Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(2)1168
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB2/PL/CA

Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Constitutional Affairs

Minutes of the meeting
held on Friday, 6 February 1998 at 8:30 a.m.
in Conference Room A the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP (Chairman)
Hon TSANG Yok-sing (Deputy Chairman)
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
Hon CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Hon KAN Fook-yee

Members Absent :

Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk

Public Officers Attending :

Mr Michael SUEN M Y
Secretary for Constitutional Affairs

Mr Robin IP
Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs

Miss Shirley YUNG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Constitutional Affairs 4

Mr LI Wing
Chief Electoral Officer

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Percy MA
Clerk to Panel
Staff in Attendance:

Miss Flora TAI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 3

I.Confirmation of minutes of the last meeting and matters arising

(PLC Paper Nos CB(2) CB(2) 950 & CB(2) 993(01))
autonumoutautonumout--The minutes of the meeting held on 9 January 1998 (issued vide PLC Paper No. CB(2) 950) were confirmed without amendment.

Entitlement of Honorary Consuls to use VIP suites in the airport and the railway terminus

autonumout--On whether Honorary Consuls were entitled to use VIP suites in the airport and the railway terminus (paragraph 17 of the minutes), the Chairman referred members to a letter dated 5 February 1998 from the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (English version) confirming that Honorary Consuls were not presently entitled to use the government VIP facilities, unless they were greeting and seeing-off senior officials from the governments they represented. The letter (in both Chinese and English) was subsequently issued to members vide PLC Paper No. CB(2) 993(01).

Precedence Table of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the Precedence Table)

autonumout--Referring members to the Director of Protocol's reply as recorded in the post-meeting note, the Chairman said that with the agreement of Hon KAN Fook-yee, the item had not be included for discussion at the meeting.

autonumout--Mr KAN Fook-yee said that he had no objection to the precedence list per se. However, he had a different view on the Director of Protocol's response that it was inappropriate to refer the Precedence Table as the "HKSAR Government Precedence Table" on the ground that it included personalities such as religious leaders. Mr KAN maintained that "HKSAR Government Precedence Table" was a more appropriate name because it would make clear that the precedence list was prepared by the HKSAR Government and carried no implication that all persons included on the list should be Government officials. He added that the existing name gave an impression that prominent Central Government's officials stationed in the Region had been omitted from the list.

autonumout--Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (SCA) undertook to convey Mr KAN's view to the Director of Protocol for consideration. The Chairman suggested and members agreed that the item be included in the agenda for the next meeting.

II.Publicity strategy to promote the 1998 Legislation Council elections
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 954(01)

autonumout--At the invitation of the Chairman, SCA briefed members on the information paper (issued vide PLC Paper No. CB(2) 954(01)) that set out the publicity strategy to promote the first Legislative Council (LegCo) elections of the HKSAR to be held on 24 May 1998, and the Election Committee (EC) subsector elections to be held on 2 April 1998.

Publicity on EC Subsector Elections

autonumout--SCA advised members that the general publicity on the EC subsector elections was to explain to the public how the EC was to be formed. The Administration would adopt a targeted approach by conducting a series of briefings for representative organizations in different subsectors on the detailed arrangements of the EC subsector elections. A publicity programme would also be launched through advertisements on appropriate trade publications, newspapers and magazines.

Publicity on LegCo Elections

autonumout--With the aid of some sample posters, SCA explained that the objectives of the general publicity were to educate the public on the following -

  1. the list voting system;

  2. polling procedures;

  3. vote counting method for the list voting system; and

  4. composition of the first HKSAR LegCo whose Members were to be returned by GC, FC and EC elections.

autonumout--Some members made comments on the design of the publicity materials (including publicity slogans) prepared for the LegCo elections. The Chairman suggested that the design of polling cards should be more user-friendly and contain publicity messages. SCA said that the Administration would consider members* views in finalizing the design.

autonumout--In response to a member, SCA said that a computer presentation on the whole electoral process was being prepared for use during the series of briefings for EC subsector and FC elections. The publicity material would be put on the Internet for public access. Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (DS(CA)) added that the Radio Television Hong Kong would produce a special video documentary to explain to the public the list voting system and the electoral arrangements for the 1998 LegCo election.

autonumout--In response to Mr TSANG Yok-sing on some negative local and overseas commentaries about the forthcoming LegCo elections, SCA said that he had explained the electoral arrangements for the 1998 LegCo election to many overseas visitors and Consul-Generals in Hong Kong. Information on the electoral arrangements had also been provided to them for dissemination in their own countries. SCA stressed that Hong Kong would adopt a gradual pace of democratic development in accordance with the Basic Law. Publicity activities would emphasize that the LegCo elections were fair, open and honest.

Publicity on Functional Constituency (FC) Elections

autonumout--In view of the unsatisfactory voter registration rate of FCs, Mr TSANG Yok-sing expressed concern about the adequacy of publicity for FC elections. SCA responded that during the briefings for EC subsectors, information on FC elections would also be provided. After the EC subsector elections on 2 April, enhanced publicity would concentrate on the May election.

autonumout--In response to Mr Kennedy WONG's enquiry about the publicity arrangements for FC elections, DS(CA) explained that for professional constituencies, briefings would be given at meetings of the relevant professional bodies. For FCs which did not have any major umbrella organizations, registered voters would be invited to attend seminars organized jointly by Constitutional Affair Bureau and Registration and Electoral Offices on detailed arrangements for the EC subsector elections as well as the general election in May. It was the Administration's intention to approach all professional bodies and umbrella organizations before the EC subsector elections.

Publicity Strategy

autonumout--Mr TSANG Yok-sing asked whether the Administration had conducted any research on reasons for non-voting behaviour. Referring to the publicity on electoral and polling arrangements explained by SCA earlier on, he remarked that complicated polling procedures might not be a primary reason for an elector not to vote. If the Administration knew why a person had chosen not to vote, the information would be useful in devising effective publicity strategy.

autonumout--In response, SCA said that irrespective of whether non-voting behaviour was attributable to complicated polling procedures, the Administration considered it appropriate and necessary to explain the polling arrangements to the public who were not familiar with the newly adopted voting system.

autonumout--Mr CHENG Kai-nam said that the Civic Education Committee had previously conducted an analysis on non-voting behaviour in Hong Kong. He asked whether the Administration had taken into account the analysis in designing the publicity strategy for the 1998 LegCo elections. SCA said that the Administration had taken into account the analysis in formulating the publicity strategy. He echoed Mr CHENG's view that dissemination of the right messages was important in motivating registered voters to vote. He said that publicity on LegCo elections would aim at getting across the following messages to the public -

  1. voting in LegCo elections was an important step in implementing the principle of "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong";

  2. since the executive authority was accountable to the legislature, the public should vote to elect LegCo Members who could represent their views;

  3. the 1998 LegCo election was the first LegCo election after the establishment of the HKSAR; and

  4. the elections would be fair, open and honest.

Mr CHENG said that it was important for these messages to be packaged in a way which would be readily acceptable to the general public.

Voter Registration Campaign

autonumout--Mr TSANG Yok-sing was of the view that the voter registration campaign launched in December 1997 was not cost effective because the Administration had not adopted a targeted approach. Mr TSANG suggested that a research be conducted on why people refused to register as voters for future reference. He remarked that the findings would be helpful in planning for the next voter registration exercise.

autonumout--In response, SCA said that the voter registration campaign had provided an opportunity for all eligible voters to get registered and at the same time enabled updating of information on the existing electoral roll. The campaign had also provided an excellent lesson on civic education. During the door-to-door household visits, persons who were eligible to be registered as voters would be provided with an opportunity to get registered. SCA added that there were various commonly known reasons for eligible persons not to register as voters. The primary aim of the voter registration campaign, which had been achieved, was to provide the opportunity and convenience for all eligible persons to register as voters at their doorstep.

III.Items for discussion at the next meeting

Review of District Administration

autonumout--Members noted that the Administration had agreed to discuss the review of the district administration at the next meeting scheduled for Friday, 13 March 1998. Members also noted that the proposal to abolish the Urban Council and the Regional Council was raised at the Provisional Legislative Council meeting with Eastern Provisional District Board (EPDB) held on 20 November 1997 and the Convenor of the meeting suggested that the EPDB's view be forwarded to the Panel for consideration. The relevant minutes of the meeting were tabled at the meeting. Members agreed that the matter could be dealt with under the same agenda item.

autonumout--The Chairman suggested the Administration prepare a paper on the outcome of the informal consultation on review of the district administration and the likely options to be presented in the public consultation document to be issued in April/May. In this regard, SCA said that the meeting might need to be deferred if the Administration could not complete the paper in time.

Draft Report of the Panel to the Council

autonumout--Members noted that Rule 77(14) of the Rules of Procedure of the Provisional Legislative Council required a Panel to make at least one report to the Council during the session. The reports of the 18 Panels would be tabled at the Council's last two meetings to be held on 1 or 8 April 1998. Chairmen of the Panels might address the Council on the reports. It was proposed that the report of the Panel would be tabled at the meeting on 1 April 1998. Members agreed that the Panel's draft report on its work would be prepared for consideration at the next meeting, and that the final draft report would be issued to members for endorsement by circulation.

Need for a Public Service Legislation

autonumout--The Chairman informed the meeting that he had raised the need for a public service legislation in place of the now lapsed Letters Patent and Colonial Regulations at the meeting of the Panel on Public Service on 22 December 1997. The Chairman of the Panel had suggested that the issues raised be further examined jointly by the Panel on Constitutional Affairs and the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services, if necessary. The relevant minutes of the meeting were tabled at the meeting for members and the Administration to consider the way forward. The Chairman said that it was his initial view that the issues should more appropriately be dealt with by the Panel on Public Service. In this regard, SCA undertook to revert to members on the appropriate forum for discussing the issues.

autonumout--There being no other business, the meeting ended at 9:45 am.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
27 February 1998