Establishment Subcommittee

Record of Meeting held on 17 January 1996 at 10:45 a.m.
in the Legislative Council Chamber


    Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Dr Hon Edward LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP

Non-ESC Member:

    Hon IP Kwok-him


    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Chairman) (on sick leave)
    Hon Allen LEE Peng-fei, CBE, JP
    Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, OBE, LLD, JP
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing

In attendance for specific items:

Mr Samuel LEUNG Director of Public Prosecutions, Legal Department
Mr Steven WAN Government Engineer/Port Projects Co-ordination Office, Works Branch
Mr J B MASSEY Government Geotechnical Engineer, Civil Engineering Department
Mr Clement CHEUNG Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare
Mr Mark SIU Deputy Administrator, Hospital Services Department
Mr Joseph LAI, JP Assistant Director of Management Services
Mr Horace YUEN Principal Management Services Officer, Management Services Agency
Mr S H PAU, JP Deputy Director of Architectural Services
Mr J MCKINLEY Principal Assistant Secretary for Works
Mr C G KO, JP Deputy Director of Water Supplies
Mr P W CHAN Assistant Director of Water Supplies

In attendance:

Mr Alan LAI, JP Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
Mr Mike STONE, JP Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service
Mrs Lilian WONG Principal Executive Officer (LegCo Unit), Finance Branch
Miss Pauline NG Assistant Secretary General
Mr Andy LAU Clerk to the Establishment Subcommittee

Owing to Mr Ronald ARCULLI’s absence on sick leave, Dr Anthony CHEUNG, Deputy Chairman, took the chair.


Proposed retention of the consultancy position of one Consultant (at Deputy Principal Crown Counsel (DL2) from 1 February 1996 to 30 June 1997 in the Legal Department to continue to provide legal advice and conduct the prosecution of the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance Ltd. case

2. Responding to a Member’s questions on the future arrangement should the trial be extended beyond 30 June 1997, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) advised that he would closely monitor the development of the case and ensure that the case could be taken up by in-house staff if required. He also confirmed that in-house staff would be working alongside the Consultant and there would not be any problem in taking over the case should the need arise.

3. A Member expressed concern over the length of time taken in the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance Ltd (BMFL) case and enquired whether procedure in complicated commercial crime cases could be simplified. In reply, DPP advised that proceedings brought under the Complex Commercial Crimes Ordinance had already been simplified. Given the complexity of the BMFL case which involved complicated issues of law and fact, the time taken for the necessary preparatory work would inevitably be longer. He would, however, monitor the existing proceedings to see if any further improvements could be made upon the completion of the case.

4. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed making permanent the post of Chief Geotechnical Engineer (D1) to continue to head the Fill Management Division in the Civil Engineering Department

5. As regards the identification of disposal facilities for uncontaminated and contaminated mud, the Government Geotechnical Engineer (GGE) advised that negotiation with the Chinese side for use of the marine disposal facilities in Chinese waters was underway. The Administration would also further explore the feasibility of using mud as a fill source for reclamation purpose as well as backfilling empty marine borrow pits in both Hong Kong and Chinese waters.

6. On the reason for not creating a permanent post at the outset, the Deputy Secretary for the Civil Services (DS/CS) advised that at the time the post was created, the Administration was not certain whether there was a long term need for the post. Hence, a supernumerary post was created for two years to temporarily absorb the extra duties associated with the Airport Core Programme projects. However having reviewed the latest developments in the territory and the on-going requirement for the post, the Administration considered it appropriate to convert the post to permanent establishment.

7. Responding to a Member’s comment on the greater use of marine fill in Chinese waters so as to avoid further dredging in Hong Kong waters to preserve the marine environment, GGE advised that the Administration had been negotiating with the Chinese side over the supply of marine fill to Hong Kong, and that very successful cooperation had been established. However there was a need to maintain some potential marine fill source in Hong Kong waters so as to ensure that the royalty charged by the Chinese side did not become excessive. He also advised that it was not cost effective to import marine fill from other South East Asian countries. As regards the disposal operation in Chinese waters, GGE advised that China was a signatory to the London Dumping Convention and that the disposal was controlled by the National Environmental Protection Agency in accordance with the Convention.

8. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Senior Principal Executive Officer (D2) with effect from 1 April 1996 and retention of a supernumerary post of Administrator, Hospital Services Department (D4) to be held against a permanent post of Senior Principal Executive Officer (D2) from 1 April 1996 to 9 June 1996 to continue to head the Hospital Services Department

9. Mr Michael HO Mun-ka informed Members that the proposal had received the support of the LegCo Panel on Health Services when it was last discussed at the Panel’s meeting.

10. Members generally welcomed the present proposal to downgrade the present supernumerary post of Administrator, Hospital Services Department (A/HSD) as they had all along considered the ranking of this post at D4 unjustified. A Member then enquired about the basis for re-ranking this post at D2 level.

11. In reply, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare (PAS/HW) explained the ranking of the A/HSD post at D4 level in 1991 was appropriate as some 23,500 HSD staff were eligible to opt to join the new Hospital Authority (HA). The Government had the obligation to take care of those who remained as civil servants and to ensure that they continued to provide an effective service in a new environment. In so doing, the A/HSD had to maintain close liaison with the senior management of HA with a view to resolving any major staff problems and to assist civil servants in adapting to the new management structure. The Administration took full note of Members’ views expressed at the Establishment Subcommittee (ESC) meeting on 15 December 1994 and had carried out a critical review on the need and ranking of the post. Given the size of employees remaining in HSD and in terms of financial and management responsibilities, the incumbent would perform duties comparable to those of a Departmental Secretary of a relatively large department which was also ranked at D2 level.

12. Addressing a non ESC Member’s concern over the over-ranking of some of the posts within the establishment of HA, PAS/HW said that this subject seemed to fall outside the scope of the present staffing proposal and should more appropriately be dealt with by the LegCo Panel on Health Services. He would however provide a written reply to the Member on the factors to be considered in determining the creation of directorate posts in the HA.


13. As regards the possibility of abolishing the HSD altogether, PAS/HW advised that the 7,500 HA staff remaining on civil service establishment had already exercised their option. This number would not therefore reduce significantly in the next 10 years, bearing in mind that about 4,000 of them were staff below the age of 45. As such, there was still a need to retain HSD as a parent department to look after their interests. The Administration would however review the establishment of the HSD annually in the context of the Draft Estimates exercise. In response to a suggestion to further review the operation of HSD with a view to achieving the most efficient structure, DS/CS said it would be more appropriate for the Management Services Agency in collaboration with HSD and other policy branches to conduct such a review.

14. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a supernumerary post of Principal Management Services Officer (D1) from 1 June 1996 to 31 May 1998 in the Management Services Agency to head the Records Management Strategy’s Phase II Implementation Team

15. Responding to a Member’s question, DS/CS advised that it was not a standard practice to provide each directorate officer with a Personal Secretary or other supporting staff. Requests for additional non-directorate staffing support would have to be considered on their own merits by the Departmental Establishment Committee of each department.

16. In response to a Member’s enquiry on the staff on-cost and the rationale for not including the information in the paper, DS/CS advised that the on-cost for directorate posts would be in the region of 75% to 95% of the notional annual mid-point salary cost of the post. The Deputy Secretary for the Treasury added that as control of the establishment was through its NAMS value, the key figure for ESC/FC papers was the NAMS value. It was thus not usual practice to include on-cost in ESC papers. However, he undertook to review the presentation of ESC papers to see if information on staff on-cost should be included in the papers. In this respect, a Member suggested that an additional column could be added to the paper to reflect the information already provided in the Government’s Staff Cost Ready Reckoner for the posts concerned.


17. As regards how the implementation of Phase II of the Records Management Strategy could benefit the general public, the Assistant Director of Management Services advised that the objective of the Strategy was to help departments develop better records management and improve the quality of service. Based on the initial feedback of some users, the tracking and retrieval of records would be improved considerably after the installation of various systems. This would benefit the general public by providing a more efficient and quicker service in answering their enquires and responding to their requests.

18. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed upgrading the post of Departmental Secretary of Architectural Services Department from Chief Executive Officer (MPS 45-49) to Principal Executive Officer (D1) to meet the increased workload, complexity and level of responsibility of the post

19. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed retention of two supernumerary posts of one Assistant Director of Water Supplies (D2) and one Chief Engineer (D1) for one year commencing 1 March 1996 to implement measures aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Water Supplies Department

20. Responding to a Member’s questions on the need to have a dedicated team to follow up in detail the recommendations of the management review completed in August 1995, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Works advised that the objective of the first phase of the review had been to come up with broad recommendations. The second phase review would follow up the recommendations in detail. The commissioning of an underground asset management study, as approved by the Finance Committee in November 1995, was an example of one of the recommendations from the first phase review being taken forward. The Administration would keep the relevant LegCo Panel informed of developments under the second phase review, which was expected to be completed within a year. Funding requests would be made thereafter for the implementation of improvement measures where appropriate. The Deputy Director of Water Supplies clarified that although it would take a longer period to see the full benefits of the underground asset management study, better deployment of vehicles and improvement to other operational activities of the department could be materialized within one to two years.

21. This item was voted on and endorsed. Miss Emily LAU reserved her position on the paper.

22. The Committee was adjourned at 12.17 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
7 February 1996

Last Updated on 27 November 1998