and fireworks by the public, and consider designating certain locations (such as areas within the Ocean Park) to allow vendors with special licences to sell firecrackers and fireworks to the public for their entertainment during specified festive periods so as to attract Hong Kong citizens to spend locally; if not, of the reasons for that? Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Home Affairs

*19. Ir Dr Hon HO Chung-tai to ask:
(Translation)

The unemployment statistics for the third quarter of last year have recorded an unemployment rate of over 10% for the construction industry, which is the highest among all industries and trades, and this is partly attributable to redundancies in construction companies or the closing down of such companies, as well as the Government's failure to implement new public works projects on schedule. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of construction companies closed down in each of the past three years;

    (b)of the number of new public works projects scheduled for implementation in each of the past three years and, among these projects, the number of those which did not proceed as scheduled;

    (c)whether it has assessed if there is any direct relationship between the Government's failure to implement its projects on schedule and the closing down of construction companies; and

    (d)of the number of public works projects to be implemented in the coming two years?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Works

*20. Hon Emily LAU to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that, as indicated by the information of the Social Welfare Department, 143 requests for assistance involving abuse of elderly people were received between October 1999 and February 2001 and this situation causes public concern. An officer of the Health and Welfare Bureau even considers it necessary to commence a study on the enactment of legislation against abuse of elderly people. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
    (a)of the details of the cases which requested assistance, including the gravity of the acts of abuse, whether they have given rise to a suicidal tendency among the elderly concerned as well as social problems, and the way such cases have been handled;

    (b)of the scope of the study to be conducted for the purpose of enacting legislating against such abuse and the objective of enacting such legislation; and

    (c)when they intend to consult this Council, the relevant professions and members of the community on the enactment of such legislation?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Health and Welfare

*For written reply.

III. Members' Motions
  1. Developing eco-tourism
    Hon WONG Yung-kan:
  2. (Translation)

    That, as this is the United Nations International Year of Eco-tourism, this Council urges the Government to allocate additional resources to expedite the development of eco-tourism, thereby creating more job opportunities and fostering the development of the local community economy, and to enhance publicity and education of the public and raise Hong Kong people's awareness of the local ecological environment and the need for ecological protection so that, in the course of appreciating the natural ecology and the cultural heritage of mankind, the public will enrich its knowledge of nature and enhance its understanding of environmental conservation.

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Economic Services

  3. Civil Justice Reform
    Hon Margaret NG:


  4. That this Council takes note of the Civil Justice Reform Interim Report.

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Justice


Clerk to the Legislative Council