LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1744/95-96
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/PL/IP

LegCo Panel on Information Policy

Minutes of Meeting held on
Friday, 7 June 1996 at 10:45 a.m.
in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing (Chairman)
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP

Members Absent:

    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai

Members Attending :

    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling

Public Officers Attending:

Item III
Mr Trevor Keen
Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
Mr T D Stephenson
Assistant Director of Home Affairs
Mrs Elaine TANG
District Officer (Wan Chai)
Mr R N Murby
Assistant Director of Urban Services
(Environmental Health)
Mr Herbert LEUNG
Government Land Agent (Estate Management)
Item IV
Mr Robin Gill
Deputy Director of Information Services
Item V
Mr William HUI
Deputy Director of Administration
Mr Peter LAU
Government Records Service Director
Mr Graham Sreeves
Assistant Director of Management Services
Mr Horace YUEN
Principal Management Services Officer

Staff in Attendance :

Mrs Anna LO
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2
Mr Raymond LAM
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 6

I. Confirmation of minutes of last meeting and matters arising

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1344/95-96)

The minutes of the Panel meeting held on 3 May 1996 were confirmed.

II. Date of next meeting and items for discussion

(Appendix I to LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1468/95-96)

2. Members agreed that the next meeting would be held on Friday, 5 July 1996 at 10:45 a.m. to discuss the following :

(a) Review of legislation having an impact on press freedom

(b) Access to government information

3. It was also agreed that the item on amendments to the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance would be kept on the list of outstanding items to be reviewed in the next legislative session with a view to a joint Panel meeting with the Health Panel in October 1996, if necessary.


III. Display of publicity materials in public places

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1533/95-96)

4. Mr Trevor Keen presented the salient points of the Administration's paper and informed Members of the following :

  1. Applications for display of publicity materials would have to be submitted 28 days before the commencement of display period;
  2. Balloting was considered the most appropriate, being simplest and fairest, method of allocating display spots;
  3. The Administration would look into the feasibility of a central system to handle territory-wide balloting in addition to district level balloting;
  4. Whether a display should be on a district or territory-wide basis was purely at the discretion of the applicant. Provision had not been made for transfer of display spots, as it would destroy the purpose of balloting;
  5. Environmental hygiene and safety would be the main considerations in assessing the suitability of individual display spots;
  6. Legal advice was still awaited on display materials to be excluded. The Administration had no intention to scrutinise the contents of every application, although those of commercial or obscene nature would be prohibited. In this regard, a disclaimer for the contents of displays was being considered. The Administration had no intention to exclude non-commercial organisations that were registered as a limited company; and
  7. The views and suggestions of Members would be considered again together with the results of the pilot scheme to be implemented in Wan Chai.

5. Members were disappointed that the Administration had not adopted suggestions made at the Panel meeting on 3 May 1996. They were of the view that the proposed balloting method lacked flexibility; e.g. it could not cater for displays that would only be valid for a certain (might be shorter than 28 days) period of time or of urgent nature for a specific event. To maximise usage of the display spots, a dual system should be considered. In reply, Mr Trevor Keen stated that balloting was fair, open, and easy to administer. It was the best option under limited resources and its feasibility would be tested in the pilot scheme. A "first-come-first-served" system, as suggested by some members, was unfair in that it favoured people who had more time and resources to submit early applications. A long queue was also expected with such a system. Mr Andrew CHENG reserved his position on the balloting system.

6. Dr John TSE commented that the requirement of submitting applications 28 days before the display period should be relaxed. He also questioned the criteria for assessing the success of the pilot scheme. In reply, Mr Trevor Keen stated that the purpose of the pilot scheme was to map out the implementation details of the new system. The success could be measured in terms of whether the scheme was workable and meeting the needs of applicants. Mr T D Stephenson added that the number of complaints received would also be an indicator of the success of the pilot scheme. Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung opined that using the number of complaints to assess the pilot scheme was inappropriate. He called for the Administration to release details of the pilot scheme, which should cater for the needs of applicants rather than administrative convenience.

7. Mrs Elizabeth WONG suggested that each applicant should be allowed a maximum of 3 applications at one time. She added that there should be minimal scrutiny of display contents. Applications should be processed speedily.

8. Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung suggested that the Administration might consider designating prohibited spots while opening up all the remaining areas for display. In reply, Mr Trevor Keen informed members that a similar suggestion had been rejected by the Wan Chai District Board, which was concerned that a massive proliferation of banners and publicity materials might result. It was also difficult for the Administration to exhaustively identify all unsafe spots which might vary according to changing circumstances.

9. Mr Trevor Keen reiterated the Administration's commitment to a new scheme that was safe, fair and easy to administer. In response to members, he undertook to look into the possibility of running a dual system that would allow balloting at 14 days' intervals and at the same time allowing some materials to be displayed for a longer period. The Administration intended to impose a limit on the number of applications that could be submitted by an applicant at any one time. He informed Members that the Administration would meet with the Wan Chai District Board on 18 June 1996 to discuss implementation of the pilot scheme. At the request of the Chairman, he undertook to report the progress of the pilot scheme to the Panel in October 1996.


(Post-meeting note : The Administration subsequently advised that the Environmental Improvement Committee of the Wan Chai District Board would be briefed on the new control scheme on 9 July 1996. They would consider the possibility of holding balloting at 14 days' intervals after briefing the District Board.)

IV. Reorganisation of the Information Wing

(Appendix IV to LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1468/95-96)

10. Mr Robin Gill presented the salient points of the Administration's paper.

11. As regards paragraph 3(b) of the Administration's paper, he explained that there would be more input from Information Services Department in determining where to deploy available funds for overseas public relations projects.

12. On paragraph 3(c), he stated that the production of all publicity/promotional publications targetted at overseas audiences was currently undertaken by the Overseas Promotion Division. The shifting of this task to the Publishing Sub-Division would only involve internal re-deployment of resources.

V. Records Management Strategy

(Appendix III to LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1468/95-96)

13. Mr William HUI and Mr Horace YUEN briefed members on the implementation of Records Management Strategy (RMS).

14. As regards the policy on records disposal and declassification of graded records, Mr William HUI advised members that the decision to retain or dispose of inactive records would have regard to such factors as operational needs, the reference or historical value of the records, as well as any inherent legal or financial requirement. Confidential records were normally declassified after a period of 30 years. Members of the public could peruse these records at a reading room located in the West Wing of the Central Government Offices. In this connection, Mrs Elizabeth WONG expressed the wish that records of the Hospital Authority would not be destroyed.

15. In response to the Chairman, Mr Horace YUEN explained that the Electronic Filing System (EFS) involved capturing the image of paper record for storage on magneto-optical disks (MOD). This would facilitate cost-effective storage and efficient retrieval. For operational retrieval, EFS users could always retrieve records from MOD while the original copies of records could be stored in remote Records Centres. The Chairman suggested that priority should be given to departments with frequent interaction with the public with a view to further reduce the record retrieval time and waiting time for the public.

16. In reply to Mr Bruce LIU's question on inter-departmental sharing of information, Mr Horace YUEN explained that the scope of RMS was confined to management of records but not sharing of information. Mr William HUI added that the issue might involve the privacy of personal data and should be handled cautiously.

17. As regards the space savings mentioned in paragraph 4(b) of the Administration's paper, Mr William HUI explained that these would be taken into account by the Government Property Agency in considering office expansion or relocation of Government departments.

18. In response to the Chairman, the Administration undertook to report again on the progress of implementation of RMS in six months' time. He added that Phase II of RMS, which had just commenced, was expected to be completed in 1998.


19. The meeting ended at 12:45 p.m.

LegCo Secretariat
1 July 1996

Last Updated on 20 Aug, 1998