LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1668/96-97
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration )
Ref : CB2/PL/HA

LegCo Panel on Home Affairs

Minutes of Meeting
held on Friday, 28 February 1997 at 10:45 am
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 CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Hon LAW Chi-kwong
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling

Members Absent :

    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP

Public Officers Attending :

Item III

Mr LEE Lap-sun
Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs
Mr LUI Hau-tuen
Deputy Director of Home Affairs
Mr Francis LO
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs
Mr LEUNG Siu-hong
Assistant Director of Buildings

Item IV
Mr LUI Hau-tuen
Deputy Director of Home Affairs
Mr Francis LO
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs
Mr Augustine NG
Chief Town Planner

Item VI
Mr Michael SUEN
Secretary for Home Affairs
Mrs Shelley LAU
Director of Home Affairs
Mr LEE Lap-sun
Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs
Mr LUI Hau-tuen
Deputy Director of Home Affairs
Mr Francis LO
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs

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. Date of next meeting and items for discussion

(Paper No. CB(2) 1301/96-97(01))

Members agreed that the next regular meeting would be held on Wednesday, 2 April 1997 at 2:30 pm on the following -

  1. Administration’s response to the report of the Subcommittee on Review of Advisory and Statutory Bodies.
  2. Implementation of the new election rules for rural elections.
  3. Follow-up on the United Nations concluding observations on :

    1. Initial report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in respect of Hong Kong under Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
    2. Supplementary report by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in respect of Hong Kong under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and
    3. Third periodic report in respect of Hong Kong under Articles 2 to 16 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

(Post-meeting note : On the instruction of the Chairman, item (a) and (c) would be deferred - the former upon the Administration’s request. The meeting would continue to discuss "Review of Building Management Ordinance".)

The Chairman informed members that, as suggested by the LegCo Commission, the House Committee would be considering bids for funds for members’ overseas duty visits for the period April to June 1997. Members agreed to bid funds for one visit to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).

(Post-meeting note : The bid was not forwarded as it was confirmed that there would be no meeting of the UNHRC during that period.)

II. Information papers issued since the last meeting

(LegCo Paper Nos. CB(2) 1051/96-97, CB(2)1157/96-97 and CB(2) 1184/96-97)

Members noted that the captioned papers had been issued since the last meeting.

III. Review of the Building Management Ordinance

(Paper No. CB(2) 1301/96-97(02))

Proposed amendments to the Building Management Ordinance

At the invitation of the Chairman, Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (DSHA) and Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (PAS(HA)) presented the Administration’s paper and stressed that the Administration had been monitoring the implementation of the Building Management Ordinance (BMO) since its enactment in 1993. A number of areas for improvement had been identified. Members’ suggestions on amendments to the BMO were welcome. The Administration would bid for a LegCo slot at the earliest opportunity, with a view to introducing the bill in the 1997/98 LegCo session. The proposed amendments to the BMO mainly covered the following areas -

  1. An amendment would be introduced to empower an owners’ corporation (OC) to carry out upgrading/decorative works in the common areas of a building. This arose from a recent court ruling that an individual owner should not be compelled to pay his share of payment for upgrading/decorative works in a private building if the work was of a decorative rather than maintenance nature.
  2. Under section 3A(1) of the BMO, the Secretary for Home Affairs (SHA) might, upon application by owners of not less than 30% of the shares, order to convene a meeting of owners to appoint a management committee. However, such an order would be of no effect by virtue of section 3A(5) of the BMO if SHA received notices of objection from owners of not less than 10% of the shares. An amendment would be proposed to expand the statutory power of SHA by raising the required objection percentage under section 3A(5) from 10% to 30% of the shares.
  3. Under the BMO, notices of OC meetings were required to be delivered by post. An amendment would be introduced to allow direct delivery of such notices to the letter boxes of owners.

Requirements for termination of a management company

The Chairman commented that the required resolution of owners of no less than 50% of the shares of a building for an OC to terminate a management company was too stringent and should be lowered, as some landlords might be in possession of more than 45% of the shares of a building, while some 10% of the owners might be very difficult to contact. DSHA and PAS(HA)) responded that cases where a landlord possessed a large percentage of shares of a building were rare and mostly found in well-managed buildings, for instance, those above MTR stations. Nevertheless, members’ views on the issue were welcome.

Proposed Building Management Resource Centres

In response to a member, DSHA stated that while the proper management and maintenance of a building was the responsibility of OCs, the Administration had always been working closely with the Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies Limited to monitor the service of property management companies. Building management was an area of major concern to the Home Affairs Branch and a bid for additional resources for this area had been put in 1997/98 Estimates. Following the LegCo motion debate on 8 January 1997 on "Improvement to building management", the Director of Home Affairs had convened two meetings to consider the proposed establishment of Building Management Resource Centres (BMRCs). Deputy Director of Home Affairs (DDHA) added that information booklets and videotapes would probably be produced by the proposed BMRCs to promote the public’s knowledge in building management. Professional bodies such as the Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Society of Accountants had been approached on the possible provision of professional advice. He stressed that in the event of dispute, the Home Affairs Department (HAD) would play a mediating role and the Lands Tribunal was empowered under the BMO to adjudicate building management cases.

In response to the Chairman, representatives of the Administration agreed to provide a paper on the proposed amendments to the BMO. They also agreed to continue to keep the Panel briefed on the proposed BMRCs.


Illegal Structures

Assistant Director of Buildings (ADB) informed members that advisory letters were issued to owners once unauthorized building works (UBW) were identified in buildings. A statutory order would be issued if requirements in the advisory letter were not complied with. In response to a member, he confirmed that cocklofts, external appendages/projections, and village houses over a designated size were all covered under the inspection scheme. Most UBW identified during inspections were eventually demolished after the issue of advisory letters or statutory orders. As regards illegal structures of village houses in the New Territories, the Commissioner for Administrative Complaints had made some recommendations, which were being studied by the Planning, Environment and Lands Branch.

A member commented that with about 20 000 inspections per year, it would take 32 years for the Administration to inspect all the estimated 800 000 UBW in Hong Kong. The Administration should take steps to expedite the process. ADB responded that with the existing resources, the Administration had been able to control the growth of UBW and to protect public safety in ensuring that all new or dangerous illegal structures were removed once identified. In the longer term, the Administration was considering the introduction of a proposed Building Safety Inspection Scheme.

As regards a member’s question on paragraph 4 of the Administration’s paper in connection with the policy of priorities for the control of UBW promulgated in 1988, ADB explained that all significant new UBW and all UBW posing an obvious danger to life or property were cleared once identified. In determining whether an illegal structure was a new one, factors such as the condition of construction materials, information gathered from complainants, residents, caretakers and aerial photographs would all be taken into consideration.

A member was very concerned about the sale and purchase of rooftop structures. He commented that, as many purchasers of these structures were not aware that the purchase involved only the rooftop area but not the structures built on it, the Law Society of Hong Kong (the Law Society) should remind its members to handle such transactions with great care, caution the purchasers, or even prohibit its members from handling such transactions. Another member remarked that it was practically difficult for the Law Society to prohibit its members from handling such transactions. He added that the Law Society should be suggested to issue Practice Directions on such transactions.

DSHA responded that the Administration had, in the second edition of the handbook for new arrivals from China, warned these people who were potential purchasers of rooftop structures about such purchases. ADB added that, to his knowledge, the Attorney General’s Chambers had discussed the matter with the Law Society and the latter had issued guidelines to all its members.

IV. Review of planning standards and guidelines on community centres

(Paper No. CB(2) 1301/96-97(03))

In response to a member, Chief Town Planner (CTP) explained that in determining the development priority of the 54 sites reserved for community hall (CH) development, the Administration would have regard to factors such as community development and population characteristics. Consultations were made with the respective District Boards (DBs). At the member’s request, he undertook to provide information on the priority of development of the 54 sites and the exact locations of these sites.

A member commented that a number of DBs in new towns were concerned about reduction of CHs for small communities (with a population of 15 000 to 40 000). They were concerned that, with the revised planning standards and guidelines for CCs, it would even be more difficult for such communities to be allocated new CHs. CTP responded that the revision of planning standards and guidelines was not intended to raise the lower population threshold for CHs. In the 1994/95 review of planning standards and guidelines for CCs, it was found that CHs serving a smaller population tend to have lower utilization rates. Current standards were also silent on the provision of CHs for communities with a population of less than 15 000 persons. The revised standards and guidelines were aimed at a better utilization of resources through flexible provision of CHs for communities with a population of less than 40 000, having regard to the particular needs of different communities. For example, multi-purpose function rooms might be more appropriate for a small community in the Islands with a small population of a few thousand people. As regards a member’s question on paragraph 11 of Annex B of the Administration’s paper, he stated that in determining whether the need for a standardized community hall could be justified, factors such as the availability of existing community halls nearby, ease of access to alternative accommodation, area characteristics and community aspirations would all be considered.


A member was concerned about the possible uneven distribution of CHs. He pointed out that there was a lack of CHs in Kowloon City, Wanchai and the Islands. The CHs in Wong Tai Sin District were also unevenly distributed. DDHA assured that the Administration would try its best to maintain a balanced distribution of CHs.

In response to members, CTP explained that under the revised planning standards and guidelines, future CHs would be constructed as part of integrated Government/institutional/community buildings. Where such arrangement was not feasible, a stand-alone CH would be constructed. In response to a member, DDHA undertook to review the management of CHs by voluntary agencies.

A member pointed out that the transfer of management of CHs from HAD to the Social Welfare Department (SWD) had been delayed for many years. To his knowledge, the delay arose from a lack of the necessary resources to be returned to SWD with the CHs. Such delay had also been pointed out in the recent and previous report of the LegCo Public Accounts Committee. He questioned whether the Administration had any plans to replenish the redeployed resources and gradually transfer the management of CHs to SWD. PAS(HA)) said that the question did not arise because the resources for management of CCs/CHs were not redeployed within HAD but were cut in 1991/92 as part of a cost cutting exercise of the Administration. The resources were simply cut and presented to central Government, not redeployed for use by HAD. As SWD required a sizeable establishment, which HAD did not have, alongside the transfer of management of CCs/CHs, the transfer was unable to materialize. It was envisaged that both existing and new CCs/CHs would be managed by HAD in the foreseeable future.


V. Report of the Subcommittee on Review of Advisory and Statutory Bodies

(Paper No. CB(2) 1301/96-97(04))

In the absence of Miss Christine LOH, Chairman of the Subcommittee at another meeting, Mr LEE Wing-tat presented the report of the Subcommittee on Review of Advisory and Statutory Bodies (the Report) and highlighted its recommendations. As regards a member’s question on why the Boundary and Election Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission appeared in both Annexes A and B of Appendix II to the Report, he stated that the information was provided by the Administration. It should be requested to explain at the next meeting.

The Chairman suggested to incorporate the following observations in the Report -

"There is a lack of consistency in the system of declaration of interests for members of advisory and statutory bodies. The Administration should review and establish a uniform policy on declaration of interests for all advisory and statutory bodies."

Members endorsed the Report and agreed to the addition of the paragraph suggested by the Chairman. It was agreed that the revised Report would be sent to the Administration for response at the next meeting.

VI. Any other business

Cultural, Entertainment and Community Building Activities for the Handover

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1346/96-97)

At the invitation of the Chairman, Secretary for Home Affairs (SHA) and Director of Home Affairs (DHA) highlighted the salient points of the paper provided by the Administration. They invited LegCo Members to the theme-related events in Appendix A to the Administration’s paper.

In response to a member, SHA stated that there would not be any procession or flag lowering/flag raising ceremony in the activities. DHA added that the overall theme of the ancillary programme aimed to present Hong Kong as a vibrant and caring community. There was no particular requirement on the content of the activities.

In response to members, DHA stated that the budget for the activities were still under preparation. All these activities, each costing about $ 1 million to $ 2 million, would be funded by the budget of $40 million earmarked for cultural, entertainment and community building activities related to the Handover. Mainland performers and associations had not been invited to perform in these activities.

In response to the Chairman, SHA and DHA stated that there was no particular seminar or exhibition on various covenants or conventions on human rights or the Bill of Rights Ordinance, as much was already done in this area by the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education. However, there were educational themes, such as the "Celebration of Youth" organized by the Commission of Youth.

The meeting ended at 12:55 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
27 March 1997

Last Updated on 19 August 1998