LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2103/96-97
(The minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref. : CB2/PL/SE/1

LegCo Panel on Security

Minutes of Meeting
held on Friday, 14 February 1997 at 8:30 am
in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

    Hon James TO Kun-sun (Chairman)
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon LO Suk-ching

Members absent :

    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Public Officers attending :

Agenda Item III
Mr Alex FONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 2
Ms Ingrid HO
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security C
Assistant Director of Immigration
(Special Duties)

Agenda Item IV
Mrs Carrie YAU
Deputy Secretary for Security 1
Mr Spencer FOO
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations)

Agenda Item V
Mrs Carrie YAU
Deputy Secretary for Security 1
Mr LEE Ming-kwai
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Special Duties)
Mr TANG King-shing
Chief Superintendent of Police (Special Duties)

Agenda Item VI
Mrs Carrie YAU
Deputy Secretary for Security 1
Mr Clement LEUNG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security A

Clerk in attendance :

Miss Salumi CHAN
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 1

Staff in attendance :

Mrs Justina LAM
Assistant Secretary General 2
Mr Paul WOO
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 5

I. Confirmation of the minutes of meeting held on 28 October 1996

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1122/96/97)

The minutes of the meeting held on 28 October 1996 were confirmed without amendments.

Matters arising - Visits by the Panel

2. The Chairman reminded members that the visit to the Fire Services Department Communication Centre and Training School was scheduled for Saturday morning, 15 March 1997. The Department had arranged for members to have lunch together following the visit. As regards the visit to the Immigration Department, it would be held in the morning of 8 April 1997. Details were being worked out.

II. Date of next meeting and items for discussion

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1161/96/97(01))

3. The next meeting was scheduled for Monday, 10 March 1997. Members agreed to discuss the following items:

  1. Follow-up on the Interpretation General Clauses (Amendment) Bill 1995;
  2. Follow-up on the Prevention of Bribery (Miscellaneous Provisions)(No. 2) Bill 1995; and
  3. Harassment and Intimidation by private developers on Residents in the New Territories.

On item 3(b) above, The Chairman undertook to consider what required to be followed-up. As regards follow-up on issues of non-Chinese ethnic minorities, the Chairman directed that the Clerk should obtain from the Administration periodical updates on developments.


III. Follow-up on permanent residency after 1997

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1161/96/97(02))

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1122/96/97)

4. Deputy Secretary for Security(2) (DS for S(2)) pointed out that the post-meeting note in para. 20 of the minutes of meeting held on 28 October 1996 was not entirely correct and should be replaced by para. 4 of the information paper for Security Panel - Supplementary information on right of abode (LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1161/96-97(02)). On para. 22 of the minutes of meeting concerning consular protection, he said that the Governor had briefed members on the same subject at a meeting held on 5 December 1996 and the contents provided in the information paper were similar. He referred to para. 25 of the minutes of meeting about the hierarchy of rights and said that the matter had been briefly discussed at a special meeting of the Panel on Security held the day before when new arrangements on the right to land and unconditional stay for British nationals were explained to members. On the issue of right of abode, he said that the matter was complicated depending on an individual’s circumstances surrounding his/her nationalities. If a person was a Chinese national, he would be dealt with under Article 24 para. 2 (1) (2) and (3) of the Basic Law. If he was a foreign national, he would be dealt with under Article 24 para. 2 (4) and (5) of the Basic Law. The latter category included people who might acquire right of abode if they satisfied certain criteria. With regard to those people in possession of dual nationalities, they might choose to be treated as Chinese nationals (in that case, his status would be governed by Article 24 para. 2 (1) (2) and (3) of the Basic Law) or declare themselves as foreign nationals. In the latter case, a series of arrangements would apply. This included whether these people had resided in Hong Kong continuously for seven years and whether they had taken Hong Kong as their place of permanent residence. He said that the matter was still being discussed in the Joint Liaison Group (JLG). In view of the limited time frame, he stressed that relevant administrative details were being put in hand in anticipation of an agreement. These included the preparation of publicity pamphlets and the drafting of the necessary legislation.

5. In reply to Mr Albert HO’s question on the right to land, DS for S(2) said that under existing legislation only British citizens had that special right. That provision was proposed to be removed through an amendment bill to be gazetted that day. As regards the situation after 30 June 1997, special arrangements would be made for people who had been permanent residents previously to work and stay in Hong Kong without the need for a visa. However, details were being discussed in the JLG. In response to Mr HO’s further enquiry, DS for S (2) confirmed that it was the Administration’s intention for the relevant legislative amendments to be made by the existing legislature once an agreement was reached.

6. Mrs Selina CHOW asked whether legislative amendment would be necessary if ID card applicants were in future not required to furnish information on "nationality claimed". DS for S(2) said that the nationality claimed in applications for identity card was an entirely different matter and it should not be confused with the proposed declaration of change of nationality. As far as the latter was concerned, the preliminary view was that people should not be required to provide information on that aspect unless they wished to make a declaration that they had acquired another nationality. The present arrangement whereby ID card applicants were required to furnish such information was being reviewed. The Assistant Director of Immigration (Special Duties) (AD of I (SD)) added that the review had to take into account a variety of factors, e.g. whether the information was essential for the compilation of statistics used by other government departments for planning and other purposes. If it was decided to do without the information, legislative amendment would be necessary since the present requirement was stipulated under section 41(b) of the Registration of Persons Regulation. He stated that under existing arrangement, the Immigration Department would not require people to produce evidence for any changes in nationality claimed. In response to members’ further enquiries, DS for S(2) stressed that administrative details for the new arrangements were being discussed in the JLG and it would not be appropriate for him to reveal anything further at the present stage.

7. In response to Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong’s enquiry, DS for S(2) confirmed that whether previous records concerning nationality claimed provided by ID card applicants would be abolished before 30 June 1997 would be included in the context of the review stated in the last sentence of para. 3 of the information paper (LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1161/96-97(02)).

8. In reply to Mr Albert HO’s question, DS for S(2) confirmed that following the enactment of the aforesaid amendment bill, no one had the right to land. Subject to the definition of "Permanent Resident" and "have returned to settle in Hong Kong" to be concluded in the JLG, the present arrangement whereby holders of Hong Kong identity cards had the right of abode might have to be changed.

9. Mr Bruce LIU asked whether children born to Chinese nationals had the right to stay in Hong Kong after having entered the territory illegally. DS for S(2) said that after 30 June 1997 these children had the right of abode in Hong Kong. Since 1995, the quota for the issue of one-way permits had been increased from 105 to 150 daily in order that these children might enter Hong Kong in a planned and controlled manner. This arrangement was in accordance with Article 22 of the Basic Law.

10. In reply to Mrs Selina CHOW’s question on what nationality should be claimed by children of Hong Kong permanent residents born overseas in order to be able to acquire right of abode, DS for S(2) reiterated that as pointed out earlier at the meeting, the related issues were still being discussed in the JLG. The Chairman suggested the Administration widely publicize issues concerning the right of abode in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region once an agreement was reached with the Chinese side. DS for S(2) said that it would assist the Administration’s future publicity if members could provide him with specific examples in regard to their queries.

IV. Commission of Crimes by Illegal Immigrants

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1161/96-97(03))

11. Mrs Selina CHOW asked whether figures on Vietnamese illegal immigrants for 1996 and monthly breakdowns on types of crimes committed by Vietnamese for 1996 could be provided. She also asked whether the Police had encountered difficulties in investigation since many offenders fled to China after committing crimes. DS for S(1) said that the required figures were not in hand but undertook to provide them after the meeting. On the problem of investigation, the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations) (ACP(O)) said that there were procedures in place whereby Hong Kong residents who had committed crimes and fled to China were returned to Hong Kong for further investigations and/or trial. Serious crimes had been committed by illegal immigrants in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, due to successful detection, crime rates had fallen in the past few years. In particular, the rate had fallen by 32% in 1996.

(Post-meeting note : The figures on Vietnamese illegal immigrants for 1996 and monthly breakdown on types of crimes are at Annex.)


12. Mr Zachary WONG asked whether more illegal immigrants entered Hong Kong via the sea or land and whether there were breakdown figures for the number of arrests in respect of construction site raids, hill side sweeps and road block checks. ACP(O) said that the sea/land figures were roughly 50-50 with that on land slightly higher. Specific figures broken down as required might not be kept by the Police but he agreed to provide members with such figures in writing if available. He remarked that road block checks appeared to be the most effective measure as they resulted in the highest number of arrests. At the request of the Chairman, ACP(O) undertook to provide members with the number of prosecutions against construction site operators for employing illegal immigrants.


13. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong asked whether the Police had any liaison with their counterparts of the northern provinces of China such as Jiangsu and Zhejiang since illegal immigrants from these provinces appeared to be on the increase. He also asked whether illegal juvenile immigrants were used by syndicated offenders to commit crimes in the territory. ACP(O) said that cases involving illegal immigrants from provinces outside Quangdong were being dealt with through the Quangdong provincial authorities with which they had close liaison. On the latter point, he believed that such crimes were committed by individual offenders.

14. Mr Albert HO expressed concern about cross-border co-operation and asked whether the Police had statistics on prosecutions involving local people. He believed that crimes such as smuggling, prostitution and theft of vehicles could not be committed without local involvement. ACP(O) said that the Police did not keep such statistics. At the suggestion of the Chairman, he undertook to provide the meeting with an assessment, in quantitative and/or qualitative terms, of the cross-border crime situation and the efforts of the Police in this respect.


15. Mr Fred LI asked whether there had been any increase in prostitution cases and whether there were records indicating that over-stayed persons in possession of two-way permit had involved in criminal activities. ACP(O) pointed out that cases involving prostitution were included under item "Serious Immigration Offences" in Annex B of the paper and no breakdowns were readily available. On the question of over-stayed persons, he envisaged that the figure would not be high as these people were generally engaged in work rather than crime. The Chairman remarked that as cases involving prostitution appeared to be increasing although the overall situation as reflected in the figures under "Serious Immigration Offences" was on the contrary, he asked whether specific figures relating to prostitution could be provided to enable the matter to be seen in perspective. ACP(O) agreed to provide such figures after the meeting.


V. Security measures for Handover Ceremony in 1997 and protection for the Chief Executive (Designate) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 898/96-97(04))

16. The Assistant Commissioner of Police (Special Duties) (ACP(SD)) briefed members on the security arrangements. On venue security, he said that the venue at the Convention & Exhibition Centre Extension would be searched by the special search unit one week in advance and cordoned off afterwards. The special search unit had 40 teams consisting of members who had received special training overseas and had participated in search operations locally on previous occasions. On VIP protection, the number of guests who required special protection at various degree would be about a hundred. The officers responsible would be redeployed from other postings and given special training. A threat assessment on the visiting VIPs based on the circumstances of the countries from where they came and the overall law and order situation in Hong Kong would be conducted. On traffic arrangements, a Traffic Superintendent would be responsible for the necessary co-ordination to ensure that the functions would take place smoothly and safely with minimum inconvenience to the public. On media arrangements, the Police would provide necessary assistance and guidelines to local and overseas reporters present on the occasion.

17. In response to questions from Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong concerning measures to be taken by the Police in dealing with peaceful demonstrations, ACP(SD) pointed out that the overall objective of the Planning and Implementation Team was to provide effective security relating to the Handover Ceremony having regard to the interests of all parties concerned. He assured members that the Police would give every possible assistance to peaceful demonstrators. He stressed, however, that adequate communication and mutual understanding of respective requirements of parties concerned prior to a demonstration were essential to reducing possibilities of conflict. He agreed to consider Mr CHEUNG’s proposal for the establishment of a co-ordinating centre on site to facilitate effective communication.


18. In reply to questions from Mr Bruce LIU, ACP(SD) said that VIP protection had all along been provided by the Police with an excellent record of performance. Whilst Hong Kong was not an active place for terrorists, the Police would gather intelligence from consulates concerned and other sources to facilitate manpower deployment and preventive measures to be taken. As for the security officers of VIPs, they would play a liaison role only since the responsibility for internal security and VIP protection rested with the Police. The Special Duties Unit of the Police had received anti-terrorist training and had an excellent record of handling major crimes in the past. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit was provided with staff whose expertise and training were of international standard. With regard to the recent visit to Beijing by members of the Planning and Implementation Team, the main objective was to provide extra exposure to officers for handling major public events. Similar visits had been paid to other countries including the United States, Spain, New Zealand and Singapore.

19. Mr Albert HO asked how many Police staff would be deployed for the Handover Ceremony and what the lead time would be in preparation for such an event. He also expressed concern about the possible effect of such a deployment on other security areas of the territory. ACP(SD) said that some of the training had been completed whilst others were still in progress. Training for the special search team had been conducted for the past three years and had now been completed. Training for the VIP protection team was in progress and would be completed by the end of May. Detailed traffic arrangements would be finalized by early June. On venue security, the search would take about one week to complete. The cordoning off of the venue would be done in stages to reduce inconvenience to the public to a minimum. The critical period would be from mid-June to mid-July during which commanding officers had been advised not to take leave. As for the total number of Police staff deployed for the Handover Ceremony, ACP(SD) said that figures were not in hand but agreed to let members have the information when available. He stressed that, as far as possible, Police Headquarters formations and non-frontline staff would be redeployed for the event in order that the security in the districts would not be adversely affected. In response to the Chairman’s question, ACP(SD) confirmed that personal protection officers of visiting VIPs, including those from China, would not be allowed to carry any firearms in Hong Kong.


VI. Transfer of Defence Responsibility

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1161/96-97(04))

20. Mr Zachary WONG referred to the military site in Tuen Mun where a transmitting tower appeared to have been taken over by the Hong Kong Telecom, and asked how the Hong Kong Government would deal with the military sites together with their related facilities released by the British Forces. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Security (A)(PAS (S) A) said that of the 39 military sites, 14 would be taken over by the future garrison and the others would be returned to the Hong Kong Government. In accordance with the Defence Lands Agreement, the buildings and fixed facilities in these 14 sites would also be handed over to the PLA. The British Forces and the Hong Kong Government would be free to sell or dispose of other articles or equipment not covered by the Agreement. With regard to the specific facility referred to by Mr WONG, he said that he would need more information from him before making any comments.


21. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong asked how many members of the British Garrison remained in Hong Kong at present, and in view of the withdrawal of the British Garrison, whether the Hong Kong Government would negotiate with the British Government for the reduction of the defence cost in proportion to the size of the Garrison. PAS (S) A said that the defence cost had been reduced drastically since the early 1990s and the cost to be borne by the two sides for the three months of the Financial Year 1997-98 would be based on the percentage ratio of 65:35 between Hong Kong and Britain in accordance with the 1988 Defence Costs Agreement. DS for S(1) confirmed this and said that there was no intention to renegotiate the ratio for the three months before the handover.

22. In reply to the Chairman’s enquiry as to whether personnel of the Chinese Garrison, their vehicles and ships, etc. would be searched on entry to Hong Kong after 30 June 1997, DS for S(1) said that this was one of the areas where further clarification with the Chinese side was necessary. The Administration’s position was that the arrangements would have to be consistent with Hong Kong Laws and the Garrison Law.

VII. Close of Meeting

23. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 10:45 am.

LegCo Secretariat
7 April 1997

Last Updated on 21 August 1998