Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(2)531
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)

Ref : CB2/PL/HA

Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Home Affairs

Minutes of Meeting held on Tuesday, 14 October 1997 at 2:15 pm in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP (Chairman)
Hon LO Suk-ching (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

Members Attending :

Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon IP Kwok-him

Members Absent :

Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon LAU Wong-fat, JP

Public Officers Attending :

Item I

Mr David H T LAN
Secretary for Home Affairs

Mrs Shelley LAU
Director of Home Affairs

Mrs Stella HUNG
Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (1)

Mr LEE Lap-sun
Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (2)

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Mrs Justina LAM
Assistant Secretary General 2

Mr Raymond LAM
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 6

I.Briefing by the Administration on the Chief Executive's Policy Address
(PLC Paper No. CB(2)412)

At the invitation of the Chairman, the Secretary for Home Affairs (SHA) highlighted Home Affairs Bureau's (HAB's) major programme areas under the 1997 Policy Address.

Promoting understanding of the Basic Law

2.SHA informed members that HAB would, in association with the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education (CPCE), promote public awareness and understanding of the Basic Law by -

  1. launching a territory-wide roving exhibition;

  2. making use of the advertisement boards inside Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations and electronic display boards at the entrances of MTR stations and the Cross Harbour Tunnel;

  3. producing an announcement of public interests on Article 3 of the Basic Law;

  4. launching a 13-episode magazine-style programme on the Basic Law to be produced by Hong Kong Television Broadcast Limited in February/March 1998;

  5. producing 10 000 pieces of 15-minute CD-ROMs on the major provisions of the Basic Law for distribution to primary and secondary schools by the end of 1997;

  6. organizing a " Civic Education Day " in November 1998; and

  7. publishing 25 000 additional copies of the Basic Law.

He informed members that $8 million would be allocated in 1997-99 for promotion of the Basic Law. Funding had also been provided through the Community Participation Scheme of CPCE to 20 organizations for this purpose.

3.Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (1) informed members that the steering committee to be established by the Administration to promote the Basic Law would be chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration. While CPCE had been responsible for promoting general awareness of the Basic Law, this steering committee would take on the following specific functions -

  1. to formulate policies on the promotion of the Basic Law; and

  2. to co-ordinate the efforts of various government departments and other organizations in promoting the Basic Law in schools, the business sector and the civil service.

Strengthening civic education programmes to instil a stronger sense of belonging to Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of China

4.SHA informed members that CPCE had adopted " Hong Kong is My Home " as the theme for activities and programmes designed to foster a stronger sense of belonging to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Publicity would be launched through the media, and education booklets would be produced. He added that singer Mr CHAN Hiu-tung would be appointed as Civic Education Ambassador.

Building management

5.SHA and Director of Home Affairs (DHA) informed members that HAB was committed to assisting building owners to form owners' corporations (OCs), and to improve the management, safety and maintenance of their buildings. Moreover, district-level Building Management Co-ordination Committees and Building Management Co-ordination Teams had been formed in some districts to address building management and maintenance problems. The Administration had produced video tapes on effective building management and would also organize tea gatherings with OCs and Mutual Aid Committees on a regular basis to better understand their problems. A Building Management Resource Centre (BMRC) would be established on a pilot basis in 1998. In this connection, participation of The Law Society of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Society of Accountants, Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies, and the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors had been enlisted to provide information and professional advice to building owners, residents and management bodies. The Centre would also render advice on the formation and operation of OCs.

6.Responding to a member's question on whether the Administration had any plans to establish more BMRCs, DHA replied that in addition to the establishment of the first BMRC on a pilot basis in Kowloon in April 1998, the Administration intended to establish two more BMRCs, one on Hong Kong Island and the other in the New Territories, subject to availability of resources.

7.As regards whether the Administration had set any target for the number of new OCs to be formed each year, DHA responded that it was difficult to set targets, as it would not be possible to forecast with accuracy the number of new buildings in each district over a specified period of time. She assured members that the Administration was committed to assisting owners to form OCs and the situation would be monitored closely.

8.Members noted that the proposed Urban Rehabilitation Fund, which would provide low interest loans to building owners to undertake building inspection and repair works under the Mandatory Building Safety Inspection Scheme, was under the policy purview of the Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau.

Integration of new arrivals from the Mainland into the community

9.SHA stated that the Administration's objective was to assist new arrivals from the Mainland to integrate into the local community as quickly and smoothly as possible. A Steering Committee, chaired by the Director of Home Affairs and comprising representatives from policy bureaux and departments concerned, was set up in December 1995 to identify the needs of the new arrivals and how best to assist them. In this connection, the Administration had forged a close partnership with non-government organizations concerned in providing assistance to new arrivals. An encouraging example was the Hong Kong Jockey Club's recent decision to contribute $ 12.94 million towards the project " Integrated Service Project for New Arrivals' to be undertaken by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups.

Other issues

Dismantling of flags on 10 October 1997

10.Referring to the Administration's recent decision to dismantle Taiwanese flags mounted along footbridges and roadsides on 10 October 1997, a member made reference to Article 27 of the Basic Law and enquired about the criteria adopted by the Administration in arriving at such a decision. He further enquired how such criteria would be applied to the publication or mounting of flags of other countries. SHA stated that the dismantling of flags was made in accordance with the " one country " principle and the Crown Land Ordinance which empowered the Administration to remove any unauthorized structure on Government land. As the issue was outside the policy purview of the Home Affairs Bureau, SHA undertook to provide a written response after the meeting.Adm

11.The Chairman pointed out that the Wan Chai Provisional District Board and the Lands Department had a standing agreement whereby prior approval had to be sought from the District Lands Office (DLO) for display of any material in the public places of Wan Chai District. All materials displayed in the district without prior approval by DLO would be dismantled.

Minor public works under the Rural Planning and Improvement Strategy

12.A member enquired about the progress of minor public works under the Rural Planning and Improvement strategy (RPIS) to provide fresh water supply and access roads to a number of remote villages in Sai Kung and Tai Po. He pointed out that the accessibility of some villages, such as Lai Chi Chong, had become a problem with the abolition of ferry service. He expressed concern as to whether the Administration had any plans to construct access roads for these villages. DHA explained that while HAB and HAD were responsible for minor public works costing below $15 million under RPIS, improvement projects costing more than $15 million were under the purview of the Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau. She undertook to reflect the member's comments to the District Officers concerned.Adm.

Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance

13.Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (2) informed members that the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance was enacted in 1991 to provide for the regulation, control and safety of hotels and guesthouses. By 1 July 1998, all hotel and guesthouse establishments would have to comply fully with the requisite fire and building safety standards before an operating licence would be issued. He assured members that the licensing system would be regularly reviewed by the Administration. A member commented that the fire and building safety of these establishments should be inspected by the government departments concerned.

Singleton hostels

14.DHA assured members that adequate accommodation would be provided to lodgers forced out of bedspace apartments upon full implementation of the Bedspace Apartments Ordinance in mid-1998. She added that the Administration was looking into the viability of constructing singleton hostels in Tai Kok Tsui, Kwun Tong, Chai Wan, and in the reconstruction of community centres.

Press freedom after 1 July 1997

15.As regards a member's question of whether there was any self-censorship of the press after 1 July 1997, SHA responded that press freedom was guaranteed in the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration. He believed that press freedom had remained unchanged after 1 July 1997.

II.Any other business

16.Members noted that the next Panel meeting would be held on 20 October 1997 at 10:45 am.

17.The meeting ended at 3:20 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
6 November 1997