Council Meeting (Agenda) 17 December 2008



A 08/09-12

Legislative Council

Agenda

Wednesday 17 December 2008 at 11:00 am

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / Instruments L.N. No.
1.Merchant Shipping (Limitation of Shipowners Liability) (Rate of Interest) (Amendment) (No. 3) Order 2008261/2008
2.Public Health and Municipal Services (Setting Aside Places for Use as Public Pleasure Grounds and Cessation of Setting Aside Places for Use as Public Pleasure Grounds) (No. 2) Order 2008262/2008
3.Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Amendment of Fourth Schedule) (No. 3) Order 2008263/2008
4.Trade Descriptions (Amendment) Ordinance 2008 (Commencement) Notice264/2008
5.Trade Descriptions (Definition of Fei Cui and Natural Fei Cui) Regulation (Commencement) Notice265/2008
6.Trade Descriptions (Definition of Diamond) Regulation (Commencement) Notice266/2008
7.Trade Descriptions (Provision of Information on Natural Fei Cui) Order (Commencement) Notice267/2008
8.Trade Descriptions (Provision of Information on Diamond) Order (Commencement) Notice268/2008
9.Trade Descriptions (Provision of Information on Regulated Electronic Products) Order (Commencement) Notice269/2008
10.Trade Descriptions (Marking) (Gold and Gold Alloy) (Amendment) Order 2008 (Commencement) Notice270/2008
11.Trade Descriptions (Marking) (Platinum) (Amendment) Order 2008 (Commencement) Notice271/2008
12.Trade Descriptions (Definition of Platinum) (Amendment) Regulation 2008 (Commencement) Notice272/2008
13.Allowances to Jurors (Amendment) Order 2008 (Commencement) Notice273/2008
14.Criminal Procedure (Witnesses' Allowances) (Amendment) Rules 2008 (Commencement) Notice274/2008
15.Coroners (Witnesses' Allowances) (Amendment) Rules 2008 (Commencement) Notice275/2008

Other Papers

1.No. 40-Estate Agents Authority
Annual Report 2007/08
(to be presented by the Secretary for Transport and Housing)

2.No. 41-Secretary for Home Affairs Incorporated Audited Financial Statements together with the Director of Audit's Report for the year ended 31 March 2008
(to be presented by the Secretary for Home Affairs)

3.No. 42-Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund Signed and audited Financial Statements together with the Auditor's Report and the Report of the Board of Trustees for the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008
(to be presented by the Secretary for Home Affairs)

4.No. 43-The Brewin Trust Fund Audited Financial Statements together with the Auditor's Report and Report by the Brewin Trust Fund Committee on the Administration of the Fund for the year ended 30 June 2008
(to be presented by the Secretary for Home Affairs)

5.No. 44-The Sir Murray MacLehose Trust Fund Signed and Audited Financial Statements together with the Auditor's Report and Trustee's Report for the year 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008
(to be presented by the Secretary for Home Affairs)

6.No. 45-Queen Elizabeth Foundation for the Mentally Handicapped Report and Accounts 2007-2008
(to be presented by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare)

7.No. 46-Annual Report by the Board of Governors of The Prince Philip Dental Hospital and Audited Statement of Accounts 2007/08
(to be presented by the Secretary for Food and Health)

8.No. 47-Grantham Scholarships Fund Audited Financial Statements together with the Director of Audit's Report and Report by the Grantham Scholarships Fund Committee on the Administration of the Fund for the year ended 31 August 2008
(to be presented by the Secretary for Home Affairs)

9.No. 48-Report by the Chinese Temples Committee on the Chinese Temples Fund together with Audited Financial Statements and Director of Audit's Report for the year ended 31 March 2008
(to be presented by the Secretary for Home Affairs)

10.No. 49-Report by the Chinese Temples Committee on the General Chinese Charities Fund together with Audited Financial Statements and Director of Audit's Report for the year ended 31 March 2008
(to be presented by the Secretary for Home Affairs)

11.No. 50-Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong Annual Report 2007-08
(to be presented by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs)

12.No. 51-Equal Opportunities Commission Annual Report 2007/08
(to be presented by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs)

13.No. 52-The Accounts of the Lotteries Fund 2007-08
(to be presented by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury)

II. Questions

1. Dr Hon Margaret NG to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the Free Legal Advice Scheme and the Duty Lawyer Service ("DLS"), will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)among the cases heard at Magistrates' Courts (other than those involving fixed penalties) in the past three years, of the percentage of cases in which the defendants had legal representation and, among such cases, the percentage of those in which the legal representatives were duty lawyers;

    (b)of the authorities' current specific policy on the provision of free legal advice service and the provision of legal representation service for defendants in Magistrates' Court cases, and the total funding allocated by the Government for the two services in this financial year; and

    (c)whether the Government and the organizations concerned will review the above two services, especially the scope of DLS (including whether free legal advice should be provided for persons who are detained by the police), as well as the eligibility for the services, with a view to enabling more defendants in criminal cases to receive legal representation services, so that their legal rights can be safeguarded; if not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

2. Hon Albert CHAN to ask:
(Translation)

In reply to my question in June last year, the Government said that the Hospital Authority had taken certain measures to shorten the waiting time for patients with non-urgent conditions for specialist out-patient ("SOP") services. Yet, I recently still received complaints from members of the public about the long waiting time for SOP services, and the waiting time of some cases was even as long as six years. They are worried that their clinical conditions will worsen due to the lack of timely treatment over a prolonged period of time. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council if it knows:
    (a)last year's average waiting time for each SOP service, together with a breakdown of the number of cases as at the end of last year by their waiting time (i.e. less than one year, one year to less than two years, two years to less than three years, and three years or above);

    (b)the longest waiting time among existing cases for each SOP service; and

    (c)whether the Hospital Authority will take further measures to alleviate the problem of excessively long waiting time for SOP services; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Food and Health

3. Hon Tommy CHEUNG to ask:
(Translation)

It is learnt that with the recent successive restaurant closures, the catering industry has been heavily hit by the financial tsunami. Members of the industry have raised certain requests for alleviating their burden, but the Government has not given any concrete response to such requests. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it will make reference to the relief measures implemented by the Government in 2003 to deal with the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and immediately waive the licensing fees for one year in respect of restaurant licence and liquor licence; if it will not, of the reasons for that; and

    (b)as the Sewage Services (Sewage Charge) Regulation stipulates an annual increase of about 9% in the rate of sewage charge over a period of 10 years from this financial year onwards, whether the Government will immediately waive the sewage charge and trade effluent surcharge payable by the catering industry for at least four months, so as to improve the business environment of the catering industry; if it will not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply:Secretary for Food and Health
Secretary for the Environment

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

Quite a number of members of the public have relayed to me that when applying for Old Age Allowances ("OAAs"), commonly known as "fruit grant", or assistance under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme ("CSSA"), they encountered great difficulties and even had their applications rejected because they failed to produce address proofs (e.g. because they were living at their relatives' places) or bank account particulars (e.g. because the banks refused to open an account for them as they have criminal records). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective numbers of OAA and CSSA applications rejected last year on grounds of the applicants' failure to produce address proofs and bank account particulars; and

    (b)whether the Government will make other arrangements, such as waiving the relevant requirements, for applicants who are eligible for OAAs or CSSA but unable to produce address proofs or bank account particulars?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Labour and Welfare

5. Hon Frederick FUNG to ask:
(Translation)

In order to counter the impact of the financial tsunami, the governments of various countries have spent substantial amounts of public money and introduced many measures, including the injection of funds into banks and enterprises to rescue the banking system and stabilize the financial market. It has been alleged that such measures violate the free market principle. The former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve Board conceded earlier that there were flaws in the previous faith in liberal economy which was based on the principle of minimal regulation and in the ideology which relied too much on the market. Moreover, the Premier of the State Council pointed out earlier that Hong Kong should earnestly learn a lesson from the financial crisis and identify the problems existing in its economic structure. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it will review its principle of governance of a deregulatory free market, and re-define the relationship between the Government and the market from a macro and strategic perspective for economic development, in order to respond to the new situation of the world's economy after the financial tsunami; if it will not, of the reasons for that; and

    (b)it will re-assess if the current economic structure in Hong Kong has placed too much emphasis on the development of the financial services industry, and thus resulting in drawbacks (such as excessively uniform economic industries and severely imbalanced economic development, making it difficult to respond to the impact brought by the economic recession); and whether it will formulate afresh strategies for the comprehensive development of a diversified economy and introduce relevant supporting measures to tie in with such strategies; if it will not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : The Financial Secretary

6. Hon CHEUNG Hok-ming to ask:
(Translation)

It is learnt that the daily two-way vehicular flow of Shenzhen Bay Port ("SBP") has been lower than expected since its commissioning in July last year. Regarding the issue of increasing the vehicular flow of SBP, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)as the Government has advised that it will set up an expert group with the Guangdong Provincial Government ("GPG") at the end of this year to study the issue of increasing the permanent quotas for "Hong Kong private cars to enter and leave the Mainland" and implementing a temporary quota system, and using northbound vehicles of SBP as a pilot scheme, of the anticipated time required for the relevant study, and when it will announce the details and implement the scheme;

    (b)whether it will study with GPG the issuance of designated number of temporary quotas, e.g. 500 quotas per day, to mainland residents for them to drive their private cars via SBP to Hong Kong for consumption, so as to increase the vehicular flow of SBP and boost the economy of Hong Kong; if it will not, of the reasons for that; and

    (c)as the Government advised in its report to the Council in May this year that it was studying the relaxation of the restrictions on the use of cross-boundary vehicular permits to allow vehicles with Lok Ma Chau, Sha Tau Kok or Man Kam To cross-boundary vehicular permits to use SBP, of the latest progress of the study?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport and Housing

*7. Dr Hon Priscilla LEUNG to ask:
(Translation)

Quite a number of young people have recently relayed to me their earnest hope that the Government will introduce measures to assist them in purchasing their first homes. In reply to a question from a Member of this Council on the fifth of last month, the Secretary for Transport and Housing ("STH") revealed that during the period from April 1998 to end of March 2002 when the Home Starter Loan Scheme ("HSLS") accepted applications, a total of 80 007 applications were received, of which 33 433 were approved and the remaining 46 574 were unsuccessful. STH also indicated that following the Government's repositioned subsidized housing policy in 2002, encouraging the public to purchase homes was no longer an objective of its housing policy. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective numbers of approved and unsuccessful applications under HSLS, broken down by the age group (each covering five years) to which the applicants belonged;

    (b)whether it will review afresh the above subsidized housing policy in order to keep abreast of the times; and

    (c)whether it will proactively examine the introduction of relevant measures to assist young people who have graduated from universities for less than five years but have got stable jobs in purchasing their homes?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport and Housing

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

Regarding the access to computers and the Internet by students from recipient families under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance ("CSSA") Scheme, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective current numbers of primary and secondary school students from CSSA families, together with a breakdown of such CSSA families by the number of students among their household members;

    (b)whether it knows the respective numbers of secondary and primary school students from CSSA families who have computers at home and have subscribed to Internet access services; and

    (c)of the current measures in place to assist secondary and primary school students from CSSA families with no computer at home in gaining access to computers and the Internet so as to meet their study needs; whether it will consider providing allowances to CSSA families with household members who are primary and secondary school students for the purchase of computers and payment of service charges for Internet access; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Labour and Welfare

*9. Hon Miriam LAU to ask:
(Translation)

On 2 December last year, the MTR Corporation Limited ("MTRCL") launched a fare concession scheme whereby elderly (aged 65 or above) passengers using Octopus cards were required to pay just $2 per journey on Mass Transit Railway trains on Sundays and public holidays. The fare concessions expired on the first of this month. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it knows the respective numbers of passenger trips taken by the elderly on various railway lines on Sundays and public holidays during the period from 2 December last year to the 30th of last month; how the figures compare with the corresponding figures for the 12 months before the above fare concessions were launched; and the average amount of saving in fare realized by each elderly passenger per journey; and

    (b)it will request MTRCL to re-launch the above fare concessions or introduce other concessions which will bring real benefits to the elderly; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport and Housing

*10. Hon CHAN Kin-por to ask:
(Translation)

Quite a number of members of the insurance industry have relayed to me that as the economic and trade relationship between Guangdong and Hong Kong is getting closer, the industry wishes to provide insurance services to Hong Kong businessmen operating in the Mainland and also have further exchange with the insurance industry of the Mainland. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it will explore specific measures to assist the insurance industry of Hong Kong in developing insurance and its related services in the Mainland, so as to strengthen the cooperation between Guangdong and Hong Kong on insurance businesses; if it will, of the details of such measures; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (b)given Supplement IV to the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement has made a specific commitment that Hong Kong insurance agency companies are allowed to set up wholly-owned enterprises in the Mainland to provide insurance agency services to mainland insurance companies, whether the Government will implement follow-up measures to facilitate Hong Kong insurance agency companies to commence the relevant businesses; if it will, of the details of such measures; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

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

Recently, a number of parents of non-Chinese speaking students with special educational needs ("SEN") have relayed to me that local special schools and ordinary schools are unable to provide their children with proper education because of language barrier. They have also pointed out that more than 100 students are waiting for admission to the special school run by English Schools Foundation ("ESF"), which is the only one established for such students in Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the current number of non-Chinese speaking students with SEN, together with a breakdown by the type of their SEN and the class they are attending;

    (b)whether it will review the existing policy of encouraging non-Chinese speaking students with SEN to receive integrated education in mainstream schools; if it will, of the details of the review; if not, the reasons for that;

    (c)whether it will allocate more resources to ESF to provide sufficient places to such students; and

    (d)apart from the special school places offered by ESF, whether the Government will consider providing through other means special school places suitable for such students; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education

*12. Hon Jeffrey LAM to ask:
(Translation)

In the light of the recent global financial tsunami, certain chambers of commerce and professional bodies have suggested that the Government should provide tax concessions to small and medium enterprises ("SMEs") so that they could have more operating capital. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it will:
    (a)consider allowing SMEs to hold over the payment of profits tax for the 2009-2010 tax year for one year;

    (b)extend to next year the due date for SMEs to pay provisional tax for the current year of assessment, and exempt SMEs from the fine payable for overdue tax payment; and

    (c)in view of the current business environment for SMEs, reconsider the arrangements of "group loss relief" and "loss carry-back" for corporate losses under the profits tax regime (such arrangements allow losses of one or more companies to offset profits of other companies of the same group and allow losses to offset profits made in previous years so that the company concerned can get a refund on tax paid)?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

*13. Hon CHEUNG Kwok-che to ask:
(Translation)

The Government decided in 2005 to phase out places in self-care ("S/C") hostels and homes for the aged ("H/A") so that resources could be re-engineered to provide more places with long-term care and attention ("C&A") for the elderly. At the same time, the Government launched a conversion exercise to assist 75 homes in converting their places into C&A places. The majority of the homes were required to carry out the conversion at their existing premises and renovation works were also required in order to meet the requirements of the Social Welfare Department ("SWD") in terms of facilities and spacing. Yet, certain S/C hostels and H/As located in public housing estates have not been able to carry out the conversion recently because the Housing Department ("HD") did not approve large scale renovation works to be carried out. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)how SWD will coordinate with HD to assist the above homes in carrying out the conversion at their existing premises;

    (b)where conversion of places at existing premises is not feasible due to the above reason, whether SWD will identify other premises for such S/C hostels and H/As to facilitate their conversion;

    (c)of the respective numbers of homes whose S/C hostel and H/A places have and have not been converted to C&A places since the above conversion exercise was launched in June 2005, and the reasons why some places have not yet been converted; and

    (d)of the details of the Government's vetting procedures for funding applications related to such conversion?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Labour and Welfare

*14. Hon LEE Wing-tat to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the Ma Wan Park ("MWP") which is being constructed by a developer, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)given that the completion dates of the construction works of MWP have been extended time and again (the completion of Phase 1 development was originally scheduled for June 2006 and has been delayed until the end of this month, and it has been reported that the "Noah's Ark", a large-scale facility therein, will not be formally opened to the public until March next year, while the completion date for Phase 2 development has yet to be fixed), whether the Government will, apart from requiring it to pay the unexpended balance of the development cost together with the interest, raise the penalty for serious delay in the above works by the developer, so as to prevent further delay;

    (b)of the details of every Master Layout Plan ("MLP") and every amendment submitted by the developer on the Ma Wan development (including changes involved in those amendments, whether the relevant applications have been approved by the Town Planning Board, together with the conditions on which such approvals were granted);

    (c)given that in accordance with the 1994 MLP of Park Island, the developer was required to provide a road link in the development area to connect to the road network of Ma Wan, yet, it is shown in the current revised MLP that residential buildings have been built on the land of that road section, and the developer has not provided other roads, including roads inside MWP, at Ma Wan either, why the Government has allowed the developer not to provide the road concerned; and whether the Government will take follow-up actions; if it will, of the details; and

    (d)given that presently vehicles without valid permits are prohibited from entering Ma Wan, whether the Government has evaluated the accessibility of MWP after the park is open to the public; if it has, of the details of the evaluation results; if not, whether the Government will require the developer to provide the road concerned to improve the accessibility of MWP?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Development

*15. Hon KAM Nai-wai to ask:
(Translation)

Some residents have complained to me that since last year, the number of runs of various bus routes which cover some remote areas on Hong Kong Island have been reduced without prior consultation. Moreover, the average daily patronage benefitting from the 96 concessionary bus-bus interchange ("BBI") schemes, involving 117 bus routes and implemented by various franchised bus companies on Hong Kong Island, was just about 7 400 as at the end of last year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective numbers of buses deployed and runs, in respect each of the bus routes on Hong Kong Island and the cross-harbour bus routes, on the first of January last year and the 30th of last month;

    (b)whether it knows if all the various franchised bus companies have consulted the relevant District Councils before deciding to adjust the numbers of runs of these bus routes, and they have also informed the relevant District Council Secretariats before implementing the new bus schedules; if they have not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)given that the bus waiting time for passengers in remote areas has been increased due to the reduction in the numbers of runs, whether it will discuss with franchised bus companies how to improve the BBI schemes, so as to make available more bus routes for these passengers to choose from?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport and Housing

*16. Hon Audrey EU to ask:
(Translation)

Recently, I have received complaints from a number of members of owners' corporations that they are inundated with letters, publicity materials and annual reports sent by various government departments through the post, which they consider a substantial waste of paper. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective quantities and weights of printed annual reports posted by various government departments and public organizations in the last financial year;

    (b)whether it plans to gradually replace the mailing of printed publications by issuing electronic copies of such publications as the major means of communication with owners' corporations; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether it has compiled statistics on the current numbers of government departments and public organizations which no longer produce printed versions of annual reports and issue electronic copies of such publications instead; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment

*17. Hon LAU Wong-fat to ask:
(Translation)

It is learnt that in recent years there were a number of incidents of wild pigs intruding into urban areas and villages, and these wild pigs not only damaged and ate crops, but also intruded into residential premises and hurt the occupants. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has studied the causes of wild pigs intruding into urban areas and villages many times in recent years; if it has, of the study results; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)whether it has kept statistics on the number of wild pigs and the changes in their numbers in each of the past three years; and

    (c)given that members of wild pigs hunting teams at present are required to hold special permits issued by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170) and arms licences issued by the Hong Kong Police Force to kill wild pigs, whether the Government will consider relaxing the relevant regulations and also introducing other relevant measures, so as to reduce the nuisance caused to residents by wild pigs; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment

*18. Dr Hon Joseph LEE to ask:
(Translation)

According to the Preservatives in Food Regulations (Cap. 132 sub. leg. BD), which govern the amount of sulphur dioxide allowed in different categories of food, the sale of fresh, chilled or frozen meat containing sulphur dioxide is an offence. However, it has recently been reported that beef containing sulphur dioxide is prevalent in the market. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department ("FEHD") had regularly taken samples of fresh beef and food items other than meat for sulphur dioxide testing over the past three years; if it had, of the respective numbers of the two kinds of samples taken and, among them, those found to contain sulphur dioxide exceeding the statutory permitted levels, as well as the relevant details;

    (b)of the number of traders convicted in the past three years for breaching the above provision, as well as the penalties imposed on them, and whether it will consider raising the penalties to enhance the deterrent effect; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether FEHD will make public the names and locations of the shops found to be selling beef containing sulphur dioxide for reference by the public; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Food and Health

*19. Hon Starry LEE to ask:
(Translation)

Under the Coordinated Maintenance of Buildings Scheme implemented by the Buildings Department in association with the Hong Kong Housing Society and several government departments, the authorities will, having regard to the unauthorized building works on the external walls and the dilapidation in the common areas of the buildings, select target buildings and then require the owners or owners' corporations concerned to carry out repair and maintenance works. If the required works are not commenced within a reasonable period of time, the relevant departments will take joint enforcement actions. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)in respect of each District Council district in each of the past three years, of the respective numbers of buildings selected as target buildings, those with the relevant works completed and those with works not yet completed, and the respective numbers of repair orders issued and prosecutions instituted against owners for non-compliance with the repair orders; as well as the penalties generally imposed on the convicted owners;

    (b)of the average and longest time taken between designation of the target building and completion of the required works since the implementation of the above scheme in 2000, with a breakdown of the completed cases by the number of years taken; the current number of cases not yet completed and among them, those in which the buildings have been selected as target buildings for more than five years;

    (c)whether it will set a time limit for target buildings to complete the repair and maintenance works; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (d)of the respective numbers of applications made by the owners of target buildings over the past three years under the Building Safety Loan Scheme, Building Management and Maintenance Incentive Schemes, Building Maintenance Grant Scheme for Elderly Owners and Building Rehabilitation Schemes for loans or grants, the total amounts granted under each scheme and the number of flats the owners of which have not repaid the loans and the authorities have therefore registered charges against their interests in the Land Registry?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Development

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

Regarding the supply and demand situation of student hostel places of various institutions funded by the University Grants Committee ("UGC"), will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number and locations of government quarters and premises in various districts throughout the territory which are vacant;

    (b)whether it knows the supply and demand situation of publicly-funded student hostel places of each UGC-funded institution in each of the next five academic years;

    (c)whether it had allocated any vacant government quarters or premises to the UGC-funded institutions for the purposes of constructing student hostels in the past five years; if it had, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (d)given the current shortage of publicly-funded student hostel places, coupled with the future additional demand for student hostel places arising from the implementation of the four-year undergraduate curriculum, whether the Government will consider allocating the relevant government quarters or premises mentioned in (a) to the UGC-funded institutions for student hostel purposes; if it will, of the relevant details and criteria; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education

*For written reply.

III. Motions

Proposed resolution under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance

Secretary for Food and Health to move the following motion:


RESOLVED that the following Regulations, made by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board on 25 November 2008, be approved -

(a)the Pharmacy and Poisons (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulation 2008; and

(b)the Poisons List (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulation 2008.

(The two Regulations were issued on 28 November 2008
under LC Paper No. CB(3) 187/08-09)

IV. Members' Motions

  1. Alleviating the burden of travelling expenses

    Hon CHEUNG Hok-ming: (Translation)

    That, as the people of Hong Kong has long been bearing a heavy burden of travelling expenses and a large number of middle-class and grassroots face further difficulties in life amid continuous layoffs and pay cuts by enterprises under the impact of the financial tsunami, this Council urges the Government to adopt effective measures to alleviate the burden of travelling expenses on the public, including:

    (a)providing subsidies to the MTR Corporation, bus companies and ferry operators so that they will offer half-fare concessions to passengers on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, thereby enabling the public to have more opportunities to get together with their families and friends on those days;

    (b)further relaxing the eligibility criteria and subsidy period under the Transport Support Scheme, and expanding the Scheme to cover all districts in the territory;

    (c)discussing with various public transport operators to offer the Free-ride Day for the elderly on Sundays and public holidays on a permanent basis, formulate an implementation timetable for the provision of half-fare concessions to people with disabilities, and study the feasibility of introducing daily, weekly and monthly travel passes that are valid among various public transport operators;

    (d)focusing on the problem of high fares of outlying island ferry services, studying suitable options and allocating resources to alleviate the burden of ferry service expenses on outlying island residents, and offering half-fare concessions on ferry services to students of outlying islands;

    (e)discussing with the MTR Corporation to extend its two-year fare-freeze period, re-launch the 'Ride 10 Get One Free' Promotion, set up more MTR Fare Savers and explore further extension of the existing monthly ticket schemes; and

    (f)discussing with the franchised bus companies ways to improve their existing fare structures, expeditiously revise the scale of fares under the Public Bus Services Ordinance as well as the route groupings under the scale, reformulate the existing guidelines on the setting of fares to provide comprehensive sectional fares and bus-bus interchange concessions, including discounts for interchange among buses of different companies, provide half-fare concessions to all full-time students, as well as introduce daily and monthly ticket schemes for buses.

    Amendments to the motion
    (i)Hon WONG Kwok-hing: (Translation)

    To delete ", as the people of Hong Kong has long been bearing" after "That" and substitute with "the fares of local public transport are escalating, causing the public to bear"; to delete "and" after "a heavy burden of travelling expenses" and substitute with "for a long time, coupled with the fact that"; to add "further" after "this Council urges the Government to adopt"; to add ", green minibus" after "MTR Corporation, bus companies"; to delete "studying suitable options" after "high fares of outlying island ferry services," and substitute with "actively studying various suitable options, including substantially increasing the non-fare box revenue of ferry operators or the Government directly operating the services, etc;"; to add "and, according to the request of the residents and using more consistent standards" after "the 'Ride 10 Get One Free' Promotion"; to delete "and" after "set up more MTR Fare Savers" and substitute with "as well as"; to delete "and" after "existing monthly ticket schemes;"; and to add "; and (g) on the basis of the above measures, further studying in a proactive manner the utilization of Octopus card which is widely used by the public to provide all people in the territory with concessions on monthly tickets that are valid for use on all types of public transport, hence will provide convenience to the public and not lead to excessively high administrative and operating costs to the various public transport operators, thereby alleviating the burden of travelling expenses on the general public, particularly the working class" immediately before the full stop.

    Amendment to Hon WONG Kwok-hing's amendment
    Hon WONG Sing-chi:
    (Translation)

    To add "and local franchise bus companies have recently announced the cancellation of fare concessions for the elderly on holidays and same day return fare concessions which were provided in the past three years, causing the travelling expenses of the elderly and grassroots to increase, this Council expresses condemnation in this regard; since public transport operators have continued to increase their fares," after "the fares of local public transport are escalating,"; to delete "studying in a proactive manner the utilization of" after "(g) on the basis of the above measures, further" and substitute with "utilizing"; to add "and continuing to provide the current fare concessions for the elderly on holidays and same day return fare concessions provided by local franchise bus companies," after "all types of public transport,"; and to add "the elderly and" after "particularly".

    (ii)Hon Andrew CHENG: (Translation)

    To add "quite a number of local public transport operators increased their fares one after another over the past year, coupled with the fact that" after "That, as"; to delete "and explore further extension of" after "MTR Fare Savers" and substitute with ", establish a fare stabilization fund to be underpinned by the proceeds from properties, further extend"; and to add "and make such schemes a permanent arrangement" after "the existing monthly ticket schemes".

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Transport and Housing

  2. Buying back the shares of The Link

    Dr Hon LEUNG Ka-lau: (Translation)

    That, The Link Real Estate Investment Trust ("The Link"), being the largest landlord of retail shops in Hong Kong, has a total of 11 000 tenants providing services of daily necessities to three million residents in public housing estates, yet since its listing, The Link has deviated from its original principle and philosophy and increased rents every year, causing great burden to the lower class and small shop tenants, and despite the increase in shop rentals by almost 30% in 2007 and the recent economic downturn in Hong Kong, The Link still increases rents against the market trend, thereby reducing room for survival of the grassroots and causing social discontent; hence this Council urges the Government to balance the community interests at large in handling the issue of rental of public housing shopping arcades, and consider various possible means to buy back sufficient shares of The Link to become the major shareholder, so as to influence the management of The Link Management Limited to take into consideration its corporate social responsibility.

    Amendments to the motion
    (i)Hon CHAN Kam-lam: (Translation)

    To add "listed in 2005 and" after "("The Link"),"; to delete "three million residents in public housing estates" after "necessities to" and substitute with "all people in Hong Kong"; to delete "deviated from its original principle and philosophy and increased rents every year, causing great burden to the lower class and small shop tenants, and despite the increase in shop rentals by almost 30% in 2007 and the recent economic downturn in Hong Kong, The Link still increases rents against the market trend, thereby reducing room for survival of the grassroots and causing social discontent;" after "The Link has" and substitute with "been increasing its rents, adding burden to shop tenants; and despite the impact of the financial tsunami on the economy of Hong Kong recently, The Link has not immediately lowered the rents in response to the market downturn, thereby making the operation of shop tenants more difficult,"; to delete "to buy back sufficient shares of The Link to become the major shareholder, so as to influence" after "means" and substitute with ", such as proactively putting up specific requests to the management of The Link Management Limited or providing policy incentives, etc, to urge"; and to delete "take into consideration" after "The Link Management Limited to" and substitute with "respond to the demands of the community, which include: (a) lowering the rents of shops and car parks, as well as safeguarding the rights of tenancy renewal of existing tenants, so as to tide over the difficult time with the shop tenants and the public; (b) establishing an effective communication channel for shop tenants to give their views, so as to improve the relationship between shop tenants and the management of The Link Management Limited; (c) accelerating the improvement to the facilities of shopping arcades and stepping up publicity and promotion work to boost customer flows; and (d) providing concessionary rents to more service organizations for renting shops in the shopping arcades of The Link, so as to fulfil".

    (ii)Hon Alan LEONG: (Translation)

    To add "as" after "That,"; to add "completely failed to discharge its corporate social responsibility and its operation has even" after "The Link has"; to delete "balance" after "the Government to" and substitute with "properly protect"; to delete "to buy back sufficient" after "means" and substitute with ", including buying back all"; to delete "major" after "become the" and substitute with "sole"; and to delete "influence the management of The Link Management Limited to take into consideration its corporate social responsibility" immediately before the full stop and substitute with "discharge the responsibilities stipulated in section 4 of the Housing Ordinance".

    (iii)Hon Vincent FANG: (Translation)

    To add "being listed by the authority in November 2005," after "That,"; to delete "being" after "("The Link")," and substitute with "has become"; to delete ", has a total of" after "retail shops in Hong Kong" and substitute with "with over"; to add "almost" after "necessities to"; and to delete "to" after "means" and substitute with ", which include, in response to the substantial rental reduction and continual increase in vacancy rate of shops in the market resulting from the worsening business environment, as well as the current situation under which local consumption has been seriously struck by the financial tsunami and business turnover of shops has dropped drastically, proactively negotiating with The Link Management Limited about various rental reduction and rental freeze options, providing better ancillary facilities for existing shop tenants, and stepping up promotion to attract customer flows, with a view to helping shop tenants tide over the economic recession; and if so warranted, may even".

    (iv)Hon LEUNG Kwok-hung: (Translation)

    To add "this Council expresses deep regret at the Government's disregard for the interests of public housing residents, shop tenants and the general public at that time;" after "social discontent;"; to delete "sufficient" after "buy back" and substitute with "no less than 25% of the"; and to add "or sole" after "the major".

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Transport and Housing

  3. Motion for the adjournment of the Council

    Hon Vincent FANG: (Translation)

    That this Council do now adjourn for the purpose of debating the following issue: Predicament faced by the small and medium enterprises due to tightened credit facility from banks.

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development
Clerk to the Legislative Council