Council Meeting (Agenda) 21 October 2009



A 09/10-3

Legislative Council

Agenda

Wednesday 21 October 2009 at 11:00 am

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / InstrumentsL.N. No.
1.Import and Export (Electronic Cargo Information) Regulation188/2009
2.Dutiable Commodities Ordinance (Amendment of Schedules 1A and 1B) Notice 2009189/2009
3.Import and Export Ordinance (Amendment of Schedules 2 and 3) Notice 2009190/2009
4.Reserved Commodities Ordinance (Amendment of Schedules 1 and 2) Notice 2009191/2009

Other Papers

1.No. 7-Hong Kong Deposit Protection Board Annual Report 2008-2009
(to be presented by the Financial Secretary)

2.No. 8-Occupational Safety and Health Council Annual Report 2008/2009
(to be presented by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare)

3.No. 9-Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund Board Annual Report 2008-09
(to be presented by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare)

4.No. 10-Audited Financial Statements and Auditors' Report for the Fish Marketing Organization
(for the year ended 31 March 2009)
(to be presented by the Secretary for Food and Health)

5.No. 11-Audited Financial Statements and Auditors' Report for the Vegetable Marketing Organization
(for the year ended 31 March 2009)
(to be presented by the Secretary for Food and Health)

6.No. 12-Marine Fish Scholarship Fund Trustee's Report and Audited Financial Statements and Auditors' Report on the Fund
(for the year ended 31 March 2009)
(to be presented by the Secretary for Food and Health)

7.No. 13-Agricultural Products Scholarship Fund Trustee's Report and Audited Financial Statements and Auditors' Report on the Fund
(for the year ended 31 March 2009)
(to be presented by the Secretary for Food and Health)

8.No. 14-The Land Registry Trading Fund Hong Kong 2008-09 Annual Report
(to be presented by the Secretary for Development)

9.No. 15-Consumer Council Annual Report 2008-09
(to be presented by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development)

10.No. 16-Environment and Conservation Fund Trustee Report 2008-2009
(to be presented by the Secretary for the Environment)

11.No. 17-Companies Registry Trading Fund 2008-09 Annual Report
(to be presented by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury)

12.No. 18-West Kowloon Cultural District Authority 08/09 Annual Report
(to be presented by the Financial Secretary)

13.No. 19-The Government Minute in response to the Reports No. 51A and 52 of the Public Accounts Committee dated May and July 2009
(to be presented by the Chief Secretary for Administration, who will address the Council)

14.Report of the Bills Committee on Village Representative Election Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2009
(to be presented by Hon IP Kwok-him, Chairman of the Bills Committee)

II. Questions

1. Hon Ronny TONG to ask:
(Translation)

With an ageing population in Hong Kong, there is an increasing demand for columbarium facilities. It has been reported that at present, about 40 000 people died in Hong Kong each year, and 90% of the dead bodies are cremated. According to the information provided by the Administration to this Council in 2007, there was a shortfall in the supply of public columbarium niches, and the Government could only provide 57 000 additional niches in the next decade. As the supply is far from adequate to meet the demand, members of the public have turned to private columbarium facilities. It has also been reported that numerous problems have arisen because of the lack of regulation of private columbarium facilities by the Government. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)how the Government assesses the demand and supply situation of columbarium niches in the next decade, including the estimated number of deaths, the number of new niches the Government can provide and the number of new niches which can be provided in the private sector; what plans the Government has in place to address the shortfall of columbarium niches;

    (b)of the permitted sites for the construction of private columbarium facilities under the current planning standards and land leases; what criteria are adopted by the Government for vetting and approving planning applications for the construction of columbarium facilities, and what restrictions are imposed on the construction of such facilities; and

    (c)whether the Government will consider formulating comprehensive policies and amending the law to comprehensively regulate the site allocation, construction, planning, management and charges, etc. of columbarium facilities, so as to enable the construction of such facilities at appropriate locations and, at the same time, safeguard the interests of consumers?
Public Officers to reply:Secretary for Food and Health
Secretary for Development

2. Hon Frederick FUNG to ask: (Translation)

It has been more than a year since the outbreak of the financial tsunami and the European and American economies have earlier introduced a number of financial reform proposals, including reform of regulatory framework, as well as regulation of derivative financial products and remuneration of senior staff of financial institutions, to prevent recurrence of financial crisis, and some of the proposals have even been implemented already. Regarding the situation in Hong Kong, apart from minor changes introduced by the authorities to the approaches and procedures for selling financial products, and the recent consultation paper issued by the Securities and Futures Commission on proposals to enhance regulation of the sale of financial products, the authorities have not yet come up with any concrete direction and proposal for reform in areas such as the overall financial system and establishment of a mechanism empowered to protect investors, etc. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)regarding the reform of the overall financial regulatory framework, whether any proposal (e.g. establishment of a unified regulator or the adoption of the "Twin Peaks" model of regulation and appointment of an independent financial ombudsman, or consideration of amending the existing regime only) is being studied by the authorities; if so, of the specific scope and contents of the proposals and consultation schedule therefor; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)given that one of the causes of the financial tsunami was that senior staff of European and American financial institutions, in seeking high return and robust business growth, had created a large number of complicated and high risk derivative products, resulting in incessant expansion and transmission of risks, and the G20 Summit earlier held in the United States has therefore reached an agreement to regulate the remuneration schemes of senior staff of financial institutions, how the authorities will implement this agreement in Hong Kong, including whether they will effect regulation by way of legislation and require financial institutions to set up comprehensive risk management systems; if they will, of the specific measures; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether the authorities will consider establishing a central clearing and trading platform for off-market derivative financial products, so as to strengthen the regulation and enhance the transparency of such products; if they will not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

3. Hon Miriam LAU to ask:
(Translation)

Since April 2007, the Government has launched a grant scheme costing about $3.2 billion to encourage owners of pre-Euro and Euro I diesel commercial vehicles to replace their old vehicles with Euro IV vehicles, which are more environment-friendly. The scheme will expire by the end of March next year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number and percentage of diesel commercial vehicles which have been replaced under such scheme so far, as well as the total amount of grants involved;

    (b)whether it has studied the causes for the consistently low number of applications under the grant scheme; apart from the technical problems with Euro IV vehicles as reflected by the trade, whether there are other causes; how the Government will solve these problems so as to assist the trade in making applications before the expiry of the grant scheme as far as possible; and

    (c)whether it will consider the following measures, which include extending the deadline for applications of the grant scheme and raising the amount of grant, providing other support, relaxing the requirements of the grant scheme to cover younger vehicles, as well as converting the remaining funds after the expiry of the grant scheme to interest-free or low-interest loans to continue to assist the trade in replacing their vehicles with more environment-friendly ones, so as to maximize the effectiveness of the grant scheme?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment

4. Hon Jeffrey LAM to ask:
(Translation)

The Securities and Futures Commission ("SFC") recently issued the Consultation Paper on Proposals to Enhance Protection for the Investing Public to put forward a series of improvement proposals to address the various problems with the regulation of investment products and selling practices, as exposed by the Lehman Brothers Minibonds incident, including the introduction of a cooling-off period to allow an investor to cancel the order or exit the investment within a specified period after he has placed an order or acquired an investment product. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it has studied who should bear the price difference of the investment product during the cooling-off period when the investor ultimately decides to cancel the order, and if the difference is to be borne entirely by the issuer or its agents (including banks), whether it will cause any damage to the operation of the relevant industries;

    (b)the authorities can implement the aforesaid proposals in the form of temporary contract, which allows the price of a product to be determined only after the investor has confirmed the transaction upon the expiry of the cooling-off period; and

    (c)the authorities have studied the feasibility of introducing cooling-off periods for different investment products; in respect of products whose prices can be highly volatile within a short period, whether the setting up of cooling-off periods will give speculators the opportunity to disrupt the smooth operation of the financial market?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

5. Hon Albert CHAN to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that the views expressed by the Secretary for Home Affairs ("the Secretary"), during his conversation with senior officials of the Hong Kong Young Women's Christian Association in early 2009, were alleged to have exerted pressure on the Association, causing the Association to transfer its social workers in Tai O out of the area. As a result, one of the social workers concerned resigned and became jobless. Members of the public are gravely concerned about this incident and worried that the Government is interfering with the operation of the professional sectors through politics. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)regarding the statement the Government made, without conducting any independent investigation, that the Secretary had not politically interfered in the social work profession, whether the Government has harboured anyone and shielded his fault, and whether it will consider afresh the conduct of an independent investigation; if there is such a situation and an investigation will be conducted, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)given that it has been reported that the Secretary, without conducting any investigation, had commented and expressed opinion on the acts of the social workers concerned and their impact on the community, whether the Government has assessed if there has been any misconduct on the part of the Secretary; if the assessment outcome is in the affirmative, whether it will require the Secretary to take the blame and resign as well as provide compensation to the victims; and

    (c)how the Government rectifies and improves similar political behaviour of senior government officials, as well as how it ensures that such officials, especially Secretaries of Departments and Directors of Bureaux, will not interfere with the work of the professional sectors through politics?
Public Officer to reply : The Chief Secretary for Administration

6. Hon Andrew LEUNG to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the assistance provided to Hong Kong businessmen engaged in business on the Mainland, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has collected statistics on the number of cases of Hong Kong businessmen on the Mainland seeking assistance from the offices of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on the Mainland, the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau and the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau in the past three years; if it has, of a breakdown of such cases by the issues (including the "avoidance of double taxation") involved;

    (b)what support services were given by the Government to the Hong Kong businessmen on the Mainland in the cases in (a) which involved "Arrangement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation"; and

    (c)given that, in accordance with a document entitled "Letter related to investigating the charging of Enterprises Income Tax on the provision of service by foreign institutions to domestic enterprises through deployment of the former's personnel" issued by the State Administration of Taxation on 2 July this year, a foreign enterprise, in deploying non-Mainland residents, including Hong Kong permanent residents, to the Mainland to provide service or take up management positions in its mainland subsidiaries, may be regarded as a "permanent establishment" and will thus be subject to Business Tax and Enterprises Income Tax, whether the Government has come across relevant cases of Hong Kong businessmen seeking assistance or making enquires, and taken the initiative to understand from the mainland authorities the contents of the document and details of enforcement, as well as assessed the impact of the relevant arrangement on Hong Kong enterprises?
Public Officers to reply:Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development

*7. Hon WONG Kwok-hing to ask: (Translation)

Recently, it has been reported that after changing the speed limits of certain roads/road sections by notice published in the Gazette, the Transport Department ("TD") did not update the relevant speed limit traffic signs at the same time. Due to difficulties in enforcement, the Police has indicated that prosecution actions against speeding on the roads/road sections concerned would be suspended. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of times in the past three years of TD failing to update the traffic signs concerned at the same time the speed limits were changed upon publication of a notice in the Gazette; the names of the roads/road sections concerned and the reasons for not updating the traffic signs at the same time;

    (b)whether it has looked into the difficulties posed by the above inconsistencies in speed limits to prosecution actions by the Police against speeding; of the respective numbers of cases involving inconsistencies in speed limits in the past three years in which the Police continued or suspended its enforcement actions, together with a breakdown of the duration of suspension of enforcement actions in respect of each road/road section concerned; and whether the Police has reflected to TD the difficulties it encounters in carrying out enforcement actions on such roads/road sections; if so, of the response; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)what measures TD will implement to tackle the above problem, as well as when such measures will be implemented?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport and Housing

*8. Hon CHAN Hak-kan to ask:
(Translation)

According to the figures released by the Census and Statistics Department, electricity consumption in Hong Kong, after deducting the amount of electricity exported to the Mainland, rose from about 130 675 terajoules in 2000 to 147 345 terajoules in 2008, representing an increase of about 13%. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has studied the reasons for the continuous increase in electricity consumption in Hong Kong over the past few years;

    (b)of the projected electricity consumption in Hong Kong in the next five years, and the basis for the projection;

    (c)of the specific measures to be implemented to encourage domestic households and commercial establishments respectively to reduce electricity consumption; and

    (d)given that some political parties and environmental organizations have suggested the introduction of a "carbon bonus point" scheme whereby the amount of electricity saved will be converted to bonus points which can be used to exchange for government cash rebate or settle government fees, whether the authorities have studied such a scheme; whether they have discussed with the two power companies the feasibility of the scheme; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment

*9. Hon Paul TSE to ask:
(Translation)

At present, travel agents, in selling air tickets, are required to collect fuel surcharges and air passenger departure tax ("APDT") on behalf of airlines. However, the airlines do not pay the relevant commission or administrative fee to travel agents. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)the Civil Aviation Department will, in vetting and approving applications submitted by airlines for adjusting fuel surcharges, require the airlines to bear the expenses incurred by travel agents in collecting fuel surcharges on their behalf when selling air tickets; if it will, when the relevant measure can be implemented; if not, of the justifications for that; and

    (b)the Government will directly pay travel agents the expenses incurred in collecting APDT on its behalf, or adopt appropriate measures to make the airlines concerned pay such expenses; if it will, when the measure can be implemented; if not, of the justifications for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport and Housing

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

Regarding the handling of incidents of fresh and salt water mains bursts by the Water Supplies Department ("WSD"), will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the total volume in cubic metres of fresh water lost due to water mains bursts in the past three years, the value of fresh water lost as calculated by its unit cost as well as the other related economic losses incurred;

    (b)of the number of reports of water mains bursts received by WSD in each of the past three years and the district distribution of such incidents; and

    (c)given that in the incident of underground fresh and salt water mains bursts in Eastern Street of Sai Ying Pun this September, the repair service staff of WSD took one hour and five minutes to isolate the burst main from water sources upon receipt of report, of the details of the notification mechanism for handling incidents of water mains bursts by WSD at present, as well as the average time required for the repair service staff to isolate the burst mains from water sources?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Development

*11. Hon Mrs Regina IP to ask:
(Translation)

At present, the leisure facilities under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department ("LCSD") still adopt the fees and charges set by the two former municipal councils. As the two municipal councils adopted different pricing policies at that time, there are discrepancies in the fees and charges for certain facilities in the urban areas and the New Territories. Overall speaking, except for the fees and charges for tennis courts, badminton courts, natural turf pitches and swimming pools in the urban areas during peak hours, which are lower than those in the New Territories, the fees and charges for major recreational and sports facilities in the urban areas are generally higher than those for the same types of facilities in the New Territories. In its respective replies to the written questions from Members of this Council on 23 November 2005 and 30 April 2008, the Government indicated that it would examine the feasibility of aligning the fees and charges concerned. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the progress of the feasibility study on aligning the fees and charges; if the study has been completed, of the results; and whether the fees and charges will be aligned; if so, of the timetable; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (b)as the Community Sports Committee of the Sports Commission has recently published the report of the study "Sport for All - Participation Patterns of Hong Kong People in Physical Activities", and one of the measures proposed by LCSD in response is to encourage members of the public to actively participate in sports and physical activities, whether the Government will adopt the lower amount of the existing fees and charges when setting the aligned fee level, so as to encourage members of the public to participate in sports?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

*12. Hon Fred LI to ask:
(Translation)

According to a paper submitted by the authorities to the Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene of this Council, vegetables imported into Hong Kong must come from registered farms, and each consignment of vegetables imported from the Mainland must be accompanied with a "certificate of pesticide usage for vegetables supplied to Hong Kong and Macao" and an "inspection card of vegetables supplied to Hong Kong and Macao" issued by the mainland authorities and be affixed with a label on the packaging (e.g. basket or carton), setting out information on the source of the vegetables. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)given that the labels of some vegetables imported from the Mainland only set out the registration numbers of the collection and processing plants and do not provide any information on the vegetable farms concerned, how the authorities ensure that these vegetables come from registered farms; and

    (b)whether it will discuss with the mainland authorities ways to plug the above loophole, so as to prevent collection and processing plants from importing vegetables from unregistered farms into Hong Kong?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Food and Health

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

The Government is consolidating the resources for three types of community mental rehabilitation services, namely Community Mental Health Link, Community Mental Health Care and Community Mental Health Intervention Project, to provide integrated community mental health services, and also set up the first Integrated Community Centre for Mental Wellness ("ICCMW") in Hong Kong in Tin Shui Wai in the last financial year. The social welfare sector considers that such one-stop services can provide accessible services to the users and make effective use of resources. It therefore hopes that the Government will consolidate resources in the future to set up ICCMWs in various districts in Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it has a timetable for setting up ICCMWs in other districts; if so, in which districts and when ICCMWs will be set up; and

    (b)it will increase the number of healthcare professionals (e.g. psychiatric nurses and occupational therapists) in ICCMWs?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Labour and Welfare

*14. Hon LEUNG Kwok-hung to ask:
(Translation)

Under the Solicitors (Professional Indemnity) Rules (Cap. 159, Sub. Leg. M), in respect of negligence claims made by the public against solicitors who have been declared bankrupt, the fund which is owned and managed by the Hong Kong Solicitors Indemnity Fund Limited ("indemnity fund") will only provide indemnity for the bankrupt solicitors against loss arising from such claims, and it will not indemnify the claimants directly. Hence, claimants can only make claims against the bankrupt solicitors. In the event that the bankrupt solicitors are not able to pay compensation to the claimants, whether claimants can make claims against the indemnity fund will depend on the applicability of section 2 of the Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Ordinance (Cap. 273). However, the court ruled in a case in 1994 that the professional indemnity provided by the indemnity fund was not "contract of insurance" and therefore, the claimant could not cite that Ordinance to seek indemnity from the indemnity fund. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)whether the main purpose of establishing the indemnity fund is to protect public interests; and

    (b)the role of the indemnity fund in the above cases, and the measures put in place by the Government to safeguard the interests of those claimants?
Public Officer to reply : The Secretary for Justice

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

Information from the Environmental Protection Department indicates that the glass waste discarded of at landfills in Hong Kong exceeded 130 000 tonnes in 2007, and the amount is on the rise. Some environmental groups have pointed out that the authorities do not support the glass container recycling programmes initiated by the community, as they think that recycled glass is of limited use and low value. At present, the recovery rate of glass containers is extremely low. The majority of glass containers discarded by the public had to be disposed of by landfilling, taking up much of the dwindling landfill space. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)the Government has plans to formulate a glass waste recycling policy; if it has not, of the reasons;

    (b)the Government will consider implementing policies (e.g. producer responsibility scheme on glass containers) to reduce the use of glass containers;

    (c)the Government will promote the use of eco-blocks made from glass containers and construction waste in order to increase the recovery of glass containers; and

    (d)the authorities have assessed the effectiveness of the glass container recycling programme for the hotel sector, which has been implemented for almost one year; if they have, of the results; and whether they will further promote the programme?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment

*16. Dr Hon LAM Tai-fai to ask:
(Translation)

The Inland Revenue (Amendment) Ordinance 1986 added section 39E to the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap. 112). The provision aims to limit the opportunities for tax deferral or avoidance through sale and leaseback and leveraged leasing arrangements. In making such relevant arrangements, an owner of machinery or plants will be denied initial allowances and annual allowances ("depreciation allowances") in respect of the capital expenditure incurred on the provision of such machinery or plants. When the provision was scrutinized and passed by the former Legislative Council in 1986, the Government had stated that the provision was intended to strike down such acts of tax avoidance, and specifically stated that the provision only targeted at the two leasing arrangements of sale and leaseback and leveraged leasing. At the same time, it assured that general leasing transactions and normal commercial transactions would not be affected. Upon passage of the Bill, the Commissioner of Inland Revenue issued the Departmental Interpretation and Practice Notes No. 15, which stated clearly that the Notes only apply to the two leasing arrangements of sale and leaseback and leveraged leasing. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)given that members of the trade are of the view that the original Notes No. 15 already reflected clearly the legislative intent of section 39E, and no problem has arisen from the enforcement of the relevant legislation, yet the Government amended in January 2006 the Notes relating to the enforcement of the Ordinance, of the reasons for that;

    (b)given that the Government had assured the former Legislative Council in 1986 that the departmental guidelines issued by the Commissioner of Inland Revenue in respect of section 39E would reflect the literal meaning and the legislative spirit of the legislation, whether the assurance was fulfilled when the Government amended the Notes concerned in 2006; if it was, how the new Notes reflect the legislative spirit of the legislation; if not, of the reasons for that;

    (c)given that the legislative intent of the above provision is to strike down acts of tax avoidance, and it has been especially stated that the provision only targets at the two leasing arrangements of sale and leaseback and leveraged leasing, why Hong Kong enterprises are denied depreciation allowances, even if they have not committed or intended to commit the above acts of tax avoidance, and have absolutely not involved in the above two leasing arrangements, but have merely made the machinery and plants available for use by factories or their outsourced manufacturers on the Mainland in accordance with general commercial arrangements (e.g. import processing arrangement), so as to manufacture commodities for sale by Hong Kong enterprises, and the profits of these Hong Kong enterprises are all subject to taxes in Hong Kong;

    (d)given that the Government had assured the former Legislative Council in 1986 that general leasing transactions and normal commercial transactions would not be affected by the provision, whether the relevant assurance is still valid today; if so, how it ensures that the assurance is complied with; if not, of the reasons for that;

    (e)whether it has assessed the actual impact of implementing the new Notes on normal economic activities; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (f)whether, in implementing the new Notes, it has taken into consideration the situation of the northern migration of industries and regional economic integration in the Pearl River Delta at present; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (g)whether it has taken into consideration that the new Notes have rendered Hong Kong enterprises unable to tie with the Mainland policy of requiring enterprises to upgrade and restructure, and have dealt a severe blow to the productivity and competitiveness of the manufacturing industry; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (h)whether it has plans to review the above Notes and related legislation; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

*17. Dr Hon LEUNG Ka-lau to ask:
(Translation)

In reply to the question I raised at the meeting of this Council on 22 April 2009, the Government indicated that the total costs of services provided by the Hospital Authority ("HA") for work-related injuries in 2007-2008 were $216 million, but the opportunity cost for HA's doctors serving as members of Employees' Compensation Assessment Boards was not shown. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the opportunity cost for HA's doctors to serve as members of the above boards in each of the past five years;

    (b)whether it has plans to have the above two types of costs of services borne by employees' compensation insurance which employers take out for employees; and

    (c)as Pneumoconiosis and Mesothelioma (Compensation) Ordinance (Cap. 360) and Employees' Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282) stipulate that regarding the medical expenses for employees who are injured in accidents arising out of their employment or suffering from occupational diseases, the ceiling of payments which employers have to make is $280 per day, and very often this amount is not enough to cover the expenses incurred for treating those employees (e.g. the cost of the main medication which is used for treating mesothelioma and has to be paid by the patients themselves is $10,000 per injection), whether the Government has plans to raise the ceiling so that those employees will turn to private healthcare institutions for treatment and rehabilitation services, thus alleviating the burden on public healthcare services?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Food and Health

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

Audiologists specialize in providing examination, treatment and rehabilitation services to patients suffering from hearing impairment or vertigo. However, there is hearsay that some institutions allow other allied health staff or even people who are not medical professionals to provide such services, thus directly affecting the quality of the services. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether the authorities have issued any guidelines or criteria for determining what services must be provided by audiologists only;

    (b)whether the authorities have received any complaint in the past five years about people impersonating audiologists to provide audiological services; if they have, of the details;

    (c)whether the authorities have put in place any system to monitor audiological services; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (d)how many audiologists had provided the services concerned in Hong Kong in the past five years; whether the authorities have assessed the manpower supply of audiologists in Hong Kong in the next five years; if they have, of the situation; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (e)whether the Government has considered widening the scope of application of elderly health care vouchers to cover audiological services (e.g. hearing tests); if it has, of the details and timetable; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Food and Health

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

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ("UNESCO") has inscribed Cantonese opera onto the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity ("world intangible cultural heritages"), and the Guangdong Provincial Government and the Macao Special Administrative Region Government have put forward different policies on the conservation and preservation of Cantonese opera. Regarding the development and preservation of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)given that UNESCO requires that the governments concerned must put forward specific supporting policies for the conservation and preservation of items designated as world intangible cultural heritages, whether the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ("HKSAR") Government has formulated specific policy proposals and plans for the preservation, conservation and development of Cantonese opera in accordance with such a requirement; if it has, of the details; if not, when the Government will formulate and introduce the relevant measures;

    (b)apart from the Yau Ma Tei Xiqu Activity Centre, the Ko Shan Theatre in Hung Hom which is being extended, and the Xiqu Centre in the West Kowloon Cultural District, whether the Government has plans to set up a dedicated permanent venue on Hong Kong Island for Cantonese opera performances; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (c)given that the relevant authorities on the Mainland have enacted specific legislation on the conservation of local traditional operas, whether the Government will follow the practices of the Mainland to conserve Cantonese opera or other traditional operas; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (d)of the details of the latest cooperation programme drawn up by the HKSAR Government, the Guangdong Provincial Government and the Macao Special Administrative Region Government for the conservation and preservation of Cantonese opera;

    (e)whether the Government has conducted a review of the existing financial sponsorship mechanism for the development of Cantonese opera and increased the amount of such support as needed; if it has, of the details of the review and the outcome; if not, whether the Government will conduct the review shortly; if it will not, of the reasons for that; and

    (f)whether the Government has specific new plans at present to promote Cantonese opera and provide relevant training in schools to enable more young people to have exposure to and get to know Cantonese opera; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

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

In the past, those Secondary 5 ("S5") graduates who were not allocated Secondary 6 ("S6") places had the opportunity of repeating S5, as well as re-taking in the following year the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination ("HKCEE") and applying for S6 places. As the last HKCEE will be held in 2010, candidates with unsatisfactory results may only re-take as private candidates the 2011 HKCEE, which will be specially organized for them. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of repeaters in HKCEE in each of the past five years and, among them, the number and percentage of those who obtained S6 places;

    (b)in respect of S5 graduates in the current year who fail to obtain S6 places for the 2010-2011 academic year,

    (i)what further education pathways will be available to them, and how these pathways differ from those of the past;

    (ii)whether they will have the opportunity of repeating S5 in government and aided secondary schools and taking the 2011 HKCEE as school candidates; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for their being deprived of this choice and right;

    (iii)whether they will have the opportunity of repeating S5 in private day schools or evening schools and taking the 2011 HKCEE as private candidates; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (iv)whether they can choose to switch to Secondary 4 under the New Senior Secondary ("NSS") Academic Structure; if they can, how the authorities ensure that sufficient places are available in schools to accommodate these students; and

    (v)whether they can choose to switch to S5 under the NSS academic structure; if they can, how the authorities ensure that sufficient places are available in schools to accommodate these students and appropriate subjects are offered to them; and

    (c)given that S6 places under the current academic structure will no longer be provided in 2011, what further education pathways will be available then to those candidates scoring 14 points or more in HKCEE to facilitate their articulation to local universities; how the authorities assess and appropriately address these candidates' demand for studying in government and aided secondary schools?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education

* For written reply

III. Bills

First Reading

Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill 2009

Second Reading (Debate to be adjourned)

Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill 2009: Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development

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

Village Representative Election Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2009:Secretary for Home Affairs

Secretary for Home Affairs
to move Committee Stage amendments
(The amendments were issued on 15 October 2009
under LC Paper No. CB(3) 45/09-10)

IV. Motions

1.Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs to move the motion


(The motion was issued on 15 October 2009
under LC Paper No. CB(3) 47/09-10)

2.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 30 September 2009, be approved -

(a) the Pharmacy and Poisons (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulation 2009; and

(b) the Poisons List (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulation 2009.

(The two Regulations were issued on 6 October 2009
under LC Paper No. CB(3) 10/09-10)

3.Proposed resolution under the Energy Efficiency (Labelling of Products) Ordinance

Secretary for the Environment to move the following motion:


RESOLVED that the Energy Efficiency (Labelling of Products) Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 1) Order 2009, made by the Secretary for the Environment on 25 September 2009, be approved.

(The Order was issued on 6 October 2009
under LC Paper No. CB(3) 11/09-10)

V. Members' Motions

  1. Facing up to the transport needs of people with disabilities

    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung: (Translation)

    That this Council passed motions on a number of occasions over the past few years calling for improvement to transport facilities for people with disabilities and offer of concessionary transport fares to them, but the Administration, some statutory transport corporations and other public transport operators still fail to fully face up to and give effect to the motions; this Council strongly demands the Administration and various public transport operators to immediately and fully respond as well as give effect to the relevant motions previously passed by this Council and the recommendations in the Report of the Council's Subcommittee to Study the Transport Needs of and Provision of Concessionary Public Transport Fares for Persons with Disabilities in the last term, which include that the Government must implement the following measures:

    (a)in order to effectively assist people with disabilities in integrating into society, to adopt legislative, administrative and financial measures to press various major public transport operators to offer concessionary fares to them;

    (b)to put forth, in the near future, specific proposals and a timetable for introducing half-fare concession on public transport for all people with disabilities, so as to help them integrate into society and improve their life;

    (c)to allocate additional resources to comprehensively improve the Rehabus service and, in particular, enhance such service for people with disabilities living in remote areas and new towns; and

    (d)to step up consultation with people with disabilities to fully realize the concept of 'Transport for All', and strictly regulate public transport operators in providing barrier-free facilities, so as to enable more people with disabilities to use public transport and integrate into society.

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

    To add ", given that" after "That"; to add ", and the crux of the problem is the Government's lack of a specific policy on fare concessions for people with disabilities and determination to make improvements" after "give effect to the motions"; to delete "and" after "this Council strongly demands the Administration" and substitute with "to take the lead in implementing and pushing"; to delete ", which include that" after "last term" and substitute with "; in addition,"; to delete "measures" after "the Government must implement the following" and substitute with "concrete measures to more comprehensively address the transport needs of people with disabilities so as to enable them to integrate into society"; to add "(a) to take the lead in formulating a policy on fare concessions on public transport for people with disabilities; (b) to take the lead in setting an example and expeditiously implement the fare concession for people with disabilities as announced earlier by the MTR Corporation Limited;" after ":"; to delete the original "(a)" and substitute with "(c)"; to delete the original "(b)" and substitute with "(d)"; to delete the original "(c)" and substitute with "(e)"; to delete "and" after "new towns;" and substitute with "(f) to request the MTR Corporation Limited to expeditiously install facilities such as platform screen doors and automatic mechanical gap fillers for all its rail lines in order to strengthen platform safety and minimize the danger of blind people falling onto the rail tracks; (g) to study subsidizing people with disabilities in need to purchase electrical wheelchairs so as to facilitate them to use public transport; (h) to request the Transport Department to explore waiving the licence fee for people with disabilities who purchase private cars with a cylinder capacity of over 1 500 c.c. so as to make it convenient for them to carry larger and heavier electrical wheelchair and supporting equipment, provide additional auto-fuel allowances for people with disabilities, subsidize drivers with disabilities for using private tunnels and provide parking spaces for them, so that people with disabilities do not have to pay high transportation fees; and"; and to delete the original "(d)" and substitute with "(i)".

    Public Officers to attend: Secretary for Labour and Welfare
    Secretary for Transport and Housing

  2. Defending freedom of the press

    Hon Emily LAU: (Translation)

    That some Hong Kong journalists, while covering news in Xinjiang, were assaulted, handcuffed and detained by law enforcement officers, and even accused slanderously by the local information office of inciting disturbance and violating the rules on news coverage; also, some Hong Kong journalists covering news in Sichuan were alleged by law enforcement officers of suspected possession of drugs and prohibited from going out; the above incidents have seriously undermined the freedom of news coverage and the public's right to know as well as damaged the core values of freedom of the press; this Council condemns such acts and urges the Government to adopt the following measures:

    (a)to solemnly reflect to the Mainland authorities that the law enforcement officers on the Mainland be requested to respect civic rights and freedom of the press, refrain from illegally detaining, arresting or assaulting journalists, and request the Mainland authorities to impose severe punishment on the offenders and ensure that similar incidents will not happen again;

    (b)in regard to the unjust investigation of the abovementioned incidents and the slanderous accusation against journalists by the Mainland authorities, to request the Mainland authorities to make clarifications and apologies, conduct a just investigation afresh and release the investigation results to the public; and

    (c)to enquire with media organizations about the problems and difficulties encountered by journalists when covering news on the Mainland, so as to provide as much assistance as possible;

    this Council also urges media organizations to adopt the following measures to safeguard the security of journalists when covering news on the Mainland:

    (a)to provide training to journalists to enrich their knowledge about the laws of the Mainland and enhance their abilities to handle unexpected serious incidents;

    (b)to send more experienced journalists to take up news coverage of a more sensitive or dangerous nature; and

    (c)to review the remuneration, insurance coverage and working hours of journalists and safeguard their personal safety, so as to avoid journalists leaving the profession and attract talents to pursue a career in journalism.

    Amendments to the motion
    (i)Dr Hon Philip WONG: (Translation)

    To add "according to media reports, recently" after "That"; to delete "accused slanderously" after "and even" and substitute with "alleged"; to delete "seriously undermined" after "incidents have" and substitute with "obstructed"; to delete "damaged" after "as well as" and substitute with "affected"; to delete "condemns" after "the press; this Council" and substitute with "expresses grave concern about"; to delete "solemnly" after "(a) to"; to add "the concerns of the press in Hong Kong that the Mainland authorities are expected to ensure" after "reflect to the Mainland authorities"; to delete "be requested to" after "law enforcement officers on the Mainland" and substitute with "will"; to delete "request the Mainland authorities to" after "journalists, and"; to delete "and ensure that similar incidents will not happen again" after "the offenders" and substitute with ", in order to prevent such incidents from happening"; to delete "unjust investigation of the abovementioned incidents and the slanderous" after "in regard to the" and substitute with "serious"; to add "in the abovementioned incidents" after "by the Mainland authorities"; to delete "make clarifications and apologies," after "to request the Mainland authorities to"; and to delete "afresh" after "a just investigation".

    (ii) Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong: (Translation)

    To add "expresses deep regret at some Hong Kong deputies to the National People's Congress refusing to issue a joint submission conveying their dissatisfaction to the Central Authorities; in this connection, the Council" after "such acts and".

    (iii)Hon Miriam LAU: (Translation)

    To add "the Central People's Government to" after "apologies,".

    (iv) Hon Ronny TONG: (Translation)

    To delete "and" after "the public;"; and to add "and (d) to strive for the Central Government's pledge to respect freedom of the press and abolish the requirement for Hong Kong journalists to apply for a press card before they can cover news on the Mainland; " after "possible;".

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs
Clerk to the Legislative Council