Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. ESC 14
(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 in Conference Room B
of the Legislative Council Building on Wednesday, 10 September 1997, at 10:45 am

Members present:

Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong (Chairman)
Hon NG Leung-sing (Deputy Chairman)
Hon WONG Siu-yee
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
Hon CHOY So-yuk

Members absent :

Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Henry WU
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP
Hon TSANG Yok-sing
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun, JP
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong

Public officers attending :

Mrs Carrie LAM, JP
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (1)

Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service

Mr Arthur HO
Deputy Secretary for Economic Services

Mr Darryl CHAN
Assistant Secretary for Economic Services

Mr Peter LAI, JP
Secretary for Security

Mr Raymond WONG, JP
Deputy Secretary for Security (1)

Mr Alex FONG, JP
Deputy Secretary for Security (2)

Mrs Elizabeth YEUNG
Principal Management Services Officer, Security Bureau

Clerk in attendance :

Mrs Vivian KAM
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)5

Staff in attendance :

Mr Matthew LOO
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)7

EC(97-98)20Proposed creation of a permanent post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) in the Air Services Negotiations Unit of the Economic Services Bureau to deal with air services negotiations and related matters

Members enquired about the objectives of the Air Services Negotiations Unit (ASNU), the workload and the degree of involvement of directorate officers which necessitated the creation of the post in question. In response, the Deputy Secretary for Economic Services made the following points:

  1. the main focus of the Unit before the transition was to separate those components applicable to Hong Kong from the United Kingdom's air services agreements (ASAs). So far 22 ASAs had been concluded. The opening of the new airport at Chek Lap Kok in 1998, which would have an annual capacity of 35 million passengers initially and increased to 87 million upon full development, would generate opportunities for further development of Hong Kong's air services. The negotiation of more ASAs with new aviation partners and air services transit agreements (ASTAs) would be essential for Hong Kong to maintain its status as an international and regional aviation centre, and to keep pace with the economic developments and the needs of the travelling public and traders. In addition, the Unit had to meet with many existing aviation partners to review traffic arrangements once every 12 to 18 months;

  2. ASTAs were to provide a legal framework on overflights not covered by multilateral agreements. Their negotiations often involved a lengthy process as a result of the lack of effective telecommunications and direct air links between Hong Kong and these remote countries. Hong Kong used to rely on the United Kingdom's agreements to provide a legal framework for Hong Kong airlines to overfly these countries but this was no longer possible after the transition; and

  3. both posts of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (AOSGC) in the Unit, including one permanent post and one on loan from the operational reserve of the Civil Service Bureau, were heavily engaged in the afore-mentioned activities. A review of the function and the structure of ASNU completed after the separation exercise had concluded that the on-going and anticipated workload in the Unit required two permanent air services negotiation teams each headed by an AOSGC. Creation of the additional permanent post of AOSGC had accordingly been proposed.

2.The item was voted on and endorsed.

EC(97-98)21 Proposed creation of three permanent posts of two Administrative Officer Staff Grade B (D3) and one Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) offset by the deletion of the post and rank of Deputy Secretary for Security (D3) upon the reorganisation of directorate structure of the Security Bureau

3.In consideration of the decreasing number of Vietnamese Migrants (VMs) in Hong Kong and the scheduled closing down of the Vietnamese Division in the Security Bureau (SB), members enquired about the need for setting up a new Division for handling VM and Vietnamese illegal immigrant (VII) issues. In response, the Secretary for Security (S for S) advised that the Vietnamese Division would be run down on 30 September 1997 but a number of matters relating to VMs/VIIs remained outstanding. These included the policy on the port of first asylum, the increasing number of VIIs arriving Hong Kong and the residual cases of VMs/VIIs remaining in Hong Kong, all of which would have to be resolved with the Vietnamese Government. A meeting between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and the Vietnamese Government had tentatively been scheduled in late September 1997 with a view to expediting the repatriation of VMs/VIIs, and the Administration would report progress to the Panel on Security. Concurrently, the Administration would undertake a comprehensive review of the policy for VMs/VIIs, including the policy on port of first asylum.

4.As regards the debt of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), S for S affirmed that UNHCR had been repaying the debt annually but its capability was dependent on contributions received. An amount of about HK$20 million had been repaid in late 1996 and the Administration would continue to follow-up on the outstanding debt.

5.S for S pointed out that apart from VM related issues, the new Division, to be designated as Division 3, would also take over from and relieve the heavy work schedule of Divisions 1 and 2. This would include immigration and nationality matters and new challenges arising from the reunification with the Mainland. The new challenges were mainly practical issues associated with the change of sovereignty such as that on transfer of prisoners, agreements with 25 countries on which were no longer applicable after the changeover and would have to be negotiated afresh.

6.On SB's workload relating to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and a comparison with the British Garrison, the Deputy Secretary for Security (1) explained that as opposed to the British Garrison, the PLA was a new organization in Hong Kong. Apart from facilitating the carrying out of the PLA's defence responsibilities in accordance with the Basic Law and the Garrison Law, SB would also have to study the need for local legislation to underpin key provisions in the Garrison Law, and to review and adapt the Ordinances with reference to the military to provide a clear and unambiguous framework for the Garrison in Hong Kong.

7.S for S said that two additional posts of one AOSGB and one AOSGC would be required for the new Division to be responsible for nationality and immigration matters affecting non-Hong Kong residents and in handling residual VM/VII issues. He added that duties at the AOSGC level had for some time been undertaken by staff on loan from the Civil Service Bureau and other Government departments. The arrangement was no longer satisfactory, and the proposal for the creation of one permanent post of AOSGC was sought to regularize the position.

8.Members also sought clarification on the arrangement for the departmental post of Deputy Secretary for Security (D3). S for S explained that the post was a departmental post held by a disciplined services staff up to June 1995, and had been filled by an Administrative Officer Staff Grade B (AOSGB) (D3) on temporary basis since then. As the arrangement had been working well, SB had proposed to make permanent the arrangement through the creation of one permanent AOSGB (D3) post, offset by the deletion of one permanent post of Deputy Secretary for Security (D3). No net increase in the number of posts was thus involved, and the proposal was in line with the common goal of avoiding the proliferation of grades in the civil service.

9.Members noted from Enclosure 2 of the discussion paper the responsibilities of the Narcotics Division and sought elaboration on the work plans of the Division, and the effectiveness in combating drug trafficking and abuse. They also enquired about the usage of the Beat Drug Funds and the need for the setting up of an Investment Subcommittee.

10.In response, S for S advised that the Administration had adopted a five-pronged approach in combating drug trafficking and abuse, namely, law enforcement, preventive education and publicity, treatment and rehabilitation, research and international co-operation. Apart from reviews in the pipeline on Hong Kong's anti-money laundering regime and on the Drug Addicts Treatment and Rehabilitation Ordinance, reviews would also be conducted on the drug treatment and rehabilitation services in order to bring about improvements and ensure effectiveness.

11.As regards the Beat Drugs Fund, the capital of $350 million was for generating a stable source of income which in turn was used to provide funding support for worthwhile anti-drug related projects. The establishment of the Investment Sub-Committee was proposed consequent upon a review on the Fund by members of the Beat Drugs Fund Governing Committee which comprised experts on financial investment. The Subcommittee's role would be to enhance the long-term value of the $350 million grant, and it would operate in accordance with the Financial Secretary's strategy for investments to be at middle or low risks. S for S confirmed in response to a member that members serving the Beat Drugs Fund Governing Committee and the Subcommittee did so on a voluntary basis; and no payment of honorarium or creation of posts was involved.

12.The item was voted on and endorsed.

13.The Committee ended at 11:50 am.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
29 September 1997