Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(2) 976
(The minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref. : CB2/PL/SE/1

Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Security

Minutes of Meeting held on Thursday, 18 December 1997 at 2:30 pm in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP (Chairman)
Hon CHENG Kai-nam (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Allen LEE, JP
Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
Hon Henry WU
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Ambrose LAU
Hon-chuen, JP
Hon KAN Fook-yee
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok

Members attending :

Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon CHOY So-yuk ( For Agenda Item III only)

Member absent :

Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP ] other commitments

Public Officers attending :

Item III

Mr Raymond WONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 1

Mr Philip CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management)

Mr Stanley WONG
Director of Finance, Administration and Planning
Hong Kong Police Force

Item IV

Mr Raymond WONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 1

Mr Philip CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E

Director of Personnel and Training
Hong Kong Police Force

Mr NG Wai-kit
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Personnel)

Mr LEE Siu-kin
Chief Superintendent of Police, Staff Relations and Conditions of Service

Item V

Mr Alex FONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 2

Ms CHANG King-yiu
Deputy Secretary for Security (Special Duties)

Mrs Sarah KWOK
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security B

Mr John NG
Government Security Officer

Mr LAU Shu-lam
Deputy Chief Fire Officer
Fire Services Department

Mr Alan LAM
General Manager, Airfield Operation
Airport Authority

Ms Jennifer CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare (Medical) 3

Clerk in attendance :

Mrs Sharon TONG
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 1

Staff in attendance :

Miss Salumi CHAN
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 1

Miss Betty MA
Senior Assistant Secretary (3) 2

I.Confirmation of minutes of the special Panel meeting held on 17 November 1997
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 742)

The minutes were confirmed.

II. Date of next meeting and items for discussion
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 741(01))

2.Members agreed to discuss the following items at the next Panel meeting to be held on 22 January 1998 :

  1. Report of the Subcommittee on Overcrowdedness in Penal Institutions ;

  2. Problem of illegal workers in Hong Kong
    -Members of the Panel on Manpower would be invited to join discussion of this item ; and

  3. Two/three items proposed by the Administration.

3.Regarding the Administration's proposal for procuring helicopters to replace the existing helicopter fleet of Government Flying Service (GFS), members agreed to visit GFS in early 1998 before discussion of the subject by the Panel. The Clerk would issue a circular with some proposed dates for members indication of their availability to join the visit.

4.Regarding item A4 of the Panel's list of outstanding issues, members agreed that the visit to the Frontier Area should also include cross-boundary checkpoints. The Clerk would liaise with the Administration accordingly.

5.Regarding item A7 of the Panel's list of outstanding issues on handling cases of minor offences by the Police, Mr KAN Fook-yee proposed to set up a subcommittee on the subject. Members agreed to discuss the subject at the Panel meeting to be held in February 1998 before considering whether a subcommittee should be formed.

III. Police Top Command Structure

(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 741(02))
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 769)

Briefing by the Administration

6.Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management) briefed members on the Administration's proposal to update the existing disciplined directorate structure of the Police Force. He took members through the set of organization charts tabled by the Administration at the meeting. In brief, the Administration proposed the creation of 11 new posts comprising two Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and nine Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) posts, to be offset by the deletion of 15 existing posts, comprising one Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), one Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SACP), three ACP and ten CSP posts in order to effect organizational changes in the Police directorate necessary to maintaining the efficiency and effectiveness of the Police Force. Of the 11 new posts, nine had already been filled by supernumerary creation of posts and the remaining two which were yet to be created were the posts for CSP Support and CSP In-Service Training respectively.

(Post-meeting note : The set of organization charts was issued to the absent member after the meeting via PLC Paper No. CB(2) 769.)

7.Deputy Secretary for Security 1 added that the Administration planned to submit the proposal to the Establishment Subcommittee in January 1998.


Background of the proposed organizational changes

8.In response to Mr Henry WU's enquiry, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management) advised that between 1992 and 1994, the Administration had carried out a major review of the establishment, management and command structure of the Police Force, with the assistance of the management consultants - Coopers and Lybrand. The Administration finally accepted most of the recommendations of the Coopers and Lybrand's Final Report on the "Review of the top command structure of the Royal Hong Kong Police" The Administration's current proposal arose mainly from that review.

9.Responding to Mr LAU Kong-wah, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management) advised that following the major review, the Police Force had implemented a series of service quality improvement measures and was able to achieve its performance pledges. The Force Vision and Statement of Common Purpose and Values were launched in 1996 as a direction for the Force. The Force had also conducted a series of surveys, such as the Public Opinion Survey, Customer Satisfaction Survey and Internal Staff Opinion Survey, to measure the satisfaction of members of public who had called upon the Police for service or help and to ascertain the concerns of staff. The results of these surveys indicated that the service provided by the Police Force was considered as satisfactory.

Proposed establishment of the Police disciplined directorate

10.In response to Mr IP Kwok-him's enquiry, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management) advised that with the proposed organizational changes, the establishment of the Police disciplined directorate would comprise a total of 72 posts with a breakdown as follows :

Rank No. of posts
CP 1
ACP 14
CSP 51

Crime Wing : Deletion of the CSP post of Bangkok Counsellor

11.Responding to Mr Howard YOUNG, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management) advised that the CSP post of Bangkok Counsellor had been frozen and left vacant since 1989. This arrangement had not caused any problem so far. Without this post, the Police Force still had sufficient channels to maintain close contact with its counterparts in Thailand and other relevant countries for suppressing drug trafficking activities.

Crime Wing : Commercial Crime Bureau

12.Responding to Mr Howard YOUNG, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management) advised that though the Coopers and Lybrand's Final Report had not recommended creation of additional directorate posts in the Commercial Crime Bureau (CCB), the review of the structure of CCB had been covered by a separate Police Study Team and had since been strengthened.

Special Branch : Intelligence Wing and Security Wing

13.In response to members queries, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management) advised that the Security Wing (SW) was established in 1992 under the Special Branch. Following the disbandment of the Special Branch in 1995, the work of SW came under the command of the Director of Crime and Security. At that time, the Police Study Team had looked into the establishment and functions of SW and was satisfied that it could cope with the security requirements of Hong Kong. The work of SW remained more or less the same after the reorganization in 1995, which mainly involved security-related matters such as protection of internationally protected persons and counter terrorism. At present, SW had a total of 429 staff members, including 86 civilians.

14.Members noted that following the disbandment of the Special Branch, the Intelligence Wing (IW) no longer existed. They expressed concern about the effect of dissolving IW on the security of Hong Kong. Mr Ambrose LAU pointed out that as Hong Kong was an international financial centre, there might be various intelligence activities going on here every day which might jeopardize the safety of the local people. The collection and collation of intelligence by the Administration were therefore very important. He asked whether the work of the former IW had been taken up by any department/unit and if so, whether the department/unit had sufficient resources to perform its duties effectively. Deputy Secretary for Security 1 assured members that the existing structure of the Police Force had been operating smoothly and the Administration was satisfied that it could cope with the security requirements of Hong Kong.

15.Responding to members, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management) said that the Police Force did not have information about the work of the former IW. The Administration would arrange an in-camera briefing on the work of SW. However, in accordance with Police Internal Orders, information would only be disclosed on a need-to-know basis.

(Post-meeting note : The special briefing was held at the Police Headquarters on Monday, 5 January 1998 at 2:30 pm.)

IV. Indebtedness of police officers
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 741(03))

Briefing by the Administration

16.Director of Personnel and Training, HKPF briefed members on the Administration's information paper. He emphasized that the Force management, in particular the Commissioner of Police, took a very serious view of the subject and had developed a comprehensive strategy for preventing, identifying and dealing with the indebtedness of Police officers. In fact, a great majority of the 33 000 officers of the Force, including civilian staff, were prudent in their financial affairs. The latest survey for the first half of 1997 indicated that only 75 Police officers, who were all junior officers, had unmanageable debts. The continued decrease in this figure revealed that the problem was not serious. However, the Force management would continue to devote substantial effort and resources to monitor the situation.


Focus of the six-monthly survey

17.In response to members enquiries, Director of Personnel and Training, HKPF advised that the six-monthly survey on indebtedness was conducted throughout the Force. Normally, the Force management wrote to the formations in each region, requiring the district Staff Relation Officers to provide information on whether any officers had reported indebtedness and whether there were indications that any officers were in debt. A list of indicators of indebtedness was provided to facilitate their assessment. Based on their return, the Force management would conduct follow-up investigation and then draw up a list of officers who had unmanageable debts. At the Chairman's request, Director of Personnel and Training, HKPF agreed to provide the list of indicators for members reference.

18.Responding to members follow-up questions, Director of Personnel and Training, HKPF pointed out that it was not uncommon for Hong Kong people to be in debt, such as on mortgage loans. Hence, the focus of the six-monthly survey was on Police officers who had unmanageable debts, but not on all officers who were in debt. Basically, an officer was regarded as having unmanageable debts if he had difficulties in repaying his debts with his salaries and other sources of income.

Frequency of the six-monthly survey

19.Mr CHAN Choi-hi suggested the Force management to conduct the survey more frequently. Director of Personnel and Training, HKPF pointed out that the Public Accounts Committee had directed that the Force should report to the Security Panel on this subject once every six months. In any case, the Force management had issued administrative guidelines outlining steps to be taken at different levels of management within the Force to monitor and tackle the problem of indebtedness. Any special cases would be attended to promptly. On a follow-up question from Mr CHAN Choi-hi, Director of Personnel and Training, HKPF advised that apart from the administrative guidelines, the Force management had other measures to identify and monitor indebted officers, such as interviewing those officers who were the subjects of enquiries from financial institutions or had their names listed on the notices of tax recovery.

Follow-up action to the six-monthly survey

20.Responding to Mr LAU Kong-wah, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Personnel), HKPF advised that if the officers were indebted due to unforeseen circumstances or special needs, the Force management would offer assistance and counselling to them. However, should the debts be incurred through illegal gambling or other illegitimate means, the Force management would take appropriate action, such as disciplinary and/or criminal proceedings. In the past three years, disciplinary action had been taken against a total of 45 officers with a breakdown as follows :

Causes for disciplinary action No. of officers
Incurred unmanageable debts through illegal gambling

Incurred unmanageable debts through illegitimate means

Overspending leading to other offences


Cause of unmanageable debts : Gambling

21.Mrs Elsie TU expressed concern about Police officers having unmanageable debts through legal or illegal gambling. She considered that Police officers should be duly informed upon recruitment, for example, by stating in the conditions of service, that they would be dismissed if they ran into debts through gambling. Director of Personnel and Training, HKPF appreciated her concern. He advised that the Force management also viewed gambling as a serious matter and had little sympathy to those officers who incurred debts through gambling. In this connection, the subject of indebtedness awareness was included in the basic training course in the Police Training School for the new recruits. This subject was also covered by the Police Internal Orders.

Cause of unmanageable debts : Speculation in stocks and shares

22.Mr Henry WU noted that overspending and gambling accounted for more than 60% of the Police officers with unmanageable debts. He asked whether the remaining 40% included speculation in stocks and shares. He pointed out that those Police officers who had suffered substantial loss from the recent financial crisis might run into serious debts. This might lead to the increase in the number of Police officers who had unmanageable debts in the next six-monthly survey. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Personnel), HKPF noted his view and assured that the Force management would closely monitor the situation in the coming year with particular attention to this aspect.

Performance of Police officers having unmanageable debts

23.Dr LAW Cheung-kwok was concerned whether Police officers having unmanageable debts would be poor performers or even, abuse their power. Director of Personnel and Training, HKPF assured members that the officers concerned were closely monitored and interviewed by their district commanders. Each case would be dealt with according to individual merits.

Effectiveness of the Force's strategy

24.Some members queried the Administration's claim that there had been significant improvement in the general situation of Police indebtedness during the past four years and that the decrease in the number of officers who had unmanageable debts demonstrated the effectiveness of the strategy adopted by the Police Force (paragraph 9 of the Administration's information paper). Mr KAN Fook- yee wondered whether the decrease was due to the fact that the relevant officers had been dismissed. Director of Personnel and Training, HKPF clarified that only a small number of officers had been dismissed, but those were extreme cases. In fact, the situation had been improved because of the substantial efforts and resources devoted by the Force management. For example, publicity pamphlets and posters were issued within the Force to promote staff awareness of the problem of indebtedness. Some of the pamphlets and posters were circulated at the meeting for members reference.

(Post-meeting note : Copies of the pamphlets were issued to the absent member after the meeting via PLC Paper No. CB(2) 769.)

25.Mr CHENG Kai-nam opined that the Force's strategy to tackle the problem could only be regarded as effective if it had changed the behaviour of the Police officers concerned, such as overspending and gambling. Mr KAN Fook-yee also pointed out that the preventive measures taken by the Force management might be useful in providing the relevant education and training to all Police officers but would not serve any purpose for those who had already run into serious debts. He also doubted the effectiveness of the supportive measures taken by the Force management as the provision of group support and individual counselling to the officers concerned could not relieve them from their debts. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Personnel), HKPF responded that having unmanageable debts could be a cause of gambling and other crimes, such as corruption. By offering education and counselling, the Force management hoped that Police officers would be aware of the techniques in prudent personal financial management and the undesirable consequences of indebtedness. The effectiveness of these measures should be assessed from a long term perspective. Director of Personnel and Training, HKPF added that the Force management was doing its best to deal with the problem and the indications thus far suggested that it was making good progress. The Administration would report to the Panel on the subject on a six-monthly basis.

V.Hong Kong new airport at Chek Lap Kok -security management, non-emergency ambulance service in the Restricted Area and emergency drill
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 741(04))

Aviation security services at the new airport

Airport Authority's subsidiary company

.Members noted that the Airport Authority (AA) had decided to set up a subsidiary company to provide comprehensive aviation security services at the new airport. They queried whether the subsidiary company would have the expertise to do so, in particular, to take up part of the work being performed by the disciplinary forces at Kai Tak Airport. Deputy Secretary for Security (Special Duties) advised that AA was required under the Hong Kong Aviation Security Programme (HKASP) to provide comprehensive aviation security services at the new airport to protect aircraft and passengers from unlawful interference. It was up to AA to decide how to discharge its obligations under HKASP. As pointed out by the Secretary for Security in response to Mr LO Suk-ching's question at the Council meeting held on 10 December 1997, AA had considered different possible arrangements but decided to deliver the required services directly through a subsidiary company. Such an arrangement would enable it to have direct and effective control over the quality and standard of aviation security services. There should also be cost benefits to AA as its subsidiary company did not operate for profits.

26.Deputy Secretary for Security (Special Duties) also explained that the following three major areas of security services were being provided at Kai Tak Airport :

Areas of services Responsible bodies
(a) Access control to airport restricted areas

Disciplined forces
(b) Law enforcement duties such as anti-terrorism and immigration controls Disciplined forces
(c) Examination of passengers and luggage Airline companies

27.Deputy Secretary for Security (Special Duties) advised that for the new airport, AA's subsidiary company would only provide aviation security services listed at paragraph 27(a) and (c) above. The area of services at paragraph 27(b) involved statutory duties and would continue to be performed by the disciplined forces. Responding to members follow-up questions, Deputy Secretary for Security (Special Duties) agreed to provide an information paper on the various areas of aviation security services provided at Kai Tak Airport and the new airport respectively and the bodies responsible for providing the relevant services. The Chairman suggested that the paper should also cover the aspect of cost-effectiveness.

(Post-meeting note : The information paper subsequently povided by the Secretary for Security was issued to members via PLC Paper No. CB(2) 874 on 14 January 1998.)

Staffing arrangements for AA's subsidiary company

28.Some members queried the need for the Government to second a Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police to AA's subsidiary company, having regard to the fact that there had been no such arrangement for Kai Tak Airport. Deputy Secretary for Security (Special Duties) advised that as the new airport was much bigger than the existing one in terms of size and scale of operation, AA had made an agreement with the Government on the secondment of senior public officers who had experience in airport security and management to facilitate the subsidiary company's provision of services in compliance with the requirements under HKASP.

29.In response to Mr LAU Kong-wah's enquiry, Deputy Secretary for Security (Special Duties) advised that recruitment of staff for AA's subsidiary company was in progress. It aimed to recruit about 2,000 security personnel and was looking for suitable candidates in the security services industry, with priority given to the experienced security staff working at Kai Tak Airport. Under HKASP, the Aviation Security Authority had to stipulate the entry and training requirements of all aviation security staff in the new airport. AA's subsidiary company had to ensure that the selected candidates met the stipulated requirements.

Counter terrorism at the new airport

30.Responding to Mr CHENG Kai-nam, Deputy Secretary for Security (Special Duties) advised that in the aspect of counter terrorism, the Airport Security Committee chaired by the Airport Manager would provide a regular forum for coordinating the efforts of the relevant parties including the Police Force and airport operators. The same arrangement would apply for the new airport, and AA would chair the Committee as the new Airport Manager.

Concern of the airline industry

31.Mr Howard YOUNG said that the airline industry was concerned whether the services provided by AA's subsidiary company would be value for money. Deputy Secretary for Security (Special Duties) pointed out that as stated in the memorandum of the company, it should not operate for profits and dividends should not be distributed to share holders. It should aim at recovering full cost of services. At present, discussions were underway between AA, airline companies and airport tenants on the security services required and the relevant charges. Mr Howard YOUNG considered that being non-profit making might not result in cheap service charges. It was most important to have effective cost control.

32.On a further question from Mr Howard YOUNG, Deputy Secretary for Security (Special Duties) advised that AA and the security contractors of the two airports were aware of the need to make all the transfer arrangements overnight. They had discussed how to maintain the service of Kai Tak Airport until the last day, whilst providing suitable training to the staff of the new airport before its opening. They had reached a consensus that the staff of Kai Tak Airport would be employed until the last day and that in the interim, arrangements would be made for those staff members who had been recruited by AA's subsidiary company to receive no more than 10 days training at the new airport.

Emergency Response Management

Emergency plans

33.Members noted that the departments/agencies listed at Annex A of the Administration's information paper had drawn up their own emergency plans to deal with emergency incidents at the new airport. In response to Mr Bruce LIU's enquiry, Deputy Secretary for Security 2 advised that the Fire Services Department (FSD) would act as the co-ordinator and its Fire Services Communication Centre (FSCC) would maintain close contact with the emergency units of the departments and agencies involved. Moreover, an incident commander would be stationed at the scene as the officer-in-charge. In the event of a major incident which was of considerable scale, Security Bureau would activate the Emergency Support Unit and if necessary, the Emergency Monitoring and Support Centre, to monitor the development of the incident and the progress of Government's respond actions to provide support as necessary.

Deployment of emergency ambulances

34.Members noted that in the event of a major incident, such as an air crash, 10 ambulances from Chek Lap Kok and Tung Chung Stations could be despatched immediately. The Chairman considered that as it would take time for the deployment of ambulances, arrangements should be made for some ambulances to be stationed at the new airport. In response, Deputy Chief Fire Officer explained the sequence of fire fighting and victim rescue. In the event of an air crash, the fire appliances stationed at the new airport would be despatched to the scene within two minutes. It would take the firemen about 10 minutes to put off the fire. After that, they would start rescuing the victims. FSD could make use of the 12-minute time period to deploy emergency ambulances to the scene. In fact, ambulances from Chep Lap Kok Fire Station could arrive at the new airport within two minutes.

35.The Chairman was dissatisfied with the Administration's assumption that they would first put off the fire and then rescue the victims. She pointed out that in the event of a major incident, a single second would be critical to both fire fighting and victim rescue. As these two areas of work were equally important, she queried why only fire appliances would be stationed at the new airport, but not emergency ambulances. If all of the 10 ambulances had been deployed to other areas in the territory, they could not arrive in time for the operation. Her concern was shared by members. Deputy Secretary for Security 2 advised that four of the 10 ambulances would be stationed near the new airport. Whilst all emergency ambulances were subject to deployment to various places in Hong Kong, he envisaged that FSD would be able to deploy 10 ambulances to the new airport within 10 minutes through FSCC. At the Chairman's request, Deputy Secretary for Security 2 agreed to further discuss with FSD for a better arrangement.

Seeking assistance from the Garrison

36.Mr CHAN Choi-hi noted that for critical and life-threatening cases, victims would be sent by GFS's helicopters to hospitals. In view of the limited number of helicopters owned by GFS, Mr CHAN asked whether the Administration would seek assistance from the Garrison where necessary. Deputy Secretary for Security 2 advised that it was expected that GFS, with its fleet of nine helicopters, could cope with the situation. For the time being, the Administration had no plan to seek assistance from the Garrison.

VI. Progress on the policy review on issues of Vietnamese migrants, Vietnamese refugees and Vietnamese illegal immigrants
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 741(05))

37.Owing to time constraint, the item was deferred to the next Panel meeting to be held on 22 January 1998.

VII.Close of meeting

38.The meeting ended at 5:20 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
16 January 1998