LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 447/96-97
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/PL/HA

LegCo Panel on Home Affairs

Minutes of Meeting
held on Friday, 25 October 1996 at 8:30 a.m.
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan (Chairman)
    Hon LO Suk-ching (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Hon LAW Chi-kwong
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling

Member Attending :

    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming

Members Absent :

    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP

Public Officers Attending:

Item III

Mr Michael SUEN, CBE, JP
Secretary for Home Affairs
Mr Peter P Y LEUNG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs

Attendance by Invitation :

Item IV

Equal Opportunities Commission
Mrs Angela HO
Chief Executive
Mr Frederick TONG Kin-sang
Director of Disability Division

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Anna LO
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Mr Stephen LAM
Assistant Legal Adviser 4
Mr Raymond LAM
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 6

I. Confirmation of minutes of meetings and matters arising

(LegCo Paper Nos. CB(2) 130, 187 and 197/96-97)

The minutes of the meetings held on 1, 3 and 4 October 1996 were confirmed.

II. Date of next meeting and items for discussion

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 192/96-97(01))

Members agreed that the next regular meeting would be held on Friday, 22 November 1996 at 10:45 a.m. to discuss the following:

  1. Integration of new immigrants from China into the community
  2. Problems encountered by divorced women in recovering alimony
  3. Implementation of the new rules for rural elections

Mr LAW Chi-kwong would provide a paper on item 2(b).

Hon LAW Chi-kwong

III. Handover Ceremony

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 192/96-97(02))

Mr Michael SUEN presented the salient points of the paper provided by the Administration. He stated that the Handover Ceremony (the Ceremony) would provide an opportunity to promote Hong Kong to the world. The Administration was responsible for the organisation of the Ceremony and ancillary events. While 2,600 reporters had indicated their wish to cover events on the handover, the Administration anticipated that the number of reporters and other media-related personnel would eventually increase to about 6,000.

In response to Members, Mr Michael SUEN replied that the Administration had not raised and did not intend to raise the issue of cost sharing for the Ceremony with China or United Kingdom (UK) because it considered that, in line with internationally accepted practice, Hong Kong should bear all the costs incurred. However, the matter had been discussed at the recent meeting of the Expert Group on the Preparation of the Transitional Budget and Related Matters of the Joint Liaison Group. Some members considered that the issue of cost sharing should be raised with China and UK, the incoming and outgoing sovereign powers respectively.

As regards the estimated economic benefits from the Ceremony, Mr Michael SUEN stated that hotel occupancy rate, usually around 80% in the summer, would possibly reach 100% and consequently generate substantial economic benefits to Hong Kong. He undertook to provide estimates of economic benefits after the meeting.

In response to Mr LEE Cheuk-yan, Mr Michael SUEN explained that, apart from cubicles/booths which had to be rented, most facilities and services, including video/audio signals and satellite uplinking, would be provided free-of-charge by the Press and Broadcasting Centre (PBC). The PBC would operate for a period of a few weeks around 30 June 1997.


In response to Mr NGAN Kam-chuen, Mr Michael SUEN explained that the cultural, entertainment and community activity programmes, none of which had any connection with the Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen, would mostly be organised jointly with community organisations.

Mr Fred LI and Mr Zachary WONG expressed reservation over funding for item IV (cultural, entertainment and community activity programmes) and item V(a) (pre-ceremony reception and dinner). They considered the proposed funding excessive and should be reduced. To illustrate their point, they drew comparison with the funding for district festivals organised by District Boards and the expenditure of a Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipient on his/her meals.

Members noted that the funding request for the handover ceremony and related activities would be considered at the Finance Committee meeting in the same afternoon.

IV. Codes of Practice on Employment under Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) and Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO)

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 192/96-97(03))

Representatives of Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) presented the salient points of EOC’s paper. They informed Members that the Codes would apply to all employers, with certain exceptions, in Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong Government. By 24 October 1996, 44 written submissions had been received on the Codes.

Legal status of the codes

On the question of legal status of the codes, Dr Fanny CHEUNG informed Members that employers had to give justifiable grounds for not following the guidelines and recommended good practices in the codes. Failure to implement the recommendations outlined in the codes could be used as evidence in a court of law. Mr Stephen LAM added that while the codes were not legally binding, they would be taken into consideration by the court in any proceedings under the SDO and DDO.

Minimum standards for the codes

Dr John TSE commented that the codes should be written in a more easily comprehensible and user-friendly way. Instead of merely stating "good management practice", minimum standards should be set out for employers to follow. Dr Fanny CHEUNG responded that in order to maintain flexibility in implementation for organisations of different sizes, and to allow different management styles for organisations, recommendations on good management practice were more appropriate than minimum standards.

Legislative time-table

In response to the Chairman, Dr Fanny CHEUNG explained that the codes, which would be revised where appropriate, would be presented in November 1996 to LegCo.

Disability Discrimination Ordinance

Pre-employment medical examination

In response to Mr LAW Chi-kwong’s question on paragraph 12.10.2 of the code on DDO, Dr Fanny CHEUNG explained that in a pre-employment medical examination, a medical doctor would mainly examine whether an applicant was physically fit for a job and free from infectious disease. With the possible adoption of the suggestion for employers to inform applicants about details of the medical examination, applicants would be in a better position to judge the relevance of the medical examination to the job.

Exception where absence of disability is Genuine Occupational Qualification

Mr LAW Chi-kwong expressed reservation on paragraph 11.12.2 of the code on DDO. Dr Fanny CHEUNG responded that paragraph 11.12 was drawn up in accordance with Section 12 of the DDO. Footnotes 17 and 18 in paragraph 11.12 made reference to this Section.

Guidelines for dismissals, redundancies and other unfavourable treatment of employees

In response to Mr LEE Cheuk-yan’s question on paragraph 15.1.3 of the code on DDO, Dr Fanny CHEUNG explained that the phrase "or not materially different" was added to avoid possible abuse by employers in the interpretation of "same circumstances".

Sex Discrimination Ordinance

Equal pay for work of equal value

Mr LEE Cheuk-yan remarked that the incorporation of the word "consider" in paragraph 12.8 of the code on SDO would possibly result in a loophole allowing employers to keep on claiming that they were considering to implement, but without actually implementing, the guideline. He commented that this was incompatible with the spirit of the SDO on "equal pay for work of equal value". Representatives of EOC responded that the code was not incompatible with the SDO, which had no mention of "equal pay for work of equal value". The word "consider" was incorporated to recognise the difficulties of small businesses in complying with all the guidelines. Dr Fanny CHEUNG hoped that bigger organisations would take the lead in adopting the guidelines. The EOC was planning to conduct a study on "equal pay for work of equal value", which would commence in early 1997 and it was hoped that the study would be completed by the end of 1997. Mr Stephen LAM confirmed that there was no mention of "equal pay for work of equal value" in the SDO. The situation in UK differed from that in Hong Kong because of the UK Equal Pay Act 1970. In determining whether an incident amounted to discrimination, reference should be made to Parts III and IV of the SDO and DDO respectively.

Equal Pay Act

Mr Bruce LIU suggested EOC to consider introducing a Equal Pay Act similar to those in the UK and the United States. Dr Fanny CHEUNG agreed that any recommendation to Government in this respect would be made in conjunction with the issue of "equal pay for work of equal value".


Policy statement on elimination of sexual harassment in employment

Mr Bruce LIU proposed EOC to provide employers with suggested versions of policy statement prohibiting sexual harassment at work. He added that employers should be provided with the definition of sexual harassment and examples of behaviour amounting to sexual harassment. Dr Fanny CHEUNG responded that EOC was producing training modules to :

  1. assist employers in formulating policy statement on sexual harassment at work and training suitable staff to administer complaint procedures regarding sexual harassment; and
  2. promote female workers’ understanding about sexual harassment.

V. Submission to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UNCESCR) on the Third Periodic Report in respect of Hong Kong under Articles 2 to 16 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

(LegCo Paper Nos. CB(2) 192/96-97(04) and CB(2) 222/96-97)

Members considered the draft submission to UNCESCR and agreed that the number of legal immigrants from China who had waited for more than ten years before approval for settlement in Hong Kong should be incorporated into the submission. Subject to this addition, the submission was endorsed by members present and would be submitted to the House Committee on 1 November 1996. Members also agreed that a delegation of LegCo Members should attend the hearings of the UNCESCR on 26 and 27 November 1996.

The meeting ended at 10:30 a.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
16 November 1996

Last Updated on 19 August 1998