PLC Paper No. CB(2)20/97-98
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration and
cleared with the Chairman)
Ref : CB2/PL/BCS
LegCo Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport
Minutes of the Meeting
held on Thursday, 22 May 1997 at 10:30 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building
Members Present :
Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling (Chairman)
Hon MOK Ying-fan (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Members Absent :
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
Members Attending :
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Public Officers Attending :
- Item II
- The Administration
- Mr William SHIU
- Principal Assistant Secretary (Culture)
- Mr CHIU Siu-tsan
- Executive Secretary (Antiquities and Monuments)
- Mr Esmond LEE
- Principal Assistant Secretary (Lands)
- Mr Sam HUI
- Assistant District Officer (Islands)
- Mr Louis FONG
- Chief Land Executive
- Mr Y L LAI
- Senior Land Executive
- Mr FONG Kam-hung
- Island District Board member
- Item III
- Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch
- Mr William SHIU
- Principal Assistant Secretary (Culture)
- Mr Vincent TANG
- Assistant Secretary (Culture)
- Urban Services Department
- Mr Tony MA
- Assistant Director (Museums & Libraries)
- Ms CHEUNG Yuet-lan
- Regional Councillor
- Miss CHOI Suk-kuen
- Assistant Director
(Culture and Entertainment)
Regional Services Department
- Item IV
- Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch
- Mr William SHIU
- Principal Assistant Secretary (Culture)
- Urban Services Department
- Mr Johnny W M WOO
- Assistant Director (Leisure Management)
- Mr Tony MA
- Assistant Director (Museum and Library)
Attendance by Invitation :
- Item II
- Hong Kong Archaeology Society
- Mr LO Kam-kau
- Archaeological Action Group
- Ms LAU Tung-yin, Vivien
- Mr William MEACHAM
- Item III
- Hong Kong Arts Development Council
- Mr Hiram TO
- Executive Officer (Visual Arts Committee)
- Mr Andrew LAM
- Visual Arts Committee Member
- Item IV
- HK Cultural Sector Joint Conference
- Mr WOO Yan-wai
Clerk in Attendance :
- Mrs Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2
Staff in Attendance :
- Mr Colin CHUI
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2
I. Date and items for discussion for next meeting
(Paper No. CB(2)2358/96-97 (01))
The Chairman drew members attention to the House Committees discussion to reserve 23-27 June 1997 for the last Council sitting in the current session. In the light of this, members agreed that the next meeting would be held on 12 June 1997 from 9:30 am to 10:30 am in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building to discuss the following -
- implementation of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance - Report on the special campaign against pornographic materials from March-May 1997; and
- round-up report of the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Panel for the 1996-97 legislative session.
(Post-meeting note : The meeting was subsequently rescheduled to 20 June 1997. The venue and time remained unchanged.)
II. Archaeological sites at Yung Shu Wan, Lamma
(Paper No. CB(2)2358/96-97 (02) - paper provided by the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch)
(Paper No. CB(2)2358/96-97(03) - submission from the Archaeological Action Group)
The Chairman said that this item was to follow-up on the site visit to the archaeological sites at Yung Shu Wan on 12 April 1997. Representatives of the Administration then took members through the Administrations paper which informed members about the background and findings of the 1983-85 Archaeological Survey and the administrative procedures being taken by the Administration to preserve the archaeological sites at Yung Shu Wan, Lamma.
Views of the Hong Kong Archaeological Society (HKAS)
Representative of HKAS was satisfied with the Administrations work on the preservation of the archaeological sites at Yung Shu Wan.
Views of the Archaeological Action Group (AAG)
Representatives of AAG said that at the Panel meeting in January, they had asked the Administration questions about the destruction of Yung Shu Wan sites set out in AAGs paper for that meeting (Paper No. CB(2)985/96-97 (03)). These questions, outlined in AAGs latest paper for the meeting (Paper No. CB(2)2358/96-97 (03)), remained unanswered. AAG remarked that the inefficiency of the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) had resulted in the destruction of archaeological sites at Yung Shu Wan, Lamma. It therefore suggested a complete overhaul of AMO.
The Administrations response to AAGs questions was as follows -
- On the question of the accuracy of the plans of the archaeological sites at Yung Shu Wan at Annex B to the Administrations paper, the Administration pointed out that the plans were prepared for the 1983-85 Archaeological Survey. These plans had been updated to show the latest development of the sites and were deposited with the Lands Department. This year, AMO had commenced another territory-wide archaeological survey which was expected to be completed by the end of 1998. Not only would the findings of the survey provide useful and up-to-date information on the surviving archaeological sites in Hong Kong but they would also enable AMO to take more effective administrative measures to protect these irreplaceable assets.
- On AAGs doubt whether AMO was aware of small house construction on archaeological sites at Yung Shu Wan, the Administration briefed members on the existing procedures governing small house construction on these sites set out in para 8 - 12 of its paper. They highlighted that under the existing procedures District Lands Officers were required to consult AMO before approving a small house development application and notify AMO prior to commencement of construction work. AMO would assess the impact of the development on the archaeological sites and then decide on the mitigation measures to be taken.
- On AAGs query on why many AMO projects, e.g. that on North Lamma School Site were assigned to a particular person and not put to open tender, the Administration said that the relevant Government procedures in the assignment of AMO projects were followed.
Communication between the Administration and local residents
Some members were concerned about the lack of communication between the Administration and local residents in the preservation of archaeological sites at Yung Shu Wan. The Administration pointed out that it had maintained good communication with local residents on the preservation work. AMO would continue to maintain close liaison with the village representatives of Yung Shu Wan on the work. Should there be a need to undertake a rescue excavation on a small house construction site, AMO would seek the owners consent to conduct the excavation prior to the construction of the small house. In this connection, a member suggested that procedures with clearly defined time frame on the small house construction should be drawn up. These procedures were necessary to avoid undue delay in small house construction caused by excavation work.
Funding for AMO
A member recalled that the subject of preservation of heritage and development of archaeological sites in Hong Kong had been discussed at the Panel on several occasions in the past few years. The Panel called on the Administration to formulate a comprehensive policy for the preservation of heritage and play a more active role in facilitating the development of local archaeological work. Members considered that the work of AMO had been somewhat hindered due to insufficient resources. Representatives of BCSB pointed out that AMO had recently succeeded in securing additional funding for rescue excavations necessitated by small-scale developments such as small house applications. BCSB would also propose an increase in AMOs manpower in the 1998/99 Resource Allocation Exercise. Whilst appreciating the Administrations social values and economic priorities, members were of the view that higher priority should be given to AMO as it was competing with Hong Kongs rapid developments. In this connection, members agreed that the Chairman should write to the Financial Secretary accordingly.
(Post-meeting note: The Chairman had written to the Financial Secretary on 11 June 1997.)
III. Provision of venues for the promotion of local visual arts
(Paper No. CB(2)2358/96-97 (04) provided by the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch (BCSB))
(Paper No. CB(2)2358/96-97 (05) provided by the Urban Council (UC))
(Paper No. CB(2)2358/96-97 (06) provided by the Regional Council (RC))
The Chairman recapitulated that the Panel last discussed this subject on 24 October 1996. The meeting was to review progress in this area. As agreed at that meeting, he had written to the Airport Authority, Housing Authority, Housing Society, Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, Land Development Corporation, Mass Transit Railway Corporation and Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong urging their support in providing more spaces in their properties for the display of visual arts by local artists. The Land Development Corporation and Hong Kong Housing Society were prepared to provide spaces for this purpose. Both cases had been referred to the Arts Development Council (ADC) for its expert advice/assistance to these organisations.
At the Chairmans invitation, representatives of BCSB briefed members on BCSBs paper which reported on the progress made in the provision of public venues for the promotion of local visual arts in Hong Kong. Referring to the UCs paper, representative of the Urban Services Department informed members of the UCs new initiatives in this area.
Pilot scheme for display of local visual art works in government premises
BCSB pointed out that the Government Property Administrator (GPA) had agreed, as a pilot scheme, to make available the Queensway Government Offices and the Tsuen Wan Government Offices for display of works of art by local artists. Representatives of ADC welcomed the pilot scheme and would be happy to offer advice on installation and selection of art works and assistance in liaison with local artists. Referring to para 3 of BCSBs paper, ADC pointed out that it had forwarded to the Administration its comments on the draft conditions for the display. Representatives of BCSB said that ADCs comments would be taken into account in finalising guidelines for the display. As the lead time for the selection and installation work depended on the number and sizes of the art works, the Administration was unable to fix a trial period for the scheme at this stage. Nevertheless, it hoped to conduct a review of the scheme in three to six months time. In the meantime the Administration would identify other suitable government premises as display venues. It would report progress of the pilot scheme to the Panel.
Earmarking of funds for the acquisition or commissioning of local art works
With reference to the RCs paper, representative of RC went over the RCs proposed public art programme for implementing the RCs idea of earmarking 1% of the costs for certain RC capital works projects for the commissioning of works of art for display in RC facilities. Public consultation on the RCs Arts Development Plan, which included the proposed programme, would end on 15 June 1997. Views and comments from the public would be taken into consideration in finalising the proposed programme for the RCs approval. Members were in support of the RCs proposed public art programme.
A member asked about other ways to support emerging local visual artists in addition to provision of venues for display of their art works. Representative of RC said that a Public Art Fund would be set up under the RCs proposed public art programme. No less than 50% of this fund would be allocated to the acquisition of works by local artists. Representatives of the Urban Services Department pointed out that UC had a policy to acquire or commission art works by local artists. The draft Five-year Plan of the UCs Museums Select Committee would include a proposed policy of setting aside an appropriate amount from the capital cost for suitable new UC projects for the acquisition or commissioning of local art works for display in the new facilities. The draft Plan would be issued for public consultation shortly. Representatives of ADC said that funds had not been earmarked in its Five-year Strategic Plan to acquire or commission art works by local visual artists. Another member suggested that the Administration should have similar reservation of funds for promotion of local visual arts in government buildings. BCSB agreed to consider the suggestion.
Selection of works of public art
In reply to a member, representative of the Regional Services Department (RSD) said that the two working principles in para 6(d) and (e) of RCs paper, i.e. involvement of local community, and fair and open procedures, mainly applied to the selection of works of public art. It was proposed that the selection should be entrusted to an Acquisition Vetting Committee to be formed with the architectural, planning and curatorial support from RSD and other relevant government departments. The Committee would comprise representatives from RC, the visual arts field and the community in the district where the works of art were intended for display. The member suggested UC to adopt similar principles in its selection of works of art for display in public buildings.
Private sector participation in the provision of display venues
In reply to a member, representatives of BCSB said that the Administration would seek support from the private sector in the provision of display venues for promotion of local visual arts.
In response to the member, ADC pointed out that the Airport Authority would discuss with ADC on the proportion of local and overseas art works for display in the new airport terminal building.
IV. Policy on venues for display of arts in public places
(Paper No. CB(2)2358/96-97 (07) - paper provided by Mr Andrew CHENG)
Referring to his paper, Mr Andrew CHENG briefed members on the reasons for proposing this agenda item. It arose from the unsuccessful applications of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China for the use of Chater Garden from 5 June 1997 to 5 September 1997 and the Piazza or Sculpture Walk at the Kowloon Park from 21 July 1997 to 21 September 1997 for the setting up of an eight-metre high sculpture titled "The Pillar of Shame".
Public officers attendance at the meeting
Mr CHENG said that in his paper he had specifically requested for the presence of the Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport and the Director of Urban Services (DUS) at the meeting. Representative of the Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch (BCSB) explained that the municipal councils (MCs) were independent statutory bodies governed by their own Ordinances. They were, inter alia, responsible for provision of cultural and recreational facilities and enjoyed full autonomy in regard to formulation of policies and the use and management of their facilities. While BCSB had housekeeping responsibilities for MCs, it had no policy responsibility over the use of venues under the MCs management. Members accepted the BCSBs explanation for sending a representative of the Branch Secretary to the meeting. They, however, regretted that DUS did not attend the meeting personally and only sent two departmental representatives.
Handling of bookings of leisure services venues
Representatives of the Urban Services Department (USD) said that USD was authorised by UC to consider bookings of UCs leisure services venues for designated use (e.g. sports activities). Under normal circumstances USD was also authorised to consider bookings of venues for non-designated use.
USD pointed out that in view of the anticipated large number of activities held at these venues for the period from June to July 1997 in relation to the handover, UC had decided at a meeting of its Standing Committee held in December 1996 that bookings of venues for non-designated use during this period should be considered by its Recreation Select Committee. A member requested USD to provide members with the minutes of that meeting. The following factors were taken into account in considering bookings for proposed activities -
- clash with other bookings;
- inconvenience to the existing users and/or the general public; and
- non-conformity with the primary use of the venues.
USD pointed out that the Recreation Select Committee considered that the applications in question had the problems set out in para 19(a)-(c) above. The Recreation Select Committees decision to decline these applications had been reviewed and reaffirmed by the UCs Standing Committee at its meeting on 20 May 1997. A member requested USD to provide the Panel with details of all the applications received for June/July 1997 and the relevant papers on processing and considering these applications. The papers should be referred to the LegCo Legal Adviser for advice on whether the decision was inconsistent with the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance.
A member was of the view that the Sculpture Walk at the Kowloon Park was a venue specially for display of sculptures and the most appropriate venue for the display of "The Pillar of Shame", a member failed to see the reasons for rejecting the application for display of the sculpture at the Sculpture Walk. USD pointed out that at present the Sculpture Walk was primarily for the promotion of local visual arts; but "The Pillar of Shame" was not a local visual artwork. In fact no new overseas visual artwork had been displayed in the Sculpture Walk for the past few years. The member opined that local visual arts practitioners would not have objected to the display of "The Pillar of Shame" at the venue for a period of two months. Representative of the Hong Kong Cultural Sector Joint Conference added that, given the same circumstances, applications for display of overseas visual artworks at the Sculpture Walk or the outdoor display venues of UCs parks and piazzas would have normally be accepted. Handling of the application in question was inconsistent with the general practice. In this connection, USD was requested to publicise the guidelines on processing of bookings of leisure services venues.
Mr CHENG raised the question of political censorship in respect of the display of arts in public places. BCSB stated that there was no statutory provision on political censorship. USD pointed out that the considerations were based on the circumstances of the applications.
Representative of the Hong Kong Cultural Sector Joint Conference said that some practitioners of visual arts regretted that the applications in question had been specially treated in that they had undergone political censorship and, as a result of which, they had been turned down.
Members shared the deputations view and pointed out that under the existing legislation, only the Obscene Articles Tribunal was vested with the power to determine the decency or otherwise of a publicly displayed article under the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance. As such, UC had no authority to determine the contents of any article for public display. It only had the authority to operate outdoor display venues in parks and piazzas. The rejection of these applications had damaged freedom of expression violating the spirit of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As most of the public venues for display of visual arts were under UCs management, the decision had also jeopardised promotion of visual arts which was one of the UCs prime responsibilities. Most importantly, it had set a serious precedent for the future. UC and USD should therefore be rebuked for the way in which the applications in question had been considered and handled.
Political neutrality of civil servants concerned
In reply to a member, representatives of USD said that there was no influence from individual UC members on the preparation of the papers for the Recreation Select Committee. USD was neutral and had submitted facts relevant to the application for UC members to decide. The final decision on the applications rested with the UC members. Notwithstanding the reply, members were of the view that the presentation of the papers was biased and leading. The wording "The proposed erection of the sculpture and display boards for exhibition purposes for a prolonged period may cause inconvenience to the existing regular park users and is not in conformity with the primary use of the Garden/Park" particularly reflected this attitude. They therefore requested an investigation into the political neutrality of the civil servants concerned in handling these applications.
BCSBs house-keeping responsibilities of the municipal services departments
A member requested for details of BCSBs house-keeping responsibilities of MCs. Referring to its information note to the Constitutional Affairs Panel circulated to members in October last year (LegCo Paper No. CB(2)179/96-97), BCSB briefed members on its house-keeping responsibilities as well as the relationship between LegCo and MCs. Members considered that despite the full autonomy of MCs under their own Ordinances, surely there must be a mechanism to govern them, particularly in cases where things had gone astray.
As Hong Kong was a versatile city allowing freedom of expression for different views in different forms, members were very concerned about the rejection of these applications, more so about the reasons for rejecting them. They therefore agreed that -
- the Chairman should write to the Chief Secretary (CS) on the Panels views in the following areas -
- the absence of DUS from the meeting (para 17).
- the way in which these applications had been handled and considered by UC and USD (para 24).
- the political neutrality of civil servants concerned in handling these applications (para 25).
- the BCSBs house-keeping responsibilities of the two municipal services departments (para 26).
- an investigation of the matter to ensure that the applications had been fairly and adequately handled; and
- the Chairman should also write to the Chairman of Urban Council on the Panels views in respect of items (i) and (ii) above.
It was agreed that the draft letters would be circulated for members comments before issue.
(Post-meeting note : The letters, incorporating the comments received, were issued on 27 May 1997 vide LegCo Paper No.CB(2)2499/96-97.)
The meeting ended at 1:06 pm.
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
7 July 1997
Last Updated on 12 Aug, 1998