LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 389/96-97
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/PL/HA

LegCo Panel on Home Affairs

Minutes of Meeting
held on Thursday, 10 October 1996 at 2:15 p.m.
in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan (Chairman)
    Hon LO Suk-ching (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Hon LAW Chi-kwong
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

Member Attending :

    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong

Members Absent :

    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP

Public Officers Attending :

Mr Michael SUEN, CBE, JP
Secretary for Home Affairs
Mr Dominic LAW, JP
Acting Director of Home Affairs

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Anna LO
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Mrs Justina LAM
Assistant Secretary General 2
Mr Raymond LAM
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 6

I. Briefing by the Secretary for Home Affairs on the Governor’s Policy Address

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 65/96-97)

The Secretary for Home Affairs (SHA) briefed Members on the Government’s policy commitment in his programme areas. Members raised questions and SHA explained in the following paragraphs :

Rights of the individual

The Administration had enhanced human rights in Hong Kong through the establishment of the Equal Opportunities Commission and office of Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, the extension of the Code on Access to Information to all Government departments and branches, the extension of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to Hong Kong in 1994 and late 1996 respectively.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

While China was not a signatory to ICCPR and ICESCR, the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Basic Law had provided for the continued application of the two covenants to Hong Kong after 1997. The Administration had conveyed to China on many occasions its interpretation that such continued application included the obligation to submit reports to the United Nations (UN) after 1997. Such interpretation was also conveyed to the Chinese side at the 37th Sino-British Joint Liaison Group (JLG) meeting in late September 1996. The Administration would continue to seek for continued reporting after 1997.

As regards the possible submission of concluding reports for UN covenants/conventions for the period up to 30 June 1997, subject to United Kingdom’s (UK’s) consideration of such requests from the relevant UN committee, the Administration would provide draft contributions to the UK Government.

United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

Following agreement between the UK and Chinese Governments at the 37th JLG meeting to extend CEDAW to Hong Kong, the UK Government was formally approaching UN to extend CEDAW to Hong Kong. The extension would not require further introduction of legislation.

Anti-discrimination measures

Various measures, including the establishment of the Equal Opportunities Commission, the formulation of education programmes promoting human rights, and the enactment of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance and the Disability Discrimination Ordinance, had been introduced to prohibit discrimination in Hong Kong.

Implementation of new election rules for rural elections

Around 93% of villages had implemented the new rules for rural elections. About 40 villages had not implemented the new election rules. The Administration would continue to update members on latest developments at a future Panel meeting.

Legislative amendments to improve the enforcement of maintenance orders in matrimonial proceedings

The drafting instructions in respect of legislative amendments to improve the enforcement of maintenance orders in matrimonial proceedings had just been prepared. The Administration intended to introduce the relevant Bill to LegCo in early 1997.

Community development

Building management

The Home Affairs Department (HAD) offered advice and mediation to Owners’ Corporations (OCs), but was not in a position to make decisions for them. Exhibitions, seminars, and training courses were organised and pamphlets/tapes were produced for OCs to enhance their knowledge in building management.

To enable the front-line staff of HAD to perform their duties more efficiently, training courses and seminars were organised. A "question and answer" guideline had been developed and a Central Information Unit was formed under the HAD.

Integration of new arrivals from China into the community

Services to new arrivals from China (new arrivals) were provided by various departments. The HAD’s role was to co-ordinate, monitor and assess these services. A central Steering Committee chaired by the Director of Home Affairs and inter-departmental committees at district level facilitated close liaison and exchange of information among different policy branches and departments.

The Administration was preparing a revised edition of its service handbook for new arrivals. It would continue to analyse the results of quarterly surveys conducted by the HAD and review its services. Close liaison would be maintained with non-government organisations providing these services. Visits to families of new arrivals would be made, if necessary. The Administration was strengthening services in Eastern District, Kowloon City, Kwun Tong and Shamshuipo, where most new arrivals lived.

Rural Planning and Improvement Strategy (RPIS)

Past delays in minor public works under RPIS were mainly due to difficulties encountered in land resumption. The Home Affairs Branch had, since taking over responsibility for minor public works under RPIS in 1994, expedited works progress through :

  1. modifying designs to avoid the need for land resumption where applicable, and speeding up land resumption, if necessary;
  2. employing district-level contractors, who had a better understanding of the district environment and more interest in medium sized projects; and
  3. forming a Central RPIS Minor Works Steering Committee and district-level working groups to oversee the projects.

Preparing for the transition

Handover ceremony

The JLG had reached an agreement in late September 1996 on the handover ceremony to be held around midnight of 30 June 1997. A Co-ordination Office for Handover Ceremony, established recently, had started preliminary work on the ceremony. Funding requirement for the handover ceremony and ancillary events was still being worked out. The Administration intended to submit the funding request to the Finance Committee in late October 1996 comprising the costs for the following :

  1. setting up a Press and Broadcasting Centre to assist the international and local media to cover the events;
  2. venue for the ceremony;
  3. receiving and accommodating dignitaries from foreign governments invited as official guests; and
  4. community events and other payments.

On the question of whether China and UK should bear part of the costs for the ceremony, the Administration considered that, in line with internationally accepted practice, Hong Kong should shoulder all of the above costs. The Annual Meeting of Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund to be held in Hong Kong in 1997 also adopted this practice. Hotel accommodation would only be provided for heads of overseas delegations attending the Ceremony.

The Administration was responsible for the handover ceremony and ancillary events before the change of sovereignty in 1997, while the Association for Celebration of Reunification of Hong Kong with China would be responsible for celebration and ancillary events after the change of sovereignty. Request from the latter for assistance would be considered by the Administration.

The meeting ended at 3:15 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
8 November 1996

Last Updated on 19 August 1998