Council Meeting ( Agenda ) 29 May 2002

A 01/02-27

Legislative Council

Agenda

Wednesday 29 May 2002 at 2:30pm



I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / Instruments L.N. No.

Banking (Amendment) Ordinance 2001 (32 of 2001) (Commencement) Notice 2002 85/2002

II. Questions

1. Hon Howard YOUNG to ask:
(Translation)

I have received complaints from members of the public against the staff of some companies selling membership for time-share packages for overseas resorts. These staff employ hard-selling tactics in pressurizing them into signing contracts of a complex nature for buying time-share membership packages before they are perfectly clear about the terms of the contracts, and they find themselves deceived only afterwards. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of companies selling time-share packages for overseas resorts in Hong Kong at present;

    (b)of the total number of such complaints received in the past three years and the amount of money involved; among these complaints, the number of persons concerned who were able to terminate the contracts and recoup the money they had paid; and

    (c)whether it has considered regulating the way these companies conduct business or following some countries' practices of including a provision in the contracts to allow the contracting parties to have a cooling-off period, so as to protect the interests of consumers?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Economic Services

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

A large banyan tree at Kadoorie Road fell down this month, crushing a man to death. It was reported that the fall was allegedly caused by maintenance works on the slope near the tree because workers had trimmed away part of its main roots and covered the trunk bottom tightly with concrete paste, resulting in the withering of the roots. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)officers will be deployed to inspect big trees in the territory which may be affected by the works of any projects, and to provide proper treatment and conservation when necessary; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (b)more effective conservation measures will be formulated to ensure that the trees within construction sites can grow normally and not be affected by the works?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for the Environment and Food

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

It is learnt that some members of the World Trade Organization ("WTO") facilitate local companies to be imparted the technologies that they lack by awarding contracts of government projects to foreign companies. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)subject to the principles of the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement, it has made reference to the practices of other WTO members and formulated relevant policies and incentives which aim at nurturing the growth of Hong Kong-based companies by enabling them to acquire the technologies that Hong Kong lacks through their exposure to the government projects awarded to foreign companies, so as to enhance the competitiveness of local companies; if no such policies and incentives have been formulated, of the reasons for that;

    (b)nurturing the growth of local companies has been set as one of the objectives in the implementation of large-scale government projects on information technology application; if not, of the reasons for that; and

    (c)it has evaluated the effectiveness of the various large-scale government projects on information technology application awarded over the past three years, including the Smart Identity Card Scheme, the replacement of the Command and Control Communication System of the Hong Kong Police Force and the replacement of the communication and mobilizing system of the Fire Services Department, in nurturing the growth of local companies; if it has, of the evaluation criteria and the outcome thereof; if not, whether such evaluation will be made?
Public Officers to reply : Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting
Secretary for Commerce and Industry


4. Hon Michael MAK to ask:(Translation)

Regarding recent successive revelation by the mass media of alleged incidents of sexual abuse on boy by Catholic priests, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)apart from the above-mentioned, it has received any reports of similar incidents involving other religious personnel; if so, of the details;

    (b)it will conduct studies and draw up measures to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents and, without compromising the respect for freedom of religion, establish clear guidelines and a complaints mechanism for handling sexual abuse cases by schools, dormitories or residential care homes etc. operated or managed by religious bodies, in order to protect the rights of the victims; and

    (c)it will require the religious bodies concerned to disclose their internal records when investigating criminal cases involving sexual abuse in future?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Security

5. Hon LAU Kong-wah to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that, in an anti-vice operation code-named "Fire Lily" mounted on the 7th of this month, the Police and public security authorities in Guangdong Province made a total of 339 arrests in Hong Kong and the Mainland, and an application was made to the court to freeze the assets worth $86 million belonging to a local triad syndicate. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the assistance and support provided by public security authorities in the Mainland in the above operation;

    (b)whether cross-boundary investigations were carried out in the above operation by law enforcement authorities of the two places under mutual agreement; and

    (c)how the above-mentioned frozen assets will be disposed of?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Security

6. Hon Albert HO to ask:
(Translation)

According to the information submitted by the Government in May this year to the relevant panels of this Council concerning the land restructuring studies on the four areas of Ngau Tau Kok,Shek Kip Mei, Cheung Sha Wan and Homantin, it is estimated that the ratio of public housing ("PH") to the overall land in each area will drop substantially upon redevelopment. Taking Homantin area as an example, the land for PH will plunge from 24% to 6% of the overall land area. Although the information shows that the housing split between public and private housing for certain parts of those areas after the restructuring is yet to be determined, the relevant proposal has already worried the affected PH residents who fear losing the opportunity of in-situ rehousing. In this regard, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the rationale to be adopted for deciding the ratio of PH in each of the four areas and the time to announce the relevant outcome;

    (b)how it will ensure that the affected PH residents will be rehoused in-situ, given that the PH supply in each area will decrease drastically; and whether it has estimated the number of households which cannot be rehoused in-situ and have to move out of their districts; and

    (c)whether it has assessed if the relevant policy will result in a gradual decrease of PH land in urban areas and the ensuing impacts?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Housing

*7. Hon James TIEN to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that in Hong Kong, infringement of trade marks or copyrights is liable to criminal prosecution, whereas infringement of patent rights has to be resolved by civil litigation. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the types of intellectual property rights infringement which are liable to criminal prosecution;

    (b)of the types of intellectual property rights infringement which cannot be prosecuted as a criminal offence under the existing legislation; and the reasons for not criminalizing such activities; and

    (c)how Hong Kong's legislation for protecting intellectual property rights compares with that of common law countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Commerce and Industry

*8. Hon LI Fung-ying to ask:
(Translation)

It has been learnt that the Education and Manpower Bureau has already redeployed some staff from the Vocational Training Council ("VTC") to undertake work on setting up the Manpower Development Council ("MDC"). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether MDC is expected to be set up within this year; if so, of the persons who will be invited to sit on MDC; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)whether the day-to-day operation of VTC has been affected by such redeployment; and

    (c)of the posting for the staff concerned upon the formal establishment of MDC?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Education and Manpower

*9. Hon Howard YOUNG to ask:


I have received a complaint that, around mid-night every night, many taxis queue for passengers along the roads near Windsor House in Great George Street and Pearl City Mansion in Paterson Street. These taxis are double-parked and block the traffic flow in the area, causing some drivers to sound their car horns in order to get through. This poses a nuisance to nearby residents and may affect tourists' general impression of Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Administration inform this Council of the number of complaints about horning nuisance in the area received every month this year and the measures to be taken to solve the problem? Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Transport

*10. Hon Andrew CHENG to ask:
(Translation)

At present, the section of Queen's Road Central outside Cheung Kong Centre is a four-lane westbound carriageway. However, the lane closest to the Centre is restricted to vehicles entering the Centre only, resulting in the reduction of the lanes to three. Consequently, this section of the road becomes very congested during rush hours. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)this section of the road is a private road; if so, when and the basis on which this section was designated as a private road; if not, of the rationale for restricting this section to vehicles entering the Centre only;

    (b)it will consider opening the lane concerned to all vehicles; if so, when this will commence; if not, of the reasons for that and how the Administration will resolve the traffic congestion caused by the reduction of lanes from four to three in this section; and

    (c)such form of traffic arrangement also currently operates in other commercial districts (i.e. Central, Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui); if so, of the names of the roads and buildings concerned?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Transport

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

There are densely-populated districts and commercial centres on both sides of Victoria Harbour. However, the cross-harbour ferry services for these areas are inadequate, resulting in the public having to resort to using indirect transport routes on land to travel between districts which are rather close in actual distance, thus wasting both their time and money. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it will consider suggesting to the ferry companies concerned to provide feeder bus or light bus services to make it more convenient for the public to travel between the ferry piers and the commercial or residential areas in the vicinity of the piers, so as to attract more ferry passengers; and

    (b)in view of the future new development plans for areas such as Wan Chai, Southeast Kowloon and West Kowloon, which are close to the shores of Victoria Harbour, whether the Government has plans to build more piers in those areas so as to provide the public with fast and convenient ferry services; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Transport

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

At present, members of the public can have access to the public registers kept by various government departments (for example, the Land Registry). It has been reported that the personal particulars contained in such registers have been used by people for commercial or even illicit purposes. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
    (a)of the types and number of public registers which are publicly accessible;

    (b)whether they have assessed if personal particulars are so excessively disclosed under the existing system that the privacy and interests of the individuals concerned may be infringed; and

    (c)of the measures in place to ensure that the relevant information will not be misused?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Home Affairs

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

Regarding the conversion of open nullahs into underground drains, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the total number of open nullahs throughout the territory and the district with the largest number of such nullahs;

    (b)of the number of open nullahs converted into underground drains in the past two years, and the reasons for such conversion; and

    (c)whether it has considered converting all open nullahs into underground drains; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Works

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

Regarding how the Hospital Authority ("HA") solves the problem of an estimated budget deficit of $580 million in this financial year, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows if the HA:
    (a)will consider cutting directorate posts and their remuneration package, adjusting the salaries of other staff, amalgamating grades or reducing ranks; if it will, of the details;

    (b)has assessed whether lowering the entry salary of nurses will affect their morale and the quality of new appointees; if the assessment result is in the negative, of the rationale; and

    (c)will, apart from cutting its expenses, consider offsetting the deficit by increasing the fees of some medical services; if it will, of the details and the expected increase in revenue?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Health and Welfare

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

Under the current rule, a child born in Hong Kong of parents who are not Hong Kong residents may still apply to the Social Welfare Department for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance ("CSSA"), if one of the parents is a Chinese national, subject to compliance with other eligibility requirements. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of the number of such Hong Kong-born children who applied for CSSA, as well as the amount of CSSA payments involved, in each of the past three years? Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Health and Welfare

*16. Hon LAU Kong-wah to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding defaults on repayment of credit card loans, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)the number of cases involving defaults on repayment of credit card loans and the amount involved in each of the past three years;

    (b)the number of the above cases in which the cardholders are post-secondary students, and the number of such students who have filed for bankruptcy due to inability to pay debts; and

    (c)if banks will tighten the vetting and approving criteria for credit card applications made by post-secondary students?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Financial Services

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

It has been reported that the commissioning of the first berth of Container Terminal Number 9 ("CT9") will be at least eight months behind schedule, and the total project cost may overrun by hundreds of million dollars. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the difference between the original and present estimated dates of completion for each major item of works of the project;

    (b)in respect of each item, of the details about the causes of delay, estimated cost overrun, the parties liable to pay compensation and the remedial measures in place;

    (c)of the respective financial losses the cargo handling industry and the overall economy of Hong Kong will suffer as a result of the delay in the project; whether the Government has measures in place to minimize the losses; and

    (d)whether the land grant conditions of the project have specified the date of completion of each item of works; and whether penalty clauses concerning delay in completion have been stipulated; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Economic Services

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

Regarding Victoria Prison, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
    (a)whether they plan to relocate Victoria Prison in view of its overcrowding situation; if so, when it will be relocated;

    (b)of the short-term measures to alleviate the overcrowding in the prison; and

    (c)as the Chief Executive stated in his Policy Address in October 2001 that in order to attract more tourists, the Government would implement as quickly as possible five medium-to-long-term tourism initiatives, including a cultural tourism development project in Central, whether the authorities have plans to convert the prison for uses relating to the promotion of tourism?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Security

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

Regarding the maximum parking duration set for parking meters, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the basis for determining the maximum parking duration;

    (b)whether it received, over the past three years, complaints from the public about the maximum parking duration being too short; if so, of the number of such complaints; and

    (c)whether it plans to extend the maximum parking duration in respect of parking meters located at picnic sites; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Transport

*20. Hon Eric LI to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the interdiction of civil servants during disciplinary proceedings, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)in respect of those cases completed in the past five years, of the average and the longest duration between the time a decision was made to initiate disciplinary proceedings and the time the final decision was made with regard to the case; and the reasons for such duration;

    (b)whether it will consider reviewing the process concerned to require that disciplinary proceedings must be completed within a reasonable span of time;

    (c)whether it has assessed how the normal operation of the department concerned would be affected by the prolonged interdiction of its staff members or such prolonged interdiction resulting from their intentional protraction of the proceedings, during which they were paid half or full salary; and

    (d)of the number of civil servants who have been dismissed or compulsorily retired after disciplinary proceedings, and those who have been reinstated upon judicial review, since January 2000, and the amount of compensation received by them?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for the Civil Service

*For written reply.

III. Bills

First Reading

Evidence (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2002

Second Reading (Debate to be adjourned)

Evidence (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2002 : Secretary for Justice

Second Reading (Debate to resume), Committee Stage and Third Reading

Marine Fish Culture (Amendment) Bill 2002: Secretary for the Environment and Food

IV. Motions

Government motion

Secretary for Constitutional Affairs:


That this Council supports the accountability system for principal officials.

Amendment to Secretary for Constitutional Affairs' motion
Hon Martin LEE:


To add "which is grounded in a democratic political system based on universal suffrage and is accountable to the Legislative Council" after "That this Council supports the accountability system for principal officials".

Other Public Officers to attend : Chief Secretary for Administration
Secretary for Justice
Secretary for the Civil Service

V. Members' Bills

First Reading

CITIC Ka Wah Bank Limited (Merger) Bill

Second Reading (Debate to be adjourned)

CITIC Ka Wah Bank Limited (Merger) Bill : Dr Hon David LI
Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Financial Services


VI. Members' Motions

  1. Promoting producer and professional services

    Hon Ambrose LAU:
  2. (Translation)

    That, as the Financial Secretary stated in his speech on the 2002-03 Budget that producer and professional services are a major driving force of Hong Kong's economic development, this Council urges the Government to take proactive measures to call together senior officials of various departments and representatives of the relevant sectors to render full assistance to the producer and professional services sectors in developing their markets and, through the Government's offices established in the Mainland, to actively reflect to and pursue with the Mainland authorities the common concerns of Hong Kong businessmen about trade and commercial issues, so as to seize more effectively the business opportunities that arise from increased trade activities between Hong Kong and the Mainland.

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Commerce and Industry

  3. The 4 June incident

    Hon SZETO Wah:
  4. (Translation)

    That this Council urges that: the 4 June incident be not forgotten and the 1989 pro-democracy movement be vindicated.


Clerk to the Legislative Council