Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. ESC 41
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB1/F/3/2

Establishment Subcommittee of the
Provisional Legislative Council

Minutes of the meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber on
Wednesday, 3 December 1997, at 10:45 am

Members present:

Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong (Chairman)
Hon NG Leung-sing (Deputy Chairman)
Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon Henry WU
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon TSANG Yok-sing
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Hon CHOY So-yuk

Members absent :

Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting

Public officers attending :

Mrs Carrie LAM, JP
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury

Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service

Mrs Sarah KWOK
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security (B)

Deputy Commissioner of Correctional Services

Assistant Commissioner of Correctional Services

Mr Raymond FAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security (C)

Deputy Director of Immigration

Mr Patrick W M CHIM
Principal Assistant Secretary for the Treasury

Deputy Director of Accounting Services

Mr Harry MYERS, JP
Government Printer

Clerk in attendance :

Ms LEUNG Siu-kum
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)2

Staff in attendance :

Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Mr Kenneth KWOK
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)8

EC(97-98)38Proposed creation of a permanent post of Assistant Commissioner of Correctional Services (GDS(C)2) in the Correctional Services Department to co-ordinate policy and programme development in the area of rehabilitation of offenders

Referring to the decreasing Vietnamese Migrant population, members asked if there was a need to create a new post of Assistant Commissioner (Rehabilitation) (AC(Rehab)) to share out the duties of the Assistant Commissioner (Operations) (AC(O)). The Assistant Commissioner of Correctional Services (AC/CS) explained that the workload in regard to rehabilitation services for offenders had increased substantially since the introduction of a number of rehabilitation programmes, namely, the Release under Supervision Scheme, Pre-release Employment Scheme and the Post-Release Supervision Scheme. The nature of work had also become much more complex due to the varying backgrounds of offenders, e.g. Vietnamese criminals, Chinese illegal immigrants, commercial criminals and sophisticated juvenile delinquents, who were resistant to supervision and probation. With the growing social expectation to improve rehabilitation services for offenders, there was a need to create the post of AC(Rehab) so that an Assistant Commissioner could devote full attention to head the rehabilitation programmes, to formulate strategies for the long-term development of the rehabilitation services and to upkeep the service standard to the expectation of the community.

2.AC/CS further explained that it was difficult to redistribute the rehabilitation duty to the other two ACs and the Civil Secretary as they were already heavily committed to work of their own schedules, as follows:

  1. AC(Inspectorate and Management Services) facing increasing pressure to review the existing Prison Ordinance and Prison Rules following the enactment of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, Disability Discrimination Ordinance and Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance;

  2. AC(Personnel)'s workload substantially increased with the expansion of the establishment of Correctional Services Department to over 7 000 staff; and

  3. Civil Secretary coping with increased workload generated from the co-ordination of policies on computerisation projects and the use of advanced technology to improve the efficiency of prison management, such as computerised access control and security systems, as well as the monitoring of the progress of large scale works projects such as the Stanley Prison Area Redevelopment Project.

3.As regards the reduced workload as a result of decreasing Vietnamese Migrant population, the Deputy Commissioner of Correctional Services clarified that a supernumerary post of Assistant Commissioner (Vietnamese Migrants) (AC(VM)) had been created specifically to deal with matters relating to Vietnamese Migrants. However, this post had lapsed on 1 October 1997 and AC(O) had since then taken up the residual responsibilities of AC(VM) in addition to his duties.

4.A member asked if it was more appropriate to recruit a social worker to perform the duties of the proposed post. AC/CS responded that while rehabilitation work might require social work skills, the staff to fill the post should also possess sufficient knowledge and experience in prison management. In fact, most supporting and front-line staff underpinning the proposed AC(Rehab) post did possess social work qualifications.

5.In response to a member's question on the research study mentioned in paragraph 7 of the discussion paper, AC/CS advised that the study was not commissioned by the Correctional Services Department (CSD). It was a comprehensive review on the effectiveness of the rehabilitation programmes for juvenile delinquents in Hong Kong including those run by the Social Welfare Department and CSD. It was an independent and professional study which recommended the splitting of operations and rehabilitation in the line management and the creation of a Rehabilitation Division in CSD under the leadership of a new post of AC(Rehab). He added that arising from the creation of the proposed AC post, only a few additional supporting staff would be required as most of the other staff would be re-deployed from other divisions.

6.The item was voted on and endorsed. Ms CHOY So-yuk objected.

EC(97-98)39Proposed creation of a permanent post of Assistant Director of Immigration (GDS(C)2) in the Immigration Department with effect from 11 December 1997 to deal with new immigration issues which have arisen following the reunification of Hong Kong with the Mainland

7.Noting that the lobbying work would decrease when more foreign countries agreed to the visa-free arrangements for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport holders, a member asked if it would be more appropriate to retain the existing supernumerary Assistant Director (AD) post instead of creating a permanent one. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Security (C) (PAS/S(C)) responded that although Hong Kong had reached mutual visa-free arrangements with 40 out of some 200 countries over the world, it would take more time and effort to lobby and negotiate with the other countries for mutual visa-free arrangements. That apart, the lobbying work relating to the legal disputes arising from the Right of Abode issue, the One Way Permit Quota System, and the promotion of acceptance of travel documents, including the British National (Overseas) passports, Certificates of Identity and Documents of Identity by other countries, would last for a considerably long period of time. The Civil Service Bureau had also endorsed the need for creating the post on a permanent basis. He assured members that the Administration would review the need for the post when circumstances changed and the relevant panels and the Subcommittee would be consulted in accordance with the usual practice.

8.As to whether any targets had been set for securing visa-free arrangements with foreign countries and regions, PAS/S(C) said the Administration's target was to secure as many visa-free arrangements as possible within the shortest period of time.

9.A member pointed out that it appeared that the proposed AD was required to act as the departmental co-ordinator with other branches in the Department and be engaged in liaison work with the Mainland authorities and foreign countries. In terms of ranking, the pitching of the post at AD level seemed not compatible with the responsibility. PAS/S(C) clarified that the proposed AD was not to oversee the work of the other five existing ADs. He was mainly responsible for the policy co-ordination within the Department. As regards the external liaison work, it had been demonstrated by the supernumerary post of AD that the duty could be effectively discharged by an officer at D2 level, and therefore the ranking of the proposed AD post was considered appropriate. As to whether officers in the immigration discipline were capable of performing the negotiation functions of the proposed post, the Deputy Director of Immigration confirmed that there were suitable candidates from within the Department to fill the post.

10.The item was voted on and endorsed.

EC(97-98)40Proposed creation of a permanent post of Chief Treasury Accountant (D1) in the Treasury to cope with the increased volume and complexity of work in the management of the Grant Schools and Subsidized Schools Provident Funds

11.The item was voted on and endorsed.

EC(97-98)41Proposed creation of a permanent post of Chief Printing Superintendent (D1) offset by the deletion of a permanent post of Senior Printing Superintendent (MPS 45-49) in the Printing Department to reflect adequately the required level of responsibility of the head of the Works Branch

12.A member questioned the need to upgrade the post of Senior Printing Superintendent (SPS) to Chief Printing Superintendent for basically the same responsibilities. The Principal Assistant Secretary for the Treasury and the Government Printer explained that apart from the increase in workload, the complexity of the SPS post had increased considerably particularly with the advance in technology. The SPS post was created in 1978 and since then printing had become a very complicated process with the use of computers in every aspect of the operation. Furthermore, there were more diversified and unforeseen printing requirements on the types, colours and urgent needs from client departments. To meet clients' higher expectation on the quality of printing services, there was a need for a more senior officer to oversee, manage and improve the whole operation of the Works Branch.

13.The item was voted on and endorsed.

14.The meeting was adjourned at 11:40 am.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
19 December 1997