Council Meeting (Hansard) 21 April 1999


OFFICIAL RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
Wednesday, 21 April 1999
The Council met at half-past Two o'clock

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:

THE PRESIDENT
THE HONOURABLE MRS RITA FAN, G.B.S., J.P.

THE HONOURABLE KENNETH TING WOO-SHOU, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE JAMES TIEN PEI-CHUN, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE DAVID CHU YU-LIN

THE HONOURABLE HO SAI-CHU, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE CYD HO SAU-LAN

THE HONOURABLE EDWARD HO SING-TIN, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE ALBERT HO CHUN-YAN

THE HONOURABLE MICHAEL HO MUN-KA

DR THE HONOURABLE RAYMOND HO CHUNG-TAI, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE LEE WING-TAT

THE HONOURABLE LEE CHEUK-YAN

THE HONOURABLE MARTIN LEE CHU-MING, S.C., J.P.

THE HONOURABLE ERIC LI KA-CHEUNG, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE LEE KAI-MING, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE FRED LI WAH-MING

DR THE HONOURABLE LUI MING-WAH, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE NG LEUNG-SING

PROF THE HONOURABLE NG CHING-FAI

THE HONOURABLE MARGARET NG

THE HONOURABLE MRS SELINA CHOW LIANG SHUK-YEE, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE RONALD ARCULLI, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE MA FUNG-KWOK

THE HONOURABLE JAMES TO KUN-SUN

THE HONOURABLE CHEUNG MAN-KWONG

THE HONOURABLE AMBROSE CHEUNG WING-SUM, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE HUI CHEUNG-CHING

THE HONOURABLE CHRISTINE LOH

THE HONOURABLE CHAN KWOK-KEUNG

THE HONOURABLE CHAN YUEN-HAN

THE HONOURABLE BERNARD CHAN

THE HONOURABLE CHAN WING-CHAN

THE HONOURABLE CHAN KAM-LAM

DR THE HONOURABLE LEONG CHE-HUNG, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE MRS SOPHIE LEUNG LAU YAU-FUN, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE LEUNG YIU-CHUNG

THE HONOURABLE GARY CHENG KAI-NAM

THE HONOURABLE SIN CHUNG-KAI

THE HONOURABLE ANDREW WONG WANG-FAT, J.P.

DR THE HONOURABLE PHILIP WONG YU-HONG

THE HONOURABLE WONG YUNG-KAN

THE HONOURABLE JASPER TSANG YOK-SING, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE HOWARD YOUNG, J.P.

DR THE HONOURABLE YEUNG SUM

THE HONOURABLE YEUNG YIU-CHUNG

THE HONOURABLE LAU KONG-WAH

THE HONOURABLE LAU WONG-FAT, G.B.S., J.P.

THE HONOURABLE MRS MIRIAM LAU KIN-YEE, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE AMBROSE LAU HON-CHUEN, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE EMILY LAU WAI-HING, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE CHOY SO-YUK

THE HONOURABLE ANDREW CHENG KAR-FOO

THE HONOURABLE SZETO WAH

THE HONOURABLE TIMOTHY FOK TSUN-TING, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE LAW CHI-KWONG, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE TAM YIU-CHUNG, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE FUNG CHI-KIN

DR THE HONOURABLE TANG SIU-TONG, J.P.

MEMBERS ABSENT:

DR THE HONOURABLE DAVID LI KWOK-PO, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE LAU CHIN-SHEK, J.P.

PUBLIC OFFICERS ATTENDING:

THE HONOURABLE MRS ANSON CHAN, J.P.
THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR ADMINISTRATION

THE HONOURABLE DONALD TSANG YAM-KUEN, J.P.
THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY

THE HONOURABLE ELSIE LEUNG OI-SIE, J.P.
THE SECRETARY FOR JUSTICE

MR MICHAEL SUEN MING-YEUNG, J.P.
SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

MR GORDON SIU KWING-CHUE, J.P.
SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS

MR DOMINIC WONG SHING-WAH, J.P.
SECRETARY FOR HOUSING

MRS KATHERINE FOK LO SHIU-CHING, J.P.
SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE

MR JOSEPH WONG WING-PING, G.B.S., J.P.
SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER

MR KWONG KI-CHI, G.B.S., J.P.
SECRETARY FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND BROADCASTING

MISS DENISE YUE CHUNG-YEE, J.P.
SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY

MR DAVID LAN HONG-TSUNG, J.P.
SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS

MRS REGINA IP LAU SUK-YEE, J.P.
SECRETARY FOR SECURITY

CLERKS IN ATTENDANCE:

MR RICKY FUNG CHOI-CHEUNG, J.P., SECRETARY GENERAL

MR LAW KAM-SANG, J.P., DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL

MR RAY CHAN YUM-MOU, ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL

PAPERS

The following papers were laid on the table pursuant to Rule 21(2) of the Rules of Procedure:

Subsidiary Legislation L.N. No.
Administrative Instructions for Regulating Admittance and Conduct of Persons (Amendment) Instructions 1999 91/99
Tax Reserve Certificates (Rate of Interest) (No. 2) Notice 1999 92/99
Ma Shi Chau (Special Area) Order 1999 93/99
Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Public Pleasure Grounds) (Amendment of Fourth Schedule) (No. 4) Order 1999 94/99
Rectification of Errors Order 1999 95/99
Evidence (Amendment) Ordinance 1999 (2 of 1999) (Commencement) Notice 1999 96/99

Sessional Papers

No. 118 Report by the Commissioner of Correctional Services, Trustee of the Correctional Services Children's Education Trust for the period 1st September 1997 to 31st August 1998

No. 119 Report No. 32 of the Director of Audit on the results of value for money audits - March 1999

No. 120 Report of the Broadcasting Authority
September 1997 - August 1998

No. 121 MTR Corporation Annual Report 1998

No. 122 Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation
Annual Report 1998

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Questions. I would like to remind Members that question time normally does not exceed one and a half hours, with each question being allocated about 12 to 15 minutes. When asking supplementaries, Members should be as concise as possible. They should not ask more than one question, and should not make statements, for to do so would contravene the Rules of Procedure.

After I have called upon a Member to ask a main question, other Members who wish to ask supplementary questions to this question need, in addition to raising their hands, to indicate their wish by pressing the "Request-to-speak" buttons in front of their seats.

On the other hand, if a Member wishes to follow up and seek elucidation, or raise a point of order, please stand up to so indicate and wait for me to call before speaking.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now invite Mr CHAN Kam-lam to ask the first question.

Issuance of Certificate of Compliance

1. MR CHAN KAM-LAM (in Cantonese): Madam President, at the end of last year, the Court of Final Appeal ruled, in respect of a case of conveyancing dispute, that the purchaser had the right to rescind the agreement as the vendor had failed to produce the Certificate of Compliance (CC) issued by the relevant authorities upon the request of the purchaser. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the criteria for issuing a CC;

(b) the respective numbers of residential buildings and estates which are already completed and occupied but have not been issued with CCs by the relevant authorities; the names of these buildings and estates; and

(c) the actions to be taken by the relevant authorities against the buildings and estates which are completed and occupied but have not yet been able to meet the requirements for the issuance of the CC?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Cantonese): Madam President,

(a) A CC is issued if the Government is satisfied that all the positive obligations imposed in Conditions of Grant for a lot have been complied with by the developer concerned. The usual positive obligations include the following:

(i) completion of the development itself and an occupation permit has been issued for the development; and

(ii) completion of the works by the developer as required by Conditions of Grant, such as formation of pavements of landscaping or construction of facilities like clubhouses for the benefit of residents;

(b) the Conveyancing and Property Ordinance (Cap. 219) specifies that developments for which Conditions of Grant were issued before 1 January 1970 shall be deemed to have complied with the Conditions and no issuance of CC is required. For the period between 1 January 1970 and 31 March 1982 (before the setting up of the Lands Department on 1 April 1982), based on the records readily available to the Lands Department, five private residential developments have been completed and occupied but have not been issued CCs. Since 1 April 1982, the Lands Department's records show that 28 private residential developments have been completed and occupied but have not been issued CCs. To save time, the names of these private residential developments are listed at Annex; and

(c) the Lands Department monitors the compliance of outstanding obligations under Conditions of Grant which are yet to be fulfilled by the developers before they are in a position to apply for the issuance of CCs.

In some cases, developers are required to give an undertaking and a bank bond to ensure compliance with Conditions of Grant. The Lands Department will, in the event of a breach of the undertaking, take action against the developer under the undertaking. Where a bank bond has been given, the Lands Department will call upon the bank to honour the bond to meet the cost of fulfilling any outstanding obligation under the undertaking.

For cases without an undertaking or a bank bond, the Lands Department will look into each case with a view to deciding what can be done to facilitate the issuance of CCs. If it is an outstanding obligation which prevents the issuance of a CC, the Lands Department may decide to institute legal proceedings to demand the fulfilment of the outstanding obligation by the developer. Also, where the outstanding obligation relates to the provision of facilities such as pavements on government land outside the lot, the Lands Department may claim damages from the developer, such damages being the cost of completing the works (for example, the pavement) not completed by the developer.

The absence of CCs will not prevent the sale and purchase of residential units. This is because the Director of Lands can, upon application by a developer, give consent to assignment before the issue of a CC. Buyers and sellers of units then take a conveyance of title on the basis of an equitable interest. This said, I have asked for a review of the existing arrangements for the issue of CCs to examine how they can be improved to ensure that flats owner can obtain the legal estate of their flats.

Annex

Private Residential Developments Completed and Occupied
for which Certificates of Compliance have not been Issued
from 1 January 1970 to Present


Names of presidential Developments

1. City Garden
2. Park Vale
3. Mt. Parker Lodge
4. Lei King Wan
5. Dragon Centre
6. Las Pinadas
7. Stanford Villa
8. 75 Repulse Bay Road(*)
9. Whampoa Garden
10. Wen Po Mansion
11. Laguna City Phase I, II&IV
12. Sceneway Garden
13. The Galaxia
14. The Verandah Garden
15. Lot 1936 in DD3, Lamma Island(*)
16. 188o Seaview(#)
17. Floral Villas
18. Sussex Lodge(#)
19. Fanling Town Center
20. Pictorial Garden Phase 2
21. Bauhinia Garden
22. Chateau Royale
23. Rhine Garden
24. Lot 1500 in DD453, Lo Wai, Tsuen Wan (*)
25. Discovery Park
26. Bo Shek Mansion
27. Hong Kong Garden
28. Kingswood Villas
29. Baguio Villa
30. Hong Lok Yuen
31. Wah Yan Building
32. Pine Villas
33. Hiram's Villa

(*) private residential developments with no names

(#) private residential developments with no Chinese names

MR CHAN KAM-LAM (in Cantonese): Madam President, the information in the Annex shows that since 1 January 1970, 33 private residential developments have not been issued with CCs. While some developments were completed recently, a number of developments were completed and occupied more than 10 years ago. What actions has the Government taken against those developers to ensure their compliance with the Conditions of Grant and the development?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Cantonese): Madam President, in part (c) of the main reply, I have already explained the actions taken by the Lands Department. Some obligations may involve works that are outside the lot of a developer. For instance, a developer may be required to build a flyover after the completion of all the residential units to connect them with another new development. But if the new development has not been completed or even started, theoretically, the developer cannot build a flyover that is useless. In this case, the responsibility may not necessarily rest with the developer. In the last paragraph of the main answer, I said that I had asked the relevant authorities to review whether the present system for the issue of CCs should be retained. If developers have exerted due diligence but still cannot fulfil their obligations, then to flat owners, that system might not be the fairest one. We might have to establish another mechanism and examine how CCs should be issued under these circumstances.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr CHAN, are you seeking elucidation?

MR CHAN KAM-LAM (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Secretary did not answer my supplementary question, because in part (c) of the main reply, he only said what the Lands Department would do. What I asked was what actions the Government had taken in respect of the 33 residential developments. The Secretary have not given a specific answer to my question.

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Cantonese): Madam President, as I said in the main reply, we have to follow up the case of each development based on the works that have not been completed or the works that the developer has undertaken to carry out but has not completed. Some of these may be the responsibility of the developer. For instance, a developer may fail to fulfil his obligation to complete a pavement. In case he has given a bank bond, the Lands Department will complete the works required. In certain cases, the Government requires the developer to comply with some conditions, such as building a pavement that is up to a certain standard. When the developer fails to do so, the Lands Department will ask the developer to ensure that the standard is reached. Therefore, it depends on each individual development.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr CHAN Kam-lam, which part of your supplementary question has not been answered?

MR CHAN KAM-LAM (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Secretary still has not explained about the failure of individual developments to meet the requirements for the issuance of CC. I hope that the Secretary will give a written answer to my supplementary question about what actions the Government has taken in respect of those 33 developments.

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I will provide a written answer. (Annex I)

MR ALBERT HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, as far as I understand it, what the Secretary meant in part (c) of the main answer was that even though developers have not fulfilled all the Conditions of Grant, the Government will still give consent to assignment to allow purchase and sale of properties. At the same time, the Government will ask developers to give a bank bond and sign an undertaking, undertaking in writing to comply with certain obligations that have not been completed. I wonder if the Secretary is aware that after the Government has given consent to assignment, the purchaser might think that the development has been completed and so the transaction must be completed. Has the Government made it a requirement that these undertakings and bank bonds must be registered at the Land Registry to ensure that purchasers are in the know, so that they could exercise their contractual rights? If not, why not?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Cantonese): Madam President, the records of the Lands Department or the Land Registry clearly indicate whether a certain development, lot or unit has been issued with a CC. If a practicing lawyer or a property owner wishes to find out about this, he could do so. What I have instructed the relevant department to review is, like I said just now, cases where there is a long wait for the developer to fulfil his obligations and he may not be able to fulfil them completely, we might have to consider a new arrangement for the issue of CCs. Apart from this review, I have also asked the department to set out in writing in the clearest terms what kind of documents would be issued at what stages of a development for the information of vendors and purchasers.

MR ALBERT HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Secretary has not answered my supplementary question clearly. I just want to know whether the Government has required that bank bonds and undertakings must be registered at the Land Registry. I already know the reasons. But is the answer yes or no?

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr Secretary, do you have anything to add?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I think there are no such individual records. The Land Registry only records whether or not a CC has been issued. We might consider making such annotations in the new system in future.

MR EDWARD HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, my supplementary question is a follow-up to Mr CHAN Kam-lam's question, that is, the question about the 33 developments which have been occupied but have not been issued with CCs. If the Secretary cannot give an answer now, he can do so in writing. Among the 33 developments which have not been issued with CCs, how many cases of such failure are attributable to the developers and how many are attributable to the Government, such as the example given by the Secretary, in which a flyover could not be built because the development on the other side was not completed? Can the Secretary provide this additional information?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I can do so. (Annex II)

MR LAU WONG-FAT (in Cantonese): Madam President, my question has already been asked by a colleague.

MR JAMES TO (in Cantonese): Madam President, in his main reply, the Secretary said that the absence of CCs would pose no obstacles to the sale and purchase of residential units. In selling his unit, if the owner knows that he can only sell the equitable interest and if he specifies this in the agreement, it will not pose any hindrance to the transaction. However, many people do not know that they have to specify this. Will the Government use some appropriate means, such as publicity through the Estate Agents Authority, to ensure that the public knows about the nature of their interest owned, so as to avoid unnecessary lawsuits? People who are involved in these conveyancing lawsuits are in a wretched position indeed.

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Cantonese): Madam President, as I said just now, in the review we will consider specifying in writing the stage that a development has reached at the time of sale and purchase, so that the purchaser and vendor know what interest they are buying and selling and what their own rights are.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr TO, are you seeking an elucidation?

MR JAMES TO (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Secretary was talking about the future. However, there are sales and purchases every day. Will the Government launch publicity efforts to prevent purchasers and vendors from falling into these traps? Actually, these unnecessary squabbles cause much trouble to the people.

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Cantonese): Madam President, actually, ever since Mr CHAN drew attention to this case, there have been newspaper reports which clearly explain the two kinds of interest for sale and purchase before and after the issuance of CCs. Perhaps we need to explain their differences in simpler and clearer teams, since many people may not necessarily understand the difference between them.

MR ANDREW WONG (in Cantonese): Madam President, I do not quite understand one sentence in the last paragraph of the main reply. The Secretary said " Buyers and sellers of units then take a conveyance of title on the basis of an equitable interest". Is this a typographical error? Supposing that a developer sold all the residential units before applying to the Government for a CC. Later, when someone tried to sell one of the units, the purchaser found the title to be incomplete. Only then did the developer apply to the Director of Lands for a CC. How would the Government deal with the losses suffered by the person as a result of the title being incomplete?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Cantonese):Madam President, one of the provisions of Chapter 219, Laws of Hong Kong states that the interest of the title deed is an equitable interest prior to the issuance of a CC by the Government. I also used this term. Upon the issuance of a CC, the interest becomes a legal estate. The main question now is to let purchasers and vendors know what interest they are buying and selling, whether it is an equitable interest or a legal estate. Just now, in answering Members' questions, I already said that we hope to explain clearly the differences between these two kinds of interest and let the purchasers and vendors know what interest they are buying and selling, since both kinds of interest can be assigned.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Members, since we have spent more than 16 minutes on this question, we will proceed to the next question.

Village Representative Elections

2. MR SZETO WAH (in Cantonese): Madam President, in the judicial review regarding the Po Toi O Village Representative Election, the High Court expressly stated that the election of a village representative was a public affair, and that the Election Rules adopted by the village were in breach of certain provisions of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 480). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) it will consider enacting legislation to regulate the elections of village representatives, in order to ensure that the elections will be held in a fair, just and open manner; if so, the specific legislative timetable for that; if not, the reasons for that; and

(b) it knows if any investigations have been conducted by the Equal Opportunities Commission to ascertain if there is inequality in such elections, and if any publicity campaign has been launched by the Commission in respect of such elections; if so, the results of them; if not, the reasons for that?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President,

(a) The Government is fully committed to the elimination of sex discrimination. As regards village representative elections, in accordance with the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, we will not approve a person as a village representative where that person has been elected or otherwise chosen by a procedure in which women have not been able to participate on equal terms with men.

We have set up a Working Group in early April this year to review the arrangements and procedures for rural elections, including village representative elections. Its membership comprises representatives of the Home Affairs Bureau, Home Affairs Department, Department of Justice, Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Constitutional Affairs Bureau. Among its tasks, the Working Group will review the arrangements and procedures of village representative elections to ensure that the elections will be held in a fair and open manner. The Working Group will explore the need of using legislation to regulate the conduct of these elections and will consult parties concerned, including the Heung Yee Kuk and the relevant Legislative Council panels, in formulating the proposals. Since the relevant proposals on the way forward for rural elections have yet to be worked out, it is not possible at this stage to stipulate a timetable for their implementation. However, the Working Group is expected to come up with its finalized recommendations within six months.

(b) According to information provided by the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Commission has received a complaint about the election of village representatives on 17 April 1999. The investigation process has just begun.

In February 1999, the Equal Opportunities Commission wrote to the Heung Yee Kuk and all the rural committees to advise them to comply with the Sex Discrimination Ordinance. It also explained, among others, that under the Ordinance, a person will not be recognized as a village representative if the election procedure does not allow the participation by men and women on equal terms.

MR SZETO WAH (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Administration said that since the village representative elections are a kind of private election, it is inappropriate for the Administration to step in. However, the Administration has also enacted legislation under which village representatives, via special channels of the Rural Committee Chairman elections and the mutual elections in the Heung Yee Kuk, can assume public offices such as the ex officio members of district boards and the Legislative Council respectively. From this we can see that public office holders are returned on the basis of private elections. Is this in line with the principles of a fair, just and open election? Is the Administration contradicting itself?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, we have been saying that village representative elections are a kind of private election in the sense that they are different from general public elections such as the district board elections, the Urban Council elections and the Legislative Council elections. The Administration will render assistance to them and take part in them. The Administration will recognize the result of a village representative election if it has complied with the model rules, which stipulate that it is a one-man-one-vote system, men and women enjoy equal participation, and all elected village representatives will hold office for four years. As I have explained earlier, the Administration's participation is in the recognition of the election result.

Although the village representative elections are a kind of private election, the Rural Committee Chairmen returned by this election will become the ex officio members of the district boards in accordance with another piece of legislation. The Rural Committee elections are tantamount to the Hong Kong Law Society elections in which the lawyers elect their own representative. Likewise, it is tantamount to the Hong Kong Institute of Architects elections in which a representative of the profession is elected. As regards what will happen after the election of their representatives under another piece of legislation is anther matter.

As I have mentioned in my main reply, we have set up a Working Group to review the arrangements for private elections in a comprehensive way.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): A point of elucidation, Mr SZETO Wah?

MR SZETO WAH (in Cantonese): Madam President, may I ask if representatives elected by the Hong Kong Law Society and the Hong Kong Institute of Architects will become public officers?

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Sorry, Mr SZETO, you can only raise a follow-up question on the part of your previous supplementary which has not been answered by the Secretary. But now it appears it is not the case, and so you have to wait for your turn again.

MR SZETO WAH (in Cantonese): In answering my supplementary question, the Secretary said that village representative elections are private elections similar to those of the Hong Kong Law Society and the Hong Kong Institute of Architects. However, the elections of these two bodies will not lead to the selection of public officers. That being the case, are these two kinds of elections really the same?

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr SZETO, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure, you can ask a follow-up question if part of your first supplementary question has not been answered by the Secretary. The question you have just raised is in fact a new supplementary question. In that case, please wait for your turn again by pressing the "Request-to-Speak" button.

DR YEUNG SUM (in Cantonese): Madam President, at present, the Administration allows villagers to make appropriate amendments to the model rules formulated by the Heung Yee Kuk according to the established traditions and practices under the village rules. What are the differences between these amendments and the model rules? What mechanism does the Government have to ensure that the amended regulations are in line with the principles of a fair, just and open election?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, no amendment to certain principles in the model rules is allowed. A person will not be recognized as a village representative if these principles are not complied with in the election procedures. Firstly, the election must be conducted in a one-man-one-vote system. In the past, elections were conducted in a one-household-one-vote system or some other systems. Secondly, men and women must be able to vote on equal terms. An election in which either only women or men can vote, or either sex has difficulty in participation in the election, is not allowed in principle; thirdly, elected village representatives used to hold office for a permanent term or a long period of time, but now, the term of office lasts for four years only. As regards other non-principle provisions in the model rules, villagers can make modifications on their own according to the situation of their own village. We are not so concerned about issues which are not related to important principles.

However, there is a lot of response from the community in respect of village elections, and a recent incident has made the Administration feel that a review is necessary. I have also discussed the matter with the Heung Yee Kuk representatives. The Administration has set up a Working Group since early April in order to get a thorough understanding in all aspects.

MISS EMILY LAU (in Cantonese): Madam President, in the main reply, the Secretary said that the Administration has set up a Working Group. There is a report in today's newspaper that a meeting was held on 29 March between the Secretary for Justice and the Heung Yee Kuk representatives to discuss the village representative elections. According to the minutes of meeting, the Secretary for Justice was not in agreement with the neutral position adopted by the Home Affairs Department towards the village representative elections. In her opinion, if the Administration thought that there were problems with the electoral procedures, improvement should be made as soon as possible instead of intervention after the election was over. Madam President, I believe her views would have been passed onto the Secretary for Home Affairs because she is the chief legal adviser of the Administration. May I ask the Secretary if he has been aware of the fact that she does not agree to his neutral position but he did not take heed of her advice; and what really happened? Madam President, it is really surprising that there is internal conflict within the Administration as revealed by a press report.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): In accordance with Rule 25 of the Rules of Procedure, a question shall not be asked whether statements in the press are accurate. I therefore consider this part of your supplementary question out of order.

MISS EMILY LAU (in Cantonese): Madam President, the thrust of my question is whether the Secretary has sought legal advice, and he did not take heed of it.

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I would like to thank Miss LAU for her question. First, concerning the timing, as I have said earlier, the Working Group was set up on 1 April. And Miss LAU refers to a press report about a meeting with the Heung Yee Kuk which was held before 1 April. Today, before I came to the Legislative Council, I was aware that the Department of Justice had made a press release saying that the statements as reported were personal comments which did not represent the position taken by the Department.

Generally speaking, views of different departments may sometimes be different and that is only a minor issue. We have got a representative of the Department of Justice in our Working Group to do the review with us. I do not know if I have answered Miss Emily LAU's supplementary question. Even if Members may still suspect that our views are divided, I believe we will eventually come to a satisfactory conclusion by exchanging our different views within the Working Group.

MR LAU KONG-WAH (in Cantonese): Madam President, I am much interested in part (b) of the main reply. I do not know how many complaints the Equal Opportunities Commission has received in the past. Apart from reminding them that they have to comply with the rules, did the Commission take the initiative of scrutinizing the procedures so that they could avoid stepping on those "land mines"?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, as I said in my main reply, the Equal Opportunities Commission wrote to the Heung Yee Kuk and all rural committees in February this year to advise them to comply with the relevant legislation. The fact that they are independent bodies does not imply that the Home Affairs Bureau cannot advise them on how to deal with the matter. As regards Mr LAU Kong-wah's advice, I am more than willing to convey his opinion to them and tell them to pay attention to existence of "land mines".

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Last supplementary question.

MR ANDREW CHENG (in Cantonese): Madam President, I would like to follow up the point made by Mr LAU Kong-wah about "land mines". We feel that we should do more than taking the initiative in reminding them of those problems. Moreover, since the village representative elections are a kind of coterie election, they are usually reluctant to lodge complaints against any unfair electoral mechanism so as to avoid embarrassment. Would the Administration consider to invoke sections 70 and 71 of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance under which the Chief Secretary for Administration can require the Commission to conduct a formal and comprehensive investigation into the village representative election rules?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I believe Hong Kong today has reached such a stage, in terms of civic education and pace of democracy, where people would not refrain from making complaints simply because they have to give face to other people. We do receive complaints from various sectors of the community from time to time. In the past, complaints about village representative elections were also received. Sometimes the villagers lodged complaints to the District Officer of their respective district. Sometimes they lodged complaints to the Director of Home Affairs or the Secretary for Home Affairs. Sometimes they could even lodge complaints through other channels. In my opinion, Members should not be over concerned that they do not know how to make complaints.

Now the Administration has noticed that there are problems in a recent election and a Working Group has been set up to conduct a review on various aspects. I hope to take follow-up actions subsequent to the report completed by the Working Group within six months. Members who are interested will definitely be informed at the Panel on Home Affairs. I will also consult their views if necessary.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Since we have spent more than 19 minutes on this question, we shall move onto the third question.

Programmes Uncompleted at the Expiry of Terms of the Two Provisional Municipal Councils

3. MR ERIC LI (in Cantonese): Madam President, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it plans to take measures to accomplish the various programmes formulated by the two Provisional Municipal Councils (PMCs) as far as possible before the expiry of their current terms of office; if so, of the specific timetable;

(b) whether it will prepare a list of those programmes which are expected to be uncompleted at the expiry of the current terms of the PMCs; and

(c) whether it has assessed if the authorities concerned are obliged to perform those contracts which have been entered into before the expiry of the current terms of the PMCs; and whether it will continue to implement the policies laid down by the PMCs?

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, the terms of the members of the two PMCs will expire at the end of 1999. The Chief Executive has explicitly stated in his policy address published last October that there is no need to retain the PMCs after the terms of office of their members expire. Meanwhile, we are drafting a bill to transfer the various functions, rights, duties and liabilities of the PMCs to the Government and other statutory bodies, which will be submitted to this Council next week for consideration. As regards the questions raised by the Honourable Eric LI, our replies are as follows:

(a) The PMCs will continue to enjoy autonomy in policy making and use of funds and resources until the end of December. The various programmes currently undertaken by the PMCs are large in number. Most of them concern day-to-day service to the general public and are thus unaffected by the expiry of the term of the PMCs. As a result, the Government has not planned to take measures to accomplish the various programmes formulated by the PMCs as far as possible before the expiry of their current terms of office.

(b) Some programmes such as public works projects of the PMCs are to be completed within a specified timeframe. The commenced but uncompleted programmes of the PMCs will be undertaken by the Government. Although we have not yet got hold of a list of such programmes, we are able to gather information on their progress from the minutes of open meetings of the PMCs. We will ask the PMCs or the two Municipal Services Departments for more information in due course so as to follow up the programmes.

(c) It will be stipulated in the bill to be submitted to this Council that the Government will assume the rights, duties and liabilities stipulated in the contracts entered into by the PMCs, thereby safeguarding the legitimate interests of a third party in respect of such contracts. As for the policies of the PMCs, we will ensure as far as possible continuity in the legal and administrative aspects so as to avoid making too many policy changes over a short period of time. However, in order to achieve territory-wide consistency, some amendments to policies and legislation will be inevitable in the course of reorganization. At present, there are some inconsistencies between the two Councils in terms of legislative provisions, policies and practices. For instance, commercial bathhouses are licensed and regulated by the Provisional Urban Council, but no such regulatory measures are adopted by the Provisional Regional Council. Minor differences can often be found even in the provisions of by-laws regulating the same matter. There are also discrepancies in details of implementation of policies; for example, the policy of prosecution against unlicensed food premises and the Demerit Points System. We need to consider how to remove these discrepancies upon the establishment of the new structure or whether any transitional measures should be adopted before the standardization of policies at a later stage.

MR ERIC LI (in Cantonese): Madam President, I think that even the transfer of a department director within the Government also entails a handover period, let alone such a large scale reorganization in terms of the political aspects and the Government's internal affairs. But limited information about this was available a few months ago. From the Secretary's reply, I can see that the legal and contractual matters have been taken care of by law. However, as regards the policies and specific jobs, everything still seems to be at a very preliminary stage, or next to not having started, which gives me a feeling that the Government seems to be very passive in forming the relevant policies. It is only identifying the present policies and then taking its time to study the improvements ......

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr LI, please state your question directly.

MR ERIC LI (in Cantonese): ...... My question is, since we have not yet obtained the information about the work, we are a little worried whether this indicates that there is inadequate communication between the Government and, the two PMCs and the two Municipal Services Departments. What other remedies will be adopted in the next few months to ensure a smooth transition?

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I think that the worries of Mr LI are totally unfounded. As I have already indicated clearly earlier that we will ensure the greatest continuity possible in the legal and administrative aspects, except those which are truly unavoidable. As I have said, since there are some inconsistencies between the policies adopted in Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories, we need to exercise a unification to avoid confusion arising from the execution of two separate sets of policies simultaneously after 1 January next year for there will only be one authority by that time. After the unification, we will have a uniform set of policies. As for other policies, what the PMCs are implementing now will remain unchanged but that does not mean that we will not amend them later on. I recall that about several weeks ago, committees that follow up the reorganization of the district organizations held a discussion on this aspect and particularly brought up the licensing issue. I told them that the two PMCs will remain the licensing authority for various municipal matters until the end of this year, so this policy is still under the authority of the PMCs at present. However, to adapt to the situation after 1 January, as preparation, we may join hands with the PMCs to embark on some preliminary work. If we really want to change this licensing system, we may start the dialogue now. This is a rather usual case. As for other policies, our principle is to first keep things intact as far as possible.

MR AMBROSE CHEUNG (in Cantonese): I would like to follow up the point on the preliminary preparatory work. Concerning the eventually reorganized framework, the PMCs favour "one Municipal Council, one department" while the Government favours "two bureaux, three departments" and neither can reconcile. However, practically, whichever framework is adopted, the preliminary work has to be carried out in relation to the changes proposed in the consultancy report. My supplementary question is: Has the Secretary taken the initiative to contact the PMCs? If not, why not? Will the Secretary take the initiative to contact the PMCs concerning the practical administration issues to draw up a mechanism for proper arrangements to be made to carry out the preliminary work?

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, Mr CHEUNG has given us a very good piece of advice. Actually, similar suggestions were made in the last joint meeting. I also indicated that for matters such as the issue of licences, the Government has hired some other consultants to study the procedures concerned and how they can be simplified. The main purpose is to see how the application of licences can be done in the easiest and most convenient manner without requiring applicants to go to different departments for different licences. We hope that this goal can be achieved but as I have already explained, this consultancy study is still going on and hopefully the result will be ready in six months. The follow-up work will be carried out in a similar way as suggested by Mr CHEUNG. We will contact the PMCs or invite them here to explain their views to the relevant Panel of this Council in order to reach a consensus during the process. It will be best if they can agree to put the new policies in place before late December; barring that, we will still have a chance to see how this new initiative can be introduced as soon as possible after 1 January next year.

DR RAYMOND HO (in Cantonese): In the contracts of the public works projects currently undertaken by the PMCs, the owners of these projects are the PMCs while the persons in charge of the contracts are appointed by the PMCs. After the expiry of the PMCs, procedures must be carried out to legalize these contracts. Has the Secretary considered recommending or requesting the PMCs to stop awarding new contracts six months before their expiry because new contracts may be made by the merged framework or there may be better arrangements in regard to the resources, time and design?

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, personally, I would assume that if the PMCs consider a certain works project worth undertaking, they must have considered the financial effects and others aspects before deciding to go ahead with the project. Under such an assumption, I personally favour allowing the PMCs to continue inviting public tender and carrying on with the relevant projects. I have said earlier that in the bill to be submitted to this Council next week, provisions will be made on this subject, allowing the legal transfer of contracts, including all legal duties and financial liabilities of the two PMCs, to the Government. This shall be stipulated in the contracts or other documents, so the parties involved in the contracts need not be worried.

MR ERIC LI (in Cantonese): Madam President, I very much agree that much preliminary preparatory work has to be done and the work has to be carried out regardless of the different political views of members of the PMCs. Assuming that the PMCs will not be retained, the incumbent Members representing the PMCs will be people who are most familiar with those matters. Since the Secretary and the Government both stress on a smooth transition or keeping the policies intact, will there be room for these Members to play an active role in those matters in future?

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I think that all Members ─ not just Members representing the PMCs ─ should all play a very active role. After 1 January next year, I expect those Members who are representing the PMCs now in particular to have a special function in this regard because both PMCs have their own functions and are empowered to do many things, but if the two PMCs are really disbanded, the Government will assume these functions and this will mean that the power to monitor the Government will be transferred to the Legislative Council. Then, should there be any inadequacies in the Government's work, or advice is required, we will depend especially on those two Members.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Forth question.

Removal of Fixtures in New Housing Authority Flats

4. MISS CHRISTINE LOH: Madam President, will the Administration inform this Council if it knows whether the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA):

(a) is aware that many people remove and throw away bathroom, kitchen and other fixtures in new HA flats before moving in, so as to replace them with those of their own choices; if so, of the estimated quantity and total value of such disposed items in each of the past five years;

(b) will consider making rules and regulations or adopting other measures to reduce such wastage; if so, the details of them?

SECRETARY FOR HOUSING: Madam President, the HA is aware that many owners of new Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats have carried out alterations to some fixtures before moving into the flats. This is generally not the case in public rental housing.

A survey conducted between October 1998 and January 1999 reveals that about half of HOS flat owners have carried out alterations to bathrooms and kitchens before moving into the new flats. The HA does not have information on the quantity or value of disposed items.

As in the case of private housing developments, HOS flat owners can alter fixtures in their flats so long as these alterations comply with statutory building requirements and do not affect structural integrity. The HA does not intend to make rules or regulations to stop internal alterations. However, HOS flat owners may be required to reinstate the removed items if the flats are to be bought back by the HA in future.

Notwithstanding this, the HA is concerned about the wastage caused by alterations. Opinion surveys are conducted regularly in order to determine the expectations of HOS flat owners, and the Concord Blocks which are being constructed have already taken the feedback into account. The next opinion survey will be conducted in the middle of this year.

MISS CHRISTINE LOH: Madam President, let me explain why I ask this question. I understand from talking to officials in the HA that it actually is a very serious problem. The reason I want a clarification is that public money is being used, the materials that are wasted are being thrown away, and that we have to take a huge amount of the waste into the landfill. So what I would like to ask the Secretary is in relation to the second paragraph of his response. He acknowledges that between October 1998 and January 1999, about half of all the HOS flat owners have carried out alterations. I am not against people making alterations. But I understand that there are wholesale removals of kitchens and bathrooms most of the time and that the removed items have to be disposed of in our landfill. Thus, in this regard, the HA can surely come up with some quantitative and value evaluations because what I am interested to know is really the level of wastage to the community. First of all, the cost of installing the bathrooms and kitchens, then half of which being thrown away, and also the disposal cost of the thrown away items in our landfill. Is the Secretary able to assist us?

SECRETARY FOR HOUSING: Madam President, as I said, the HA does not keep information on the items being thrown away by the new owners of HOS flats. But, according to the opinion survey of households moving into HOS flats, we understand that there have not been wholesale removals of kitchen items or bathroom items, but they are limited generally to some bathtubs or changing of wash basins or sinks and so on. But of course, I do not rule out the actual reality of some owners having redecorated the kitchens as well as the bathrooms, but these are not large in quantity as far as we understand. Thus, I am afraid that Miss LOH might be just thinking of some sort of situations which may be a little bit exaggerated. But according to the opinion survey, as I have said, the situation is not that bad. However, it does not mean that we are not concerned about this. Having carried out the opinion survey, we do actually take the feedback into account.

Madam President, we do have these regular surveys every year and at the end, we will use the feedback in order to consider the designs of the next batch of HOS flats. We have actually taken into account the feedback in the past two years. These new flats have not yet been completed, but they will come onto the market in the next few months or in the next year or so. We are doing all these surveys in order to determine the expectations of new owners. We can only do them through owners who have just purchased the flats. To that extent, we believe that we are trying to take into account their own wishes. For example, in the new design, we do not provide bathtubs anymore. We actually would provide showers so that there will be no bathtubs to throw away. And in future, we do not intend to provide cooking benches and all that sort of things in the kitchens, as according to the survey, many people do not wish to have them. Thus, we will leave it to free choice at the end of the day. We, more or less, would like to consider in future a kind of basic shell, in other words, basic provisions of just partitions and various basic requirements in line with statutory requirements.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Miss Christine LOH, do you wish to seek an elucidation?

MISS CHRISTINE LOH: Madam President, just one point of clarification. Since the Secretary has told us that the new model is in effect just to provide the shell, is that an acknowledgement that there has been tremendous wastage of taxpayers' money?

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Miss LOH, this is not a follow-up.

MISS CHRISTINE LOH (in Cantonese): Please allow me to wait in line again, I hope the Secretary will answer this question later.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I hope there will be time for you to ask this question again.

MR HO SAI-CHU (in Cantonese): Madam President, in the second paragraph of the main reply, the Secretary said there is no information on the quantity or value of disposed items. Will the HA conduct a more detailed survey this year to provide us with such information? The Secretary for Housing has answered part of my question in his response, for example, he told us that according to the findings of the survey, most of the HOS flat owners indicated they do not like certain fixtures, so it is not necessary to install those fixtures in the HOS flats. If the HA is now going to install showers, then will the owners be allowed to install bathtubs on their own? HOS flat owners, in particular, would really like to decorate their homes according to their own wishes, and there is no way to stop them from making alterations or choosing the colour schemes or bathtubs they like. Just now, the Secretary replied that though showers were installed, bathtubs could also be installed, then is it possible ......

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr HO, please put your question in a simple and direct manner. (Laughter)

MR HO SAI-CHU (in Cantonese): Please let me rephrase my question, and that is, I would like to know whether there will be a more detailed survey so that we can obtain more information, and is it true that owners will be allowed to install their own bathtubs, in order to save them the trouble of removing the original fixtures and installing new ones?

SECRETARY FOR HOUSING (in Cantonese): Madam President, when we conduct our next survey, we will certainly take into account the personal taste and preference of existing HOS flats residents. If they are found to be the same as the results of the two recent surveys, that is, the residents consider that certain items and fixtures should not be provided (but of course the result may not be 100% correct). For example, in the two recent surveys, about 40% of the residents indicated that too many fixtures have been provided, and under such circumstances, when we build such types of HOS flats in the future, we will try to follow the "basic shell" concept I have just mentioned, and I believe that by doing so, the adverse effects mentioned by Miss LOH, such as wasting public resources and polluting the environment, can be lessened.

MR FRED LI (in Cantonese): Madam President, I think that the Secretary for Housing has not fully appreciated the situation, for we are not only talking about bathroom and kitchen fixtures. In fact, steel gates were also removed from a lot of new HOS flats and new ones installed. My question is: Why is it still necessary to conduct opinion polls? The Secretary for Housing can simply pay a site visit to the new housing units to see for himself what the situation is. Since the construction cost of HOS flats of a simple "basic shell" design are lower and less materials will be wasted by building a "basic shell ", why is it that they cannot be built immediately? Why do we still have to wait for the findings of opinion polls?

SECRETARY FOR HOUSING (in Cantonese): Madam President, I have already mentioned in my main reply that the survey results supported the "basic shell" concept. I believe that this concept must have been discussed at the internal meetings of the HA, and it is very likely that we will follow this direction in the future, and the price of HOS flats will thus also be lowered. As I have said, the survey results of the past two years supported the idea of minimal installation of facilities, and some residents even suggest that we do not have to install steel gates. In future, these views will be taken into account in designing HOS flats.

MR GARY CHENG (in Cantonese): Part of my question has already been answered by the Secretary, and from his response, I understand that only certain basic fixtures will be provided and HOS owners will be allowed to make their own choices. I also understand that if only a "shell" is provided, these flats will lose part of their appeal when they are offered for sale. My question is: Has the authority ever considered to provide several options on steel gates, and bathroom and kitchen fixtures for buyers at the signing of the agreement for sale and purchase, so that the fixtures can be installed during the construction period? Has the Housing Department ever considered that the most suitable solution to this problem is to allow owners to choose the fixtures they like? If only a "shell" is provided and if model flats are not available, the sale of HOS flats will surely be affected.

SECRETARY FOR HOUSING (in Cantonese): Madam President, I think this suggestion is "a bit too advanced" for a public organization. As to whether the HA will make any changes in this direction, I cannot make any commitments right now, but the HA will surely consider this suggestion. At present, the HA is considering to provide buyers with options on the colour of bathroom fixtures. As regards the suggestion on the provision of different types of kitchen and bathroom fixtures, I think the greater the number of options, the more difficulties the HA will face in its operation. However, I will not rule out the possibility that this suggestion may be implemented, and I will ask the HA to consider whether this can be done in the future.

MR CHAN WING-CHAN (in Cantonese): Madam President, I originally intended to ask whether the Administration has tried to find out why so many people have carried out alterations, but the Secretary has just told us that surveys are now being conducted, so I am not going to ask this question. The Secretary has pointed out in the first paragraph of the main reply that alterations to fixtures are not common in public rental housing estates; I have often seen toilet fixtures and bathtubs being transported in and out of newly constructed public housing estates. With eight housing units on each storey of a 32 storeyed-block, there are 256 households in each block, and a total of more than a thousand households in four blocks, so a lot of bathtubs will actually be removed and thrown away. Since the Secretary said that "it is generally not the case", I wonder to what extent will he consider that it is "the case"?

SECRETARY FOR HOUSING (in Cantonese): Madam President, I said that "this is generally not the case", mainly because before tenants move into the public rental housing units, they have to sign a declaration and undertaking to the Housing Department that they will not carry out any renovation, additional or alteration works; and if they have to carry out any alteration, they have to secure the prior approval from the Housing Department and comply with all the requirements for carrying out alterations. Generally speaking, the Housing Department will approve alterations which are carried out for the convenience of the disabled or elderly persons and repairs caused by normal wear and tear (for example, leaks and so on). Applications for alterations made on other grounds are normally not approved. Therefore, such alterations are actually not common for the Housing Department is vested with the authority for granting approval.

MR NG LEUNG-SING (in Cantonese): Madam President, I have a feeling that the owners have wasted the resources willingly, but such wastage has certainly created an environmental problem. Since it has been found that half of the HOS flat owners have carried out alterations, has the Administration received any complaints from the HOS flat owners on the quality of the fixtures which have been thrown away, including complaints which give the details of damaged fixtures? What is the general content and number of such complaints?

SECRETARY FOR HOUSING (in Cantonese): Madam President, in fact our surveys do not go into such details. The main purpose for conducting such surveys is to find out more about the taste and preference of the new HOS flats owners. Since some owners do not like the bathroom and kitchen fixtures provided and have replaced them with choices of their own, we have already made some alterations in the design of new HOS flats, and in about two months, the new model will be completed and be available in the market; and in the next one to two years, newly improved models will continue to come onto the market. Though we have made changes to the design and fixtures of the HOS flats after each survey, these changes may not be immediately evident because it usually takes about three years to build a new block. So, the result of what we have done today will only become evident in about three years' time.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Although a few Members still want to ask follow-up questions, I hope that Members can follow up at the relevant panel for we have already spent 17 minutes on this question. Fifth question.

Consultant's Report on Culture, the Arts, Recreation and Sports Services

5.MISS CYD HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, regarding the Consultant's Report on Culture, the Arts, Recreation and Sports Services, will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the number of copies of the report published for the public;

(b) the avenues through which the report was made available to the general public; and

(c) the timetable and action plan to implement the recommendations of the report?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I am grateful that the Honourable Miss Cyd HO has raised this question. My reply is as follows:

(a) We have published 4 000 copies of the Consultant's Report in Chinese and 1 500 copies in English; the total number of copies published is 5 500;

(b) members of the public could obtain the Consultant's Report through Home Affairs Bureau Headquarters and the Public Services Enquiry Counters of the 18 District Offices of the Home Affairs Department. They could also read or download the Consultant's Report from the Home Affairs Bureau Internet homepage. In addition, the Consultant's Report is also made available to readers at all public libraries; and

(c) the Home Affairs Bureau is going to set up a Task Force to follow up on those recommendations of the Consultant's Report which have been accepted by the Government. There will be tremendous work for the Task Force. As the new department will be set up on 1 January 2000, many recommendations in connection with the setting up of the new department must be implemented by the end of the year. We also hope that the Legislative Council could pass the bill related to strengthening the membership of the Arts Development Council (ADC) and Sports Development Board (SDB) by the end of the year.

MISS CYD HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, perhaps I am indeed too naive in thinking that a consultation exercise would be carried out regarding the action plan since most consultant's reports involve public consultations. Even in part (b) of the Secretary's main reply, it was mentioned that members of the public could obtain such reports at the Public Services Enquiry Counters. However, while the Consultant's Report was presented to the Panel on Home Affairs of the Legislative Council only on 29 March and the public officers concerned came to introduce the document, the Provision of Municipal Services (Reorganization) Bill (the Bill) will be gazetted on 23 April, that means the recommendations of the Consultant's Report are transformed into laws in less than one month. Madam President, when this piece of legislation was drafted, what were the grounds on which the Government made decisions? Had conclusions been already reached and they were just written into the laws? Or is our Government really so efficient that the legislative work can be done in less than one month?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, with regard to consultation, we have been carrying out extensive consultation exercises since the proposal of setting up this new framework was put forward at the end of last year. We have conducted five territory-wide public consultations and consulted individual organizations such as the SDB and the ADC. We have also carried out consultations in written form and on various occasions. During the consultation period, the consultant attended various public consultations and listened to the views of different sectors of the community. After the Consultant's Report was finished, the Government also made responses to various aspects of it. Therefore, before the Report was finalized, we had already conducted consultation exercises and the recommendations of the Report are results of these extensive consultations.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Miss Cyd HO, which part of your supplementary question has not been answered?

MISS CYD HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, I would like the Secretary to explain his definition of "consultation". People have different interpretations of a consultation, such as how many people should be consulted or should there be a substantive plan. I hope that the Secretary can clarify the definition of "consultation" before I decide whether he has answered my question. Since the Government had not proposed a substantive plan in the process of its consultations, members of the public were unable to give responses systematically. As for the several consultation exercises mentioned by the Secretary just now.....

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Miss Cyd HO, it is question time now and you cannot advance too many of your personal views. In fact, you should not make them at all. However, in the supplementary question you raised earlier, did you ask the Secretary to clarify the definition of "consultation"?

MISS CYD HO (in Cantonese): No, Madam President, I didn't. But I find that the Secretary's interpretation is different from mine. If we have different definitions of "consultation", I do not know how I can go on with my question.

MR AMBROSE CHEUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, with your permission, I should like to follow up on the definition of "consultation" with the Secretary. With regard to the extensive consultations mentioned by the Secretary, according to the information provided by him, there are about 1 500 voters in the culture, arts, recreation and sports sectors, and I believe the number of enthusiasts in these fields is even greater. However, Appendices 1 and 3 of the Consultant's Report reveal that the consultant only consulted not more than 30 organizations or persons including written submissions received. Will the Secretary tell us what the definition of "consultation" is on such a basis? At the same time, if certain information in Appendix 1 is wrong, will the Secretary openly rectify such information? A specific example is the consultant's statment that he has met the Provisional Urban Council. In fact, this is not true as the Provisional Urban Council has never had a meeting with the consultant.

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I would like to take this opportunity to make a brief explanation. 30 written submissions do not mean only 30 persons have responded. Take an organization as an example, the chairman of the organization usually offers opinions on behalf of the whole organization. As the organization does not comprise only the chairman, so a written submission usually represents the views of all the members of that organization. In the course of the consultations, I remember that we have sent out over 1 000 letters soliciting views, and I have personally participated in three of the five public consultative meetings as I always try my best to take part in such meetings to meet the organizations concerned. The participants of a meeting often exceeded 200 or 300 and they are people who are very interested in culture. For example, the SDB has also held a consultative meeting and invited its members and the interested parties to attend. I was present as well. Since the SDB represents the views of many people, we will accept their views if they reach a consensus and relay such a consensus to the Government.

MISS EMILY LAU (in Cantonese): Madam President, I would also like to follow up on the issue of presenting the Consultant's Report to the Legislative Council on 29 March and gazetting the Bill on 23 April. This actually gives the people an impression that the Administration had drafted the Bill before the Consultant's Report was finished. Madam President, in fact, the Secretary's reply just now has already confirmed this point. But I would like to clarify with the Secretary once more: Did the consultant collaborate with the Government in such a way that when the consultant compiled the Report on the one hand, the Government concurrently drafted the bill on the other? Otherwise, how can the drafting of such a long bill be finished within a few weeks?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I believe Honourable Members have all read the Consultant's Report which is the proposal for a new framework. There is no direct relationship between the drafting of the bill and the compilation of the Consultant's Report. As for the parts about changes in the bill, such as increasing the number of certain posts in the SDB, we have not started drafting yet and this task will be followed up by other government departments or my colleagues in the Home Affairs Bureau. In this connection, I believe the work in these two areas are somewhat different.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Miss Emily LAU, which part of your supplementary question has not been answered?

MISS EMILY LAU (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Secretary has not answered whether the Government and the consultant acted in collusion with each other. If he says that the work in these two areas are somewhat different, it must be that most parts of the two areas are actually the same. How could the drafting of the bill be finished within a few weeks? I believe that the Secretary for Justice will tell us next week that the bill is finalized. It is really like a "windfall", Madam President, while a bill usually takes one to two years to draft, now we see that the Government is so efficient that the Consultant's Report and the bill are finished at almost the same time.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Secretary for Home Affairs, in the future, when a Member stands up and asks questions, you may sit down. You can stand up again when I ask you to. (Laughter)

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I kept on standing to show my respect for the Chair and Honourable Members. (Laughter) Thank you, Madam President. The Government has definitely held frequent meetings with the consultant and the consultant met my colleagues several times a week. Before he started writing the report, he also asked to meet me once a week and discussed a lot of matters with me. This is not "acting in collusion with each other". There were times when I made suggestions and he did not entirely accept . If he found something he was not very clear about, he would also take the initiative to ask the Government. I believe this is not "acting in collusion with each other" either. As for our efficiency, I believe that the efficiency of the public officers of the Special Administrative Region Government should be judged by the people. (Laughter)

MR NG LEUNG-SING (in Cantonese): Madam President, please allow me to ask a technical question. In part (c) of the main reply, it is said that the new department will be set up on 1 January next year. Does the Secretary think that 1 January 2000 is a special day so he chooses that date on purpose to set up a new department?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, this is related to the historical contribution of the two Provisional Municipal Councils. If the bill mentioned by Secretary Michael SUEN earlier is passed by the Legislative Council, we need a body, department or organization to take up the present work of the two Municipal Councils in the areas of culture, recreation and sports, such as the management of stadia, playgrounds, libraries, museums and art galleries. So there is certainly a time limit.

MR LEE CHEUK-YAN (in Cantonese): Madam President, in the light of what the Secretary said just now, it has already been proved that the Government and the consultant did act in collusion with each other. Does the Secretary admit that the Consultant's Report was actually not yet finished when the Administration drafted the bill? If the Administration had drafted the bill before the Consultant's Report was finished, what is the use of the Consultant's Report? Since the Administration has already begun drafting the bill ......

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr LEE, what is your supplementary question?

MR LEE CHEUK-YAN (in Cantonese): My supplementary question is: Does the Secretary admit that the Consultant's Report was not yet finished when the Government drafted the bill? If so, what is the use of the Consultant's Report? Why did the Government not just draft the bill directly without commissioning the consultancy study?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, when I answered the Honourable NG Leung-sing just now, I already said that if the Legislative Council approved the relevant procedures, something will happen on 1 January and we need a body to take over the management of cultural affairs; so there are some basic work we have to do. No matter how many proposals are made by the consultant, some work must be done. As we do not want the culture, recreation and sports services provided to the community be interrupted, the drafting has to go ahead. As for what views the consultant puts forward and how we look at those views, it is in fact another issue. I have tried my best to answer this supplementary question.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): The sixth question.

Appointment of Members of Management Committees of Primary and Secondary Schools

6. MR CHEUNG MAN-KWONG (in Cantonese): Madam President, regarding the appointment of members of management committees of primary and secondary schools, will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the respective numbers of persons who currently serve as managers for one, two to five, six to 10 and over 10 primary or secondary schools;

(b) the respective number of primary or secondary schools where there are representatives of parents or teachers serving as managers at present; the names of those schools; and

(c) the qualifications required for serving as managers of schools; the policy and criteria adopted by the Administration for approving applications for registration as managers of schools; whether it has any plans to review such policy and criteria?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President,

(a) The number of persons who currently serve as managers in primary or secondary schools is as follows:

The number of primary or secondary
schools served
Number of persons

1 2 203
2 - 5 892
6 - 10 104
over 10 97

(b) All the 82 government schools (37 secondary schools, 45 primary schools) have representatives of parents and teachers on the School Advisory Councils.

For aided schools, the Application for Registration as a Manager under the existing Education Regulations does not require the applicant to state whether he or she is a representative of the teachers or parents of the school concerned. Therefore, we do not have a full record of such information.

Last December, the Education Department (ED) issued questionnaires on the implementation of school-based management to all aided schools in Hong Kong, of which 67% responded. Among them, 67 primary schools and 77 secondary schools have representatives of parents or teachers serving as managers on their management committees. The names of these schools are at Annex A.

(c) The criteria for approving applications for registration as managers of schools are specified in section 30 of the Education Ordinance, under which the Director of Education may refuse to register an applicant. The relevant section is at Annex B.

To further implement school-based management, the ED is conducting a comprehensive review on the composition of management committees, the power and duties of managers, their qualifications and so on with a view to enhancing the transparency, representation and accountability of management committees.

Annex A

List of Schools Which Have Teacher or Parent Representative
as a School Management Committee Member


School Teacher Rep.
as a SMC Member
Parent Rep.
as a SMC Member

AIDED PRIMARY

1 CCC MONG WONG FAR YOK MOMORIAL PRI SCH YES NO
2 YAN TAK CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES
3 YCH HO SIK NAM PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES
4 YCH CHAN IU SENG PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES
5 YCH CHOI HIN TO PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES
6 YCH LAW CHAN CHOR SI PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES
7 YUEN KONG SCHOOL YES YES
8 YUEN LONG CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PRI SCH YES NO
9 OUR LADY OF CHINA CATHOLIC PRI SCH YES NO
10 TAIKOO PRIMARY SCHOOL YES NO
11 NP KF ASSN MADAM CHAN WAI CHOW MEM SCH YES NO
12 HO LAP PRI SCH (SPSD BY SIK SIK YUEN) YES NO
13 HO MING PRI SCH SPSD BY SIK SIK YUEN YES NO
14 TOI SHAN ASSOCIATION PRIMARY SCHOOL YES NO
15 WING ON SCHOOL YES NO
16 QES OLD STUDENTS' ASSOCIATION PRI SCH YES YES
17 ISLAMIC DHARWOOD PAU MEMORIAL PRI SCH YES NO
18 BUDDHIST CHUNG WAH KORNHILL PRI SCH YES YES
19 BUDD LAM BING YIM MEM SCH (SPSD BY HKBA) YES NO
20 YAU TAM MEI PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES
21 CHOW CLANSMEN ASSOCIATION SCHOOL YES NO
22 BUT SAN SCHOOL YES NO
23 TWGH LEE SAI CHOW MEMORIAL PRI SCH YES YES
24 TWGH YIU DAK CHI MEM PRI SCH (YUEN LONG) YES NO
25 BUI O PUBLIC SCHOOL YES YES
26 YAUMATI CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES


AIDED PRIMARY

27 GOLD AND SILVER EXCHANGE SOCIETY SCHOOL NO YES
28 CHING CHUNG HAU PO WOON PRI SCH YES YES
29 PLK TIN KA PING PRIMARY SCHOOL YES NO
30 PLK STANLEY HO SAU NAN PRIMARY SCHOOL YES NO
31 PLK LEUNG CHOW SHUN KAM PRI SCH YES NO
32 PLK MRS CHAN NAM CHONG MEMORIAL PRI SCH YES NO
33 PLK CHAN YAT PRIMARY SCHOOL YES NO
34 PLK LUK HING TOO PRIMARY SCHOOL YES NO
35 SRBCEPSA HO SAU KI SCHOOL YES YES
36 CARMEL LEUNG SING TAK SCHOOL YES YES
37 WOMEN'S WELFARE CLUB WESTERN DISTRICT HK TANG SHIU KIN PRI SCH YES YES
38 HKRSS TUEN MUN PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES
39 HKTA SHEK WAI KOK PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES
40 HKTA CHAN LUI CHUNG TAK MEM SCH YES NO
41 BAPTIST LUI MING CHOI PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES
42 HOI BUN SCHOOL YES NO
43 KEI TSZ PRIMARY SCHOOL YES NO
44 KEI WAN PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES
45 SA SAM SHING CHUEN LAU NG YING SCHOOL YES NO
46 SA ANN WYLLIE MEMORIAL PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES
47 FAITH LUTHERAN SCHOOL YES NO
48 KING LAM CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL YES NO
49 HOI MING SCHOOL YES YES
50 STFA HO YAT TUNG PRIMARY SCHOOL YES NO
51 CHI HONG PRIMARY SCHOOL YES NO
52 KING SAU SCHOOL YES YES
53 NTW&JWA LEUNG SING TAK PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES
54 ST. BONAVENTURE CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL YES NO
55 ST. ANTHONY'S SCHOOL YES NO


AIDED PRIMARY

56 KWAI CHUNG PUBLIC SCHOOL YES NO
57 ST. MATTHEW'S LUTHERAN SCHOOL YES NO
58 MARYMOUNT PRIMARY SCHOOL NO YES
59 KWONG YUET TONG LO PAN PRIMARY SCHOOL YES YES
60 APLEICHAU ST. PETER'S CATHOLIC PRI SCH YES NO
61 LUNG SHAN SCHOOL YES NO
62 LING MAN SCHOOL YES NO
63 FRESCH FISH TRADERS' SCHOOL YES NO
64 KWAI-MING WU MEM SCH OF PRECIOUS BLOOD YES NO
65 CHUNG SING SCHOOL YES YES
66 WANCHAI SCHOOL YES NO
67 HOLY ANGELS CANOSSIAN SCHOOL YES NO


AIDED SECONDARY

1 KOWLOON TONG SCHOOL (SECONDARY SECTION) YES NO
2 WILLIAM BOOTH SECONDARY SCHOOL YES NO
3 CCC KWEI WAH SHAN COLLEGE YES YES
4 CCC TAM LEE LAI FUN MEMORIAL SEC SCH YES NO
5 YAN OI TONG TIN KA PING SECONDARY SCHOOL YES YES
6 YOT CHAN WONG SUK FONG MEM SEC SCH YES NO
7 YUEN LONG LUTHERAN SECONDARY SCHOOL YES YES
8 PUI SHING CATHOLIC SECONDARY SCHOOL YES YES
9 SHUNG TAK CATHOLIC ENGLISH COLLEGE YES YES
10 KWOK TAK SENG CATHOLIC SEC SCH YES YES
11 HO LAP COLL (SPSD BY THE SIK SIK YUEN) YES NO
12 HO FUNG COLL (SPONSORED BY SIK SIK YUEN) YES NO
13 HO DAO COLL (SPONSORED BY SIK SIK YUEN) YES YES
14 TIN KA PING SECONDARY SCHOOL YES NO
15 SHEK LEI CATHOLIC SECONDARY SCHOOL YES NO
16 ISLAMIC KASIM TUET MEMORIAL COLLEGE YES YES


AIDED SECONDARY

17 NG WAH COLLEGE - SECONDARY YES YES
18 CHUEN YUEN COLLEGE YES YES
19 SUNG TSUN SECONDARY SCHOOL, SAI KUNG YES NO
20 BUDDHIST HUNG SEAN CHAU MEM COLL YES YES
21 BUDDHIST HO NAM KAM COLLEGE YES NO
22 BUDDHIST LEUNG CHIK WAI COLLEGE YES NO
23 YU CHUN KEUNG MEMORIAL COLLEGE NO.2 YES YES
24 HEEP WOH COLLEGE YES YES
25 CARITAS CHONG YUET MING PREVOC SCH YES NO
26 CARITAS CHAN CHUN HA PREVOC SCH - YL YES NO
27 CARITAS CHAN CHUN HA PREVOC SCH - FL YES NO
28 CARITAS ST. FRANCIS PREVOCATIONAL SCHOOL YES NO
29 CARITAS ST. PAUL PREVOCATIONAL SCHOOL YES NO
30 TWGH MRS WU YORK YU MEMORIAL COLLEGE YES YES
31 TWGH LEE CHING DEA MEMORIAL COLLEGE YES YES
32 TWGH SUN HOI DIRECTORS' COLLEGE YES NO
33 TWGH CHANG MING THIEN COLLEGE YES YES
34 TWGH KWOK YAT WAI COLLEGE YES NO
35 TWGH LO KON TING MEMORIAL COLLEGE YES NO
36 PLK C W CHU COLLEGE YES YES
37 HKWMA CHU SHEK LUN PREVOC SCH YES NO
38 WAH YAN COLLEGE, HONG KONG YES NO
39 HKTA THE YUEN YUEN INST NO.1 SEC SCH YES YES
40 HKTA TANG HIN MEMORIAL SEC SCH YES NO
41 BAPTIST LUI MING CHOI SECONDARY SCHOOL NO YES
42 MARDEN FDN CARITAS PREVOC SCH - TUEN MUN YES NO
43 MARDEN FDN CARITAS PREVOC SCH - SHATIN YES NO
44 MARDEN FDN CARITAS PREVOC SCH - CHAI WAN YES NO
45 ELCHK LUTHERAN SECONDARY SCHOOL YES NO
46 POOI TO MIDDLE SCHOOL YES NO
47 LA SALLE COLLEGE YES YES
48 PO CHIU COLLEGE YES YES


AIDED SECONDARY

49 HONG KONG & KOWLOON CHIU CHOW SCHOOL NO YES
50 WAH YAN COLLEGE, KOWLOON YES YES
51 SHUN LEE CATHOLIC SECONDARY SCHOOL YES YES
52 STFA TAM PAK YU COLLEGE YES NO
53 HO NGAI COLL (SPONSORED BY SIK SIK YUEN) YES YES
54 HO YU COLL (SPONSORED BY SIK SIK YUEN) YES NO
55 NEWMAN COLLEGE YES YES
56 SKH LI FOOK HING SECONDARY SCHOOL YES YES
57 ST. ANTONIUS GIRLS' COLLEGE YES YES
58 ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI'S COLLEGE YES YES
59 ST. PAUL'S CO-EDUCATIONAL COLLEGE NO YES
60 ST. JOSEPH'S COLLEGE YES YES
61 ST. MARK'S SCHOOL YES YES
62 ST. MARGARET'S COLLEGE YES YES
63 JU CHING CHU SEC SCH (YUEN LONG) YES YES
64 JU CHING CHU SEC SCH (TUEN MUN) YES NO
65 SACRED HEART CANOSSIAN COLLEGE YES YES
66 MARYMOUNT SECONDARY SCHOOL NO YES
67 MARYKNOLL SECONDARY SCHOOL YES YES
68 MING KEI COLLEGE (ANGLO-CHINESE) YES YES
69 LOK SIN TONG YU KAN HING SCHOOL YES YES
70 PO ON COMM ASSN WONG SIU CHING SEC SCH YES YES
71 PRECIOUS BLOOD SECONDARY SCHOOL YES NO
72 SHI HUI WEN SECONDARY SCHOOL YES NO
73 CSBS MRS AW BOON HAW SEC SCH YES YES
74 FUKIEN SECONDARY SCHOOL (SIU SAI WAN) YES NO
75 YCH LIM POR YEN SECONDARY SCHOOL YES NO
76 HO KOON NATURE EDU CUM ASTRONOMICAL CENTRE YES NO
77 CARITAS ST. JOSEPH PREVOCATIONAL SCHOOL YES NO

Annex B

Section 30, Education Ordinance

(1) The Director may refuse to register an applicant as a manager of a school if it appears to the Director that:

(a) the applicant is not resident in Hong Kong for at least 9 months in each year;

(b) the applicant is not a fit and proper person to be a manager;

(c) the applicant is a person in respect of whom a permit to teach has previously been cancelled;

(d) the applicant has attained the age of 70 years;

(e) in making or in connection with any application:

(i) for registration of a school;

(ii) for registration as a manager or a teacher; or

(iii) to employ a person as a permitted teacher in a school,

the applicant has made any statement or furnished any information which is false in any material particular or by reason of the omission of any material particular; or

(f) the applicant has not established that he has a special interest in the school.

(2) The Director shall refuse to register an applicant as a manager of a school if it appears to the Director that the applicant is not acceptable as manager of the school to the majority of the management committee.

MR CHEUNG MAN-KWONG (in Cantonese): Madam President, according to the reply to part (a) of the question, there are 97 people serving as managers for over 10 schools. Will the Administration inform this Council whether this is a healthy situation? Are these managers doing actual management work for the schools or are they managers in name only? Can they really discharge their duties as school managers? Is this beneficial to the schools and students?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, most of those who serve as managers for a number of schools are managers for the same sponsoring body. Management committees of the schools are certainly charged with the duties of supervising the management, in particular the development, of the schools. But school managers do not need to take up the day-to-day administration or teaching work. As regards the maximum number of schools a manager can serve to ensure he or she has the time to manage the schools, or the question of setting a limit for the number of schools that a person can serve as school manager, the issues are exactly those being dealt with in the review mentioned in my main reply. I said that the ED is conducting a review on the composition of management committees, the powers and duties of managers, their qualifications and so on. If Mr CHEUNG has any further ideas, I will be happy to listen to them to help us conduct the review.

MR YEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, some teacher representatives are managers themselves. As far as the Secretary is aware, are all the representatives elected? Or are they appointed by the management committees on the recommendation of school principals? Has the ED issued any rules to regulate the way by which teacher representatives are elected?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, the way in which a teacher can enter the management committee has been provided for in the School Management Initiative (SMI), if the school concerned has joined the SMI. Under the SMI, a teacher representative should be elected among teachers to the management committee. If the school has not joined the SMI, then there is no prescribed way for teachers to enter the management committee. I agree that the school management committee should make participation by teachers and parents possible. That is why in the current review the composition of management committees is part of the review brief. I believe in the review we will also consider ways for teachers to enter management committees.

MR SIN CHUNG-KAI (in Cantonese): Madam President, in part (b) of the main reply, there is mention of representatives of parents and teachers. The Secretary said 67 primary schools and 77 secondary schools have representatives of parents or teachers serving as managers on their management committees. But I can see that teacher representatives outnumber parent representatives, for only 24 primary schools and 40 middle schools have parent representatives. Since in the concept of education, participation of parents is of great importance, will the Secretary inform this Council whether the low ratio of parent participation will hinder development in education? How can we induce parents to participate in the work of the school?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, I agree that, to promote school-based management and enhance accountability, there should be maximum participation by parents in the management committees. Just now I said if a school joins the SMI of the Education Department, we will request it to consider inviting parents from the parent-teacher association to participate in the work of the management committee. In the current review, we expect the Director of Education to look into ways of setting further rules to provide formal channels for parents to participate in management committees. I believe there are numerous ways to provide such channels and hope each of them can be considered in the review. Among these ways, there is certainly one in which a parent with his/her child/children studying at a school is to be elected among other parents or be nominated or elected by the parent-teacher association. I think it is certainly useful, under school-based management principles, for parents to be given channels formally to have a say in the management, administration and teaching at schools.

MR SIN CHUNG-KAI (in Cantonese): With such a low ratio, will development in education be hindered? My supplementary question was about "hindrance to development in education".

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Secretary, do you have anything to add?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): I can only say at present we do not have concrete evidence or information to assess the exact influence of parent participation on the performance of the school.

MR JAMES TIEN (in Cantonese): Madam President, in section 30 (1)(a) of the Education Ordinance contained in Annex B, it is stated that the Director of Education may refuse to register an applicant as a manager of a school if it appears to the Director that the applicant is not resident in Hong Kong for at least nine months in each year. In other words, the applicant can be a manager if he/she is resident in Hong Kong for three months in each year. I suspect most of the managers are retirees or people who have emigrated out of Hong Kong. Will the Government inform this Council whether in the current review it will amend the nine-month non-residence requirement so that a person is not required to be resident in Hong Kong for a longer period in order to become a school manager?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, I would like to thank the Honourable James TIEN for his suggestion. We will consider his suggestion in the review. Section 30 of the Education Ordinance has been in force for more than 30 years. I think it is time to review a number of its provisions.

MR MICHAEL HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, there is no clear stipulation on the requirements for registration as a school manager. The Honourable CHEUNG Man-kwong mentioned the issue about the number of schools that a manager is allowed to serve. My focus is on the conduct of school managers, who need to set a good example for students. For instance, some managers may have committed criminal offences, or procured sex services, in which case it is questionable whether they can still be fit and proper to serve as school managers. In amending the Education Ordinance, will the Government consider inserting clearer provisions in this regard?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, the application for registration as a manager under the existing regulations requires that the applicant make a declaration regarding his/her criminal records. There are precedents in which the ED has refused applicants' registration on grounds of his/her having been convicted of criminal offences. Another criterion on which the ED will base its decision is the degree of acceptance by the other managers on the management committee of a school. Without criminal records, a person will not be assessed, under existing regulations, for his/her conduct in determining whether he/she is suitable to serve as a manager. This is a point we will be considering in the review, but we will be extremely careful about this as personal conduct can take on multifarious forms. As a Government, if we overuse our discretion, we may have to make consideration in other areas. I fully understand the importance of conduct for a member of the management of educational institutions, especially for a member of a school management committee. However, we must be careful as we consider using our discretionary powers.

DR YEUNG SUM (in Cantonese): Madam President, will the Government inform this Council whether schools which have joined the SMI all have representatives of parents or teachers serving as managers; if not, why not? How will the Government quicken this democratization process?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, I mentioned that if a school joins the SMI of the ED, we will request it to have teacher representatives elected from among teachers. Furthermore, if a school has a parent-teacher association there should be members of the association in the management committee. The information I have on hand is from the results of a questionnaire survey conducted last December. Having had the benefit of Dr the Honourable YEUNG Sum's comments, I will ask the ED to see if schools which have joined the SMI have strictly complied with our request. (Annex III) In addition, we are happy to consider the request for making clear stipulations on the requirements for representatives of parents or teachers serving as managers.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): We have spent more than one and a half hours on oral questions today, so I will draw the line here.

WRITTEN ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS

Native-speaking English Teachers Scheme

7. DR YEUNG SUM (in Chinese): Regarding the Native-speaking English Teachers (NETs) Scheme launched this school year, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has conducted a survey on the number of NETs employed under the Scheme who plan to renew their contracts;

(i) if so , the details of that;

(ii) if not, the reasons for that and whether it has any plan to conduct such a survey; if there is no such plan, the reasons for it;

(b) whether it has evaluated, in the event that the majority of NETs do not renew their contracts, the impact on teaching at schools as well as on the students;

(c) whether it knows if the NETs have encountered difficulties in teaching and in adapting to school life; if there are difficulties, the details of them; and

(d) whether it will review the Scheme and adopt measures to ensure that all qualified schools can recruit suitable NETs?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Chinese): Madam President,

(a) The first batch of NETs will complete their contracts by the end of August 2000. The Education Department (ED) therefore plans to conduct a survey on schools employing NETs in early 2000 to find out the number of NETs who intend to renew their contracts.

(b) The contracts of NETs last for two years. At present, there is no indication that a large number of NETs will not renew their contracts. If some of them choose to leave upon completion of their contracts, the ED will continue to recruit qualified NETs for schools in need. We believe that the impact on schools and students will be limited.

(c) NETs were provided with information on Hong Kong's education system, teaching and living environment and so on, by the ED when they were recruited. After reporting for duty, induction courses and workshops have been organized for them and monthly newsletters have also been published to help them integrate with the local community and adapt to the school environment. While most NETs have adapted themselves to teaching in Hong Kong, a minority of them are still unable to adapt fully to our education system or working environment. Moreover, some schools are not able to allocate work effectively to NETs so that they can display their professional capabilities. The ED is taking active steps to help the NETs concerned, as well as to assist schools to better allocate work to NETs.

(d) The Standing Committee on Language Education and Research has commissioned the Hong Kong Institute of Education to evaluate the effectiveness of the NETs Scheme. An interim report is expected to be completed by the 1999-2000 academic year and a final report by the 2000-01 academic year.

People Treated with Violence During Detention

8. MR HO SAI-CHU (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the number of complaints received by the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) about people being treated with violence by police officers during their detention at police stations in each of the past three years, and the number of substantiated cases; and

(b) the measures in place to prevent the occurrence of such incidents?

SECRETARY FOR SECURITY (in Chinese): Madam President,

(a) The number of complaints received by the CAPO in the past three years about people being assaulted by police officers during their detention at police stations and the result of investigation are as follows:


1996 1997 1998

Results of investigations endorsed by
the Independent Police Complaints
Council (IPCC):

Substantiated1 0 0
Substantiated other than reported0 0 0
Not fully substantiated1 2 0
Unsubstantiated33 17 5
Curtailed2 1 1
False27 32 8
Not fault0 0 0
Not pursuable218 104 34
Withdrawn252 247 104

Sub-total: 534 403 152

Outstanding cases* 2 9 160

Total: 536 412 312

* Cases of which the investigation is still in progress or the results are still subject to the endorsement by the IPCC.

(b) We believe that the provision of proper training and education to police officers is the most effective preventive measure. All police officers are trained to treat all persons as individuals with humanity and respect and to act within the law at all times. The training courses cover the "Rules and Directions for the Questioning of Suspects and the Taking of Statements" that was published in 1992 and the relevant disciplinary codes stipulated in the Police Force Ordinance (Cap. 232), Police General Orders and Headquarters Orders. One of the main objectives of these courses is to ensure the proper treatment of detained persons. All police officers are made aware that an infringement of the laws, rules or regulations will be subject to prosecution or internal disciplinary proceedings.

In addition, to avoid possible abuse of powers, the Government is implementing a number of proposals made by an inter-departmental Working Group on a Law Reform Commission Report on Arrest. Since February 1999, the police have formalized the current practice by appointing a "Custody Officer" and a "Review Officer" in each police station to ensure detainees are treated properly and detained no longer than required. A total of 60 video interview rooms have been provided in all major divisional police stations since the end of 1998 with a view to increasing the transparency of the process of questioning suspects. The Government is also working on the implementation of other legislative proposals related to the right of detainees and the limit on the length of detention.

If persons consider that they are maltreated by police officers during their detention in police custody, they can lodge a complaint with the CAPO. Investigations conducted by the CAPO will be reviewed and monitored by the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) before they are endorsed. The IPCC is a civilian oversight body comprising non-officials appointed by the Chief Executive from a wide spectrum of the community.

Application for Transfer of Secondary One Students

9. MR DAVID CHU (in Chinese): It is reported that according to a survey, the rate of application for transfer in respect of Secondary One students was 12% on average in this school year, while such rate among Chinese middle school students was three times higher than that among their counterparts in Anglo-Chinese secondary schools. In this regard, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of Secondary One students allocated to Chinese middle schools who have applied for transfer to Anglo-Chinese secondary schools and the number of students acting vice versa since the beginning of this school year; the respective numbers of successful applications in each case; whether it knows the reasons for their applying for transfer; and

(b) of the policy and specific measures it will adopt to eliminate the general belief held by parents and students that it is more advantageous to study in Anglo-Chinese secondary schools than in Chinese middle schools?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Chinese): Madam President,

(a) If schools have unfilled Secondary One places after the announcement of the Secondary One Places Allocation results, they can accept students on transfer at their own discretion. We understand that many parents of Secondary One students allocated to Chinese medium schools have, on behalf of their children, applied for transfer to English medium schools. However, as the school authorities and students concerned are not required to submit applications or reasons for transfer to the Education Department (ED) prior to the transfer, we do not have specific information on this aspect at hand.

(b) The Government publicizes the advantages of mother tongue teaching through television, radio and other media on a regular basis. Since the beginning of this school year, the ED has been conducting classroom observations on the medium of instruction for Secondary One students in various secondary schools. It has been observed that, in general, Chinese medium schools generally out-perform English medium schools in terms of the effectiveness in teaching and learning, students' participation and overall classroom atmosphere. The observations have been brought home to the public through the media. In addition, the ED distributes pamphlets and posters on mother tongue teaching to schools and parents. It also holds seminars on the medium of instruction for parents and teachers every year. During the seminars, the ED briefs the participants on the advantages of mother tongue teaching and the findings of studies on the issue in the hope that both teachers and parents will have a deeper understanding of the benefits of mother tongue teaching on students.

The Board of Education and the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research have set up a working group to advise the Government on ways and means to further promote mother tongue teaching. The working group has started to visit schools and to consult educational organizations, school principals, teachers and parents. It intends to submit a preliminary report in September 1999.

Also, we will continue to encourage more secondary schools to adopt the medium of instruction best suited to the language proficiency of their students, and we will provide supportive measures to enhance English language teaching for Chinese medium schools. We believe that, in the course of time, more parents and members of the public will understand the advantages of mother tongue teaching.

Extension of the Scope of the Employment Ordinance

10. MR CHAN KWOK-KEUNG (in Chinese): In its reply to questions raised in the Provisional Legislative Council on 1 April 1998, the Government said that it was considering a proposal to extend the scope of the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) to cover local seafarers working on Hong Kong registered vessels plying river trade routes, and undertook to introduce the necessary amendment bill into the Legislative Council in "the next Session". In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) it still intends to introduce the relevant bill into this Council in the current Session; if so, the timetable for that; if not, the reasons for that; and

(b) it has assessed the number of seafarers to be covered by the extension of the scope of the Ordinance?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Chinese): Madam President,

(a) The Government is still considering whether or not there is a need to extend the scope of the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) to cover local seafarers working on board Hong Kong registered vessels plying river trade routes.

This study relates to the enforcement of the Merchant Shipping (Seafarers) Ordinance (Cap. 478) and the relevant maritime practices. The issues involved are complicated. They relate also to the purview of other government Policy Bureaux and departments. As such, these issues require detailed study and careful consideration. We plan to complete the study later this year and will consult the Labour Advisory Board on the findings of the study.

(b) According to the record of the Marine Department, as at 31 March 1999, there were 909 local seafarers working on Hong Kong registered vessels plying river trade routes.

Implementation of the Recommendations of the Report on Arrest

11. MR JAMES TO (in Chinese): In view of the public concern over the successive deaths of detainees in recent days, will the Government inform this Council whether action will be taken expeditiously to implement the recommendations of the Report on Arrest, released by the Law Reform Commission (LRC) in August 1992, to introduce into Hong Kong provisions on the questioning and treatment of persons held in police custody, similar to those of the United Kingdom's Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, so as to protect the rights of the detainees?

SECRETARY FOR SECURITY (in Chinese): Madam President, the Government is very concerned about the recent incidents of deaths of detainees. All police officers must act within the laws when arresting and detaining suspects as well as questioning suspects. In this regard, the "Rules and Directions for the Questioning of Suspects and the Taking of Statements" (the "Rules and Directions") published in the Gazette in 1992 have provided detailed rules, apart from other relevant laws. The "Rules and Directions" included some of the recommendations contained in the "Report on Arrest", which was published by the LRC in August 1992. For example, additional safeguards have been provided to children and young persons who have been arrested and an arrested person has the right to consult his friend and solicitor. Any police officer found to have violated these rules or regulations may be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

The LRC Report on Arrest recommended that law enforcement agencies should adopt a number of legal provisions in the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act of the United Kingdom, which sets out detailed procedural requirements and safeguards governing the operation of law enforcement agencies to avoid possible abuse of powers. The Government formed an inter-departmental Working Group to study the LRC Report and arrived at its own proposals by striking a balance between the need of effective law enforcement and the protection of rights of individuals. In June 1997, the then Governor in Council decided to implement the Working Group's proposals in a phased manner over the next three years.

Implementation of the proposals commenced thereafter. Proposals relating to detention include the provision of 60 video interview rooms in the Police Force to increase the transparency of the process of questioning suspects. Disciplined service departments have also published leaflets on the powers and procedures relating to stop, search and arrest so that people and suspects would know their rights more clearly. Notices detailing the rights of persons in custody are now given to such persons.

Besides, since February 1999, the Police Force have formalized the existing arrangements to appoint a "Custody Officer" and a "Review Officer" in each police station to ensure that detainees are treated properly and detained no longer than required.

Furthermore, the Government is actively formulating legislation to implement other proposals relating to detention made by the Working Group in order to instill greater certainty on the length of detention; to provide continuous and accountable review of the period of detention and to put the right of an arrested person to inform a friend or a relative or consult a lawyer privately at any time currently contained in the "Rules and Directions" on a statutory basis.

We attach a high degree of importance to this issue and will actively pursue within this year the recommendations of the Working Group in this area.

Adolescents and Children with Psychiatric Problems

12. MR LAW CHI-KWONG (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the channels through which adolescents and children with psychiatric problems are referred to various psychiatric clinics for treatment at present;

(b) the number of such cases referred to each psychiatric clinic in the past year; and

(c) the current average waiting time in each psychiatric clinic before such patients receive their first diagnosis and treatment; whether there is a difference in the waiting time for the patients of various clinics; if so, the reasons for that?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Chinese): Madam President,

(a) At present, children and adolescents with psychiatric problems are referred to the psychiatric specialist outpatient clinics of the Hospital Authority (HA) by:

(i) private medical practitioners;

(ii) HA doctors of other clinical specialities;

(iii) the Student Health Centre, the Child Assessment Centre and the general outpatient clinics of the Department of Health;

(iv) clinical psychologists of the Education Department; and

(v) clinical psychologists of the Social Welfare Department.

(b) The HA provides specialist child and adolescent psychiatric outpatient services mainly through the Yau Ma Tei Child Psychiatric Centre of the Yau Ma Tei Specialist Clinic. Moreover, the psychiatric specialist outpatient clinics of the Tuen Mun Polyclinic, the Queen Mary Hospital and the Prince of Wales Hospital also provide the same kind of service. The total number of new cases referred to these clinics in 1998-99 are as follows:


Total no. of new cases
(Projected)
(1998-99)


Yau Ma Tei Child Psychiatric Centre
Yau Ma Tei Specialist Clinic

765
Psychiatric Specialist Outpatient Clinic
Tuen Mun Polyclinic

312
Psychiatric Specialist Outpatient Clinic
Queen Mary Hospital

281
Psychiatric Specialist Outpatient Clinic
Prince of Wales Hospital
143

(c) The average waiting time for first appointment for child and adolescent psychiatric patients in 1998-99 is as follows:


Average waiting time for
new appointment
(weeks)


Yau Ma Tei Child Psychiatric Centre
Yau Ma Tei Specialist Clinic

4.7
Psychiatric Specialist Outpatient Clinic
Tuen Mun Polyclinic

3.3
Psychiatric Specialist Outpatient Clinic
Queen Mary Hospital

12.6
Psychiatric Specialist Outpatient Clinic
Prince of Wales Hospital
21.4

The average waiting time for first appointment in these clinics varies. Since the psychiatric specialist out-patient clinics of the Queen Mary Hospital and the Prince of Wales Hospital also provide services for other psychiatric patients, there is a fewer number of doctor consultation sessions for child and adolescent psychiatric patients and the average waiting time for new appointment is therefore longer. Besides, the average waiting time for new appointment is longer for those clinics with a higher number of new case referrals or old case attendances. A triage system is already in place in these clinics, where urgent cases are accorded priority to ensure that patients in critical conditions can receive immediate or early treatment.

Venue Charges of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

13. MRS SOPHIE LEUNG (in Chinese): I have received a complaint that the charges for the use of the venues in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) are high; for example, as high as $16,800 were charged for the four-hour rental of a conference room. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it will consider proposing to the management of the HKCEC that it formulate measures to reduce or waive the venue charges for certain industrial and commercial promotional activities, so as to assist industrialists in developing business opportunities; if not, the reasons for that?

SECRETARY FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY (in Chinese): The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) has contracted out the operation of the HKCEC to a private operator. The HKCEC operator receives no subsidy from the Government or the TDC, and is required to pay from its gross income an annual fee to the TDC at the percentages agreed in its contract with the TDC. The operator sets rental charges for the exhibition and convention areas in the HKCEC in accordance with commercial principles and market conditions, and taking account of suggestions and recommendations made by the TDC.

The HKCEC has meeting rooms of different sizes ranging from 38 sq m to 740 sq m. At present, for a medium size meeting room of 50 sq m, the rental for a half day session is $943. The case quoted in the question appears to pertain to the rental charge for a meeting room of the largest size, that is, 740 sq m. The room is comparable to a hotel ballroom in terms of size, ambience and quality of services. The daily rental rate is currently $45.6 per sq m, hence $16,800 for a four-hour session. From information provided by the TDC, the rate is lower than those charged by most of the top hotels in Hong Kong for a ballroom.

Following consultation with the TDC, the HKCEC operator has recently announced a package of rental incentives for implementation in year 2000. The incentives are aimed at enhancing the utilization of the HKCEC in the prevailing economic climate. The rental charges of the HKCEC will be frozen for year 2000. In addition, all events can enjoy a significant discount of up to 40% for low season bookings in the months of February, July, August and December in 2000. For new exhibitions, the organizers may qualify for rental discounts of 10% to 30% by contracting for three years, demonstrating proven "international" content, and taking up over 3 510 sq m in space. Exhibition and convention organizers will have a greater choice of size configurations of venue space and may take up additional areas in smaller increments. Major international conventions and conferences which are expected to have a positive impact on Hong Kong's economy will also be eligible for special discounts.

Since the HKCEC operator needs to operate the HKCEC on a self-financing basis and to pay an annual fee to the TDC, it would only be fair that it should be allowed to operate the HKCEC in accordance with commercial principles and market conditions. The present arrangement also requires the operator to be sensitive to the need for setting the rental charges at competitive levels, and the recent announcement of the package of rental incentives indicates that the operator is sensitive to this need. We do not consider it necessary for the Government to ask the operator to further reduce or waive the venue rental charges for certain industrial and commercial activities. The Government, however, will convey the concerns of industry about the rental charges of the HKCEC to the operator, through the TDC, where necessary. The TDC will also give advice to the operator during annual consultations on rental charges between the TDC and the operator.

Legislation on the Operation of Cranes

14. DR RAYMOND HO (in Chinese): On 27 March 1999, a heavy crane at the Sai Kung Marine Police Base suddenly overturned while in operation, leading to the death of a marine police officer. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether there is at present any legislation requiring operators to pass a skill test and obtain a licence before being qualified to operate that type of crane in question; if so, the details of that;

(b) whether the Administration have issued safety guidelines or codes of practice to people in the trade on the operation of such cranes; and whether these guidelines or codes have specified the safe distance to be kept between the crane in operation and other non-operators; and

(c) whether government departments are exempted from complying with the guidelines and codes; if so, the details and reasons for that?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Chinese): Madam President,

(a) Regulation 15A(1)(b) of the Factories and Industrial Undertakings (FIU) (Lifting Appliances and Lifting Gear) Regulations stipulates that the owner of a crane shall ensure that it is only operated by a person who holds a valid certificate issued by the Construction Industry Training Authority (CITA) or by any other person specified by the Commissioner for Labour. The crane involved in the accident is a truck-mounted hydraulic crane which is covered by the regulations.

At present the CITA runs four types of crane-operating courses, viz. for truck-mounted crane, crawler-mounted mobile crane, wheeled telescopic mobile crane and tower crane. The curriculum of the training courses consists of theoretical and practical training and, depending on the type of crane, lasts for 12 to 80 days. A trainee has to pass a trade test with written and practical elements before he is awarded a certificate. This certificate, which is usually valid for five years from the date of issue, will indicate clearly the type of crane that the holder can operate. Upon the expiry of the certificate, the operator has to attend a refresher course and pass a test before his certificate is revalidated.

(b) The Labour Department published a "Code of Practice for Safe Use of Mobile Cranes and Tower Cranes" in March 1998 to assist duty holders to comply with the provisions of the FIU (Lifting Appliances and Lifting Gear) Regulations. This code provides guidance on the safe application and operation of mobile cranes and tower cranes to ensure the safety of employees working at or in close proximity to a moving crane. Apart from the general requirement of a safe system of work which should cater for the safe lifting operation and the safety of non-operators, the Code also provides guidelines regarding the safe distance between the crane in operation and other non-operators in different situations.

(c) The "Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Mobile Cranes and Tower Cranes" was issued under the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance (FIUO). Like all other Codes of Practice under the FIUO, this Code is not part of the law and as such duty holders under the FIUO are not legally bound to comply with the guidelines stipulated therein. However, in any criminal proceedings where a duty holder is alleged to have failed to discharge or perform a duty imposed by the law, he may tender evidence that he has complied with the Code to negate the charge. Although the FIUO under which the Code is made does not bind the Government legally, the Government is however bound by the general duties provisions under the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance (OSHO) to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the safety and health of its employees at work. Such general duties include, inter alia, arrangements for ensuring, so far as reasonably practicable, safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage or transport of plant or substances. Since a crane is a "plant" under the OSHO, the relevant government department is duty-bound to comply with the relevant provisions to ensure the safety of its employees during the operation of a crane.

Detection of the Speed of Vessels

15. MRS MIRIAM LAU (in Chinese): It is reported that laser guns are used to detect the speed of vessels. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) when the Administration started to use instruments to detect the speed of vessels; and of the reasons for using the instruments;

(b) of the categories of detection instruments used by the Administration at present and the principle of speed detection by such instruments;

(c) in respect of each type of vessels, of the number of speeding cases in which the drivers were prosecuted in the past year; of the extent (in nautical miles) to which the average speed of these vessels exceeded the stipulated speed limit; and of the average penalties imposed on those convicted; and

(d) how the existing legislation regulates the installation of speed indicators on vessels; whether there is a provision that these indicators should detect speeds accurately under different flow velocities; if not, the ways by which the drivers of vessels learn of the actual speed of their vessels?

SECRETARY FOR ECONOMIC SERVICES (in Chinese): Madam President,

(a) Since 1997, government departments have been using laser guns for detecting the speed of vessels. The purpose is to more accurately monitor the speed of vessels and prosecute those exceeding the speed limit to ensure navigation safety.

(b) Laser guns operate in a similar manner as those used to detect speeding of vehicles on the road, and are based on the Doppler principle, which measures the speed of object based on frequency shift in the laser signal reflected from the moving object.

(c) In 1998, there were 119 prosecution cases for speeding, involving 53 launches and ferries, 62 pleasure vessels and four miscellaneous craft. On average, these vessels exceeded 7.5 knots above the stipulated speed limit, and were fined $650 each.

(d) There is no requirement under the existing legislation for speed indicators to be installed on vessels, but most vessels operating in Hong Kong have such instruments fitted. The masters of vessels can determine their speed by observing the time taken between fixed objects ashore or on the water. This is a basic seamanship skill which qualified masters plying along frequently travelled harbour routes should possess. Government departments will take into account the velocity of the current in determining the speed of the vessel before taking prosecution action.

Consultancy Study on Community Rehabilitation Network

16. MR LEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Chinese): In its reply to a question raised by this Council on 11 November 1998, the Government said that the consultancy study on Community Rehabilitation Network (CRN) would be completed by the end of 1998, and that the consultancy report would be published once the Administration had examined it. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the consultancy study has already been completed; if not, of the expected date for its completion;

(b) when the Administration plans to publish the consultancy report; and

(c) whether the consultant has recommended the establishment of CRN centres in the New Territories;

(i) if so, whether the Administration will implement the recommendation; if it will, when those centres are expected to be set up; and

(ii) if not, whether it knows the reasons for that?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Chinese): Madam President,

(a) In July 1998, the Government commissioned the Department of Community and Family Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong to conduct a study on the existing CRN and to make recommendations on its future development. The review was completed in January 1999.

(b) The consultants' report is being considered by the relevant government departments, the Hospital Authority and the current CRN operator, the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation. We shall discuss the report in the Legislative Council Welfare Panel on 10 May at which time, the consultant's report will be made public.

(c) The consultants have recommended that a regional centre be established in the New Territories (NT West). Subject to the availability of suitable sites and the views of interested parties including the current CRN operator, it is hoped that a centre will be set up in the New Territories in the current financial year.

Study on the Cyberport Project

17. MR YEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Chinese): It is reported that the Administration had commissioned Arthur Andersen and Company to conduct a study on the Cyberport project. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the details of the study; and

(b) whether there is any plan to publish the report on the study; if not, the reasons for that?

SECRETARY FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND BROADCASTING (in Chinese): Madam President,

(a) The Government has engaged "Arthur Andersen Business Consulting" to make a strategic assessment of developing a Cyberport in Hong Kong, having regard to global development in the information services industries, and to gather views of potential Cyberport users on the features and characteristics of the proposed Cyberport.

(b) The consultant firm is finalizing the formal study report. The Government will submit the executive summary of the report to the Information Technology and Broadcasting Panel as soon as possible.

Quality of Sandwich Class Housing Scheme Flats

18. DR DAVID LI: It is reported that about 500 buyers of flats at The Pinnacle, a Sandwich Class Housing Scheme (SCHS) project in Tseung Kwan O, complained about the quality of the new flats to be taken over by them and the construction delays in the project. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows if:

(a) similar problems on quality of flats and construction delays have been identified in other housing projects under the SCHS; and

(b) the Hong Kong Housing Society (HS) will step up its monitoring of the construction work of housing projects under the SCHS?

SECRETARY FOR HOUSING: Madam President, so far, there has been only one other SCHS project in which construction work has been delayed owing to bankruptcy of the main contractor. The HS has awarded the project to another contractor and the project has been completed.

In view of the problems encountered in the case of The Pinnacle, the HS will step up quality control of projects under the SCHS by introducing the following measures:

(a) hiring more professionals in related fields to monitor the quality of work at every stage of construction;

(b) setting up sample flats on site for benchmarking; and

(c) employing independent estate surveyors nearer completion to certify that the flats are of a satisfactory standard, and to assist purchasers in the inspection of flats.

Shuttle Bus Service for Lok Ma Chau Boundary Crossing

19. MR LAU KONG-WAH (in Chinese): It is reported that during the preceding Easter holidays, quite a number of people going to the Mainland through the Lok Ma Chau Boundary Crossing were required to wait at Lok Ma Chau Public Transport Interchange for several hours before they could get on shuttle buses to travel to the Huanggang Check Point. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) there is any difference between the operating frequency of such shuttle bus service on weekdays and that on holidays; if so, the details of it;

(b) it knows the reasons for the travellers' having to wait for several hours during the above-mentioned holiday period before they could get on the shuttle buses; and of the improvement measures that the Administration will adopt to prevent the recurrence of such a situation; and

(c) consideration will be given to designating shuttle bus stations in the vicinity of the Sheung Shui Station of the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR), to provide shuttle bus service between Sheung Shui and the Huanggang Check Point, so as to meet the demand of huge crowds of travellers for the Mainland; if not, the reasons for that?

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Chinese): Madam President,

(a) The Lok Ma Chau ─ Huanggang Shuttle Bus Service is a scheduled, cross-boundary public coach service for passengers travelling between the Lok Ma Chau Public Transport Interchange on the Hong Kong side, and the Huanggang Check Point on the Shenzhen side. The approved service frequency is every 12-15 minutes on weekdays but frequencies are improved at peak periods to meet demand. During peak hours on weekdays, the service frequency can go up to five-minute intervals depending on demand. During holidays, it can be increased to three-minute intervals.

(b) The Shuttle Bus Service ran at three-minute intervals for the peak hours during the last Easter and Ching Ming holidays. On those days, all available immigration and customs facilities were fully manned. The design daily handling capacity of the Immigration Hall of 25 000 was exceeded by the daily patronage of 44 000 on the peak day of the last Easter holidays. This compares to the average daily patronage of 12 000 for the Shuttle Bus Service during weekends and holidays. As the number of boundary crossers far exceeded the handling capacity of the facilities, some waiting was inevitable. The number of passengers waiting at the Lok Ma Chau Public Transport Interchange had at one time build up to 1 500, resulting in a maximum waiting period of two hours.

Throughput of the Lok Ma Chau Control Point is constrained by existing crossing facilities at the Control Point and manpower resources. Plans are in hand to expand the Lok Ma Chau Immigration Hall by 2002. This will increase the daily handling capacity from 25 000 to 45 000 passengers. Over the longer term, the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line of the KCR East Line is scheduled for completion in 2004. Both of these measures will help relieve pressure at the Control Point. In addition, works have already started to construct 10 additional kiosks at the Lok Ma Chau Control Point, for completion by the end of 1999. This will increase the design handling capacity from 19 000 to 32 000 vehicles a day. The departments concerned will review how efficiency can be improved following the completion of the kiosks. Meanwhile, the Government will monitor the patronage pattern of the Shuttle Bus Service and keep under review crowd control and traffic management measures at Lok Ma Chau, especially during major holidays. Arrangements will also be made during peak periods to disseminate through the media information on the crowd build up and the estimated waiting time at the Control Point.

(c) The peak period congestion experienced by passengers of the Shuttle Bus Service is the result of the capacity of the immigration and customs hall. The long-term solution is to divert as many passengers as possible to mass carriers, such as the rail, and to expand cross-boundary facilities. Just introducing additional Shuttle Bus stations or new services would bring in more traffic to the Control Point, thus aggravating congestion there, and would not improve the capacity of the boundary-crossing facilities.

Impact of Air Pollution on Health of Primary School Students

20. MISS EMILY LAU (in Chinese): It is reported that according to a medical survey, primary school students studying in industrial or old urban areas have chances of developing respiratory diseases which are two to three times higher than the chances of those studying in new towns. In this connection, will the executive authorities inform this Council:

(a) whether they know the details of the survey;

(b) whether the Administration has conducted any survey on the chances of primary school students studying in industrial or old urban areas developing respiratory diseases; if so, the details of that; and

(c) of the measures the Administration has in place to mitigate the effects of air pollution on the health of primary school students studying in such areas?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Chinese): Madam President,

(a) The reports may be referring to a study conducted by the Department of Community and Family Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong between March 1995 and April 1996. The study, which was sponsored by the Environment and Conservation Fund, attempted to look into the effects of air pollution on health of school children aged between eight and 12 in Hong Kong. Students from 12 primary schools from Kwun Tong, Mong Kok and Sha Tin were chosen for the study. Kwun Tong was included as it is a district with a combination of industrial and vehicle pollution; Mong Kok is affected mainly from vehicle emissions whereas the Sha Tin district was chosen as the control district for its relatively clean air. The study looked into the relationship between air pollution levels and various parameters including self-reported respiratory symptoms, lung function, levels of immune biomarkers and cardio-pulmonary fitness among students in the three districts.

A gradient was observed for most of the health indicators among the three districts with Kwun Tong having the worst performance and Sha Tin having the best performance after adjusting for potential confounding factors. The study concluded that air quality seemed to be an important factor for many of the health indicators and improvements in air quality would likely bring about a reduction in respiratory morbidity in the population.

(b) The Administration has not conducted surveys on the chances of a particular age group contracting respiratory diseases at the district level. Between 1989 and 1992, the University of Hong Kong conducted a two-phase study to measure the impact on the respiratory health of primary school children of a regulation to reduce sulphur levels in industrial fuel oil implemented in 1990. Surveys were carried out to compare the health of school children in Kwai Tsing and Southern districts before and after implementation of the regulation. The results showed that self-reported symptoms such as cough, sore throat and wheezing and levels of bronchial hyper-responsiveness had decreased in the relatively more polluted Kwai Tsing district after implementation of the regulation.

In 1996, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) commissioned the Chinese University of Hong Kong to conduct territory-wide studies to assess the acute health effects due to ambient air pollution on the Hong Kong community. To establish the validity of the observations from this survey, the EPD subsequently commissioned the University of Hong Kong to update and conduct further studies covering a longer period. The data being developed through these surveys is beginning to reveal positive associations between daily hospital admissions and respiratory and cardiovascular ailment and the various measured air pollutant levels. The EPD intends to continue and to develop these studies so that a reliable basis for directing new pollution control programmes can be established.

(c) Measures aimed at reducing both general and street-level air pollution are already being implemented. Such measures are equally effective in protecting the health of both the population at large and susceptible groups such as children. Over the last decade controls have been tightened on emissions from all sources. Among other things low sulphur industrial and automotive diesel fuel has been introduced; major industrial and other stationary sources of air pollution have been placed under control through a licensing scheme; and regulations to control open burning and construction dust have been introduced. Total emissions of sulphur dioxide have reduced from 190 000 tonnes in 1993 to 80 000 tonnes in 1997, and for nitrogen dioxide have reduced from 230 000 tonnes in 1993 to 123 000 tonnes in 1997. But given Hong Kong's continued intensive development and population growth, transport emissions have been increasing and are being trapped by more high rise buildings. Fresh approaches are needed to sustain the development of the city without undermining the environment or the health of citizens. Within the context of the Comprehensive Transport Study and the Railway Development Study, strategic environmental impact assessments are being carried out to ensure that decisions on future transport patterns will support environmental objectives as well as mobility requirements. In parallel, the Administration will continue to develop programmes of activities to reduce the environmental impact of our transport system.

BILLS

First Reading of Bills

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Bills: First Reading.

ADAPTATION OF LAWS (NO. 10) BILL 1999

LABOUR TRIBUNAL (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

SMALL CLAIMS TRIBUNAL (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

HONG KONG WAR MEMORIAL PENSIONS (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

PROTECTION OF WAGES ON INSOLVENCY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

REVENUE BILL 1999

ORGANIZED AND SERIOUS CRIMES (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

CLERK (in Cantonese): Adaptation of Laws (No. 10) Bill 1999
Labour Tribunal (Amendment) Bill 1999
Small Claims Tribunal (Amendment) Bill 1999
Hong Kong War Memorial Pensions (Amendment) Bill 1999
Protection of Wages on Insolvency (Amendment) Bill 1999
Revenue Bill 1999
Organized and Serious Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1999.

Bills read the First time and ordered to be set down for Second Reading pursuant to Rule 53(3) of the Rules of Procedure.

Second Reading of Bills

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Bills: Second Reading.

ADAPTATION OF LAWS (NO. 10) BILL 1999

CHIEF SECRETARY FOR ADMINISTRATION (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move the Second Reading of the Adaptation of Laws (No. 10) Bill 1999. The purpose of this Bill is to effect adaptations to six Ordinances in relation to diplomatic privileges and immunities to bring them into conformity with the Basic Law and with Hong Kong's status as a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. These Ordinances are, namely, the Privileges and Immunities (Joint Liaison Group and Land Commission) Ordinance, International Organizations and Diplomatic Privileges Ordinance, Administration of Estates by Consular Officers Ordinance, Chinese Visa Office (Privileges and Immunities) Ordinance, Consular Relations Ordinance and Consular Convention Ordinance.

Although the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance has already specified how terminology inconsistent with the Basic Law or with the status of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China is to be construed, it is considered inappropriate to retain such terminology in our laws after the reunification. Accordingly, we deem it necessary to introduce the necessary terminological amendments to these six Ordinances. The proposed amendments are mainly terminological changes. For instance, reference to "the colony" will be replaced with "Hong Kong" while that to "England" and "United Kingdom" will be replaced with "the People's Republic of China" to bring them into conformity with the status of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Provisions relating to the privileges and immunities enjoyed by officers of British Commonwealth Office or official representatives of the British Commonwealth countries are now repealed as they are no longer applicable to Hong Kong. In addition, provisions implementing the bilateral agreements between the United Kingdom and other countries are also repealed, since all such bilateral agreements have become inapplicable to Hong Kong since 1 July 1997. The aforementioned adaptations when passed into law shall take effect retrospectively, as from the date of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Madam President, apart from bringing the six Ordinances into conformity with the Basic Law and with the status of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region, the Bill also obviates the need to make cross references to the Hong Kong Reunification Ordinance and the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance. I hereby urge Honourable Members to support the early passage of this Bill into law.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the Adaptation of Laws (No. 10) Bill 1999 be read the Second time.

In accordance with the Rules of Procedure, the debate is now adjourned and the Bill referred to the House Committee.

LABOUR TRIBUNAL (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

CHIEF SECRETARY FOR ADMINISTRATION (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move the Second Reading of the Labour Tribunal (Amendment) Bill 1999. The Labour Tribunal was established in 1973 to provide a quick, inexpensive and simple method of settling some of the more common types of dispute between employers and employees. The Judiciary conducted a review on the operations of the Tribunal and proposed to make amendment to the Labour Tribunal Ordinance in order to improve the operations of the Tribunal.

The Bill will bring about improvements mainly in the following aspects: Firstly, according to the existing Ordinance, the Tribunal does not have jurisdiction over claims the cause of which arises more than 12 months before the date on which the claim is filed. With this amendment to the Ordinance, individuals will no longer need to pursue their claims in the District Court or the Court of First Instance if they cannot comply with this requirement. Secondly, the Presiding Officer will be given sufficient powers to deal with the situation in which the Tribunal's time is wasted by litigants through non-attendance at hearings, failure to produce the necessary documents, or failure to comply with certain orders made by the Presiding Officer. Finally, depending on the circumstances, cases can be transferred to the Small Claims Tribunal. This arrangement will enable cases which will be handled by the Small Claims Tribunal more suitably to be transferred. On the other hand, litigants will not be required to re-submit their claims.

Madam President, this Bill will improve the operations of the Labour Tribunal so that an effective channel can remain to settle disputes between employers and employees. I hope Honourable Members can support the early passage of the Bill into law.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the Labour Tribunal (Amendment) Bill 1999 be read the Second time.

In accordance with the Rules of Procedure, the debate is now adjourned and the Bill referred to the House Committee.

SMALL CLAIMS TRIBUNAL (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

CHIEF SECRETARY FOR ADMINISTRATION (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move the Second Reading of the Small Claims Tribunal (Amendment) Bill 1999. The Small Claims Tribunal was established in 1976 to provide an expeditious, inexpensive and simple channel of adjudication for civil disputes. The Judiciary conducted a review on the operations of the Tribunal and proposed to make certain amendments to the Small Claims Tribunal Ordinance to ensure the smooth operations of the Tribunal.

The Bill will bring about improvements mainly in the following aspects: First, to raise the financial limit by on claims handled by the Tribunal from $15,000 to $50,000. As the current limit was amended in 1998, it is therefore necessary to make an adjustment in the light of current needs. Second, to impose penalties, including imprisonment, on the use of any threatening or insulting behaviour in the Tribunal to deter contempt of court. Third, the Adjudicator will be given sufficient powers to deal with the situation in which the Tribunal's time is deliberately wasted by litigants through non-attendance at hearings, failure to produce the necessary documents, or failure to comply with certain orders made by the Adjudicator. And finally, depending on the circumstances, cases can be transferred to other courts or tribunals, such as the Minor Employment Claims Adjudication Board, the Lands Tribunal or the Labour Tribunal. This arrangement will enable the cases to be dealt with by appropriate tribunals, without the need to require the litigants to re-submit their claims.

Madam President, this Bill will improve the operations of the Small Claims Tribunal and allow it to achieve its objective so that more civil disputes can be settled through a quick, inexpensive and simple channel. I hope Honourable Members can support the early passage of the Bill into law.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the Small Claims Tribunal (Amendment) Bill 1999 be read the Second Time.

In accordance with the Rules of Procedure, the debate is now adjourned and the Bill referred to the House Committee.

HONG KONG WAR MEMORIAL PENSIONS (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move that the Hong Kong War Memorial Pensions (Amendment) Bill 1999 be read the Second time.

The purpose of the Bill is to enable former members of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column, and their surviving spouses, to be eligible for pension benefits.

The Battalion was formed in February 1942, in Sai Kung, to put up resistance against the Japanese occupation forces in Hong Kong. For many years, it has been government policy to give pensions to those who contributed to, and who suffered, in the defence of Hong Kong during the Second World War.

We have earlier confirmed the role of the Independent Battalion during this period and recognized their military activities in Hong Kong. Honourable Members may recall that the names of 115 members of the Battalion, who were killed in action, were added to the Roll of Honour kept in the Memorial Shrine at the City Hall in October last year.

Therefore, we believe that members of the Independent Battalion and their surviving spouses should be accorded the same treatment as other veterans under the existing scheme and subject to the same eligibility criteria. We therefore propose to include the Independent Battalion in the Schedule to the Ordinance, to allow members of this group to apply for pension benefits.

Under section 7 of the existing Ordinance, a member (or his spouse) of the service units specified in the Schedule is eligible for pension benefits if the member sustained injury, was captured by the Japanese and held in captivity, or was killed in action between 7 and 25 December 1941. As the Independent Battalion was only formed in February 1942, we propose to amend section 7 so as to cover the period of the Battalion's activities between February 1942 and September 1945.

The Bill is in line with our long-established policy on pension benefits for war veterans. I hope that Members will support the early passage of the Bill so that former members of the Independent Battalion can apply for pension benefits in the near future.

Madam President, I commend this Bill to Honourable Members for passage.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the Hong Kong War Memorial Pensions (Amendment) Bill 1999 be read the Second time.

In accordance with the Rules of Procedure, the debate is now adjourned and the Bill referred to the House Committee.

PROTECTION OF WAGES ON INSOLVENCY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move the Second Reading of the Protection of Wages on Insolvency (Amendment) Bill 1999.

The Bill seeks to enhance protection concerning severance payment for an employee whose wages have been reduced when his employer becomes insolvent.

According to the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Ordinance, if an insolvent employer owes an employee wages, payment in lieu of notice or severance payment, the employee can apply to the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund for an ex gratia payment. The Fund calculates an ex gratia payment in respect of a severance payment on the basis of the employee's last full month's wages before he is laid off or the employee can choose to have the payment calculated on the basis of his average wages during the period of 12 months immediately before layoff. In other words, if an employee's wages were reduced before he is laid off, the higher wages he received before then will not be calculated in full.

In order to give greater protection to employees whose insolvent employers owe them severance payment in arrears, we propose to amend the provisions of the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Ordinance. With this amendment, if an employee's wages were reduced within 12 months before the termination of his employment contract and if his employer has given an undertaking in writing before the wage reduction that the severance payment payable to him would be calculated on the basis of his wage level before the wage reduction or the median wage level before and after the wage reduction, the Fund will calculate the ex gratia payment in respect of a severance payment on the basis of the wage level undertaken by his employer.

According to the consistent policy of the Government, if an employer inevitably needs to reduce the wages of an employee, he is encouraged to give the employee an undertaking that if his business continues to deteriorate such that the employee has to be laid off, the severance payment payable will be calculated on the basis of the wage level of the employee before the wage reduction. We also encourage employers to give an undertaking in writing to employees.

Before reducing employees' wages, some employers have given undertakings to employees that the severance payments payable would be calculated in this more favourable manner. But if they fail to make severance payments to their employees after the closure their businesses, their undertakings will exist in name only. To avoid hitting employees twice, we find it necessary to amend the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Ordinance so that the Fund in such an event can calculate the ex gratia payments in respect of severance payments on the basis of the undertakings given by employers to employees.

Some labour bodies suggest that the oral undertaking of an employer should be recognized. We consider that this will give rise to enormous difficulties in enforcement as it is not easy to prove if an employer has given an oral undertaking before reducing the wages of an employee, and it is even harder in insolvency cases involving small and medium enterprises because the employers may have disappeared.

Actually, the Bill contains a transitional arrangement in respect of oral undertakings. If an employer has given an oral undertaking before the Amendment Ordinance comes into effect that the severance payment will be calculated on the basis of the wage level of an employee before the wage reduction or the median wage level before and after the wage reduction, and if the employer has confirmed in writing this undertaking within two months after the Amendment Ordinance has come into effect, the undertaking in writing shall be deemed an undertaking given before the wage reduction.

In 1998-99, the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund recorded a $180 million deficit but it is still financially sound. The Fund has accumulated $670 million as at 31 March 1999, enough to meet the additional expenses that may be incurred as a result of the Bill.

The Labour Department has sought the advice of the Labour Advisory Board and the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund Board on this suggestion and the two Boards have given their support. We have also sought the advice of the Panel on Manpower of the Legislative Council on this suggestion.

Madam President, I call upon Honourable Members to pass this Bill as soon as possible.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the Protection of Wages on Insolvency (Amendment) Bill 1999 be read the Second time.

In accordance with the Rules of Procedure, the debate is now adjourned and the Bill referred to the House Committee.

REVENUE BILL 1999

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move the Second Reading of the Revenue Bill 1999.

The Revenue Bill 1999 covers the revenue proposals in the 1999-2000 Budget which should be effected through legislative amendments. This year we have adopted a new approach of including all such proposals in one consolidated Revenue Bill. The approach allows Honourable Members to consider all the revenue proposals as one complete package, and facilitates Members' evaluation of their fiscal effect in overall terms. It underlines the importance of dealing with revenue proposals in the Budget in their entirety, rather than selectively.

Specifically, the Bill aims at implementing the following revenue concessions:

- to extend the reduction in diesel duty from $2.89 per litre to $2 until 31 March 2000;

- to defer the payment of stamp duty on residential property transactions until the execution of the assignment;

- to reduce the declaration charge for re-exports from 0.05% of the value of goods declared to 0.025%;

- to exempt life insurance proceeds from estate duty irrespective of where they are paid;

- to exempt same-day transit passengers from the payment of air passenger departure tax;

- to issue three-year business registration certificates;

- to reduce significantly the maximum levels of shipping registration fees and annual tonnage charges; and

- to introduce specific tax concessions to promote the development of local debt and securities markets.

The Bill also includes the following revenue-raising measures:

- to increase the stamp duty rates on property transactions for properties costing over $3 million;

- to increase the betting duty on Mark Six lotteries from 20% to 25% and to increase the duty on exotic bets on horse races from 18% to 19%. The increases would be off-set by corresponding reductions in the respective prize money pools;

- to abolish the Cross Harbour Tunnel passage tax and to increase the Cross Harbour Tunnel tolls for private cars and motorcycles to $20 and $8 respectively while maintaining the overall toll levels for other vehicles;

- to increase the Lion Rock Tunnel toll from $6 to $8;

- to increase the maximum on-street parking meter charge from $2 to $4 for every 15 minutes; and

- to adjust upwards the fixed penalties for traffic-related offences in line with inflation.

I wish to stress that these revenue-raising proposals are made on a highly selective basis. They are very modest in magnitude and will have minimal impact on the community. They are necessary in order to enable the Government to restore its finances to a healthier state in the medium term. Given the need to raise additional revenue, whatever choices the Government makes must necessarily mean that some people will have to bear a heavier burden. The other option of raising revenue by widening the tax base would affect many more people and much more severely. I strongly urge Members of this Council to bear this point in mind when considering the Bill.

On 31 March 1999, the Chief Executive made the Public Revenue Protection (Revenue) Order 1999 to cover the entire Revenue Bill 1999. This Council has already set up a Subcommittee to study the Order and various issues relating to it. The Order gives legal effect to the provisions in the Revenue Bill 1999 before the Bill is passed by this Council.

Thank you, Madam President.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the Revenue Bill 1999 be read the Second time.

In accordance with the Rules of Procedure, the debate is now adjourned and the Bill referred to the House Committee.

ORGANIZED AND SERIOUS CRIMES (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

SECRETARY FOR SECURITY (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move the Second Reading of the Organized and Serious Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1999.

Hong Kong has for a long time been committed to combating money laundering through a comprehensive legislative framework and a range of administrative measures. The activities of various financial institutions such as banks, securities and futures companies and insurance companies, and so on, are vigilantly controlled under their respective regulators and the relevant legislation. There is, however, no legislation that regulates remittance agents and money changers.

Remittance agents and money changers have internationally been identified as an important link in the money laundering chain. In February 1997, the police issued to the two businesses administrative guidelines on anti-money laundering. Subsequent surveys confirmed that although some remittance agents and money changers adhered to some of the requirements, the information kept was sketchy and in most cases insufficient for the purpose of investigating suspected money laundering operations.

Under the Bill, all persons carrying on remittance and money changing businesses, expect for a number of financial institutions currently under the supervision of their respective regulators and the relevant legislation, are required to comply with basic anti-money laundering measures, such as confirming customers' identity and keeping transaction records for at least six years.

To minimize disruption to the trade and its clients, the Bill provides that for transactions below $20,000, the requirements will not apply.

For the purpose of effectively enforcing the new requirements, a register will be kept by the Government. Existing remittance agents and money changers are required to notify an officer responsible for keeping the register of their names and addresses within three months after the enactment of the Bill, and, in the case of new remittance agents and money changers, within one month after they come into operation following the enactment of the Bill.

The Bill also empowers authorized officers to enter the premises of remittance agents and money changers on suspicion that such institutions have breached the new statutory requirements.

We have consulted remittance agents and money changers and they generally supported the proposals. We have also consulted the Action Committee Against Narcotics, the Legislative Council Panel on Security, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, the two legal professional bodies, financial regulators and associations including the Hong Kong Association of Bank and so on. All such organizations did not object to the proposals.

Madam President, the Bill will certainly enhance the effectiveness of our anti-money laundering regime without causing undue disruption to the affected businesses. I hope Members will support the Bill. Thank you.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the Organized and Serious Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1999 be read the Second time.

In accordance with the Rules of Procedure, the debate is now adjourned and the Bill referred to the House Committee.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Council should now proceed to deal with Members' motions, but since the Member to move the motions is not in this Chamber at the moment, I will suspend the meeting for 10 minutes.

4.36 pm

Meeting suspended.
4.46 pm

Council then resumed.

MEMBERS' MOTIONS

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Members' motions. Two proposed resolutions under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance. The first proposed resolution relates to the Securities (Dealers, Investment Advisers, Partnerships and Representatives) (Amendment) Rules 1999.

PROPOSED RESOLUTION UNDER THE INTERPRETATION AND GENERAL CLAUSES ORDINANCE

DR LEONG CHE-HUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, first of all, let me apologize to everybody for delaying this meeting for 10 minutes, although I believe this delay might have relieved everyone of the pressure a bit.

Madam President, I move the motion standing in my name on the Agenda.

At the House Committee meeting on 16 April 1999, Members agreed to form a Subcommittee to study the Securities (Dealers, Investment Advisers, Partnerships and Representatives) (Amendment) Rules 1999. To allow the Subcommittee sufficient time to consider the Amendment Rules, Members agreed at the same meeting that the scrutiny period of the subsidiary legislation be extended to 5 May 1999.

Madam President, I urge Members to support the motion. Thank you.

Dr LEONG Che-hung moved the following motion:

"That in relation to the Securities (Dealers, Investment Advisers, Partnerships and Representatives) (Amendment) Rules 1999, published as Legal Notice No. 86 of 1999, and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 31 March 1999, the period referred to in section 34(2) of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1) for amending subsidiary legislation be extended under section 34(4) of that Ordinance to the meeting of 5 May 1999."

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the motion moved by Dr LEONG Che-hung, as set out on the Agenda, be passed. Does any Member wish to speak?

(No Member indicated a wish to speak)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now put the question to you and that is: That the motion moved by Dr LEONG Che-hung, as set out on the Agenda, be passed. Will those in favour please raise their hands?

(Members raised their hands)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Those against please raise their hands.

(No hands raised)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I think the question is agreed by a majority respectively of each of the two groups of Members, that is, those returned by functional constituencies and those returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections and by the Election Committee, who are present. I declare the motion passed.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): The second proposed resolution relates to the Public Revenue Protection (Revenue) Order 1999.

PROPOSED RESOLUTION UNDER THE INTERPRETATION AND GENERAL CLAUSES ORDINANCE

DR LEONG CHE-HUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move the second motion standing in my name on the Agenda.

At the House Committee meeting on 16 April 1999, Members agreed to form a Subcommittee to study the Public Revenue Protection (Revenue) Order 1999. To allow the Subcommittee sufficient time to consider the Order, Members agreed at the same meeting that the scrutiny period of the subsidiary legislation be extended to 5 May 1999.

Madam President, I urge Members to support the motion.

Dr LEONG Che-hung moved the following motion:

"That in relation to the Public Revenue Protection (Revenue) Order 1999, published as Legal Notice No. 90 of 1999, and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 31 March 1999, the period referred to in section 34(2) of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1) for amending subsidiary legislation be extended under section 34(4) of that Ordinance to the meeting of 5 May 1999."

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the motion moved by Dr LEONG Che-hung, as set out on the Agenda, be passed. Does any Member wish to speak?

(No Member indicated a wish to speak)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now put the question to you and that is: That the motion moved by Dr LEONG Che-hung, as set out on the Agenda, be passed. Will those in favour please raise their hands?

(Members raised their hands)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Those against please raise their hands.

(No hands raised)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I think the question is agreed by a majority respectively of each of the two groups of Members, that is, those returned by functional constituencies and those returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections and by the Election Committee, who are present. I declare the motion passed.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Two motions with no legal effect. I have accepted the recommendations of the House Committee as to the time limits on speeches for the motion debates. The movers of the motions will each have up to 15 minutes for their speeches including their replies, and another five minutes to speak on the amendment. The mover of an amendment will have up to 10 minutes to speak. Other Members will each have up to seven minutes for their speeches.

First motion: Establishment of a Culture Commission.

ESTABLISHMENT OF A CULTURE COMMISSION

MR MA FUNG-KWOK (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move the motion which has been printed on the Agenda.

I moved a motion in the Provisional Legislative Council about the same time last year to request the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) to formulate an "integrated pluralistic" policy on culture. The motion was endorsed by all Members and the then Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport, Mr CHAU Tak-hay, also undertook that the SAR Government would conduct an in-depth study on how to plan out and truly formulate a cultural policy.

Subsequently, in his second policy address, the Chief Executive, Mr TUNG Chee-hwa, reiterated that the Government would look to strengthen Hong Kong's own unique culture which embodies a successful blend of the best of the East and West. The SAR Government's commitment to culture has thus shown its mentality and attitude are beginning to depart from the past practice of having a "cultural policy without a policy", which is obviously a more positive attitude than that of the former government. It has also promised to put forward a cultural policy that suits the local environment. But regrettably, these have all been empty talks.

Cultural and arts development is an important symbol of full social development. Culture is the comprehensive expression of a society's aesthetic standards, and the values, moral standards and quality of its people. It is also a reflection of the cognition of the community itself and individuals in it about their identity and the norm shaped naturally by the lifestyle of that society. Culture and arts also serve the function of promoting social progress and economic prosperity in society. In today's society in particular, where much emphasis is laid on the pursuit of creativity and innovation, the development of culture and arts should all the more not be overlooked. Hence, to fully develop the local culture and arts, it requires the attention and promotion of the whole community and high-level officials in the SAR Government. And in addition to that, the joint efforts of all sectors in society, and adjustments or modifications with respect to the needs and overall development of society are also required during the process.

While the public were waiting for the announcement of a cultural policy, the SAR Government happened to embark on a review of the functions of the two Municipal Councils. Those who concern themselves with the local cultural and arts development have taken this opportunity to fully express their views and concern about the over-concentration of cultural and arts resources in the hands of the two Municipal Councils, duplications in the overall cultural framework, as well as a lack of expertise on the part of those executives who are in charge of the cultural and arts policies.

In response to the views of the cultural sector and the community, the Government commissioned consultants to review the restructuring of bodies which provide services on culture, arts as well as recreation and sports. Yet, it is regrettable that the consultancy report has not mentioned anything about restructuring the existing cultural and arts organizations. Other than scrapping the two Municipal Councils, as an answer to the cultural and arts sectors' request for reform, and the formulation of a forward-looking policy on culture and arts, the report only recommends the establishment of a Culture Commission, which is no more than a high-level advisory body. On the other hand, most of the existing 9 000-odd officers of the two Municipal Councils in charge of culture and arts will be transferred to the new "Department of Leisure and Culture Services" and their future duties will be more or less the same as what they are now. The report has not addressed the existing problems concerning cultural and arts policies being carried out by different organizations who run their own courses, the duplication of resources allocated, and unclear direction for policies. The review was conducted with the Government's wish of scrapping the two Municipal Councils in mind, so it gives people only an impression of old wine in a new bottle. The only problem settled is the placement of the 9 000-odd employees of the two Municipal Councils after the Councils are scrapped. Even the "Culture Commission" recommended in the report is only an advisory body which will not have any power to participate directly in the formulation and implementation of cultural policies. It is doubtful how much the Commission will be able to influence the Government on its cultural policies in future. This inevitably leaves us the impression that the Government is monopolizing all cultural matters.

Madam President, I wish to stress that the review on the framework of district organizations has merely given us an opportunity to take a fresh look at the formulation of cultural policies and establishment of a new cultural framework. The revamping of the district organizations and the formulation and implementation of cultural policies should not be mutually exclusive. The formulation of cultural and arts policies should be independent of the district organizations while the outcome of the review on the district organizations should not pre-empt these policies.

We should no longer look at culture and arts with an insular view or from a narrow perspective. Culture is not just about a theatrical performance or recreational programme. When asked what the Hong Kong culture is, I wonder how Honourable colleagues would answer. Will the answer be the number of art groups, and art performances we have in Hong Kong? Or would it be that the Hong Kong culture is about the trend of watching Japanese soap operas or pirated VCDs? The formulation and implementation of cultural policies should embrace the participation of all social strata, with educators as one of the important contributors. We need to integrate culture and arts into our education so that the new generations and even the whole society will attach importance to the shaping of the overall cultural image and the nurturing of cultural characteristics in Hong Kong.

The district organizations have controlled over 80% of resources allocated to culture and arts in the past. There is a great need for us to consider changing the practice that the formulation and implementation of cultural policies being controlled by the district organizations in order to meet the development and needs of the local culture and arts. Most of these resources currently controlled by the district organizations should be redistributed. In particular, a central authority should be given the charge to co-ordinate the work so as to avoid resources being overly concentrated in the hands of the district organizations which in turn tips the balance in the distribution and allocation of power and resources.

We should not let the problem about the administrative framework of district organizations restrict the long-term, macroscopic development of our cultural policy, as this has no direct causal relationship with the scrapping of the two Municipal Councils or the implementation of "one Municipal Council, one department". I hope that colleagues will not equate the issue of formulation of cultural policies and establishment of relevant organizations with the review on the structure of district organizations, and over-politicize matters concerning the formulation of cultural policies.

I have earlier mentioned that the cultural and arts cause in Hong Kong should be promoted by high-level authorities in the SAR Government. What I wish to stress is, the Government's role in the formulation of cultural policies is not to dominate and monopolize everything. We have to avoid the emergence of a "government-run culture"; at least we should not give people such an impression, as it will benefit neither the SAR Government itself nor the entire community. Therefore, I have great reservations over the proposal in the consultant report to empower the Home Affairs Bureau to oversee the formulation of cultural and arts policies.

I think that the formulation of cultural policies and allocation of resources should not be decided by the SAR Government. Those professional art groups currently subvented by the Provisional Urban Council should become independent, with the Government playing a sponsor's role only.

Madam President, the "Culture Commission" proposed in my motion is different from the advisory "Culture Commission" recommended in the consultant report. The principal difference is that my version is an independent body vested with statutory powers to study and formulate cultural policies, promote cultural development and effectively allocate resources; its members will have a vision in culture, understand the actual operation in the cultural horizons, play an influential role in the promotion of cultural development and be also willing to shoulder the responsibilities. It is especially worth mentioning that culture and education are closely related. Without the co-ordinated support of the education system, the cultural development can hardly roll out effectively. The Commission should open up its operation to the public to enhance its transparency and accountability. Therefore, this "Culture Commission" must be equipped with the expertise in various fields in order to strike an appropriate balance. So, its members should include leading figures in the cultural and arts sectors, representatives of cultural and art groups, professionals in the education field, representatives of parliamentary assemblies, members of the public who are concerned about the cultural development such as professionals in urban planning, and officials of relevant government departments.

As regards how members are to be returned, I think that those members such as representatives of cultural and arts sectors and parliamentary representatives can be returned through appropriate forms of election while others can be appointed. In fact, referring to experience of other countries, we can see that it is a common practice to have members appointed into organizations of similar nature and there is no evidence of anything wrong with that, as what matters most is the calibre and commitment of members themselves. The past electoral systems of the two Municipal Councils and also the Arts Development Council have failed to guarantee the satisfactory formulation and implementation of cultural policies. Before proposing this method of returning members, I have actually considered many factors. But this is still open to discussion in future.

The "Culture Commission" should have its own secretariat and research department to remedy the serious inadequacies in research in regard to our cultural policies in the past. Several committees can be set up under the "Culture Commission" to take charge of the funding of public cultural and arts activities, the co-ordination of cultural activities, the management of libraries, museums and venues and other facilities, as well as the protection and maintenance of antiquities. At the same time, there should also be a corresponding consultative framework to listen to the opinions of all sectors.

The Government may consider establishing a cultural and arts services department to take charge of all administrative work on matters related to culture. It can be manned by civil servants or staff seconded from the two Municipal Services Departments during the transition. This department is to centralize the management of cultural and arts matters while the "Culture Commission" is to discuss and decide the long-term arrangement. For example, it may consider carrying out reforms, such as corporatization, privatization or contracting out the management work, when the conditions of certain items are ripe. It should be noted that the reforms must be conducted at a steady and reasonable pace and haste should be avoided at all times.

Madam President, I believe all colleagues wish to see the expeditious formulation of a cultural and arts policy that ties in with the development of Hong Kong. However, if there is not a sound structure, nothing, not even the best policies, can be carried out. Therefore, I hope that colleagues will put forward views on the Culture Commission for the long-term interests of the whole community and support my motion.

I so submit. Thank you, Madam President.

Mr MA Fung-kwok moved the following motion:

"That this Council urges the Government to set up an independent and highly-transparent Culture Commission to formulate cultural policies, promote cultural development and take charge of resource allocations in this respect; its members should comprise individuals who are representative of the cultural and arts sectors, representatives of cultural and arts groups, professionals in the education field, representatives of councils, members of the public who are concerned about cultural development, and officials of relevant Policy Bureaux; an appropriations committee should be formed under the Commission to allocate funds to various arts groups and to cultural and arts activities organized by government and non-government organizations, and various management committees should also be formed to manage libraries, antiquities and monuments, museums, venues and facilities, as well as to co-ordinate cultural activities."

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the motion moved by Mr MA Fung-kwok, as set out on the Agenda, be passed.

Mr Ambrose CHEUNG will move an amendment to this motion, as printed on the Agenda. In accordance with the Rules of Procedure, the motion and the amendment will now be debated together in a joint debate.

I now call upon Mr Ambrose CHEUNG to speak and to move his amendment.

MR AMBROSE CHEUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move that Mr MA Fung-kwok's motion be amended as set out on the Agenda.

Madam President, in this debate, we will continue to do our best to contribute to the review on district organizations. I wish to reiterate that as far as this review is concerned, we all hope to work out an efficient system which is acceptable to the community at large, the trades and industries concerned and also experts. We also want to make sure that any new system put in place must be better than the old one. The reason why there is such a motion debate today is that all the trade and industries concerned and members of the public are in general extremely dissatisfied with the new system proposed by the Government. I am sure that by now, the trades and industries concerned and members of the public should have become totally disillusioned with the Government. They can all see that the new system proposed by the Government is in fact worse than the existing system. Why? First, it is because it contains no democratically elected elements. Second, it is because it has no statutory status. Third, it is because it is not marked by any accountability. And, fourth, because it does not have any real powers at all.

I welcome the motion moved by Mr MA Fung-kwok, because I also consider the motion a first step in our struggle for an arts and culture organization with real powers.

But I wish to raise two additional points in connection with the motion of Mr MA Fung-kwok. The first point concerns statutory status. The body now proposed by the Government has no statutory status, and is basically a consultative body. In this connection, the motion of Mr MA Fung-kwok fails to mention anything about the statutory status of the Culture Commission which he proposes, though I can sense from his remarks that he too hopes to see the setting up of a new body with statutory status. The second point concerns the methods of formation; the motion makes no mention of this issue. Hence, I once worried that he might well accept a wholly appointed system. But I am pleased to learn from Mr MA a moment ago that the method of formation he had in mind could actually accommodate elected elements. And, he even clarified that he was also against a government-led cultural policy.

Basically, the idea of "one Municipal Council, one department" does not conflict with the motion of Mr MA, and the two can actually co-exist. And, I also wish to discuss the reasons why I have moved my amendment. There are four reasons. First, I want to see the introduction of a formal system of elected membership. Such a system should best be incorporated into the idea of "one Municipal Council, one department". That way, we will not only have a system of elected membership, but also accountability, public participation and even a statutory body.

Second, my amendment seeks to delete the word "independent" from the original motion. Let me explain the major reason why I want to do so. If we look at how the Urban Council operates now, we will see that it is responsible for arts and culture, sports and recreational services and facilities as well as food safety and environmental hygiene. There are already three select committees on these three areas of work. What I mean is that the work in relation to culture and arts is already being undertaken by the Culture Select Committee. And, all the decisions and policies on culture and arts are in fact made by this Culture Select Committee under the Urban Council. So, when it comes to "independence", I must say that the Urban Council is already an independent body, and the Culture Select Committee an autonomous decision-making body under it. So, because the original motion proposes to set up a Culture Commission which is totally independent of any other institutions, I have decided to delete the word "independent" from it.

When discussing the matter with us, many people from the industries concerned questioned whether we would be making no progress at all if we adopted the concept of "one Municipal Council, one department". Actually, this very concept represents a major reform. First, with respect to funding, we propose that funding applications should be submitted to the Legislative Council on a yearly basis. Second, we propose that in the case of large scale works projects, such as those costing over $150 million, vetting and approval by the Legislative Council should be required. Third, on the issue of participation, we propose that professionals, members of the industries concerned, academics and members of the public should all be allowed to take part in the work relating to "one Municipal Council, one department". The "one Municipal Council, one department" arrangement will seek to enhance public participation through several mechanisms. The first mechanism is that of co-opted membership. The second is a mechanism of consultants, and the third is the organization of area committees. Once these experts and members of the public join the arrangement of "one Municipal Council, one department", their say and voting power will be the same as those of Urban Councillors. In other words, their status will be the same as that of Urban Councillors. As for resources and facilities, we propose that the Urban Council should delegate its powers to area committees; all its powers in relation to resource allocation and management of facilities should be delegated to area committees, so that professionals, members of the public and elected representatives can make the relevant decisions. To sum up, therefore, "one Municipal Council, one department" is indeed a very great reform.

Let me now turn to the public opinions about this issue. If Members have been following public opinions, they will certainly know what the people think about this issue. In a recent opinion survey conducted jointly by the two Municipal Councils, 2 080 people were interviewed. Of these people, 86% said that they wanted to have an elected assembly to monitor the delivery of municipal services, and 76% were in support of merging the two Municipal Councils for such a purpose. Members should perhaps also listen to the feelings recently expressed by the representatives of the parents' association of the Music Office. They have said that they were forced by the Government to "marry" the Urban Council four to five years ago. Now, four years later, they all find the life after this marriage very satisfactory. But then, the Government has suddenly decided to force them to have a divorce and marry the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. The 3 000 children of these parents are studying music with the Music Office. So, they all hope that the Urban Council can continue to supervise and manage the Music Office.

Last Friday, I went to a public hearing held by the Arts Development Council. There was almost a full house, with an attendance of some 200 people. I really think that the public hearing was extremely entertaining. Many people from the industries concerned spoke. To sum up, they all criticized the framework proposed by the Government very, very severely. First, they were against the existing government-run system led by bureaucrats. Second, they were against the setting up of a purely consultative body. Third, they were against the setting up of a non-statutory body. Fourth, they had reservations about the system of appointed membership. Fifth, they thought that the proposed system would be worse than the existing one, and that the new framework would not solve any existing problems either. I also share many of the views expressed by the Honourable Timothy FOK. In particular, I agree with him that the existing framework is much too bureaucratic, and that the addition of one or two seats for cultural, recreational and sports organizations will only make the scene more "noisy" than it now is. As for the consultancy report, I must say that since the consultant has failed to understand the issue at depth at all, its recommendations are simply no solutions.

Finally, I wish to raise two more points and talk briefly about the problem of "volte-face". If my amendment has caused any internal dissension among any organizations on their voting decisions, or if my amendment has forced any volte-face-prone organizations to show their "volte-face" earlier, I now apologize to them for the inconvenience caused. Finally, my conclusion is that the Government will not possibly take our views. And, a motion debate like this one cannot solve the problem either, because its outcome is not legally binding. I therefore call upon the cultural, recreational and sports organizations to unite and form a league or alliance. The Home Affairs Panel will discuss the issue on 14 and 18 May. I hope that all the organizations concerned can unite to oppose the new framework proposed by the Government. They should seek to amend and debate the bill on reorganizing the two Municipal Councils. Thank you, Madam President.

Mr Ambrose CHEUNG moved the following amendment:

"To delete "an independent and" after "That this Council urges the Government to set up" and substitute with ", within the framework of keeping one Municipal Council and one Municipal Services Department, a"."

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the amendment moved by Mr Ambrose CHEUNG be made to Mr MA Fung-kwok's motion.

MR TIMOTHY FOK: Madam President, I represent the art and culture constituency. I should welcome the motion to put the art and culture agenda in the Council. But I am slightly disappointed. The motion is a little bit premature which, I think, in many ways, has missed the point.

I am consulting my constituents on their future after the end of the Municipal Councils. The motion today pre-empts the consultation, which I think the Government is also conducting. I would rather we debate the opinions of the artists than to make presumptions on what they think.

The motion suggests that the artists want a powerful Culture Commission. This Commission is supposed to take money from the Government without being accountable. This Commission is supposed to shape art policy and decide which art shall flourish and which shall perish.

I am certain that there are many sincere and qualified people who want to join such a Commission to help the arts. I also fear that others may exploit the artists' frustrations and innocence.

No Commission can deliver art or the artists from their plight that sees their talents wasted or not appreciated. I think the artists do not care for bureaucracy and politics. They care about their art and how to make a living from their gift. They are proud, talented people who would rather make it on their own than to live on handouts.

Just a couple of years ago, artists had another source of income besides government support. They had tobacco sponsorship, but this Council took that away from them with a law. A couple of weeks ago, I presented the last trophy ever given for the Salem Opens tennis tournament. The tournament became another casualty of the law.

I believe in my heart that the Council owes the artists a moral responsibility. We must convince the Government to do the right thing. The right thing is not to give power to a Culture Commission. The right thing is for the Government to create the conditions, for the arts to thrive and society's artistic sensibilities to flower.

The great cities cherish their arts. They do that not with Culture Commissions. They do that by building the esthetic galleries and offering tax breaks to induce corporations to sponsor the arts. They do that through public education and encouragement.

I am saddened that today, we are reduced to talking about a Culture Commission, which is about politics and about setting up another bureaucracy. Our artists do not trust such authorities by whatever name. They need us to do the right things I have mentioned.

Madam President, I have reservations about supporting this motion, but I have none whatsoever in supporting the artists in their quest for resources, opportunity and dignity.

MR ANDREW CHENG (in Cantonese): Madam President, the day when the Government carries out its plan to dissolve the two Municipal Councils is drawing near. The release of The Consultant's Report on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene Services in Hong Kong in December was followed by the release of the Consultancy Study on Culture, the Arts, Recreation and Sports Services last month. At the end of this month, the Provision of Municipal Services (Reorganization) Bill will go through its First and Second Readings in this Council. Basically, the Government has completed the preliminary work for the "dismantling" of the two Municipal Councils. The success of this plan will depend on whether colleagues in the Legislative Council consider the framework proposed to be set up by the Government to be better than the existing one.

Madam President, actually, after the framework for the arts and culture was announced, the reaction from the cultural sector has been cooler than expected, with only a few commentaries in the newspapers. So far, there has only been one forum organized by the Arts Development Council. Why is that so? I believe we can describe the present attitude of the cultural sector as one of resignation. During the initial period of the Government's consultation, the cultural sector did express their views eagerly. However, as it turned out, the Government has refused to decentralize powers on the administration of cultural matters and allow the private sector to participate actively in the making of a cultural policy. Instead, it is trying to create a super centralized cultural system which will control cultural resources, the management of cultural venues and the direction of the cultural policy. Therefore, we find the cultural sector's reaction understandable.

Madam President, in the process of the restructuring of the cultural institutions, the policy-making functions of the two Municipal Councils, upon their dismantling by the Government in a civilized but high-handed way, will be taken over by government departments. The power of government departments continues to grow, while the bureaucratic establishment is only reduced minimally. Subsequently, the cultural policy will be in the tight control of bureaucrats. In view of the high-handed approach of the Government and the tightening of its control over culture, the Democratic Party fears that the Government will practise "cultural fascism" and that it will not be long before alien culture is eliminated.

Madam President, although the Government has repeatedly stated that pluralistic cultural development will continue, and although we believe that we can still watch performances by groups from various countries at government-run cultural centres, is this the whole meaning of culture? With the venues and resources being in the sole control of cultural bureaucrats and the cultural policy decided by bureaucrats who know nothing about culture and who have no mandate ─ even our Secretary Mr LAN admits that he knows nothing about culture ─ who can guarantee that the so-called alternative culture which does not represent official values will not be suppressed? Who can guarantee that these Bureau Secretaries will not ban this and ban that for the sake of pleasing the Central Government? I wonder whether the Pillar of Shame could still be erected at the Victoria Park in future. Could shows like "Once a Princess, Always a Princess" which challenge traditional morals and values be performed in government-run cultural centres in future? Could films like "Blue Kite" which are disapproved of by the Chinese Government be shown at the Hong Kong International Film Festival in future?

Today, Madam President, Members are faced with Mr MA Fung-kwok's original motion and Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's amendment. Although their contents are similar, their first sentence already reveals the different values behind them. The original motion calls for an independent and highly transparent Culture Commission. However, the Commission proposed by Mr MA still derives its power from a Chief Executive who has no mandate. Would a Commission created under these circumstances be a really "independent" organization? In his letters to Members of the Legislative Council, Mr MA explained that some of its members can be returned by indirect elections in the representative councils. However, this just shows that the Culture Commission is the product of a "birdcage" democracy. Why should other members be appointed and why should they be privileged, especially when the appointments are made by a Chief Executive who was not democratically elected? Therefore, the Democratic Party cannot accept Mr MA's claim that this structure is independent. With regard to transparency, which existing statutory bodies with appointed members are highly transparent? The Airport Authority, the Land Development Corporation or the Hospital Authority? Most meetings of these bodies are closed to the public. Therefore, the words "independent and highly-transparent" in Mr MA's motion are merely deceptive slogans. Basically, as long as the Culture Commission is created under this system, it will only be a dependent organization of the Government and it cannot obscure that fact that an undemocratic government is trying to control culture.

Madam President, the Democratic Party cannot accept the proposal in the original motion. In comparison, the amendment provides for a democratically elected council to formulate policies. This mechanism guarantees public participation. Therefore, the Democratic Party will support the general direction of the amendment. However, the amendment still seeks a Culture Commission within the framework of one Municipal Council and one Municipal Services Department which includes official representatives. We have reservations about this. It is because such a Culture Commission is within a parliamentary framework, thus it runs counter to the existing practice of parliamentary assemblies in Hong Kong in admitting government officials as members with voting rights. Despite this, we support the amendment on the whole.

Madam President, I so submit.

THE PRESIDENT'S DEPUTY, DR LEONG CHE-HUNG, took the Chair.

MISS CHOY SO-YUK (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, Hong Kong is no longer a borrowed space. Under the "one country, two systems" and "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" political framework, the people of Hong Kong will, of course, be more aware of making Hong Kong their roots. But at the same time, they are faced with problems pertaining to the needs to re-define the recognition of such cultural history as "Hong Kong's Chinese" and "China's Hong Kong people". Coupled with the fading out of the old century which at the same ushers in the new, and the drastic socio-economic changes experienced by the big era, this unique political environment will make it easier for the people of Hong Kong to re-examine and struggle against their lives, their past and future. In other words, a new environment rich in contents is going to provide a rare opportunity for the new development of culture and arts in Hong Kong.

It is disappointing that the Government's proposal for reorganizing the cultural framework has shown that the Government has failed to seize this opportunity of cultural changes. The biggest shortcoming of the consultancy report and the Government's preliminary response is that there is no macro-perspective and vision. Even the definition for the term "culture" and its contents are very restricted. The consultancy has failed to give an "operational definition" for "culture". On the top, there is no "arts spirit" to act as a link for various forms of art; at the bottom, there is no "cultural formation" witnessing the life of various strata. The Government's proposal has essentially three major shortcomings: First, the proposed Culture and Heritage Commission is only a consultative body attached to the Government with no administrative power; compared with the arrangement that enables the two Municipal Councils to deploy 80% of the public money allocated for culture and arts, this is extremely disappointing; second, the proposed Culture and Heritage Commission has not provided for, in unequivocal terms, that there will be elected public opinion representatives; this is another disappointment compared to the two Municipal Councils; third, the Government's proposal involves purely the framework arrangement of managing and utilizing culture and arts resources. No responses have been given to problems arising from the intervative relationship between cultural development and Hong Kong as a whole.

Pinpointing the three major shortcomings of the Government's proposal, I agree that the Culture Commission be upgraded to a management framework which has the power to formulate policies and deploy resources. I also agree that the Commission should not only represent wide interests, but also accommodate elected public opinion representatives. The most important point, which has not been mentioned in today's motion, is that the Culture Commission should shoulder the major responsibility of breaking the restricted notion that culture refers to arts activities and the coterie game only. Culture should not be limited only to such arts activities as literature, music, dancing, movies and dramas. It should also be linked with the economic, political and managerial activities. The Culture Commission has to encourage the public to explore how culture and arts are going to transform in accordance with their daily lives, as well as how the operation mode of Hong Kong society produces different sets of cultural values such as technological culture, political culture, administrative officer culture, management culture and so on. Ranging from arts activities to cultural life, there are changes all the time. This is something which the Government's bureaucratic operation and governance from top down cannot fully understand. For these reasons, a Culture Commission which is independent of the Government, possesses genuine powers and is founded on the basis of public opinions is indispensable.

Actually, even if the Government is to take charge, it will not help improve the problems pertaining to the stagnant development of arts and the low utilization rate of our public cultural facilities. Looking around the world, Hong Kong is only second to Germany in terms of resource allocation for the purpose of promoting culture and arts. But quite a large number of people still regard Hong Kong as a cultural desert. This might link, to a certain extent, to the mistakes made by the Government in formulating its arts policies.

Mr Deputy, apart from having the autonomy of making policies, allocating funds and administration, the Culture Commission should also have a professional executive staff who are interested in arts. In fact, the management of such facilities as libraries and museums should be taken as one field of science, involving specialized knowledge and an acute sense of touch. Therefore, in advanced European countries and America, the relevant work has been handed to professional people a long time ago.

I know that some people in the cultural, arts, academic, technological and commercial sectors in Hong Kong are very interested in exploring the symbiotic relationship between culture and life. Apart from working on this area, they have made exchanges with the Mainland, Taiwan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States too. I hope the Government's cultural policies can accommodate these people. The future Culture Commission should also see them as an independent entity by giving them support within the framework and in terms of resource so as to enable them to explore how culture can be integrated with education, arts, technological environments, social lives and so on. Only in doing so can Hong Kong meet the historical challenge posed by the "one country, two systems" arrangement in the political area as well as the challenge of an economic transformation.

Mr Deputy, I want to briefly explain my inclination of voting. I will abstain from voting with respect to Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's amendment. I cannot give my support if the Government is unable to let me see clearly that the new framework is better than the old one. Therefore, I have decided to abstain from voting and keep an eye on the future operation of the new framework. I will vote in support of Mr MA Fung-kwok's motion but that does not mean I support "scrapping the councils". I only want to show that I share, with an unbiased attitude, the contents of Mr MA's motion. I think this framework is feasible.

Mr Deputy, I so submit.

MR EDWARD HO (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, Hong Kong is a modern, sophisticated international city. In economic and material terms, it can be said that Hong Kong is second to none in Asia. However, Hong Kong has not been able to make substantial development in the area of culture and arts. As a result, our society is still unable to achieve a balanced development in terms of spiritual advancement and material life.

It was not long before that Hong Kong was teased as a "cultural desert". Although this situation has, over the past 10 or 20 years, witnessed an obvious improvement, Hong Kong still finds it unable to turn itself into a "cultural oasis". It is all because the Hong Kong Government has all along failed to put sufficient resources and efforts into creating an environment conducive to the flourishing of various forms of culture and arts. It has also failed to provide channels to allow art groups to participate and give play to their roles. What is more, it has failed to formulate long-term strategies for promoting culture and arts, thereby hindering the promotion of related work. Therefore, the Liberal Party greatly supports that radical reforms be made to the existing framework and work related to culture and arts.

The Consultancy Study on Culture, the Arts, Recreation and Sports Services published by the Government earlier proposes that a Culture and Heritage Commission be established. But unfortunately, this new organization is an advisory body only. In other words, it is going to be a toothless tiger. It can only advise the Government on funding priorities in connection with cultural policies as well as culture and arts through the Secretary for Home Affairs, who will also act as vice-chairman of the Commission. The Commission will not be given any policy-making and administrative powers. The actual power of administering culture and arts will fall entirely into the hands of the Home Affairs Bureau. But the Liberal Party considers that as the composition of the Commission will comprise people from the culture and arts sector as well as those from various strata of society and thus represent wide interests, it should be given the power to decide on allocation for culture and arts and be responsible for the management of venues for cultural and art activities. As for the formulation of policies for promoting pluralistic culture and arts development, I think it can be handed over to the Government like other policies. The Government should listen to the advice given by the Culture and Heritage Commission and then formulate relevant policies for endorsement by the Executive Council. However, I want to stress that the so-called formulation of cultural policies should mean formulating policies for the promotion of pluralistic culture and arts development, rather than formulating policies on what is supposed to be the culture in Hong Kong. Of course, I think what the Government should mainly do policy-wise is to increase resources and promote cultural development in a concrete manner.

The Liberal Party cannot agree to the view that it will help promote the diversified development of local culture and arts if the bureaucratic system is allowed to gain control of the work related to culture and arts. The conservative, traditional, rigid and parochial atmosphere prevailing in the bureaucratic system will only stifle the diversified development of culture and arts.

For these reasons, the Liberal Party supports the general direction outlined in Mr MA Fung-kwok's original motion. In other words, we agree to the setting up of a Culture Commission which is independent of the Government, made up of non-governmental elements and vested with definite powers. As far as its specific terms of reference are concerned, the Liberal Party agrees that the Commission should be vested with the responsibility of promoting culture and arts, including recommending to the public the value of culture and arts and raising the public's standard of appreciation. But we do not share the view that the Commission can formulate cultural policies by itself. At the same time, we hope that the Commission will only be responsible for monitoring the management of various culture and arts venues and facilities throughout the territory. In other words, we hope that the Commission will only take up a supervisory role. As for the specific management work, it should be handed over to private companies or operated by way of corporatization in accordance with commercial principles so as to increase cost effectiveness. We will vote for Mr MA Fung-kwok's original motion for it is moving in the right direction.

As for Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's amendment, the Liberal Party has some reservations. In a position paper published on 31 July 1998 regarding the review of district organizations, the Liberal Party indicated clearly that the local culture and arts sector had been dissatisfied with the monopolization by the two Municipal Councils of both the hardwares and softwares of culture and arts for the councils were susceptible of scrambling for profits with the public by organizing professional arts groups, controlling the lease of venues as well as allocating funds to subsidizing art groups. The Liberal Party stated clearly in the position paper that even if the two Municipal Councils merged into one single Municipal Council in future, the council should delegate its power in the area of culture and arts by contracting out the right to manage venues, allowing district boards to manage regional venues, and giving more space to facilitate the development of various art groups.

Mr Ambrose CHEUNG has proposed to incorporate the Culture Commission into the framework which includes one Municipal Council and one Municipal Services Department. This is virtually tantamount to supporting the Municipal Council to continue monopolizing the hardwares and softwares of culture and arts as well as giving the Municipal Council the power to formulate cultural policies, which the council does not have at the moment. Such an arrangement is even worse than the present one. On second thoughts, it is in fact extremely farfetched if the Culture Commission is to be put under the Municipal Council for the Commission is going to be made up by people from various sectors in the community. Although just now Mr CHEUNG proposed that the Municipal Council should delegate its power to lower levels, the Culture Commission proposed by him is, after all, not independent and it will still be influenced by the council. The Liberal Party considers that Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's proposal is not going to help reform the work related to culture and arts. Therefore, it will not support the proposal.

With these remarks, I support the original motion and oppose the amendment on behalf of the Liberal Party.

MISS CYD HO (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, on behalf of the Frontier, I speak in support of Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's amendment and in opposition to Mr MA Fung-kwok's original motion.

The original motion can be divided into three parts: the first part is mainly concerned with the terms of reference of the Culture Commission, that is, issues pertaining to the formulation of cultural policies, promotion of cultural development and deployment of relevant resources. The third part further divides the terms of reference in a more detailed manner and proposes the setting up of the Commission. Although we can see that the divided motion is far from perfect for it has, for instance, not mentioned education at all, I still support the proposals contained in these two parts by viewing them from a general perspective. Mr Deputy, it is also because the original motion has put less emphasis on education, I will speak on arts education in a more detailed manner. I hope that the debate we have today does not start purely from the direction of "scrapping the councils" and that Members can discuss cultural policies together.

The two Municipal Councils are now responsible for providing venues, organizing several arts festivals and other cultural and arts presentations, as well as providing the public with library and museum services. However, they have not done enough in fostering audience, promoting the development of delicate culture, as well as enhancing the cultural accomplishment of the public in general. As a result, Hong Kong still finds its development unable to sustain a commercial market for cultural businesses. Without sufficient audiences, many artists cannot support themselves and have to rely, on a long-term basis, on the Municipal Councils' subsidy or allocation from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council for survival. Regarding this situation, many people engaging in cultural work in Hong Kong have found it really heartrending. In the past, many critics pointed out that the Hong Kong Government spent $2 billion on cultural policies annually. By per capita calculation, Hong Kong ranks second in the world. However, Hong Kong's performance is still far from satisfactory.

Hong Kong is a small place with a large population. Our demands with respect to our spiritual life are definitely large. Those who engage in pop culture can not only survive, but also make a good fortune if they can cope with the demands of the market. But why can our delicate culture not attract the public to spend their money and pool the rich resources of the commercial market to sustain development? This is mainly because we have not done enough in the area of arts education. As a result, youngsters will only spend their money in the area of secular culture and pop culture when they grow up. As far as arts education in primary and secondary schools is concerned, music and art are regarded as minor subjects. Not a few school principals regard these subjects as supplementary subjects for relieving the workload of teachers responsible for other subjects. Unless parents are particularly concerned with providing their children with arts training and send them to attend arts lessons in places other than the school, it will be very difficult for students to be trained to admire arts by solely relying on school education. Indeed, we need the participation of the Education Department before improvement in this area can be made. Let us look at what happened to the former Music Office. This is precisely an unsuccessful example which was resulted from a lack of healthy cultural policies and co-ordination with the Education Department.

In 1993, the Music Office was separated from the Education Department. At that time, the Administration planned to reduce the number of places for holding lessons. One of the proposals was to ask students to attend lessons in the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. But at that time, parents were extremely worried that the tuition fees would increase to an unaffordable level. At the same time, they feared that, with less places for holding lessons, many students living in new towns would encounter difficulties in attendance. Later, after some efforts had been made by both the students and parents, the Music Office was handed to the Urban Council for management. The matter has settled down for a few years and now we have to worry again. I believe some Members in this Chamber would still remember a group of children staged an afternoon recital outside the Legislative Council Building in 1993 to petition to this Council. At that time, the Honourable Martin LEE was even stopped to listen to half a movement by Mozart. It was me who helped them to organize that petition. Today, we have the feeling that we can no longer keep such mode of learning again. While the Government has paid so little attention to arts education, it has been subsidizing the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra with several hundreds of millions of dollars annually. But at the same time, it heaved a deep sigh that there were not enough audiences. When resources given to these two areas are so uneven, how can we expect Hong Kong to draw enough audiences to sustain the development of art groups so that they will no longer have the need to seek government subsidy so often? For these reasons, it is essential for the Government to re-formulate cultural policies and co-ordinate with other departments to effect better utilization of resources to cultivate the cultural accomplishment of the next generation.

Mr Deputy, although I agree that we need to formulate cultural policies to allocate resources effectively, I cannot agree to the part concerning the composition of the Culture Commission as proposed in the original motion. We have been criticizing the consultancy study for advocating the culture of government management and the Government for electing members to the Commission by way of appointment. But according to the original motion's proposal, the composition of the Commission will be more or less the same as the Government's proposal for the members will be returned by selecting representatives from a few sectors. Similarly, public opinion will be thrown outside the door, and the public will be deprived of their right to take part in formulating cultural policies. On previous occasions when I talked to some friends of mine who are from the cultural sector, they also agreed that members of the Culture Commission had to be returned by universal suffrage before we could ensure a pluralistic culture. Culture is not supposed to be a game for a small group of nobles who play behind the door. The public in general should have the rights and ability to take part in formulating policies. Similarly, election is not supposed to be the franchise of political figures. The cultural sector should be able to stand for election at any time to seek the public's support to become representatives of public opinion. In the Urban Council election held in 1994, WOO Yan-wai from the Zuni Icosahedron stood for election in North Point West. Taking into account the fact that he was a newcomer and that he put forward a cultural platform outlining policies for youth culture at a time when discussion on cultural policies was not heated, he had in fact scored a very good result for he had only lost the election by a margin of 200 votes only. If the cultural sector stands for election, it will definitely not find it difficult to secure the public's support for the community nowadays has higher expectations for cultural policies.

Mr Deputy, the decision to "scrap the councils" has in fact been endorsed by the Executive Council. The relevant legislation will also be gazetted on 23 April. But I hope the public will still continue with their efforts to fight for their rights to take part in cultural affairs and formulate relevant policies. For these reasons, I will support Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's "one Municipal Council, one department" amendment that embraces the public's electoral rights.

Thank you, Mr Deputy.

MR ALBERT HO (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, over the past years, the cultural workers in Hong Kong have been fighting for an open and autonomous cultural space. Originally I thought that the district organization reforms would offer an opportunity to provide a greater space to cultural workers to take part in and develop cultural affairs. But with the proposed "nationalization" of cultural policies on the part of the Government, to realize this ideal would seem to be an extremely remote thing, and it is very likely that the cultural space in the territory would further shrink and contract. The reason for this is that there is an ostentatious wholesale interference by the Government, to such an extent that it is trying to exert control on the cultural affairs of Hong Kong.

Last year, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council organized a forum on cultural policy. Professor Anthony EVERITT from Britain submitted a paper in which the institutional framework for the formulation of cultural policies in some countries was discussed. He mentioned that there were two main development directions in dealing with cultural affairs. One is what the Hong Kong Government has suggested, that is, to take the entire matter completely into the hands of the Government. Another is the approach adopted by countries in Europe, and that is, to manage cultural affairs through a division of powers mechanism. Germany, for example, devolves most of the authority to formulate cultural policies to the governments of federal states and municipal governments. These governments are returned by popular elections. In Czechoslovakia, there is a gradual decentralization of powers in the area of cultural affairs. As for the cultural policy in Hong Kong, I think it is one of forced imposition from top down. This goes against the current trend of development in Europe and the direction of an open and diversified cultural policy. This will do nothing but stifling creativity in cultural activities.

As a matter of fact, this British professor gave a very good example. And that is, in France, the departments in charge of cultural affairs would rather spend a huge sum of money on some dazzling projects in the city centre, instead of spending money on some arts activities in local communities. This has led to much criticism and would you not think that it is similar to the situation in Hong Kong? Recently, the Home Affairs Bureau is organizing celebrations for the new millennium. Millions of dollars would be spent to organize a lantern show, a parade and a horse race to be held in the midnight to commemorate the event. But does these mean anything at all? What the Government is set to do are just some spectacular extravaganzas, but would the public get a chance to sit down and ponder over the advent of the new millennium in some meaningful activities? The answer is self-evident.

One more example. The consultancy report makes it clear that it will make a policy review from the perspective of the extent of subsidization and economic benefits. The Democratic Party thinks that if subsidies for cultural programmes are to be determined from a perspective of economic benefits, that would certainly be another tragedy which the cultural sector is going to face. Those who will bear the brunt of it will not be those famous and popular cultural groups, but those small ones committed to cultural activities and trying hard to get a living space, or those creative and aspiring groups. When public money is used to subsidize activities in arts and culture, the activities organized by these small groups may not get any subsidies which they deserve because they may not be doing something to suit the public taste or that they may not attract a huge audience. These small groups may even not be able to perform or exhibit in cultural venues run by the authorities. At the end of the day, this would become another way to stifle and suffocate the freedom of creation in culture and the arts.

Mr Deputy, any authoritarian person in power would always want to take cultural policy into his own hands. I think the institutional framework in culture and the arts as proposed by the consultant, Mr Albert LAM Chi-chiu, is unfortunately going in that direction. The Democratic Party finds it unacceptable to find government officials discharging two duties at the same time, that is, formulating and executing cultural policies. Then in a bid to dodge accusations of centralization, a Culture and Heritage Commission is to be set up as a showcase in culture. The Commission only has consultative functions. It has the grand objective of enhancing public participation in cultural affairs but is actually nothing more than a showcase. The "one Municipal Council, one department" proposal by the Democratic Party is one which can really enable the public to take part in formulating cultural policies. However, the Government is against this proposal. What does it imply? Would the kind of public participation which the Government is advocating no more than something superficial and shallow?

In conclusion, as revealed in this report, the motivation behind the establishment of the new institutional framework is simply the abolition of the elected Municipal Councils. What we can see behind this facade is an inflation of bureaucratic power which is going on all the time. When there is such a conscious attempt on the part of the Government to give orders in culture and the arts, it will not be long before our culture and the arts are bound in fetters and chains. As a matter of fact, under the pretext of scrapping the Municipal Councils, the proposal to set up a Culture and Heritage Commission has sounded the alarm for our pluralist culture.

DEPUTY PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr HO, your time is up.

MR ALBERT HO (in Cantonese): I so submit to support Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's amendment.

DR TANG SIU-TONG (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, the amount of resources which the Government has put into the promotion of culture and the arts is not small, but Hong Kong has all along been scoffed as a cultural desert. The reason for this is the absence of a cultural policy with a clearly defined direction. The implementation of work in pursuance of a cultural policy is assigned to many different institutional frameworks and organizations which are all mindful of their own business and communication is lacking between them. Such a state of affairs has become a stumbling block for cultural development in Hong Kong.

The formulation of a long-term and comprehensive cultural policy is of much significance in the new political and cultural set-up in which the principles of "one country, two systems" and "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" are practised. The Review of District Organisations which the Government released last year sounds nice in its grandiose objective of formulating long-term policies on food safety, environmental hygiene and culture, the arts, recreation and sports, through a comprehensive review of the functions and composition of the district organizations. But sad to say, the focus of the review is centralizing the functions of the Municipal Councils, failing to probe into the question of how to raise the quality of life and the taste for arts and culture. With a lack of sincerity and pre-empted conclusions, the review made on different areas is nothing but old wine in new bottles. The newly released Consultancy Study on Culture, the Arts, Recreation and Sports Services is a masterpiece of such reviews.

The Consultant's Report proposes to centralize the decision-making power in policies on culture, the arts, recreation and sports. It is an attempt to duplicate the Consultancy Study on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene Services in Hong Kong in which proposals made to scrap the Municipal Councils and take back their powers. The Consultant's Report fails to put forward any new ideas to raise the quality and levels of the above-mentioned areas. The massive criticisms from the cultural sector and public opinion hurled at the Consultant's Report are therefore well within our expectation.

Mr Deputy, I welcome the proposal put forward by Mr MA Fung-kwok to set up a highly-transparent Culture Commission (the Commission). For this is inline with the idea to enable more professionals to take part in policy making in culture and the arts contained in the "one Municipal Council, one department" proposal. However, I think that the Commission should be set up either within the existing framework of the two Municipal Councils or within the new framework of "one Municipal Council, one department". Needless to say, the formulation of cultural policies should involve people who possess the expertise and perception in cultural affairs, be familiar with the operations in the sector, and have a sense of mission in the promotion of cultural development. This is very important. After all, cultural policies are a kind of public policy closely related to the people. And since the resources used to promote these policies come from the public, it is therefore imperative that the public be involved in the formulation of cultural policies. It is both indisputable and indispensable. The public should pitch in their efforts so that a new cultural scene can be created and the local cultural life enlivened. Cultural policies should be formulated by members of the Municipal Councils and by the high-level new decision-making body in cultural affairs. Given that Members of the Municipal Councils are returned by elections and the latter is composed of professionals in cultural areas, it will ensure that the policies formulated will embody a professional perspective and substance, in addition to a high degree of acceptability and ability to meet the needs of the public.

The two Municipal Councils are charged with the duty of implementing cultural policies at the regional level. They have made great efforts in the development of culture and the arts, efforts which are widely supported by the public. My views are substantiated by the findings of a recent survey conducted by an independent institution commissioned by the Municipal Councils. The survey findings show that among the more than 2 000 interviewees, almost half are approving of the services and facilities in culture, the arts, recreation and sports provided by the Municipal Councils. More than 80% of the interviewees agree that elected representative councils should be charged with the duties of monitoring the implementation of municipal services and the formulation of related policies, for such reasons that members of the Municipal Councils "are able to represent public opinion", "understand and are experienced in such affairs", "can play the role of monitoring such services", and that "their views are fair and unbiased".

Mr Deputy, I support the retention of a combined Municipal Council, and to retain such an organization which is capable of monitoring the Government while itself is being monitored by public opinion. There should also be a high-level policy-making institutional framework formed by people with relevant expertise and representativeness. It should then be charged with the responsibility of formulating a comprehensive, macroscopic and forward-looking cultural policy for Hong Kong.

With these remarks, Mr Deputy, I support Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's amendment and oppose Mr MA Fung-kwok's motion, because the latter smacks too much of "council scrapping".

MR GARY CHENG (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, in this debate today, the motion moved by Mr MA Fung-kwok seems to be purely motivated by an intention to promote the cultural development of Hong Kong. The amendment proposed by Mr Ambrose CHEUNG seems to be in support of the "one Municipal Council, one department" idea and is opposed to the proposal to scrap the Municipal Councils. But the discussion should be more than about culture as the original motion would suggest. It is inevitably related to the continued existence or dissolution of the two Municipal Councils. This has given rise to much repercussions in society, and similarly the issue is hotly debated among Honourable colleagues.

First of all, the motion as moved by Mr MA Fung-kwok is based on the idea of dissolving the two Municipal Councils as proposed by the Government. The performance of Hong Kong in cultural affairs has always been open to criticism. Some people pointed out that we lack a comprehensive cultural policy and efforts in promoting culture and the arts are piecemeal, with little co-ordination in policy-making and resources allocation. Some people also criticize that even though proposals may be made by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and such like organizations, there are insufficient administrative powers and performance venues to go with the policy requirements. There is also criticism against the fact that though the Municipal Councils control 80% of the resources, they lack in expertise and policy studies to rectify the shortcomings. I think Mr MA Fung-kwok would agree that now is the right time because the Government is proposing to reform the institutional framework for cultural services. But we believe that cultural reforms in Hong Kong should not simply be based on the premise of dissolving the two Municipal Councils. It is also a fact that not every problem can be overcome by scrapping the councils.

Now that the work on food safety has been given to the Government, if the framework on cultural matters is made independent of the Municipal Councils, then all the existing functions of the Municipal Councils would be gone. If the functions and work in the areas of culture and hygiene are taken away, then it will become a necessity to scrap the councils. Looking at the way in which the Home Affairs Bureau handles reforms in culture, the arts, recreation and sports, and judging from the contents of the Consultant's Report, one can find no practical and encouraging suggestions. There is only a routine description of arrangements concerning the services and duties remained after the dissolution of the Municipal Councils. We appreciate the sincerity of Mr MA Fung-kwok in proposing this motion. But we wish to reiterate that any discussions on the future reforms in our cultural policy must not and should not be based only on the premise of scrapping the councils.

Let us look at Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's amendment again. Since Mr CHEUNG gives unequivocal support to the "one Municipal Council, one department" idea, there is no need to elaborate too much on the wording of the amendment. It would be clear enough to state that he supports the existing mechanism. Now that the Municipal Councils already have their respective Culture Select Committees, even if the Councils are to be combined as "one Municipal Council, one department", the Culture Select Committee would still exist. If Mr CHEUNG's proposal of setting up another Culture Commission which is statutory and have representatives from other sectors is to be implemented, then would there be an overlapping with the existing mechanism and a blurring of powers and responsibilities between the two? Moreover, since the Culture Select Committees already exist under the respective Municipal Councils, their way forward should be the subject of discussion of the members of the Municipal Councils. Any proposals made by a third party like Honourable Members of the Legislative Council and the Government is open to question. It is like the mechanism whereby we set up a committee under the Legislative Council, there is also no need to seek any government input in the decision. Therefore, we cannot agree to the idea put forward by Mr CHEUNG's proposal of setting up another statutory Culture Commission.

Members from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong will vote against the motion moved by Mr MA Fung-kwok and the amendment proposed by Mr Ambrose CHEUNG. As for Members who are also members of the Federation of Trade Unions, they will vote according to the stance of the Federation on this issue.

Mr Deputy, I so submit.

MR FRED LI (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, staff from the Housing Department wrote a letter to the newspapers recently, complaining that there were too many senior officials in the Housing Department. Actually, this trend of expansion in the senior ranks has spread to all the departments. Should the Government succeed in scrapping the councils, according to suggestions made in the two consultancy reports, the number of directorate grade staff in charge of food safety, environmental hygiene, culture and recreation and sports would come to a total of 34, nine more than the existing 25 in the two Municipal Services Departments. In the consultation exercise for district organizations reforms, the Government has repeatedly emphasized that overlapping of work must be reduced, efficiency raised and cost-effectiveness increased. But as we find out, these objectives are actually the same as inflating the directorate grade staff. Such a kind of reform is really like senior officials dividing up the gains they have got. Do they deserve our support?

The district organization reforms proposed by the Government will be made under the premise of dissolving the Municipal Councils. It is unfortunate to see an issue which is about political reform purposefully turned into an issue of administrative reform by the Government. In the process, the Government emphasizes that existing services will be improved. This is aimed at securing approval from the public. But no reference is ever made to the fact that the public's opportunities to take part in political affairs will be greatly reduced. In the Legislative Council, we have not had the chance to discuss this topic in detail. The Municipal Councils are playing an important part in the political development of Hong Kong. The nature of the policies which they formulate is unique. Why then are we going to surrender the policy-making power from the hands of elected representatives to an administrative organ devoid of any popular mandate, or to the Culture Commission formed by appointed members as proposed by Mr MA?

In fact, the whole course of reform discussions has been conducted under an agenda set by the Government. Since the Government is determined to scrap the councils, there is no need for us to undertake any cosmetic work for its proposed centralized culture framework. No matter what kind of cosmetic efforts we may put, we cannot change the fundamental undemocratic nature of the framework. Therefore, even though the "one Municipal Council, one department" proposal does not come under the Government's reform agenda, it is something we must insist. For the proposal embodies a concept which ensures that given an undemocratic framework, the public would still have the opportunity to take part in the formulation of public policies. I must point out that in the discussions on district organizations held in the Urban Council, the Urban Councillors from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) and the Liberal Party were all in support of the "one Municipal Council, one department" proposal put forward by the Municipal Councils. In yesterday's Standing Committee of the Whole Council meeting of the Urban Council, it was a member from the Liberal Party, Mr Ringo CHIANG Sai-cheong, who moved to support the amendment made by Mr Ambrose CHEUNG in the Legislative Council today. At that time, all the Urban Councillors, including those from the DAB, put up their hands to support Mr Ringo CHIANG's motion. Although Mr CHIANG said later that he was expressing his personal views and these had nothing to do with the Liberal Party, members of the Liberal Party left the Chamber quietly and abstained from voting. I hope Honourable Members of the Legislative Council will not be scared off or make a volte-face today, or be enticed by the Government's political buy-offs. Please do not think that after the dissolution of the Municipal Councils, you will be appointed to serve in the consultative committees on municipal services, or expect that you would gain anything in the two new functional constituencies to be formed to replace the Municipal Councils. Please do not therefore abandon the principle of democratic participation and support the original motion when you scrutinize the bill which seeks to dissolve the Municipal Councils, for the original motion still supports the idea of appointment as a source of power.

As pointed out by Mr Andrew CHENG, the Democratic Party is in support of the amendment proposed by Mr Ambrose CHEUNG. For looking at the issue from a perspective of public participation, the "one Municipal Council, one department" proposal deserves our support more than the original motion. The former can ensure that the public still has the channel to take part in the formulation of public policies. But the Culture Commission as proposed in the original motion is only partially returned by indirect elections in the Legislative Council. We must point out that the Legislative Council is not entirely returned by universal suffrage. In future when some of the indirectly elected representatives get into this Culture Commission, together with the other appointed members, it will only serve to whitewash the Commission. It will not do anything to change the nature of the Commission which is an organization controlled by the Chief Executive. The Secretary for Home Affairs will become the vice-chairman of this Culture Commission and I believe his influence will be much greater than any other member in the Commission. To make an analogy, the Commission is a wolf in sheepskin. It does not mean anything even if it has the power to formulate policies, for when the power to appoint members comes from the Chief Executive who himself is returned by coterie elections, the appointed members will not do anything to oppose the Government. At the end of the day, the kind of cultural policies which it formulates will be nothing other than pro-government policies. I would like to ask Mr MA, is this Culture Commission really the one which the sector wants? As far as I know, there are at least some people in the sector who do not think that members of the Culture Commission should be appointed. Speakers at the forum organized by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council last week raised the same point.

The Democratic Party thinks that the original motion would worth any discussions only if it is based on the premise that the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council are all returned by direct elections, for only under such circumstances that the people appointed by the Chief Executive into the committees of different policy areas will have a popular mandate.

Mr Deputy, I so submit.

DR RAYMOND HO (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, the community and Honourable Members of this Council, I am sure, will still remember what the Chief Executive, Mr TUNG Chee-hwa, said in his policy address last year. According to him, Hong Kong has the potential to become, not only a major city within one country, but also the most cosmopolitan city in Asia, enjoying a status similar to New York in America and London in Europe. I am not quite sure whether Mr TUNG was referring only to our economic development, or whether he was also referring to our development in other areas such as the arts and culture. Well, as we know, New York and London are much more than simply two leading business centres in the world; they are also renowned for their flourishing arts and culture. So, if we really want Hong Kong to become the most cosmopolitan city in Asia, we must make more efforts to promote our arts and culture. Actually, if we want our society to develop healthily and in balanced manner, we must not focus only on our economy and ignore the significance of the arts and culture. A prosperous society is not necessarily a cultural desert.

Unfortunately, the Government's policy on the arts and culture has long been characterized by obvious indecision. Over the years, the Government has been laying the blame on the two Municipal Councils, which are responsible for matters relating to these two areas. And, finally, in the recent Consultancy Study on Culture, the Arts, Recreation and Sports Services, the Government proposes to set up a centralized Culture Commission. I very much welcome the determination of the Government to reorganize the arts and culture policy-making framework this time around. But I must add that whatever the finalized framework may be, the Government must show its strong commitment to the development of the arts and culture. Instead of paying any more lip-service, it should seek to promote the development of the arts and culture in Hong Kong with a really serious and positive attitude.

With respect to the proposed Culture Commission, I think it should be allowed to play a greater role in the formulation of arts and culture policies. I hope that the establishment of this Commission will not be a mere window-dressing effort; in terms of operation, it should at least follow the example of the Transport Advisory Committee (TAC); as a one-time Chairman of the TAC, I am able to say that it has been playing a very useful and effective role in the area of public transport . Actually, the Government can even consider the possibility of giving the Commission the real powers required to promote cultural development and allocate to it the relevant resources. And, in order to facilitate the Commission's discharge of its functions, subcommittees responsible for different areas should be set up under it.

If we really want to maximize the effectiveness of the Culture Commission, we must make sure that it will comprise members from the culture and art sectors. That way, the possibility of "layman leadership" can be eliminated. Having said that, I must hasten to add that education professionals, members of our representative assemblies and government officials from the relevant Policy Bureaux should also be included in the composition of the Commission. Besides, the Commission must also operate with a high degree of transparency, so as to increase people's confidence in it.

Mr Deputy, I hope the Government can realize that the arts and culture are an integral part of modern civilized living, not the leisurely pursuit of men of letters alone. For this reason, the Government has the responsibility to strengthen its efforts in this respect. With these remarks, I support the motion moved by Mr MA Fung-kwok. Thank you.

PROF NG CHING-FAI (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, I very much welcome Mr MA Fung-kwok's motion which urges the Government to establish a widely representative culture commission with real powers in policy-making and funding. This motion has led to widespread concern and discussions, both inside this Council and the whole community, about our cultural development and the defects of the existing framework for the formulation of cultural policies.

Perhaps due to its belief in "positive non-intervention", the Government has hitherto adhered to a "policy" of formulating no policy for cultural development. So, with the exception of a handful of activities which are fortunate enough to receive government subvention, most activities relating to the arts and culture have had to struggle under the market principle which sees the survival of the fittest. The Government has refused to draw up any directions and objectives for our long-term cultural development.

As pointed out by some Members a moment ago, the per capita investment of Hong Kong in the arts and culture is the second highest in the world, and the two Municipal Councils control 80% of the resources concerned. But all of us know only too well how the two Municipal Councils have performed in this respect. As we all know, Municipal Council members and officials of the two Municipal Services Departments generally do not come from the arts and culture sector, and they all have many other duties to attend to. Because of this, they have been unable to allocate resources with any integrated and macro perspectives. This has in turn led to the result that most resources are spent on funding art performances. So, cultural development has gradually become synonymous the promotion of the performing arts or even the holding of performances and recreational functions. Other aspects which also constitute the overall development of our culture, such as literature, art education and our spiritual life, have thus been very much thwarted in their development. Worse still, a good part of the resources concerned has been spent on funding recreational activities at the district level as a means of pleasing voters. Layman leadership has thus resulted, as people and organizations genuinely involved in the promotion of the arts and culture are barred from policy formulation and resource allocation.

The Consultancy Study on Culture, the Arts, Recreation and Sports Services published by the Government in February should have provided a good opportunity to review and improve the existing policy-making and funding framework for cultural development. Unfortunately, however, it seems that all the proposals made by the Government in this report are just meant to pave the way for "scrapping" the two Municipal Councils, instead of eradicating the problems with the existing policy-making framework. The new body proposed is just an advisory body with no real powers in policy making and funding, and since all its members will be appointed by the Government, it will lack extensive representation. All this shows that the Government is not broad-minded enough to take the views of the people and the cultural sector, and we can also see that the Government simply does not want to commit itself to the long-term cultural development of Hong Kong.

I think that starting from now, we must brush aside all the political disputes surrounding the scrapping of the two Municipal Councils and discuss the matter from the sole perspective of fostering the long-term and diversified development of our culture, so as to work out a new policy-making framework which can best realize our aim. Whatever the final result of the review on district organizations may be, we can never deny that a proper and integrated cultural policy will be extremely important to the long-term cultural development of Hong Kong.

To begin with, I hope that Honourable Members can all realize that culture is not restricted to the arts and their related activities. In its broad sense, culture actually covers many other elements of our civilization, including science, religion, art, customs and even the good manners and mutual respect among people. Culture in its broad sense does not involve artistic pursuits alone, and many other things such as historical relics and art education are also covered. In other words, when we talk about culture, we should have in mind not just a handful of people but all the common masses in general. This is why the power of formulating cultural policies in any society should never be given to just a handful of people.

Very few people have perhaps noticed that a quality and diversified cultural development will not only satisfy the spiritual needs of people, but will also enable a society to strike a proper balance between material civilization and spiritual civilization. With a quality and diversified cultural development, a society will be able to develop in a sustainable manner, upgrading the quality and creativity of its people. When we comment on the behaviour of a person, we often say, "This is a cultured man." The adjective "cultured" as it is used actually refers to quite a number of qualities. People's creativity, which I mentioned a moment ago, will make our increasingly knowledge-based economy more competitive than ever before, and this will in turn bring about progress to our civilization.

For this reason, we must not ignore the fact that a long-term cultural policy which is both integrated and proper will produce a great bearing on the economic development of a place or a country. Such a policy should not limit itself to artistic pursuits and the preservation of historical relics; it must also pay close attention to the free and wholesome development of the overall spiritual civilization of Hong Kong.

In order to formulate a long-term cultural policy appropriate to Hong Kong, we must establish a highly representative Culture Commission with real powers in policy making and funding. If the Culture Commission is nothing but an advisory body with no real powers, it will fail to attract the full-time commitment of people from the cultural sector. In the end, the Culture Commission will be reduced to an organization similar to many of the existing advisory bodies, which are under the undue influences of their secretariats and the relevant government departments.

Besides, for the formulation of integrated cultural policies, we should not rely only on government appointees. Similarly, in order to ensure accountability and an effective utilization of public resources, we should not rely solely on cultural and art professionals or the organizations concerned either. More importantly, since cultural development affects everyone in the community, and since the common people are the target clients of our cultural policies, we should never deprive the common masses of their right to take part in the policy-making process. For this reason, I will support the composition proposed by Mr MA Fung-kwok for the Culture Commission.

Mr Deputy, the wording of Mr CHEUNG's amendment and his remarks can tell us that he is not against the setting up of the Culture Commission along the line I have mentioned. He only wants to keep such a Culture Commission under the framework of "one Municipal Council, one department". I have some reservations about this intention of his, because if the Culture Commission is really vested with the significant functions and responsibilities I have suggested, to place it under a Municipal Council which deals primarily with municipal services will probably dwarf its significance, particularly when, as we have already seen, culture is so very important.

Mr Deputy, owing to time constraints, I cannot discuss the matter any further. The only thing I can do is to appeal to Members that though they may be against the idea of "scrapping" the two Municipal Councils, they must not miss this opportunity to ask the Government to set up a Culture Commission with the powers and functions I have mentioned; and, they must not impart any negative message to the community and the Government either. I hope that when Members vote on this matter this evening, they will pay less attention to party lines, but more heed to culture. I hope that they can join me in supporting the motion of Mr MA Fung-kwok.

Mr Deputy, I so submit.

MR HUI CHEUNG-CHING (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, although I come from the import/export sector, I am very much interested in this Council's debate today regarding the reorganization of the framework for matters of culture. Firstly, culture is a part of life itself; it transcends the boundary of sectors or social strata and deals with one's quality of life. Being a member of the public, I should therefore participate actively in this debate. Secondly, culture also has something to do with the appeal of Hong Kong's business environment as a whole to investors. The fact that multinational enterprises choose to set up headquarters in New York, London, Paris or Frankfurt is partly attributable to these countries' status as capitals of culture. If the Government is to develop Hong Kong into a genuine international metropolis, it must include the promotion of culture as one of its major tasks.

We are being too superficial if we merely criticize the Government for not attaching enough importance to the promotion of the arts and culture. According to some statistics, our per capita public expenditure on the arts and cultural activities has amounted to almost $290 in each of the two financial years 1996-97 and 1997-98. We ranked second in the world after Germany and beat France, which has spent $272 then. What is more, our expenditure on this front is two times that of Britain and seven times that of the United States. On the other hand, it has been pointed out in some studies that if we adopt another method of calculation and deduct from the total expenditure the construction and maintenance costs for venues, expenditure on professional art education, as well as the salaries of public administrators involved, our annual per capita public expenditure will plunge to a hundred and a dozen dollars. That way, we are beaten to the ninth place. As indicated by these figures, insufficient funds or the Government's unwillingness to put in more resources may perhaps be secondary reasons behind the sluggish development of the arts and cultural activities in Hong Kong; the main culprit should be the inefficient use of funds, which is an issue related to the resources management mechanism.

While the cultural sector and the public may criticize the Government for investing too limited resources in the arts and culture, very few of them will consider we do not have enough agencies to promote the arts and culture. As a matter of fact, the major organizations responsible for promoting cultural activities among the 6 million-odd population of Hong Kong could be categorized into six levels, namely, the Home Affairs Bureau, Legislative Council, Arts Development Council, the two Municipal Councils, the two Municipal Services Departments, as well as district boards. The problems with the existing structure of the cultural organizations in Hong Kong are, indeed, insufficient diversification, inefficient co-ordination and disorganization.

Given such a bulky structure, the administrative costs involved would inevitably be high; and since good co-ordination is lacking in this structure, wastage of administrative expenditure will certainly be resulted. More importantly, while the relevant policies are implemented by a variety of agents, the horizontal and vertical co-ordinations among these agents, if any, are just too minimal. Under such circumstances, even if the Government would come up with a set of concepts and policies in the areas of the arts and culture, such concepts and policies could hardly be implemented to the full at all levels. Hence, I am in support of the Government's attempt to restructure the arts and culture management system under the premise that the entire structure must be streamlined while the terms of reference of affiliated and related organizations must be clarified.

The proposal to set up a Culture Commission as put forward by Mr MA Fung-kwok is based on the assumption that the two Municipal Councils will be abolished. The Hong Kong Progressive Alliance (HKPA) considers the abolition or otherwise of the two Municipal Councils a very serious issue, since it would involve extensive political reforms. In this connection, the Executive Council will submit a bill for this purpose in the near future. The Government should consult the public extensively when this Council is scrutinizing the bill; besides, the HKPA will also be actively and extensively collecting views from members of the public regarding the issues concerned. The HKPA holds that although the proposal put forward by Mr MA Fung-kwok may well be an acceptable option, accepting it at this stage might create a framework which would affect this Council's deliberation on the bill regarding the abolition or otherwise of the two Municipal Councils.

As regards the amendment proposed by Mr Ambrose CHEUNG, the HKPA will support it. This is because even if the public opinion is not in favour of the abolition of the two Municipal Councils, that does not necessary imply the public supports the "one Municipal Council, one department" proposal. By the same token, the question as to whether the public would favour the proposal to retain the two Municipal Councils to cater for the differences between the urban area and the New Territories should be pending the availability of a clearer public attitude. Moreover, the HKPA believes that the question regarding the abolition or otherwise of the two Municipal Councils should not be lumped together with the proposal to establish a Culture Commission. As a matter of fact, many government departments or administrative structures are currently involved in the effort to promote the arts and culture; hence, the situation should by no means be viewed simply as a relationship between the two Municipal Councils and the Culture Commission. What the Government needs to do now is to straighten out the distribution of responsibility and co-ordination among the various organizations, with a view to formulating and implementing cultural policies in a more effective manner. I so submit, Mr Deputy.

MISS CHRISTINE LOH: Mr Deputy, first of all, let me say that it is good to be able to talk about the arts again in this Council as we do not have too many opportunities. I am sorry that it lumps with the other debate about one Municipal Council and one Municipal Services Department which, I think, would divert our attention away from the cultural issue at hand. I would just like to talk generally about culture.

Hong Kong's problem is that we do not have a government which understands what art and culture are really all about. The Secretary for Home Affairs is back. I am glad that he is back and I have to apologize to him to say that I do not think he is the man who actually is able to help Hong Kong's art and cultural policy, and neither, I am afraid, are the people in his department. I feel rather sorry for him actually, because we do remember that we used to have a branch that dealt with art and sports. But I guess because the Government felt that it was so unimportant that when they restructured, they decided just to throw it his way. Hence, art and sports have become a part of home affairs. And the good Secretary, of course, has an enormous portfolio, and to be given art and sports as well, on top of everything else, how can we expect him and his colleagues to do a decent job? So what does a government do when they really do not know what to do?

They administer the arts. How are we going to get a decent policy if the bureaucratic attitude is to administer the arts? So we have ad hoc policy. They come up with things from time to time because people complain. They throw some money here and some money there. At the end, of course, Hong Kong still lacks a coherent compelling art policy to take us into the 21st century as a world city, comparable to New York and London, which is, of course, the vision of the Chief Executive.

The Honourable MA Fung-kwok has come up with a suggestion which is to have a Culture Commission. I think his intentions are very good. But the question that I think we have to ask is whether building this structure is going to solve some fundamental problems that we have?

Prof the Honourable NG Ching-fai has also pointed out that one of the problems with Hong Kong is this total neglect of arts education for our students, and that is not being addressed at all. Of course, it is not the problem of the motion itself. This, again, is something that I think the Government has to really and truly take on board. Otherwise, we are not preparing our young people to fully enjoy the arts which, I believe, is a very much part of life itself.

Now, coming back to the Culture Commission. In looking at the motion, many aspects of it sound very reasonable. What it is trying to do is perhaps to create a Commission that has diverse representation from people who understand the arts better and to have outside participation from individuals, as well as representatives from various, I guess, elected and appointed bodies. It sounds very good.

But let me share with you what my concern is. My concern is that this body seems to centralize everything. I did hear Mr MA Fung-kwok's comments earlier on, but I think he did not make enough of his case on how actually over-centralization is not going to create a problem that a small number of people actually control everything. For example, in this last part of the motion, why should we have management committees under the Culture Commission to manage libraries, antiquities and monuments, museums, venues and facilities? Why not privatize them? The trend is that, surely, we should let a museum or a particular venue be corporatized or privatized. Why can professionals who understand promotion of the arts from their own committees, if they want, not have their own level of transparency to allow the public, nevertheless, to have a certain degree of oversight? We do not actually need to put them all under a Culture Commission. This is scary. This is the sort of things that makes us fear that we are going to have an all encompassing Culture Commission that will just lay hold on too much, as another huge bureaucracy.

Thus, I would like to hear from Mr MA Fung-kwok in his final reply that this is not his intention, before I decide whether to vote for him or against him, or perhaps to abstain, if he himself is not entirely clear. Although I would like to say that I am glad we have this opportunity to talk about this, I feel very sorry for the Secretary to have been lumbered with art and sports that he cannot do anything about.

Lastly, I would like to make a suggestion to the Government. I think the Government needs some expertise within itself to guide it in terms of policy. Given the structure that we have, how do we do this? I have suggested before that within the Government's current structure, culture and arts should not be taken under the Home Affairs Bureau, but perhaps under the Chief Secretary for Administration or her Policy Working Committee, to have someone to come from the private sector who understands the arts and helps the Government think through policy, call him or her a Commissioner or a Special Assistant in this regard. But what is singularly lacking in the Government right now is to have anyone within the top echelon of the Government who does nothing else but thinks about how Hong Kong should develop in terms of art and culture, and how to integrate the arts into our educational programme. Unless we are prepared to do something like that so that the Government itself is empowered to have these ideas, we can talk of pigs can fly, Mr Deputy, and nothing will happen.

MR LEE WING-TAT (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, the Democratic Party has made known its position on this motion debate and I do not want to repeat those views already expressed. In the course of consultations and discussions on the Culture Commission or cultural policies, many in the cultural sector who were dissatisfied with the work of the two Municipal Councils were inclined towards abolishing the Municipal Councils when they first gave their views because they presumed that the Government would let the cultural sector hold the rights to and play a part in the use of resources for the formulation of cultural policies after the Municipal Councils had been abolished.

I do not intend to speculate about the Government's motive but it has been proven that its motive is to coax those in the cultural sector to play a part. Initially, it indicated that it wanted to make changes to the framework and the way in which policies were formulated, and people were thus induced to think that they could grasp the situation by its neck. But when there emerged a clearer inclination towards scrapping the Municipal Councils, the Government kicked people in the cultural sector off. Therefore, I advise them that they should trust the Government less and look at the Government from a distance of three to four steps. The wishful thinking they had then may not facilitate the realization of the "one Municipal Council, one department" proposal and their wish that they might participate more in respect of resources might not be realized. Apart from the "one Municipal Council, one department" concept, the Democratic Party still agrees that non-governmental bodies should be given more control and participation in cultural policies and hopes that these bodies will be allocated more resources by the Government.

I would also like to talk about our position. It is reported in the press today that Mr Jasper TSANG, Chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB), says that DAB Members have not made a volte-face and they keep expressing various views on this matter. I have looked up the records and found that in last year's debate, nine out of 10 DAB Members actively supported the "one Municipal Council, one department" proposal. Three out of four Members of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) also supported this proposal but Mr TAM Yiu-chung did not support it. This is extremely clear. Therefore, we should be practical and realistic. However, the three FTU Members have made a volte-face silently today. I do not know why they have changed their position today and why they no longer support the "one Municipal Council, one department" proposal. I do not find it strange that the Liberal Party has made an about-turn for this happens very often.

A week or so ago, the DAB had a discussion camp in Panyu to learn about the path of a ruling party. If it wants to become a ruling party, the first rule is that it must not go on making volte-faces because it is impossible for a political party that keeps making volte-faces to become a ruling party. I would like to ask the DAB to do a simple calculation. They have 10 votes. Even if six Members vote for Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's amendment while four vote against it, how many votes does the DAB have? How many DAB Members are there? Will there be only two votes in reality? It is lucky that it does not have five votes versus five votes, if so, it seems as though the DAB does not exist and the voice of the DAB will not be heard today. It is good that Mr Jasper TSANG, the DAB Chairman, has just returned for I want to exchange with him our views on the path of a ruling party. If a ruling party has six votes versus four votes, only two out of the 10 Members of the party will have influence. Even if the party has 30 seats, if 20 Members vote for a motion while 10 vote against it, it will only have 10 votes in the end. This is pretty clear. Therefore, Members should not support a motion for small advantages. After the Government has offered a political party small advantages to make it change its position, it will say that there is a divergence of views and four Members have voted against the motion. I do not think a political party should do that. A political party should act conscientiously and demonstrate to the public that it has a unified, consistent and clear position. It will then be easier for it to follow the path of a ruling party. An unstable and swaying political party can hardly become a ruling party despite its public support and its actual strength in a council will be crippled.

I believe that the motion today can hardly be approved. The amendment may also not be approved for the DAB and the Liberal Party have changed their positions. But I just want to say that the proposal about "one Municipal Council, one department" was widely supported during the first round of consultation by the Government. Around March and April this year, an independent survey showed that more and more people supported the "one Municipal Council, one department" proposal. I believe that Mr Ambrose CHEUNG, Dr TANG Siu-tong and the Democratic Party have worked hard for this and we have persevered in championing for our quest and expressing our views. We have tried our best and I am very pleased that we have managed to reverse public opinion in less than a year's time. Mr Ambrose CHEUNG and Dr TANG Siu-tong are still making great efforts today. As contrasted with making a volte-face, they have at least performed much better this way. I so submit, thank you, Mr Deputy.

THE PRESIDENT resumed the Chair.

MR ANDREW WONG (in Cantonese): Madam President, I will not give a lengthy speech for I would only like to make known my position that I will not vote for the amendment or the original motion. Basically, the proposal to establish "one Municipal Council, one department" or "abolish the Municipal Councils" is an interlude. Regardless of whether a Culture Commission is established according to the "one Municipal Council, one department" proposal or under the central administration, cultural affairs will be centralized. This sounds rather pleasant. When Mr MA Fung-kwok moved the motion in the Provisional Legislative Council, he said that there would be integration with multifarious components. I suppose unification will certainly follow integration. The Culture Commission can make "unified" policies and committees can also be formed under it to manage monuments and libraries, and determine the provision for orchestras, ballet troupes and Chinese orchestras. In any case, all these are subject to the centralized control insofar as resources are concerned.

However, Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's amendment is not good as funds will still be allocated to the two Municipal Councils. After they have been merged into one Municipal Council, it will still be a central organization rather than a district organization and it will not be satisfactory for it to make decisions on our cultural policies. Therefore, I hope that Members will figure out clearly what cultural policies are. As Mr LIAO has said, going to the latrine is also culture. Certainly, the arts can have higher standards but culture and recreation are sweeping terms although there are international standards for sports on which we can determine if the international level has been attained. Nevertheless, we are discussing recreation, sports, the arts and culture. Even if we separate these into two parts, there will be a central body for culture and the arts with a committee and a department established under it. For sure, there can be a central bureau. There can also be a department and a committee for the arts and culture managed by the same bureau or the Home Affairs Bureau. But the most important point is that there must be an appropriating body monitored by the Legislative Council to make multifarious appropriation to various activities.

If Hong Kong moves towards having a unified culture, it will lose its competitiveness and features. This is my greatest worry. I regret that I have left aside the abolition of the Municipal Councils. In fact, we will get the same result either we abolish the Municipal Councils or allow cultural policies to be handled by "one Municipal Council, one department". Therefore, I cannot support the amendment or the original motion. Thank you, Madam President.

MRS SELINA CHOW (in Cantonese): Madam President, I am very sorry today that the amendment moved by Mr Ambrose CHEUNG has twisted the thrust of Mr MA Fung-kwok's original motion and turned our debate about whether a Culture Commission should be established into one about whether the Municipal Councils should be abolished and whether "one Municipal Council, one department" should be maintained. It is a great pity.

When the Liberal Party discussed how a reform of the Municipal Councils should be made last year, we said very clearly that the Municipal Councils should definitely not arrogate all powers and monopolize cultural affairs. In the past when there were no such policies from the central and when the Municipal Councils did not have the right to formulate such policies, they were also criticized by the cultural sector. Now, they still want to scramble for power through "one Municipal Council, one department". Will anyone in the cultural sector agree to this? Will any member of the public agree to this? Today, in moving his amendment, Mr Ambrose CHEUNG takes the opportunity to fight for the right of the Provisional Urban Council to make cultural policies. This is definitely inappropriate and goes against the people's will.

In the past, the work of the Provisional Urban Council in this respect was not remarkable, they were not impartial and had not contributed much to the promotion of culture. Therefore, if the Provisional Urban Council wants to take this opportunity to scramble further for power, we will definitely not support them.

I am sorry that I am not in the Chamber just now but I heard some Honourable colleagues say that some Liberal Party members in the Provisional Urban Council supported Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's motion at the meeting of the Provisional Urban Council yesterday. Our Provisional Urban Council colleagues have all along taken part in the discussions about the future of the Provisional Urban Council. As party comrades in the Legislative Council, we understand their position when we consider this matter, in particular, as Provisional Urban Council Members, it is natural for them to have certain ideas but it does not mean that we must agree with them. In a previous debate, we expressed our disapproval and we would still express our disapproval this time around. As regards cultural policies, we definitely do not think that the Municipal Councils should be given charge of such. We even think that it is not essential for the new Culture Commission proposed by Mr MA Fung-kwok to take charge of cultural policies. But it can make suggestions and proposals and consider matters from a professional perspective. Similarly, while the Education and Manpower Bureau makes educational policies, the authority to make policies however still lies with the Executive Council and the central administration ultimately. Therefore, we have reservations about the motion moved by Mr MA Fung-kwok as far as this link is concerned.

Nevertheless, if good cultural policies are to be implemented in Hong Kong, we agree that the work must be "specialized". We cannot say that organizations with elected components will surely be run well. Let us consider one point. Did the Municipal Councils perform well in respect of culture in the past? I believe the answer is self-evident.

Thank you, Madam President.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Does any other Member wish to speak?

(No Member indicated a wish to speak)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr MA Fung-kwok, you may now speak on Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's amendment. You have up to five minutes to speak.

MR MA FUNG-KWOK (in Cantonese): Madam President, I would like to respond as to why I have moved this motion. As a matter of fact, my original plan was to move a motion at today's meeting urging the Government to set up a cultural exchange fund. But because the Government has just released a consultancy report and has also made comments, I consider this subject more urgent and have therefore temporarily withdrawn my original motion so as to hold a debate on this subject of greater urgency. My intention is to bring this subject into this Chamber for Members to have a useful debate so as to convey our views to the Government. I also hope to inspire the community to join in the debate. My objective seems to have been achieved. Although Mr Ambrose CHEUNG has proposed an amendment and some other Members have shifted the focus of our discussion, I am still pleased to note that many other Members have focused their speeches on my original motion.

Of course, I hope that my motion will be carried with support from all Members so as to achieve my other objective and that is, to put some pressure on the Government to launch serious reforms so as to do a better job. Whether my second goal will be realized will be decided by how Members will cast their votes later on.

My motion has aroused enthusiastic response from many colleagues. While I am grateful to the 17 Members who have spoken, I consider it necessary to clarify a few points raised by them.

Firstly, several colleagues from the Democratic Party criticized my motion for being not democratic enough, or containing insufficient democratic contents. Such criticism is totally unacceptable to me. The Honourable Mrs Selina CHOW raised a question just now: Is a fully elected institution the most ideal framework for cultural administration? I share her view to a certain extent. In my motion, I demand that the Culture Commission should be composed of members of different background and from different sectors so that they can contribute their expertise to the implementation of cultural policies that can cater for various needs in the community. Having said that, I would like to stress that I do not oppose the inclusion of a certain number of public opinion representatives in the Culture Commission to play a monitoring role. In the absence of transparency and public opinion representatives, it will be very difficult to ensure that the Culture Commission will cater for the needs of the community as a whole and will be properly supervised. I therefore consider that some Members have gravely misunderstood my points.

On the other hand, the Honourable Timothy FOK said that we should not make a decision right now because time was pressing. This argument is also totally unacceptable to me. It is exactly because time is pressing that we should act now. As a matter of fact, the Government conducted a lengthy consultation exercise last year and collected many opinions which have been handed to the advisory committee for study. It is about time that the Government should respond. If we do nothing, the Government will be able to do what it intended to do at will.

Moreover, Mr Ambrose CHEUNG and the Honourable Gary CHENG likened the establishment of a Culture Commission to "abolishing the two Municipal Councils", or to drumming up support for "abolishing the two Municipal Councils". I totally disagree with these views. As a matter of fact, when I moved the motion on the formulation of a cultural policy last year, I already advocated the establishment of a Culture Commission and expressed the hope that the Government would move in this direction. Therefore, I still consider it necessary for the Government to set up a Culture Commission so that the overall development of culture can be looked at from a higher level, regardless of which of the three proposals, namely, the "one Municipal Council, one department", the "two Municipal Councils, two departments", or the "three councils (including the Arts Development Council), two departments", is adopted.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr MA Fung-kwok, you should be speaking on the amendment proposed by Mr Ambrose CHEUNG. You may respond on the motion later on.

MR MA FUNG-KWOK (in Cantonese): I am afraid I will not have enough time to speak, so I want to say more now. (Laughter) From my point of view, the establishment of a Culture Commission does not contradict the idea of "one Municipal Council, one department". Even with "one Municipal Council, one department", I still consider it necessary for the Government to set up a Culture Commission. What is more, resource allocations should not be wholly or mainly controlled by the "one bureau, one department" to be set up in the future, other elements should also be involved in order to have a wider vision. One Municipal Council or one bureau can only take care of cultural and recreational matters within the municipal area, they may not be able to cater for the needs of the community as a whole in respect of culture. I therefore cannot fully accept the amendment proposed by Mr Ambrose CHEUNG.

Thank you, Madam President.

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, as the Honourable MA Fung-kwok himself pointed out a moment ago, he moved a motion on 25 March last year, urging the Government to formulate a cultural policy and review the relevant administrative framework with an open and receptive attitude. At that time, Mr CHAU Tak-hay replied that it was somewhat difficult for the Government to do so due to the constraints imposed by the then existing administrative framework (under which there was no central co-ordination among the two Municipal Councils and the Government).

The Government has recently come up with a decision in regard to its review on district organizations, and a new administrative framework for matters relating to culture, the arts, recreation and sports was announced by the Home Affairs Bureau at the end of last month. Though the relevant bill has still to be scrutinized by the Legislative Council, I must say that the new administrative framework will definitely bring about new opportunities for the formulation of cultural policies.

Some Honourable Members maintain that the Government should first formulate a set of cultural policies before drawing up the administrative framework. But I do not think that we should argue any further about this particular point. The reason is that if the Government, the Legislative Council and the cultural sector can agree on the fundamental principles, we will certainly be able to develop and implement an administrative framework and cultural policies suitable for Hong Kong.

A high-level Culture Commission is precisely one of the most important segments in the new administrative framework, which is why I am very glad that Mr MA Fung-kwok has moved a motion on the terms of reference, composition and operating mechanisms of the Culture Commission, because this can enable the Government to know the views of the Legislative Council.

Before I comment on the motion of Mr MA Fung-kwok and the amendment of the Honourable Ambrose CHEUNG, I wish to reiterate the fundamental beliefs held by the Government:

(1) we affirm that cultural activities are much more than simple leisurely pursuits (as some Honourable Members have themselves pointed out). Rather, they are the yardsticks with which we can measure how civilized a society is, and they are thus extremely important to any civilized society emphasizing creativity and innovation and harmony;

(2) we think that direct governmental management of cultural services should be minimized as far as possible. In the long run, the Government will therefore establish an administrative framework aimed at facilitating, not directly managing, the development of cultural activities. The objective is to create a more open environment in which there is more freedom for the arts and culture;

(3) we should establish a partner relationship with the arts and culture sector and district bodies, so as to encourage the pursuit of artistic excellence without, however, forgetting the importance of popularization;

(4) we should seek to protect and promote historical relics, so as to foster a sense of belonging among the people of Hong Kong and increase their knowledge of our cultural heritage; and

(5) we should at the same time promote the pursuit of excellence in both our traditional art forms and those of foreign countries; we should also take full advantage of our status as the meeting point of East and West and seek to upgrade our status in the various realms of culture.

Terms of Reference of the Culture Commission

In the paper outlining the tentative response of the Government to the Consultant's Report, we have already stated very clearly that the establishment of the Culture Commission will be able to address the two major problems with the existing framework ─ inadequate co-ordination and lack of integrated policies. The motion advocates that the Culture Commission should be allowed to play the roles of policy-making, promotion of cultural development and resource allocation. The Government shares this view. We will draw up the terms of reference of the Culture Commission as soon as possible, and in doing so, we will consider the possibility of incorporating these three roles into the terms of reference. We also agree with no reservation that the future Culture Commission should operate with a high degree of autonomy and transparency.

Some Honourable Members are worried that the Government may well refuse to take the views of the Culture Commission, thus reducing it to a mere "window-dressing" body. I can certainly appreciate such a worry. But our practice of formulating policies with the assistance of advisory bodies has been tested by time to be highly effective, and I am sure that Honourable Members will all have no doubt about this. So, the important point to note is that once the Government has decided to set up an advisory body to advise it on a specific policy area, it will simply not ignore the advice given by that particular advisory body.

The proposed high-level Culture Commission will be similar in status to the existing Education Commission (EC) and the Transport Advisory Committee (TAC). And, we must note that though the EC and the TAC are not statutory bodies either, they have still been playing a very significant role in the areas of education and public transport. Hence, I am sure that the Culture Commission will certainly be able to play an important role in its own area of concern, especially with respect to the formulation of an integrated cultural policy, the co-ordination of cultural development and the implementation of innovative ideas (such as the ways forward for further liberalization).

Composition of the Culture Commission

In principle, we agree that the maximum membership size of the Culture Commission should be 17 people, including the Chairmen of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, the Monuments Advisory Committee and the Hong Kong Arts Centre. Besides, the Secretary for Home Affairs and the head of the new department to be created should also be appointed respectively as the vice-chairman and an ex officio member. When appointing the chairman and other members of the Culture Commission, the Government will seek to ensure that the composition of the Culture Commission is widely representative of the various sectors in the community, especially the arts and culture sector. We would of course also consider the inclusion of education professionals and members of our representative assemblies.

As far as the proposed composition is concerned, there will already be six ex officio members, namely, the representatives of the four statutory arts and culture bodies and two government officials. We therefore think that any further increase in ex officio membership will inevitably affect the overall flexibility of making appointments.

The operating framework of the Culture Commission

The original motion proposes that the Culture Commission should be given administrative powers to fund art organizations and cultural activities and to manage cultural facilities. This is not part of our plan. As we perceive it, the Culture Commission is simply an advisory body meant basically to assist in policy-making; therefore, we do not think that there is any strong need for it to get directly involved in the actual work of administration and management.

The Government aims to minimize its direct management of arts and cultural services. Our policy is to introduce as much private sector participation as possible. We hope that within one year after its establishment, that is, at the end of 2001, the new department can decide on what services should be corporatized or contracted out. We also hope that it can then lay down a schedule for implementation. The future Culture Commission will certainly be consulted on these issues. But we do not think that it is at all feasible to give the Culture Commission the responsibility for managing cultural facilities and services right at this very stage.

The amendment of Mr Ambrose CHEUNG

The amendment of Mr Ambrose CHEUNG can be described as a fresh attempt to advocate the proposal of "one Municipal Council, one Municipal Services Department". I am sure that Honourable Members are already very clear about the position of the Government; we have repeatedly said that this proposal is not at all feasible. Our decision is based on the outcome of public consultations and detailed studies. The Government has already worked out a new administrative framework, and what it must do now is to put this new framework into practice.

But I still wish to explain our point again. We simply cannot imagine how a merged Municipal Council with actual policy-making and administrative powers can possibly co-exist with a Culture Commission which enjoys the same powers. The motion as eventually amended is both impractical and self-contradictory.

Before I sum up my remarks, I wish to discuss the openness of the future Culture Commission, an issue raised by Mr MA. He has in fact been talking about this matter for a long time, and I must say that we do really share his view entirely. We cannot tolerate pirated VCDs, but we do not think there is any thing wrong with Japanese TV drama VCDs; it is all right for people to watch Japanese TV drama if they like to. On the question of openness, let me reiterate that we must introduce more private sector participation in the provision of art and cultural services. We will extend the scope of private sector participation by contracting out more services, and we will invite international experts to advise us on the long-term development of our museums, libraries and art performances. We will also consider the possibility of corporatizing or contracting out some of our services. This is a very clear direction. Only by doing so can we achieve the aim of minimizing governmental involvement, which I mentioned a moment ago.

Conclusion

We have only some eight months to go before 1 January 2000. The most urgent task for the Government is to set up a more efficient framework in the coming eight months or so. This is in fact the objective which the Government has repeatedly stated in public. But streamlining the framework is not the only thing we should do, because we must also take this opportunity to give forward-looking responses to the expectations of the cultural sector and the community at large.

In this connection, I must say the establishment of the Culture Commission is an important first step. Our attitude is that we must be "forward-looking but pragmatic; active but not radical". We cannot possibly solve all problems and achieve all our goals overnight. But I am convinced that with the support of Legislative Council Members, members of the two Provisional Municipal Councils, the cultural sector and the community, we will certainly be able to identify a correct direction for the long-term cultural development of Hong Kong. That way, we can be sure that Hong Kong will become a cosmopolitan city with more vitality and cultural varieties in the next century. Thank you, Madam President.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now put the question to you and that is: That the amendment moved by Mr Ambrose CHEUNG be made to Mr MA Fung-kwok's motion. Will those in favour please raise their hands?

(Members raised their hands)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Those against please raise their hands.

(Members raised their hands)

Mr Ambrose CHEUNG rose to claim a division.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr Ambrose CHEUNG has claimed a division. The division bell will ring for three minutes.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Voting shall now start. Members please press the "present" button before they cast their votes.

I am sorry that there appears to be a technical problem with our electronic voting device again. We therefore have to count the votes by hand. Since we have to count the votes by hand, the two groups of Members will have to cast their votes by turn.

Members returned by functional constituency elections. Will those in favour please raise their hands?

(Members raised their hands)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Members returned by functional constituency elections again. Will those against please raise their hands?

(Members raised their hands)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Members returned by functional constituency elections. Will those who abstain please raise their hands?

(No hands raised)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Now the second group. Members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections and by the Election Committee. Will those in favour please raise their hands?

(Members raised their hands)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections and by the Election Committee again. Will those against please raise their hands?

(Members raised their hands)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections and by the Election Committee. Will those who abstain please raise their hands?

(A Member raised her hand)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Miss CHOY So-yuk, you may put down your hand now.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Have all Members returned by all different forms of elections cast their votes? Well, I do not have to raise my hand. (Laughter) Thank you. I shall first check your votes. Please correct me if I am wrong.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I shall now read out the names of those Members who are in favour of the amendment: Mr SZETO Wah, Mr Andrew CHENG, Mr Albert HO, Mr James TO, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong, Mr SIN Chung-kai, Mr LAW Chi-kwong, Mr Martin LEE, Dr YEUNG Sum, Mr LEE Wing-tat, Mr Fred LI, Mr Michael HO, Miss Margaret NG, Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung, Mr Ambrose CHEUNG, Dr TANG Siu-tong, Mr LEE Chuek-yan, Miss Emily LAU, Miss Cyd HO and Mr LAU Wong-fat. Have I missed the name of anyone who has voted in support of the amendment of Mr Ambrose CHEUNG?

(No Member responded)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I shall now read out the names of those who are against the amendment: Dr Raymond HO, Mr Timothy FOK, Miss Christine LOH, Mr Andrew WONG, Mr FUNG Chi-kin, Mr Ambrose LAU, Mr HUI Cheung-ching, Mr David CHU, Mr WONG Yung-kan, Mr LAU Kong-wah, Mr Gary CHENG, Mr Jasper TSANG, Mr LEE Kai-ming, Dr LUI Ming-wah, Mr TAM Yiu-chung, Mr YEUNG Yiu-chung, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr CHAN Kwok-keung, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr James TIEN, Mrs Miriam LAU, Mr Edward HO, Mr Kenneth TING, Mrs Sophie LEUNG, Mr HO Sai-chu, Mr Howard YOUNG, Mr Bernard CHAN, Prof NG Ching-fai, Mr MA Fung-kwok, Mr NG Leung-sing, Mr Eric LI and Dr LEONG Che-hung. Have I missed the name of anyone who has voted against the amendment?

(No Member responded)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Miss CHOY So-yuk abstained.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Among the Members returned by functional constituencies, 28 are present, eight are in favour of the amendment and 20 are against it; the amendment is not agreed by a majority of the Members in this group. Among Members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections and by the Election Committee, 28 are present, 12 are in favour of the amendment , 15 are against it and one abstained; the amendment is not agreed by a majority of the Members of this group either. Since the question is not agreed by a majority of each of the two groups of Members present, I therefore declare that the amendment is negatived.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr MA Fung-kwok, you may now reply. You have four minutes and 30 seconds out of the original 15 minutes. I hope that the voting device can return to normal after four minutes and 30 seconds.

MR MA FUNG-KWOK (in Cantonese): Thank you, Madam President. I actually have something to add in connection with a few points which some colleagues wanted me to clarify.

First of all, I would like to respond to the "unification" referred to by the Honourable Andrew WONG. If Honourable colleagues in this Council can spare some time to have a look at the motion debate on cultural policy sponsored by me last year, I think they will find, as mentioned by Secretary LAN, what I wanted the Government to do was to adopt an open and receptive attitude in the formulation and implementation of a cultural policy. If the Culture Commission consists of representatives from various sectors, different voices which they represent will be reflected in the Commission, and I believe the policies mapped out by such a Commission will be closer to our goals.

Regarding resource allocation, I can cite one example for Members' reference. Within the Government, there is a funding agency called the UGC. But the UGC is only responsible for allocation of funds at very high levels. It is not involved in specific details, such as the allocation of funds to an art group or a particular organization. The allocation of funds can take many different forms, such as setting up a committee under its supervision, or through "corporatization", "privatization" and "contracting out", which I have mentioned. Of course, various committees should be formed to discuss the overall policy and study the most suitable way for implementation.

I would like to cite a straightforward example. Guess how much we spend on the preservation of antiquities and monuments. It may sound unbelievable to Members that we just have a meager budget of $8 million annually for preserving a culture dating back to several thousand years ago in Hong Kong. The Government is now working on the West Rail project. Instead of exploring in advance at the construction sites for possible discovery of antiquities and monuments for preservation, the Government's approach is to proceed with the project first and then call in archaeological experts urgently whenever construction workers have dug out or damaged antiquities or monuments. All these concern an overall policy and the community as a whole.

The Culture Commission for which I champion is actually a high level structure that can influence government departments' formulation of initiatives on promotion of culture as well as prioritization rather than specific funding details. We should retain the Arts Development Council and allocate $100 million or a certain amount of funds to this council through the Culture Commission every year for allocation to various cultural organizations in the community.

If the "one Municipal Council, one department" proposal is adopted, they should control only half of the resources allocated for cultural activities and development instead of the present 80%. Otherwise, the cultural development of our society will be affected.

Finally, I would like to appeal to Honourable colleagues in this Council again not to make too much political consideration on this matter and to speculate on the motives for setting up the Culture Commission and its future. I think the most suitable thing to do is for us to focus on what cultural policy and administrative structure should be adopted for society as a whole.

The last thing I wish to see after today's debate is that the Government is still free from any binding and direction in setting up a purely advisory Culture Commission true to its original purpose. I hope Honourable colleagues in this Council will support my motion. Thank you, Madam President.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now put the question to you and that is: That the motion moved by Mr MA Fung-kwok, as set out on the Agenda, be passed. Will those in favour please raise their hands?

(Members raised their hands)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Those against please raise their hands.

(Members raised their hands)

Mr MA Fung-kwok rose to claim a division.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr MA Fung-kwok has claimed a division. Let us see whether the Electronic Voting System functions normally. The division bell will ring for three minutes.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): While the division bell is ringing, I wish to take this opportunity to make a correction. One vote was missed out during the last division for among the Members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections and by the Election Committee, there were actually 29 present instead of 28. But as I have already rectified the voting record, the voting record shall therefore prevail.

Functional Constituencies:

Mr Kenneth TING, Mr James TIEN, Mr Edward HO, Dr Raymond HO, Mr Eric LI, Mr LEE Kai-ming, Dr LUI Ming-wah, Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr CHAN Kwok-keung, Mr Bernard CHAN, Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Dr LEONG Che-hung, Mrs Sophie LEUNG, Mr Howard YOUNG and Mrs Miriam LAU voted for the motion.

Mr Michael HO, Miss Margaret NG, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong, Mr Ambrose CHEUNG, Mr SIN Chung-kai, Mr WONG Yung-kan, Mr LAU Wong-fat, Mr LAW Chi-kwong and Dr TANG Siu-tong vote against the motion.

Mr HUI Cheung-ching, Mr Timothy FOK and Mr FUNG Chi-kin abstained.

Geographical Constituencies and Election Committee:

Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr TAM Yiu-chung, Mr HO Sai-chu, Mr NG Leung-sing, Prof NG Ching-fai, Mr MA Fung-kwok and Miss CHOY So-yuk voted for the motion.

Miss Cyd HO, Mr Albert HO, Mr LEE Wing-tat, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan, Mr Martin LEE, Mr Fred LI, Mr James TO, Miss Christine LOH, Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung, Mr Gary CHENG, Mr Andrew WONG, Mr Jasper TSANG, Dr YEUNG Sum, Mr LAU Kong-wah, Miss Emily LAU, Mr Andrew CHENG, Mr SZETO Wah, Mr CHAN Kam-lam and Mr YEUNG Yiu-chung voted against the motion.

Mr David CHU and Mr Ambrose LAU abstained.

THE PRESIDENT, Mrs Rita FAN, did not cast any vote.

THE PRESIDENT announced that among the Members returned by functional constituencies, 28 were present, 16 were in favour of the motion, nine against it and three abstained; while among the Members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections and by the Election Committee, 29 were present, seven were in favour of the motion, 19 against it and two abstained. Since the question was not agreed by a majority of each of the two groups of Members present, she therefore declared that the motion was negatived.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Second motion: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN

MISS EMILY LAU (in Cantonese): Madam President, I rise to move the motion set out on the Agenda. I call upon fellow Members to join me in urging the Administration to make every effort to implement expeditiously the numerous recommendations made by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (UNCEDAW) following its hearing in New York in February this year.

Madam President, the issue that I am going to address today is, as a friend said to me this morning, an age-old problem, a problem that is perennial and pessimistic. I do agree with his pessimism. However, Madam President, you do understand my personality. Some people say that I like "knocking my head against the wall". I will press on with very tough tasks of a very pessimistic outlook.

Madam President, in fact it was in December 1992 that I for the first time proposed a motion debate in connection with CEDAW. At that time, Mr John CHAN, the then Secretary for Education and Manpower, responded on behalf of the Government. Initially he gave notice of an amendment, thus giving rise to a small controversy. However, he did not turn up for the Legislative Council sitting, sending a lady to the Council as his representative who withdrew the amendment. It is luckier this time around, Madam President. On this occasion Secretary David LAN has not introduced any amendment. Here was a good start. I look forward to seeing support from both the Government and Honourable colleagues so as "to cap a good start with a good finish".

Madam President, in fact the struggle for gender equality is a long process with many twists and turns. Let us review the records of the Legislative Council. In July 1991, when I was not yet a legislator, the Honourable Mrs Miriam LAU took part in an adjournment debate on raising the socio-economic status of women. When she spoke on that occasion, she stated the need to adopt CEDAW. That was in 1991. In 1992, I again initiated a debate on a motion urging the Government to do so. It was not until 1995, following the hard efforts made by the Honourable Ms Anna WU and many other persons inside and outside the Council, that the Sex Discrimination Ordinance was enacted and came into operation the following year, and it was in May 1996 that the Equal Opportunities Commission was set up. And CEDAW, the subject of today's debate, was not adopted in Hong Kong until October 1996, a few months before the transfer of sovereignty. Why was the process so difficult and rough? I have studied many minutes of meetings. Some Members also wondered why the Government was so hesitant. I find the reason very simple, the main factor being that our senior officials and members of the upper class in society, especially those in the business sector, do not see this as a problem, and therefore consider such an adoption to be unnecessary. Other conventions on human rights were adopted long ago, with some of their provisions having been even written into the Sino-British Joint Declaration. But they do not see the need to adopt CEDAW. I believe the adoption in October 1996 was done with great reluctance. Perhaps the Secretary for Home Affairs later can speak from the bottom of his heart and let us know why it was done in 1996. In fact, China is a signatory to the Convention; so is England. However, they just firmly refuse to adopt it.

Earlier I mentioned that at that time it was the Secretary for Education and Manpower who took the lead in making the response. Later the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs also spoke out. Today the lead is being taken by the Secretary for Home Affairs. I am also grateful to Mr Joseph WONG, the Secretary for Education and Manpower, and Mrs Katherine FOK, the Secretary for Health and Welfare ─ I messed up the two different Chinese designations for the title "Secretary". Perhaps you, Madam President, might say to me that Emily LAU, you ought to be satisfied as last time there were responses from two Secretaries whilst there will be three this time around. However, Madam President, let us refer to the report in connection with the Convention. The said report was submitted to the United Nations by the Government last year. According to Paragraph 19 of the report, "The Convention has ramification on a wide range of policies covering areas like education, employment, health, welfare and security. In fact every policy bureau of the SAR Government is accountable for the implementation of the Convention." If this is correct ─ it should be correct as it comes from the Government ─ then too few Bureau Secretaries are present. I hope that the three Secretaries who are present now can answer questions to be raised by Honourable colleagues later on behalf of other Secretaries. Perhaps you, Madam President, as well as some other people might wonder if there is indeed discrimination. I think that quite a few Members will later say that they do not quite feel the presence of discrimination. What examples are available? I do not think I need to go to great lengths explaining them. It suffices to quote just a few examples that were widely reported by the mass media.

Madam President, you will probably still remember who "Mr Sample" is. That was a tragic story about not only discrimination against women, but also led to a very saddening ending for his wife and children. So what we shall be discussing today is not just the issue of discrimination against women; but also questions in connection with unfair treatment, ill-treatment or even ultimate death. Madam President, recently you probably have read quite a few press reports on cases of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions. On this, Hong Kong has been very relaxed. But the UNCEDAW is very much concerned about this. Furthermore, recent press reports on the advertisement of a mobile phone have probably come to your attention too, Madam President. That piece of advertisement, we all agree, gravely discriminates against women and carries a very bad implication. Madam President, you have probably read a press report about a case in which a woman was splashed with sulphuric acid by her ex-husband because of maintenance. Madam President, I must cite one last example. There are just too many such examples. What sorts of comments have been made by a so-called councillor? His remarks, such as "women are the roots of troubles", "women are volatile", "termagant making a scene in the street", "women's viewpoints are naive" and so on are all degrading comments on women. Madam President, I am not going to take the trouble to quote more. What does that stand for? Excuse me, I still have one more example to cite. At the invitation of the Labour Department, I went with them to visit the Coca Cola bottling works on the 25th of last month to urge the workers there to wear ear-plugs to protect their hearing. When talking about soda cans, a senior officer there mentioned to me that they had a kind of can which, known as "yee lai can" (translator's note: "yee lai" may mean "mistress" in transliteration), was very popular. I was very surprised on hearing that. He explained that it did not mean what we had in mind for the term "mistress", and that it in fact meant "very easy to pull". He sensed that there was something wrong with the term when I expressed displeasure. However he still said that the Coca Cola Company was not the only company that so named the can and that it was used by the whole industry. So I told him that the whole industry should have it renamed. What does this incident indicate? It indicates that the culture of discrimination against women has gone deep among the masses and struck roots in the hearts of the people. However, I am under the impression that the Hong Kong Government tends to turn a blind eye to most of these issues.

Madam President, I earlier mentioned that UNCEDAW made numerous recommendations after holding a hearing in February. I have not set out those recommendations in the motion. However, I wrote a letter to Honourable colleagues to fill them in on the details, hoping that they would read it. But I am very disappointed, for when I brought up the issue with certain Members yesterday, I was told that they had no idea what I was talking about. Pointing out that my letters were posted to them more than a week ago, I wondered why they still had no idea about it all all. This reflects that they do not pay much attention to this motion. Anyway, I hope that colleagues by now have already read my letter and do know what those recommendations are. The recommendations are just far too long for inclusion on today's agenda. Numerous though those recommendations may be, the Secretary for Home Affairs, when invited to a meeting of the Home Affairs Panel held on 8 March, which happened to be Women's Day, gave us his initial response, rejecting the recommendations almost in toto. We are all aware of this response. The most important recommendation among them all is the one calling upon the Government to set up a central mechanism to co-ordinate the formulation of a long-term policy on women's affairs and to implement CEDAW. That mechanism must be given authority and resources. However, the Government invariably responds with remarks such as: the policy group led by Mrs Anson CHAN can do that; it can also be done as there is the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC); it can be done as there is the Sex Discrimination Ordinance. However, Madam President, in its paper presented to this Council last November, the EOC indicated that it did not know of and had not heard of a standing policy group dealing with women's affairs. Nor did the EOC think that for the implementation of CEDAW, the ECO and the Sex Discrimination Ordinance would already suffice. With regard to the policy group led by Mrs Anson CHAN , the situation is even more ridiculous. At that meeting, colleagues on the panel disputed and questioned the policy group's ability to function as such, despite the adamant attitude of the Secretary for Home Affairs. So I said: "Let us apply the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance to send for meeting papers of the policy group so as to see if they have discussed the issue." The Secretary for Home Affairs then said: "It will not be necessary, for it has not been discussed except during discussions about women's affairs."

The policy group was mentioned in the report presented to the United Nations last year. In the initial response given to us by Mr David LAN when attending the meeting of 8 March this year, allusion was also made to the policy group. However, when pressed by further inquiries, he first said no mention was made and then said mention was made. So when I held a consultation meeting on Sunday, the women present were very angry, saying that, with the policy group led by Mr David LAN instead of Mrs Anson CHAN, they, in a way, had been demoted. I do not mean to insult the Secretary for Home Affairs. However, I hope that he can see the concern over the fact why the leadership was transferred from the Chief Secretary for Administration to the Secretary for Home Affairs unwarrantedly. As the heads of bureaux are all equal in rank, how can Mr David LAN play the co-ordinating role?

Madam President, in addition to the central mechanism, the UNCEDAW was also concerned about elections. In particular, those of functional constituencies do not appear to be fair to women as most of the voters are men. They singled out the election of village representative, an issue which was also discussed during the question session earlier on. According to the past practice, each household has one vote in the election of village representatives. At present, of the 1 000 representatives, only about 10 are women. So the Committee considered that to be a major problem. It also wondered about the number of women actually participating in public affairs. Madam President, many people often say that in Hong Kong many women are in politics, and that there are indeed quite a few of them, for example, the Chief Secretary for Administration and the President of the Legislative Council. Numerically, however, women in the Executive Council, Legislative Council and the directorate grade staff of the Civil Service do not exceed 20% of the total. There is a phenomenon worth noting. Of the some 4 800 members from more than 300 committees, which comprise government-appointed committees that include advisory committees and statutory bodies, only 19% are women. Arguing that appointments are made on the basis of ability with no discrimination between the sexes, the Government sees no problem in this. Madam President, does it mean that we women are not capable? If it is not so, then why is there just 19%? I think there is indeed a problem. When attending the meeting at the United Nations, we heard the Norwegian representative say: "You Chinese have a saying to the effect that "women can shore up half of the sky," do you not? Why is it that women in Hong Kong cannot even hold half of the ground?" I really hope that the Secretary for Home Affairs can give us an explanation later, for the Committee has expressed the hope that the Hong Kong Government can launch some particularly positive measures.

Some Honourable colleagues from the Liberal Party are very much scared, fearing that it is referring to a "quota" system. Correct, that can be a quota system, but it may not necessarily be so. It may take the form of training so as to let women have more opportunities of participation or exposure. I am waiting to see what the Secretary has to say about those special measures. However, the Secretary all along just stuck to these words: "Never mind, we have a central registry index system. Just by keying in the names we can select from it candidates for appointment to the various committees. Names of serving committee members are also in the system." When I raised the question on 24 March, there were 17 250 names in the registry. Of these, 14 104 were men, and 3 146 were women. So this figure indicated that women still made up less than 20%. So we may never go beyond this 20%.

Madam President, because of the time constraints, I cannot illustrate each and every point. My colleagues, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan and Miss Cyd HO, will later address other relevant matters. I also call upon Honourable colleagues to speak up. What counts most is support for our motion.

Finally, I want to mention the savings clauses, especially those in religious matters. The United Nations Committee requested the Hong Kong Government to periodically review those clauses, but the Frontier wants the Government to abolish them as soon as possible. So I have moved this motion to remind the Government. According to a telecast government advertisement, one minute of discrimination is already too much. Yet we have been subject to discrimination for centuries! Madam President, I also do not understand why we have so much tolerance. I hope that the Government will stop giving us these "deceptive talks", and indeed "feign no compliance". With these remarks, I beg to move.

Miss Emily LAU moved the following motion:

"That this Council urges the Administration to make every effort to implement expeditiously the numerous recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, contained in the Committee's concluding comments published after the hearing held on 2 February 1999 on the Initial Report on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women."

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you, and that is: That the motion moved by Miss Emily LAU, as set out on the Agenda, be passed.

MR ANDREW CHENG (in Cantonese): Madam President, with the unemployment rate repeatedly reaching unprecedented levels, workers on the whole are leading tough lives. At a time of economic recession, the difficulties encountered by female workers can only be tougher than those of their male counterparts. According to various surveys, many women are often subject to exploitation in the areas of pays and benefits. Some employers even make use of dissimilar post titles to hire female employees on less favourable terms. So what we have to address is the issue of equal pay for equal value, not just an issue of equal pay for equal work for men and women.

Madam President, Item 82 of the concluding comments made by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (UNCEDAW) specifically advises the Government to write into relevant laws the principle of equal pay for equal value. That is to say, work of the same value should get the same terms. At present, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) only quotes the Code of Practice on Employment under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance to encourage employers to observe the principle of equal pay for equal value. With the Government conducting no publicity in other areas, the implementation of the policy indeed leaves much to be desired.

Originally, the EOC planned to complete a study report on the issue of equal pay for equal value towards the end of last year. However, it was not until questions were raised with the EOC Chairman by representatives from the Women's Committee of the Democratic Party at a recent EOC meeting was it learned that the parties concerned had previously underestimated the complexity of the issue, and that only upon the preliminary completion of the consultancy report did they realize that and see the need to release it with further matching ideas on education and planning. So, at one stroke, the date for the release was postponed by one full year to the end of the current year. This is not acceptable to the Democratic Party. We hope that the Government will not delay the matter again and again, but promote and implement the practice of equal pay for equal value on a full scale as soon as possible so as to safeguard the rights and interests of female workers.

Besides issues concerning local female workers, there has been more and more news on exploitation of foreign domestic helpers. We often learn of cases in which employers pay foreign domestic helpers wages lower than the minimum. Some employers each day just feed domestic helpers with a few pieces of bread, one egg and some left-over food. Some even subject foreign domestic helpers to sexual harassment or violence, thus jeopardizing their basic human rights and personal safety. According to the Administration, foreign domestic helpers may lodge complaints with the Labour Department for matters concerning employment and make reports to the police in the event that they are being harassed. However, many foreign domestic helpers say that they often just swallow some unfair treatments as they, working at homes, have much difficulty in getting a third party witness.

In its concluding comments, the UNCEDAW advised the Government to monitor the situation and take actions to protect foreign female domestic helpers. However, responding in a bureaucratic tone, the Government said that foreign domestic helpers "are, like other Hong Kong employees, being protected from ill-treatment and physical violence." The Government's attitude is disappointing. We can see that foreign domestic helpers being forced to accept wages lower than the minimum pay and subjected to inhumane treatment or physical violence are no longer isolated cases. Not long ago, it was brought to light that the wife of a Chief Chemist slapped her Indonesian domestic helper and asked her to pay $5 a day for room illumination! How can the Government still turn a blind eye to such unfair and inhumane matters? The Democratic Party urges the Government to implement the recommendations of the UNCEDAW to monitor the situation actively and take actions to protect foreign female domestic helpers, and also to review the relevant punishments so as to achieve a greater deterring effect.

With these remarks, Madam President, I support the motion.

MISS CHRISTINE LOH (in Cantonese): Madam President, here is a case which I want to share with Members. Perhaps this case can tell us how the top echelons of our Government view the problems of women.

Last July, as everybody probably remembers, United States President Bill CLINTON and his wife visited Hong Kong. The United States Consulate and White House hastily organized a meeting, to which some senior representatives of Hong Kong women were invited. Present at the meeting were Mrs Betty TUNG, Mrs Anson CHAN and several female heads of Policy Bureaux. After that meeting, I wrote the Chief Secretary for Administration a letter, in which I mentioned the point that even though it was in such a rush, many people still went there to discuss with Mrs Hilary CLINTON the situation of women in Hong Kong. We wondered how much earlier in advance a local women organization or a female legislator must make an appointment with so many senior female officials and the Chief Secretary for Administration before they would agree to come. In the letter I, indicating that we had a lot of comments to make with regard to the discussions of that day and that there was just too little time for many matters requiring more in-depth discussions, sought to sound out the Government on the possibility of organizing an annual meeting for Hong Kong people and women's representatives to discuss women's affairs for one day.

After waiting for some time, there came the Chief Secretary for Administration's reply, in which she, though indicating no strong objection to the idea, expressed the worry that the meeting might turn into a media event, that is, merely "staging a show" without achieving genuine results. Later, I wrote her another letter to tell her to drop that worry, pointing out that everything depends on the way in which the meeting is organized. If there is indeed a genuine wish to get things done properly, some preparatory committees might discuss in advance the scope of that day's meeting. With this, the event can then achieve real results, rather than being reduced to just a "show".

There has been a long lapse of time since I wrote to the Chief Secretary for Administration, but there is still no reply. As I had put forward to her some ideas on how to make the event something more than a "show", I again approached her office to make inquiries about the possibility of having a meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration to discuss and study the matter. However, so far, she still refuses to meet me. Despite this, I have kept periodically contacting her office to see whether it is possible to discuss the matter with her.

When we were discussing the Cultural Committee earlier today, I said that Mr David LAN, with so many things, including women's affairs, all lumped on him, was very much a poor man. I once wrote to Mrs Anson CHAN to ask her whether there were ways to help Mr David LAN within the administrative structure, whether it was possible to have that part of his brief reassigned, and whether it was possible to appoint a person well versed with women's affairs within her top policy group to help the Government study ways to co-ordinate and develop policies on women's affairs. Still, there has been no response. So far I have had no chance to discuss the matter with her.

I keep on sending letters and press on with my inquiries. On 15 April, at long last, there came her reply letter, which, however, made no mention of my two suggestions, the subject matter of all my follow-up inquiries. With regard to CEDAW, I once criticized the Government for attaching little importance to women's affairs. That English reply letter says: "We are indeed most encouraged by the recent positive comments by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in recognition of our efforts." That is to say, favourable comments are accepted readily. Then how about unfavourable ones? Miss Emily LAU has earlier mentioned some. For instance, in Paragraph 72, the UNCEDAW asked us to consider taking affirmative action on quota. But the Government has made it known that it will not do so. There is, on the other hand, Paragraph 76, which reads: "The Committee recommends that adequate regulations to protect woman sex workers be put in place and enforced. It also recommends that the government monitors the links between the presence of migrant women, a regulatory approach to prostitution and trafficking in women." I do not know how the Government sees this issue; nor have I heard of any positive response. How is the Government going to follow up on this question? Still, there has been no response. I hope that the Government, when responding, can be more thorough, especially on some more controversial issues.

Just as mentioned by Miss Emily LAU a moment ago, we were very surprised by one thing at the meeting. That is about Mr David LAN's remark that women's affairs ranked prominently in the Chief Secretary for Administration's policy group. After that meeting, I again wrote to Mrs Anson CHAN immediately to ask whether she was aware of that, and whether it was indeed true. But her reply letter again made no mention of the matter. I hope that Mr David LAN will later on give us an explanation again.

I wonder if Honourable colleagues are aware of one thing mentioned in that letter. The UNCEDAW has put to us many suggestions. The Chief Secretary for Administration did not mention the two points just referred to, but picked another point for deliberation. That is on the question whether or not there is a need to have a women's commission. The letter reads as follows: "There are suggestions that a women's commission should be set up in Hong Kong. I have already instructed the Secretary for Home Affairs to consider this recommendation critically, thoroughly and with a completely open mind, taking into account the respective roles of HAB, different bureaux, departments and the Equal Opportunities Commission. We are also gathering information on the experiences of other countries." We have never heard of this. Is this new information? Perhaps Mr David LAN can later talk to us on this. Can consideration be given to this suggestion? How long will the study take? Ideas will have to be gathered from everybody within the Government. It is also necessary to refer to examples of other countries. So a time-table had better be given to us. The Chief Secretary for Administration probably is not prepared to accept other suggestions. However, on this, she said she had instructed Mr David LAN to consider the matter. I look forward to hearing his views later. Finally, I surely support Miss Emily LAU's motion strongly.

MISS CHAN YUEN-HAN ( in Cantonese): Madam President, the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) support the motion moved by Miss Emily LAU today.

FTU members have for long been working on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. It is, however, a pity that progress made in the area of women's affairs lags far behind that of the labour movement which in fact goes on simultaneously. This point has been mentioned by several fellow Members earlier. I think the Government has staged a "farce". Why? Paragraphs 67 and 68 of the relevant United Nations report ask the Government to assign a department to take charge of considering policies on women's affairs and a central mechanism to take charge of work in that area. Now the Government says that the inter-departmental group led by the Chief Secretary for Administration is responsible for considering policies on women's affairs. That day, Miss Emily LAU asked the Government to produce the documents to let us see what policies there were. I hope that the Government can stop dragging and cease to play that "farce".

I have been in the labour movement for decades. Even longer is my involvement in women's affairs. The FTU all along holds that the Government should set up a mechanism responsible for the formulation of policies on women's affairs. The Government, however, just keeps on ignoring it. In the 1990s, when we drew up several pieces of legislation on the elimination of sex discrimination, the Government set up the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC). Before the establishment of the EOC, we asked the Government about the Commission's functions. According to public announcements made by the Government, the EOC would formulate policies. However, when we made inquiries about EOC's functions, the Government said that because of the legislation in place, it was necessary to carry out investigation and mediation in the event of complaint. Cases will be referred to the Court if mediation proves to be unsuccessful. I think the EOC's functions are like those of the Labour Department. There must be a mechanism to entertain complaints in matters concerning sex discrimination. However, the EOC is totally different from a central mechanism responsible for formulating and studying policies on women's affairs. Dr Fanny CHEUNG, the Chairperson of the EOC, has been criticized by some members of the public. I think she is really innocent because she is not responsible for the formulation of policies on women's affairs.

To be honest, it is now no longer possible for the Government to pass the buck. The Secretary for Home Affairs can no longer cheat us by saying that the policy group led by the Chief Secretary for Administration is responsible for the formulation of policies on women's affairs. If the group has indeed done so, then please let us see the documents. Has the group formulated policies to address women's existing problem of not getting equal pay for equal work? Has the group formulated policies to address the problem of sex discrimination faced by women in employment over the past 10-odd years? Has the group formulated policies to address the existing problem of inadequate logistic support faced by women in politics? At present, there is simply no solution for all these problems. The Government merely carries out some window-dressing work. Those of us who have been in the women's movement for decades know what the real situation is. I do not want to make life difficult for the Secretary for Home Affairs. I would like to ask him to go back to the policy group led by Chief Secretary for Administration and make them know that it cannot go on like that.

Madam President, we agree with quite a few points raised by the United Nations body concerned, especially with regard to the point that the participation of women in the workforce or politics is obviously low. Those people who are are familiar with the situation of women in Hong Kong surely know the reasons. We can see that women encounter many difficulties when they participate in social activities. For instance, when a woman wants to step out of her home, she has to solve the problems concerning her family and children. How is the child care service in Hong Kong? The situation is better than what it was 20 years ago, but many things are still very "ridiculous". For instance, nurseries still operate from 8 am to 6 pm. It is impossible for a working woman to collect her child home by 6 pm. In the case of female office workers travelling from the Central District to Tuen Mun, how can they take their children home from the nurseries before 6 pm? Also, how can they take their children to the nurseries by 8 am and rush back to their offices by 9 am? This is a practical question.

We have recently told the public that we are of the view that it has nothing to do with the voluntary agencies that provide the services, and that the problem lies with government policy, in that the Government is unwilling to provide additional resources. Recently, the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS) held some discussions with us. We brought up some questions, pinpointing government policies, not the service agencies under the HKCSS.

Why are there just a few female legislators in this Council? According to some people, given the existing logistic support, it is really very difficult for women to go into politics, (please do not quote me as an example) as they have to take care of their families and their jobs as well as matters in many other areas. I have made no mention of the issue concerning women taking part in economic activities. It is already inadequate in the case of participation in politics.

Turning now to economic activities. The proportion of participation by women in Hong Kong has always been lower than those of neighbouring places. I want to quote some examples, figures previously cited by me here in this Chamber. In the case of fresh school leavers in the age group of 20, the employment rate of female workers in Hong Kong is close to those in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, reaching about 60% to 70%. However, in the case of those aged 40 or above, the employment rate of female workers in Hong Kong is just some 30%. But the employment rates of women of the same age group in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan are somehow over 50%. Their drop is clearly not as sharp as ours. This reflects the importance of overall logistic support as well as the severe discrimination by employers against married women, especially those with families.

Surely, many people might hold that the situation should have improved following the enactment of law prohibiting sex discrimination and providing for family status responsibilities. However, I am of the view that to rely solely on EOC for the implementation of policies is not enough. When we come face to face with the EOC, we will certainly criticize it. However, let us take an objective view. What has the whole Government done to implement these policies? At present, women taking part in economic activities often run into a lot of problems. It has been noticed that the whole society cannot dovetail with that, including even the Employment Ordinance. As a result, women taking part in economic activities are beset with difficulties. I hope that following the enactment of legislation on sex discrimination and family status responsibilities, the Government can undertake to promote publicity and awareness so that there can be participation by everybody.

I also hope that the Government can attach importance to the question just raised by me, that is, the point that it is basically very difficult for married women aged over 30 to find employment. The Government might argue that our economy is now more active. However, I am not referring to the situation during the financial turmoil. It has been like that over the past 10-odd years.

Finally, Madam President, of the some 80 points mentioned by the United Nations report, I call upon the Government to pay attention to point 84, that is more discussions should be held with public bodies before submission of the periodical reports.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Miss CHAN, your time is up.

MISS CHAN YUEN-HAN (in Cantonese): Thank you, Madam President.

MRS MIRIAM LAU (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Liberal Party has all along supported gender equality and held that in areas like education, employment, community involvement, and political status, women's share of opportunities should be equal to that of men. To cater for women's needs so that they can bring their potentials into full play and commit themselves to society, the Liberal Party is totally in favour of providing women with sufficient services and programmes that can cater for their needs.

In addition to adopting the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Hong Kong drew up the Sex Discrimination Ordinance in 1995 and set up the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) in 1996, thus making some progress in the protection of women. However, we are of the view that the work still requires further efforts and does leave much to be desired.

With regard to the published recommendations made by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (UNCEDAW) in respect of the report presented by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Liberal Party agrees in principle with the overall direction of the relevant recommendations. In fact, some of the recommendations are conducive to further promoting gender equality in Hong Kong. The Government should heed and adopt them. For instance, the UNCEDAW advised the Government to set up a high-level central mechanism charged with the responsibilities of developing and co-ordinating policies focusing on women's affairs. The Liberal Party has all along supported this. Stated on our political platform is the point that the Government must set up a Women Commission to co-ordinate, formulate and implement policies on women's affairs.

Besides, the UNCEDAW suggested that the Government enact legislation to protect woman sex workers. Although it is not an offence in law for women to work as sex workers in Hong Kong, protection given to these women by law is obviously inadequate. The UNCEDAW also advised the Government to amend existing legislation to criminalize the act of rape in marriage. According to the Government, under the existing common law there is already protection for women raped in marriage. However, that does not mean that we do not need legislation because to specifically criminalize rape in marriage will help people understand more clearly that it is a crime, and thus contribute to the promotion of education by the Government. These recommendations really deserve further consideration by the Government.

However, some of the recommendations and comments made by the UNCEDAW are arguable as they neither accurately reflect the situation in Hong Kong nor tally with the actual local conditions. For example, in the opinion of the UNCEDAW, women do not have equal chance of participation in the functional constituency elections of the Legislative Council. The Liberal Party disagrees with this as under the existing electoral system of functional constituencies, there is no, as far as we can see, evidence showing that women are barred from becoming voters or candidates by the system or any man-made barriers. Nor do we notice any female candidate being excluded for reason of her gender. None of the functional constituencies has restricted women's participation. For a functional constituency, the proportions of male and female voters are often determined by the nature of the profession. For instance, in the case of the shipping and transportation sector, over 90% of the voters are men because most members of the this sector are men. On the contrary, in the case of health services, 78% of the voters are women, the reason being that most members of the health care profession are female. However, we must bear in mind that in Hong Kong the different proportions of male and female voters have not given rise to situations in which male or female candidates are being treated unfairly. As just mentioned by me, even though about 80% of the voters of the health services constituency are women, they still returned a male legislator, namely, Mr Michael HO, whom everybody knows. For that constituency, the 1995 election also produced a similar result, victory going to a male candidate. Yet in the case of the shipping and transportation sector, the one with men making up 90% of its voters, a female legislator was returned. Everybody knows whom I am referring to. In 1995, I ran for the seat of the transportation and communications sector. At that time, most of the voters were men, but a woman was still returned to the Legislative Council. These prove that our electoral system of functional constituencies in Hong Kong has no direct connection with the proportions of voters' genders, and that electoral results also have nothing to do with voters' gender make-up.

Furthermore, the UNCEDAW, considering the number of women in Hong Kong appointed to public offices to be few in ratio, suggested that in appointing women to advisory or statutory bodies, the Government should take affirmative action, for example, adopting a quota system. We cannot see any justification for such a comment. First, the total number of women in Hong Kong holding government offices or posts in public services is not small in ratio. For instance, women make up 26% of the senior office-holders in the Government, a figure higher than those of developed countries like England. In the case of England, women only make up 25% of the ministerial posts. Ours is 1% higher than that of England. In the case of parliamentary bodies, the United States, the country that always advocates human rights, only has a female membership of 9% in the Senate and 13% in the House of Representatives. In Hong Kong, women make up 17% of the Legislative Council, a figure much higher than those of the United States. Therefore, the Liberal Party does not think that the rate of women's participation is low in this respect.

Let us concede that we do have to increase the ratio of women's appointment to public offices. Still, positive steps like the introduction of a quota system ought not to be adopted. In Hong Kong, government departments have all along used personal abilities and qualifications as appointment criteria, the Government having made it clear that gender does not constitute a factor for consideration. The principle of appointment by merits is fair and reasonable. It allows public offices to be filled by the most capable persons and gives them opportunities to make full use of their abilities. The adoption of a quota system can only bring about a superficial situation of gender equality, but at the same time it might be achieved at the expense of talent and calibre. We believe that capable local women do have equal opportunities to compete with their male counterparts for posts in the Government and in the private sector.

In addition, the UNCEDAW also suggested that the definition of "discrimination" be written into Hong Kong's constitution. The Liberal Party does not think that there is a need to amend the constitution for this. Indeed, at present the constitutions of many countries do not contain the definition of the term "discrimination", and only protect their citizens' human rights with ordinary laws. Before the reunification, Hong Kong enacted the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, thus providing adequate protection for gender equality. Therefore, I do not see any reason why there is a need to write into the Basic Law safeguards for women's equality.

The Liberal Party calls upon the Government to look deep into the UNCEDAW recommendations and implement, as soon as possible, those that are suitable for Hong Kong so as to further improve women' rights.

With these remarks, Madam President, I support the motion on behalf of the Liberal Party.

MR AMBROSE LAU (in Cantonese): Madam President, the task of protecting women's rights and interests is something easy to grasp but difficult to carry out. In Hong Kong, the consensus on women's rights and interests and that on gender equality are spreading in step with the rising awareness of human rights and the economic status of women. At the same time, however, women at different levels in society or in different living or working conditions are still faced with different forms of deliberate or unintended discrimination. Cases of sexual assaults on girls have been growing. The threat of sexual harassment on female students has been worsening. The commercialization and vulgarization of women in the mass media or on the Internet have gone from bad to worse. All this indicates that the work on elimination of discrimination against women requires even greater efforts. We have in this Council today a debate on how to eliminate discrimination against women. The Hong Kong Progressive Alliance (HKPA) warmly welcomes this.

The relevant United Nations report uses the word "recommend" to advise, in relatively more formal tone, the Hong Kong Government to do something for the elimination of discrimination against women. In addition, it also uses words like "encourage", "urge", "request" and even "invite" in a bid to get the Hong Kong Government to work more on the protection of women's rights and interests. Miss Emily LAU's motion today calls upon the Government to implement the recommendations of the relevant United Nations report.

The HKPA is of the view that the Hong Kong Government has already done a lot of work answering some of the recommendations of the United Nations report. Most obviously, the United Nations Committee noted that apart from drawing up the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, the Hong Kong Government did not write into the Basic Law the definition of "discrimination". In fact, apart from provisions declared to be in conflict with the Basic Law, all other provisions of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance have remained valid, including the provisions on the protection of gender equality. Furthermore, Article 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) has already been incorporated into Article 39 of the Basic Law. Clause 1 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance is even based on Article 3 of ICCPR.

The United Nations report also took notice of women's representation in the various constituencies under the premise of equal electoral rights for everybody. At present, women and men in Hong Kong all enjoy the same right to elect as well as the same right to be elected. Such rights are protected by the Basic Law. The current electoral system constitutes no structural obstacle to equal participation in politics by women.

Moreover, the HKPA has also come to the view that in the elections of rural committees, the Government is putting in efforts to promote equal electoral rights for men and women. Under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, executive members of a rural committee not returned by an election in which women may equally take part will not be recognized by the Government.

Some of the recommendations contained in the United Nations report probably do not tally with Hong Kong's realistic situation. For example, according to the report, in appointing women to the policy-making level of public offices, the Hong Kong Government should consider taking measures like the adoption of a quota system. To do so is probably to go against the principle of appointment by personal merits. According to the report, too, the Hong Kong Government should take measures to increase the number of female students taking science subjects. The HKPA considers that such measures do not respect personal preferences or choices. Is it not an infringement on the right to learn to force more females to take up certain subjects?

The HKPA calls upon the Hong Kong Government to materialize gender equality according to Hong Kong's specific and unique situation by ways that are, as far as possible, in line with the Basic Law.

With these remarks, Madam President, I support the motion.

MISS CYD HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, my speech is going to centre on items 73 and 74 of the report of the United Nations Committee in respect of CEDAW, the parts dealing with domestic violence and sexual harassment.

In Hong Kong, cases of wife abuses went up from 204 in 1991 to 367 in 1997. These figures only represent serious cases reported to the police, thus only showing the tip of an iceberg.

According to a survey conducted by the Harmony House, many of those abused women who move into the Harmony House have been subject to abuses for more than five years. They could only swallow their sufferings in silence all the time. Policies and law enforcement nowadays cannot protect women effectively.

Mrs Miriam LAU earlier talked about rape in marriage. I am going to talk more extensively about sexual harassment on campus.

Recently, there has been a lot of news about incidents taking place in college campuses. These were serious cases ranging from the case of the concealed camera in the Chinese University to that of Peeping Tom and the release of pornographic pictures on the Internet as well as threats delivered by e-mail. There was also news about unreported incidents of indecent assaults or rape attempts being circulated among students. College administrations tried to play down the incidents in order to uphold the reputation of their colleges. The low-key approach adopted by tertiary institutions is, in fact, indirectly pampering on-campus sexual harassment. We must address these incidents as this is actually the proper way to uphold the reputation of the institutions.

Of the eight local tertiary institutions, only the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University have set up complaints mechanism to receive complaints about sexual harassment. None of the other institutions has similar mechanism. So when statistics are needed, many institutions just say that nothing of that sort has happened as no such statistics are available. This is in fact merely an "ostrich policy". Even at the University of Hong Kong or the Chinese University, the way in which the administration deals with sex harassment does not appear to be fair. Here is an example: At the Chinese University, the victim of the case of concealed camera had to institute civil action with the assistance of friends by resorting to the legislation on violation of personal privacy. The University did not take the initiative to offer her assistance in referring the case to the police.

At the University of Hong Kong, there are recently incidents involving the release on the Internet of photographs secretly taken by some students showing female students changing clothes, and the release of e-mail messages containing death threats. As a result, the first thing that a female student has to do on returning to her hostel room is to lower the curtains. That is literally a life in darkness. However, the administration has not categorically made known any punishments by announcing, for example, that the offender, if caught, is liable to instant expulsion. As there is not even a simple statement like that, offenders are therefore able to act brazenly. The incidence of sexual harassment is growing in tertiary institutions, thus ruining their reputation.

Given the fact that senior university posts are mainly held by men, we cannot help wondering if they indeed cannot be considerate enough to understand female students' fear and are therefore unwilling to deal with cases of on-campus sexual harassment swiftly and firmly to free female students from fear and let them pursue their studies with peace of mind.

The Law Reform Commission has conducted consultations on harassing behaviours. It is hoped that in drawing up the relevant legislation, the Government can consider introducing legislation against all forms of sexual harassment.

Besides drawing up legislation, the Government can work more on social policies so as to free women from the threat of violence.

In mid-April, it was reported that a woman and her daughter were splashed with sulphuric acid when the woman tried to collect maintenance from her ex-husband. This piece of news is indeed most infuriating.

Divorce cases have been growing incessantly. According to reports, the number of divorces reached 13 000 in 1998. In present-day Hong Kong society, there is indeed a great difference between the financial strength of men and that of women.

In the face of a rising divorce rate, the Government must set up a maintenance authority to collect maintenance for women having such a need, especially for women who got their divorce on grounds of abuses. With no midway agency being available, women are in fact being asked to personally press for maintenance from their ex-husbands, persons who once brutalized them. This is tantamount to putting those women in a dangerous situation.

Under the current provisions of the Attachment of Earnings Order, grassroots women may apply for legal aid to take the case to court only when maintenance is over due. In the meantime, they have to make ends meet by getting loans from friends or relatives or by seeking Comprehensive Social Security Assistance. Their ex-husbands, however, often pay the maintenance into their accounts one day before the court hearings. Such acts of delaying payment of living expenses to their children and ex-wives become habitual and are not just once in a blue moon. It is like that every month, going on like a cycle.

As these women must apply for legal aid to take the case to court, they are being unnecessarily tortured by a painful process. Public funds are also wasted in court proceedings and legal aid. I therefore call upon the Secretary for Home Affairs to release, as soon as possible, details for the establishment of a maintenance authority for public consultation in order that it can be set up at an early date.

Madam President, I have to reiterate that there is a need to set up a central mechanism to consider, from women's viewpoint, the formulation of various policies so as to forestall "the feminization of poverty", that is, the phenomenon of women enduring the pain caused by poverty; to give them equal opportunities of development; to make it possible for women to cease to be ancillary items of families; and to free them from the need to accept poverty on account of marital changes.

I want to cite an example. Under the pooled insurance scheme of the recent recommendations for health care financing, a housewife may join the scheme only through the account of a contributor. She cannot have a separate insurance account of her own. With regard to old age insurance, no mention has been made on the point as to how and by whom contribution is to be made in the case of a housewife, one having neither a paid job nor an employer. Is the arrangement similar to that of the pooled insurance scheme? If that is the case, then who is to be responsible for the payments due under her old age insurance in the event that she is divorced at the age of 64?

Madam President, it is not difficult to find such examples. You can probably recall that at the Budget debate, I mentioned that the superb services of women are being made use of in place of the Government's public expenses in policy areas covering education, youth policy, housing and elderly care, which costs women the opportunity to develop personal talents equitably. It is hoped that the Government can set up a central mechanism as soon as possible to deal with policies on women's affairs in order that the inequality between men and women can be rectified.

Thank you, Madam President.

MISS CHOY SO-YUK (in Cantonese): Madam President, recently there was a commercial on TV. The focus of the picture is on the part of the body above the thigh of a woman wearing a short skirt. Some inappropriate words are spoken as a publicity slogan. According to the advertising agent, the said commercial carries no special implication. However, the disrespect and affront to women that the said commercial carries are obvious to all. Yet, this is merely the tip of an iceberg, revealing the discrimination and unfair treatment that women in Hong Kong have been suffering!

Although Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city, signs of discrimination against women abound. The Government all along stresses that there are safeguards for women's rights and interests as there are suitable mechanisms charged with co-ordinating and overseeing women's affairs under the various Policy Bureaux, and in addition, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has already been established. However, the said mechanisms are of very limited use in improving women's status and in promoting women's developments. The reason is that the jurisdiction of the EOC, an organization not especially responsible for women's affairs, is confined to eliminating discrimination whilst the Home Affairs Bureau, the office charged with women's affairs, has formulated not a set of specific policies on women's affairs. That is to say, because of wide-ranging responsibilities and functions, both the EOC and the Home Affairs Bureau are unable to focus their attention on women's affairs.

In fact, it is the practice in many countries, such as England and New Zealand, to set up a department charged with women's affairs and to have an EOC-like organization at the same time. Therefore, I am of the view that the Government should set up a Women Commission as soon as possible to effect co-ordination and formulate policies on women's affairs. In order to more effectively co-ordinate various government departments, the Commission should be a central body with leadership from the top echelon and directly answerable to the Chief Executive or the Chief Secretary for Administration. Turning now to its specific functions. The Commission's functions should cover formulating long-term policies on women's affairs, promoting gender equality, raising the status of women, drawing up plans for the allocation of funds, compiling statistics on men and women, and implementing policies in connection with CEDAW.

In addition to setting up the Commission, I think the Government should make every effort to eliminate sex discrimination against women in society. To a certain extent, the report submitted by the Government in accordance with CEDAW appears to be one-sided even though it has cited quite a few safeguards in law and in theory. Still, it fails to touch upon many genuine social problems.

A most obvious example is the sharp rise in the incidence of abuse, sexual harassment and sexual assault suffered by women in recent years. However, there is still much room for improvement in the Government's handling of and follow-up to such cases. For instance, the number of wife abuse cases rose from 269 in 1995 to 487 in 1996 and 491 in 1997. The rise was close to a hundred percent. Incidence of sexual assaults in public housing estates has been rising sharply too. Many teenage girls have fallen victims. Even on college campuses, places that used to be simple and pure, there have been incidents involving female students becoming the targets of Peeping Toms, threats, indecent assaults, or even concealed cameras taking nudity pictures for uploading onto the Internet.

In a society upholding gender equality, women's right to be free from abuses, sexual assaults, and sexual harassment must be safeguarded. However, law enforcement officers often cannot properly handle cases of wife abuse, because of their concept of "family affairs". Laws on sex crimes still have loopholes. With no monitoring on the Internet, information discriminatory against and insulting to women can circulate extensively. The Government also has not done enough follow-up work in areas like psychological counselling, medical care and legislation. Moreover, many non-governmental have also expressed concern about insufficient resources. I think that in addition to making improvement to existing legislation by filling up loopholes as soon as possible, the Government should provide sufficient psychological, medical and legal services to look after woman victims, and also allocate additional resources to voluntary agencies for them to provide victimized women with educational and counselling services.

Furthermore, the Government also has not been providing divorced women with sufficient protection. This is especially true in the case of helping women to collect or press for payment of maintenance. Although the Government implemented the Attachment of Earnings Order last April, the measure cannot withhold the income of casual or self-employed workers on the one hand and is unpopular among employers on the other. As a result, many women's maintenance payments have become overdue. What is more, they suffer considerably from the mental pressure arising from attempts to collect maintenance. I suggest that the Government should set up, as soon as possible, a maintenance authority to collect or press for payment of maintenance for single parents or orphans.

Madam President, there are today 10 female Members in this Chamber, who appear to be enjoying equal treatment and free from discrimination. But we are just the few luckiest women in Hong Kong where there are tens of thousands of women who are subject to varying degrees of discrimination or unfair treatment every day. This is especially so for grassroots women. Therefore, I think that to help deliver grassroots women from inequitable treatment and discrimination is more urgent and necessary than to address the issue concerning the ratio of women taking up politics or public offices.

Because of the time constraints, I could only cite a few examples which more or less reflect that the discrimination suffered by women at grassroots level is greater than what is perceived by the Government. Here I call upon the Government to set up the Women Commission as soon as possible to formulate policies suitable to the realistic situation so as to improve women's status, and eliminate all forms of inequitable treatment and discrimination.

With these remarks, Madam President, I support the motion.

MR LEE CHEUK-YAN (in Cantonese): Madam President, Miss CHOY So-yuk said just now that the 10 female Members of this Council should all consider themselves to be very lucky. I am not sure if that is true. There might be incomprehensible pains at the back of their mind. They might think that they are not that lucky as it is very likely that in order to participate in the work of this Council, they have to pay dearly and sacrifice a lot. As outsiders, we probably do not know the truth. Today I am however not going to talk about the pains suffered our female colleagues as that is beyond my grasp.

What I am going to say today is mainly on the three parts concerning employment as contained in the report of the UNCEDAW. The first is on the part concerning equal opportunities in employment. Some might wonder what more can we say as the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has already been established and there is also legislation prohibiting sex discrimination. However, the said Committee has clearly made recommendations on the issue of equal pay for equal value. Please listen carefully. It is equal pay for equal value, not equal pay for equal work. We already have specific legislation prescribing equal pay for equal work whilst equal pay for equal value is only mentioned in the Code of Practice on Employment. Why is it necessary for me to bring up the issue on equal pay for equal value? It is because I think Hong Kong still has a few big problems for us to face.

The first big problem is that there is still a great difference between the incomes of men and those of women. According to statistics released in September 1998, the average wage of man is $12,009 whilst that of woman is only $10,644. The difference is biggest in the personal services sector, with women drawing less than 70% of those of men. On top of this is the second major problem, namely, the fact that more women hold jobs in the low-income group. For instance, in the case of the $4,000 - $6,000 income group, 8.5% of the male working population belongs to this group whilst the figure for women is 13.5%. This indicates that women's incomes tend to be lower.

You might wonder why there is a difference between the incomes of the two genders as well as why incomes of women tend to be lower. In my opinion, that is mainly due to job segregation, our oft-mentioned issue. That is to say, women are more concentrated in jobs drawing lower incomes. For instance, three quarters of all the managerial or executive posts are taken up by men whilst only one quarter of them are taken up by women. These are present-day statistics. In the case of clerical posts, 70% of the holders are women. This proves that there is a problem of job segregation which makes women hold those posts. Amongst non-technical workers, 24% are women whilst just 15% are men. Here women again outnumber men, and this is segregation, too.

Besides job segregation, there is another reason, namely, marriage. According to some people, marriage is the burial ground for romance. We, however, think that marriage is the burial ground for career. According to the By-census of 1996, the participation-in-labour rate of married women or women aged between 35 and 44 is just 52% whilst that of men is 98%. Why is the participation-in-labour rate of women aged between 35 and 44 so low? The question of child care mentioned earlier is one of the factors. Women are often forced to give up her jobs once they have their own families. When they rejoin the workforce 10 years or so later, they will have to start afresh as they will be devoid of all skills. Surely, in such a case, their incomes will be lower, which constitutes another factor contributing to women's lower incomes.

Thirdly, I think there still exists in Hong Kong the concept that women's income is merely supplementary family income, which thus justifies higher pay for men. It follows that as women's income is just supplementary, they should accept lower pays. Such a concept is still widely accepted. As a result, many people feel that women can accept lower pays. We can see that trades and jobs taken up mainly by women are those worst paid.

How should we solve the problem? Some people say that we already have the EOC. While the Code of Practice contains the concept of equal pay for equal value, this very concept is not enshrined in law. In 1997, when I made a strong demand to draw up legislation to that effect, Dr Fanny CHEUNG told me not to rush, saying that it was necessary to conduct research first. Now I do not know the progress of the research, nor do I know where the report is. I have learned that the report should have been released late last year. But it seems that it has disappeared. I wonder if the Secretary for Home Affairs can later tell me where the report is now. Is the report actually non-existent? Has it been discarded and thrown into the waste bin together with the memory of the question concerning equal pay for equal value? I hope that the said United Nations report will remind us of the need to draw up legislation on equal pay for equal value.

Furthermore, there is the question concerning foreign domestic helpers, an issue also heeded by the said committee. A recent case clearly reflects the issue. In that case, the employer paid $2,000 to the employment agency, but the foreign domestic helper concerned only got $260. The victim in that case was Ruby YAH. The matter was referred to court. The employer asked the foreign domestic helper to go to his workplace to wash his pets. This is against the law. The foreign domestic helper was given an egg, a bowl of rice and two buns for meals daily. The employer also removed the light bulb, saying that $5 had to be paid for illumination. The foreign domestic helper had no holiday and frequently got slapped in the face. Finally, the employer hit her with a painting, and, as a result, the case was brought to the Court. How much was the employer fined? $500. Had the UNCEDAW learned that the employer was fined only $500, every one of them, I believe, would have been very angry. However, that is only the tip of an iceberg because Hong Kong has some 30 000 Indonesian domestic helpers. Some people believe that 90% of them are being under-paid. Therefore, I call upon the Government to actively consider ways to protect foreign domestic helpers against abuses.

Finally I want to talk about sex workers. However, not much time is left. The order of the day is to play ball games or to go on pleasure hunts. This is, however, part of male chauvinism. Females are often forced into the becoming victims. We think the Government ought to pay attention to the issue of occupational safety. I hope the Government ......

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr LEE, your time is up. Please sit down.

MR LEE CHEUK-YAN (in Cantonese): ...... will pay attention to the issue of regular medical check-ups. Thank you.

MR JAMES TIEN (in Cantonese): Madam President, Mrs Miriam LAU has spoken on behalf of the Liberal Party in support of Miss Emily LAU's motion. I am firmly of the view that in this Chamber the party of some size that has the greatest respect for, but the least discrimination against, women is the Liberal Party. Of our 10 Legislative Council Members, three are women. Mr Andrew CHENG of the Democratic Party just expressed much concern about the matter. He probably expressed concern about the matter on behalf of women as the Democratic Party has not got any female Legislative Council Members. I do not think Miss CHAN Yuen-han should laugh. She often speaks for the Federation of Trade Unions, not for the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB). So it can also be said that DAB has not got any female Legislative Council Member.

Madam President, with regard to the motion in connection with the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Mrs Miriam LAU has already pointed out the parts we support when she spoke. However, I have reservations about the fairness of the comments on Hong Kong made by that United Nations report. I would like to talk about some of those points.

According to the relevant United Nations Committee, women's ratio in appointments to government posts and public services is low in Hong Kong. Let us take a look at the ratio taken up by women in the case of principal officials in the Civil Service. By definition, principal officials are those required by the Basic Law to be nominated by the Chief Executive for appointment by the Central Government. Of the 23 principal officials, 17 are men and six women. So 26% of them are women. In England, there are 51 Ministers. Of these, 38 are men and 13 women. So 25% of them are women. Why did not the United Nations report see a problem in England? Why did it not advise England to adopt affirmative action? Is it true that everything in England is good whilst all things in Hong Kong are bad?

Madam President, in the case of parliamentary assemblies, we have 60 Legislative Council Members, of whom 10 persons or 17% are women. 30 Members were returned by functional constituencies. According to the said United Nations report, women do not have equal opportunities of participation in the elections of our functional constituencies. Is that true? Of the 100 Senators of the United States Senate, 91 are men and only nine are women. That is to say, only 9% are women. All United States Senators are elected through a one-person-one-vote electoral system. However, it definitely does not mean that a direct election will return an equal number of male and female members. Even if the United States population or that of other places were equally divided between men and women, it does not follow that equal numbers of male and female members will be returned. It is also true of the House of Representatives. Of the 435 representatives, 377 are men and 58 women. Making up 13% of the membership, women there have a ratio higher than that of the Senate, but the figure is still lower than that of Hong Kong. Have elections of functional constituencies put women in an unfavourable position under such circumstances? Direct elections are practised in both the United States and Europe where parliamentary members are returned by way of one-person-one-vote. It does not follow that the numbers of male and female members will be very close.

In my opinion, election results of our functional constituencies show that seats go to the capable. As just mentioned by Mrs Miriam LAU, the health services group represented by Mr Michael HO has some 27 000 voters, of whom only some 6 000 are men, but over 21 000 are women. However, they elected a man to be their representative. On the other hand, the legal group represented by Miss Margaret NG has 10 000 voters, of whom 6 519 are men and 3 383 are women. They, however, elected a woman to be their representative. In fact we think opportunities go to the capable. Those who are capable win elections. It is incorrect to hold that in order to be fair, the number of voters in a functional constituency must be evenly divided between men and women. The United Nations advised that in order to be fair, we must adopt affirmative action, for example, a quota system, so as to ensure equal numbers of men and women among voters of functional constituencies. I totally disagree with this.

Madam President, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan just made the point that the concept of equal pay for equal value should be written into our laws. We wonder if the work done by men and that done by women are really the same. By nature, man and woman are not the same. Man is, after all, stronger physically. Take steel-fixing as an example. At a construction site, two men can lift up an iron bar whilst it might take three women to do the same job. Does it mean under the concept of equal pay for equal value that the daily pay of man is $750 and that of woman is $500? As three women are required, so $500 x 3 is $1,500. As only two men are required, so it is $750 x 2. Should the calculation go like this or should men and women get the same pay so long as they are steel-fixers? As a matter of fact, this is not just a problem in Hong Kong, other countries cannot do so as well.

Mr LEE Cheuk-yan also said that in the business sector of Hong Kong, men occupy 70% of the executive posts and leave only 30% to women and that it is just the other way round in the case of clerical posts. The United States, now the most democratic country, still has such a situation. That is to say, men occupy 70% of the executive posts whilst 70% of the clerical posts are taken up by women. In fact, it is not only the case in Hong Kong and China; it is also the case in the United States. This is probably because women have to give birth to children (men are not capable of that). So most of them have to stay home to look after their children and do housework. So, even in foreign countries, it takes much time to get more women to come out and work. As a matter of fact, one has to work for a long time before one can become an executive. Therefore, I disagree entirely with the view that the problem is unique to Hong Kong.

Madam President, if we really want to eliminate discrimination, we have to work persistently on areas like education and social climate, instead of just conducting motion debates to demand the Government to draw up legislation. I think Members are well aware of this. Are we to make it mandatory that a firm must have equal numbers of male and female employers, equal numbers of male and female executives and equal numbers of male and female clerks? This is definitely impossible.

With these remarks, Madam President, I support the motion.

MR YEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (UNCEDAW) expressed some points of concern about improving the social status of women in Hong Kong, and made recommendations in this connection. Some of the recommendations, for example, on setting up a high-level mechanism to develop and co-ordinate policies on women's affairs and strengthening support to victims of domestic violence, do merit consideration by the Government of Hong Kong. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) feels that the Government should actively consider the relevant recommendations. Being unfamiliar with the specific situation in Hong Kong, the said committee did make some inappropriate comments as well as some recommendations out of keeping with the actual Hong Kong situation. So we cannot accept them in their totality.

First, the said committee criticized our electoral system for denying women equal opportunities to participate in politics, referring to the elections of functional constituencies in particular. Though female Members of this Council elected via functional constituencies now only account for a total of four, every woman is free to run for the election of any functional constituency. There is no obstacle in the way of women going into politics. If it is said that some groups in certain functional constituencies are dominated by men, then it is the groups themselves rather than the electoral system that require reform!

With regard to the electoral rights of village women, the Sex Discrimination Ordinance now prescribes that the way in which executive members of a rural committee are produced must facilitate equal participation by women. Furthermore, village representatives are now elected by way of one-person-one-vote. So, in Hong Kong women's right to participate in politics is definitely under protection.

We also agree that the Government should encourage more women to take part in public services. For instance, child care services ought to be improved so as to give women more time to participate in social services. As a matter of fact, the Government at present does invite members of women's organizations to join advisory bodies. However, the DAB does not think that Hong Kong should model on the foreign practice of prescribing certain ratios of female membership in statutory or advisory bodies. The reason is that in offering appointments to members of the public, the Government considers each person's abilities, experience, or history of social service. Gender is not a factor for consideration. To make it mandatory that a certain ratio of members must be women is, on the contrary, a practice of sex discrimination. Confucius said: "Taking a person by his appearance is misjudgement, as in the case of Zi Yu." Similarly, taking a person by gender is misjudgement, as in the case of Zi Yu.

In fact there is no strong evidence showing that in the appointment of faculty and staff, tertiary institutions exercise sex discrimination. However, with data provided by the Government showing that male members of faculty and staff are two and half times more than their female counterparts, the said United Nations committee recommended solely on that basis that measures be taken to ensure a certain number of women among the faculty and staff. To take such measures is to be oblivious of the possible differences between men and women in the choice of careers. It also unnecessarily poses staff recruitment problems to the institutions concerned.

Moreover, the small house policy also involves the rights and interests of indigenous inhabitants of the New Territories. The Government is also reviewing the policy concerned. The DAB, therefore, advises the Government to balance the interests of all parties during the review by, inter alia, taking into consideration factors like the customs of indigenous inhabitants of the New Territories and women's equal rights and interests. Pending the outcome of the review, we are not in favour of abolishing the small house policy.

Generally speaking, we think the Government should attach importance to the recommendations of the UNCEDAW. Therefore, we support the motion. However, I have to make it clear on behalf of DAB that this does not mean that we agree with all the comments and recommendations made by the UNCEDAW in respect of Hong Kong.

I so submit.

DR YEUNG SUM (in Cantonese): Madam President, the numerous recommendations contained in the concluding comments published by the UNCEDAW merit the Government's careful consideration and adoption. I am more concerned with those recommendations in connection with constitutional matters, especially the point that the said committee took notice of the structural difficulties posed to women going into politics by the system of functional constituency elections of the Legislative Council, and the low rate of participation by women in the advisory and statutory bodies of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR).

The Democratic Party is against the electoral system of functional constituencies because functional groups, by nature, tend to treat individual interest groups in special ways. By now, the electoral system of the Legislative Council has been with us for some 10 years. There have been no fewer than five elections. Geographical direct elections were first introduced in 1991. Through geographical elections, Hong Kong people can elect persons they support to be Legislative Council Members. Given the general consensus on and extensive acceptance of the system of direct elections among members of the public, the electoral system of functional constituencies should have been dropped long ago so as to return all Legislative Council Members by way of direct election as soon as possible. Only this tallies with the spirit and principles of democracy and representative government.

Apart from problems with the fundamental attributes of functional constituencies, the existing electoral system of functional constituencies has countless defects. At a previous meeting held to consider the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill, quite a few absurdities were pointed out by Members. For examples, in the case of the shipping and transportation group, it is one vote per organization for those trade unions or merchants' associations, but one vote per registered company for those without trade union or merchants' association; and in the case of the medical profession, traditional Chinese medical practitioners have no right to vote. Furthermore, in the legal profession, judges have no right to vote. Excluded from all groups are registered veterinary surgeons. All these are due to the fact that it is difficult to draw clear definitions for voters of functional constituencies. Further complicating the matter is the political factor that the Government is trying to play the so-called "balancing" game. As a result, there are all sorts of absurd rules in the electoral system of the SAR's functional constituencies.

What are the organizations or professions for which functional constituencies ought to be established? This question has given rise to a lot of controversies, or even class struggles. For instance, traditional Chinese medical practitioners and members of faculty and staff of tertiary institutions both seek to be independent of the medical profession and the teaching profession respectively in a bid to set up their own functional groups so as to secure representation for the interests of different classes within the same social sectors. It seems that Legislative Council seats are being treated like the five cakes and two fish shared among all. What a big joke!

Why should not retirees, housewives and students, people considered by the Government with no involvement in economic activities, have their own representatives in the Legislative Council? Is it true that the duties of Legislative Council Members involve economic issues only?

Given the functional constituencies' innate defects in their own delineation and the definition of voters, they structurally pose obstacles to women running for election. For instance, housewives, those excluded from all functional groups, can neither run for election nor cast votes. Here is another example. Under the system of corporate votes for the industrial and commercial groups, most of those who can cast votes are men as most decision-makers and most members of those boards of directors are men. Men therefore have more opportunities to cast votes, thus indirectly reducing women's opportunities to vote and also indirectly contributing to discrimination against women.

The Democratic Party holds that the best solution is to scrap the defect-infested electoral system of functional constituencies, and replace it with the system of geographical direct elections, whereby the people irrespective of gender or profession will elect 60 Legislative Council Members by way of one-person-one-vote. Only by this can we have an open and fair election in conformity with the principle of gender equality. Only by this can both men and women have equal opportunities to stand for election or cast votes and to participate in public affairs.

With regard to equal participation in public affairs, the said United Nations committee also particularly took notice of an unfair phenomenon where members appointed to the various advisory committees or statutory bodies of the SAR are mainly men. It recommended the Government to adopt interim special measures, including the introduction of a quota system, to make it mandatory for each advisory committee or statutory body to have a certain proportion of female members. Members of the Liberal Party speaking before me have already voiced their objection. However, the Democratic Party supports it as this recommendation may help to increase women's opportunities to participate in public affairs, and it is also a method more feasible in terms of administration. Such interim positive assistance is acceptable.

To promote women's participation in public affairs, the Chief Executive, in making appointments to advisory committees or statutory bodies, should consider appointing more women who are capable or representative.

People might criticize that this is tantamount to protecting women but discriminating against men. The Democratic Party stresses that such a special measure should be temporary and reasonable, serving as the starting point in promoting women's participation in public affairs. By the time the society progresses to a more balanced stage, a point at which there is no more need for the special measure, the Government may then drop the said quota system.

The Democratic Party calls upon the Government to make every effort to implement the aforesaid recommendations of the said United Nations committee so that people in the SAR can participate in politics in a way that upholds gender equality and is both open and fair. This is also something that must be done in order to comply with Articles 26 and 39 of the Basic Law, provisions ensuring SAR residents political rights, and to keep SAR legislation in line with the Sex Discrimination Ordinance.

I so submit.

MR LAW CHI-KWONG (in Cantonese): Madam President, I would like to respond briefly to the comments concerning functional constituency elections made by the Liberal Party and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong. Just now, Dr YEUNG Sum has elaborated on some of the issues in detail. I would like to add a few points.

In analysing the issue, we should not look at the election result alone in order to make our judgment. In fact, when we talk about "equality", the most important point is equal opportunities. In order to assess whether opportunities are equal, we have to take the number of voters as the most important criterion rather than whether the ratio is greater or smaller than that of direct elections. Madam President, this is not what I originally intended to say, be that as it may for I have made it. However, there are a few arguments that I would like to make.

First, today a number of Honourable colleagues have already said what I intended to say. As our views are more or less the same, I will only raise some important points. Let me cite the call for setting up a Women Commission as an example. In the political platform put forward by the United Democrats of Hong Kong (UDHK) when it stood for the Legislative Council Election in 1991, the UDHK already asked to introduce the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and set up a Women Commission. In elections to be held in future, I hope there will be no need for the call for setting up the commission to appear in the political platform of the Democratic Party again.

Second, on the question of wife abuse, it was only until late 1980s that people began to pay attention to this problem. However, the resources injected by the Government into helping battered women are still very limited. Just now, Miss Cyd HO mentioned the point that there was a rise in the number of abuse cases. Here I would like to mention briefly some figures on cases calling for help through hotlines over the past years as published in the newsletter just issued by the Harmony House. In 1992-93, there were 2 544 cases; in 1997-98, that is five years after, the number has risen to 4 836 cases. But so far, the Government has still not provided any support to this hotline service. As a result, similar organizations have found it extremely difficult in providing assistance to help-seekers. I hope the Government can consider seriously how best it can provide more assistance to organizations providing services for battered women.

Another point is on the question of maintenance payments. Just now, several Members have also talked about this issue. No matter whether we call it a child rearing council or maintenance authority, we have discussed this issue for several years. Just now, Miss Cyd HO cited a case in which a woman was spilled with sulphuric acid by her ex-husband when she asked for maintenance payments. The number of cases involving violence or threats is in fact enormous. Very often, children were "caught in the middle", not knowing how to deal with the situation. Insofar as single parents and their children are concerned, this is indeed unfair to them. The Government is now reviewing the Attachment of Income Order. But I think this is an unnecessary move. The Attachment of Income Order itself is an indispensable piece of legislation. But I think very few women can actually make it through to this stage to initiate legal action. Because of various difficulties, even the decision concerning whether or not to ask for maintenance at the time of divorce becomes the biggest obstacle. Therefore, very often, lawyers will suggest the women to ask for $1 as nominal maintenance so as to make their former husbands to shoulder their responsibilities. If a woman refuses to take that $1, she will then not be eligible for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA). When she wants to apply for CSSA, the Government will force her to ask for maintenance no matter what difficulty she will encounter. Otherwise, she will not be able to receive CSSA. Therefore, if lawyers are really mindful of helping these women, one of the most effective means is not to apply for a nominal $1 maintenance. The phenomenon that a woman can apply for CSSA after obtaining a $1 nominal maintenance is in fact extremely undesirable. This is because the ex-husband or ex-wife should have the responsibility of providing maintenance, particularly costs for raising his or her children. Nevertheless, our system happens to have put in place so many obstacles, thereby posing many difficulties for a lot of people.

Although the setting up of an intermediary body to collect and pay out maintenance for single parents and children does not necessarily guarantee success in recovering maintenance payments, experiences of other countries have shown that this is the best solution to the problem. It is probable that only 60% or 70% of the maintenance entitlements can be recovered, but it is after all better than the existing situation where one can only get $1 for maintenance when applying for divorce. In 1997, the proposal of setting up a maintenance authority was supported by the then Legislative Council. I hope the Government can give a positive response today, after listening to the speeches given by a number of Members.

Madam President, I so submit.

MR ALBERT HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Democratic Party supports the motion moved by Miss Emily LAU today. In February this year, the Hong Kong Government reported for the first time to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (UNCEDAW) on the Hong Kong situation in applying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). This is undoubtedly an important and good beginning.

However, the Government has all along adopted an attitude of concealing what is evil and publishing what is good with its submission of its report and responses after listening to the concluding comments made by the Committee. Actually, the Human Rights Commission has, on past occasions, mentioned the point that, the relevant concluding comments were more often than not ignored by the Government in Hong Kong after submitting reports on various conventions. This is really undesirable.

The concluding comments made by the UNCEDAW carry a number of very constructive recommendations on various issues. However, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) has focused only on some courteous and positive comments given by the Committee at the beginning of the concluding comments. In other words, the Government has only looked from the level of courtesy on the surface. As for the actions and measures specifically recommended by the Committee, the Government seems to have lacked positive and specific responses. The message delivered is that the Government is willing to listen to the relevant views but its policies will remain the same.

Two very important topics come from the recommendations made by the Human Rights Commission. One of them concerns the setting up of a high-level central framework, such as a Women Commission, responsible for the development and co-ordination of women policies, as well as abrogating various reservations entered to CEDAW by Hong Kong, including those on the small house policy, religious affairs and so on. In this aspect, I hope that we can hold discussions in detail.

Although the UNCEDAW has specifically suggested the SAR Government to set up a central mechanism to develop and co-ordinate women policies, the Home Affairs Bureau stressed that the committee chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration had been able to fully carry out the responsibilities under CEDAW. In connection with this, I am extremely disappointed. In fact, the policy group presided by the Chief Secretary for Administration has virtually not held meetings on a regular basis. Very often, meetings will only be held in a responsive manner when it is considered that there are important issues for discussion. Moreover, the discussions are not focused on women's affairs only. It is even needless to mention the Home Affairs Bureau which has a very extensive brief. It has only injected a small amount of resources into the work related to women affairs and gender equality. In the Budget this year, the Government has only undertaken to allocate $600,000 for the promotion of publicity activities related to equal opportunities for the two sexes. As for the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), its jurisdiction is restricted only to monitoring the implementation of three pieces of anti-discrimination legislation. Such restricted powers have made it fundamentally impossible for the EOC to play an active role in promoting policies focusing mainly on women and monitoring the full implementation of the CEDAW. We can say that there is still a considerable distance between what the EOC has done and the objective laid down by the UNCEDAW.

It is precisely for these reasons that we can see that the women policies implemented in Hong Kong are very fragmented. We can also see that the so-called government mechanisms are fundamentally incapable of putting CEDAW into full implementation. In formulating a new policy, the Government very often fails to consider the impact of the policy on women, that is, to make the so-called "gender impact analysis". The Government never makes such an analysis. After the introduction of the policy, the Government only relies on some non-governmental bodies to play the supervisory role, raise questions and propose amendments. It is difficult for such a mode of operation to play an active, proactive and progressive role in promoting the development of women policies. It is indeed necessary for Hong Kong to set up a high-level central mechanism to play a co-ordination and supervisory role. We hope the relevant government authorities can explain to the public why the Government has so far rejected resolutely and refused to accept the recommendations made by the Human Rights Commission. What are the rationales?

Furthermore, I would like to briefly talk about the reservations and declaration entered into CEDAW by the Government. Point 83 of the concluding comments made by the UNCEDAW has specifically urged the Government to amend legislation incompatible with CEDAW. The Committee has even clearly mentioned that it hopes the Government can, in reviewing the small house policy, eliminate discrimination against female residents. However, the SAR Government considers this point absolutely unacceptable by stressing frequently that it has to take into account the situation in Hong Kong and that it has to cope with the unique environment locally. Actually, in reviewing the relevant policy, the EOC pointed out that the small house policy had actually discriminated against women in an unfair manner. Therefore, it was proposed that exemption be removed expeditiously so that the relevant policy would remain bound by the Sex Discrimination Ordinance. The Democratic Party supports the recommendations made by the EOC in this area and hopes that the SAR Government can refrain from confining itself to the traditional way and refusing to make progress.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr HO, your time is up. Please sit down.

MR ALBERT HO (in Cantonese): With these remarks, Madam President, I support the motion.

MR JAMES TO (in Cantonese): Madam President, early in February this year, two colleagues from the Democratic Party, the Honourable Miss Emily LAU and I attended a meeting held at the headquarters of the United Nations Organization in New York on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. We have also talked with some members of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (UNCEDAW).

Insofar as those members to whom I have spoken are concerned, I hope that the Government would not mistake them for very easy-going or lenient persons. As a matter of fact, they are accustomed to assessing the human rights development of each individual country by an international standard. They are experts in human rights. Frankly speaking, they are well versed in every human rights-related topic; I have noticed that in listening to their speeches and talking with them. But, why? This is because there is nothing new under the sun, the various forms of discrimination just exist in almost anywhere. Regardless of whether the places involved are progressing countries, developing countries, or developed countries and regions, the members of the UNCEDAW are all experienced enough to make their judgment. As such, the Government should never believe that they will always be so lenient like they were at the beginning. Apparently, they have been very lenient this time and their conclusion could also be regarded as lenient; however, they were very harsh during the question time. Why? It was our first time after all. Just like the supervisory committee of other human rights conventions we have met with, the UNCEDAW has been conducting their work step by step, since the rule of the game is to enable the countries and regions which are parties to the relevant human rights conventions to improve continuously to meet a set of international standards. However, when it comes to issues that they regard as of enormous import, such as the centralized mechanism which was mentioned many times by members of the UNCEDAW ─ I am sure this should be an important issue in their eyes ─ I am afraid they would not let us go easily if they do not see any improvement in our next report.

On the other hand, why should there by a centralized mechanism? Actually I have discussed that with many Honourable colleagues and we simply could not understand why the Government must raise such strong oppositions. Apparently, the Government has not put forward many arguments. The only one it has raised is about whether there should also be commissions on men, children and youth if we are to establish a commission on women. But mind you, the Commission on Youth has already been set up. As regard the elderly, the committee under the leadership of the Honourable TAM Yiu-chung has in fact been making efforts in this specific respect. The only concern is whether there is any need for a commission on men. However, there has not been any request by Honourable Members for the establishment of a commission on men, nor has there been any request for a convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against men. Why? If we look at the human rights situation from the perspective of the community as a whole, there is indeed a structural problem with this and, hence, a need for a specific convention. Not that we do not care about the well-being of men, but there is a greater need for us to alert everybody to the existence of structural discrimination against women in our community, so much so that we need to adopt the relevant international standards and a mechanism to tackle the situation. For these reasons, I do not think the Government could use such an argument as its ground for objection; besides, this argument has been raised for too many times.

In regard to the establishment of a commission on women, should there be any concern that the commission would affect the formulation of policies like an overlord? Frankly speaking, I cannot see the smallest possibility. After its establishment, the commission on women could take care of the matters in this respect. Madam President, this is very much similar to the case of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), an organization which we did not have in the past. After its establishment, the EOC has been concentrating its efforts on the equality front and on overseeing the situation against any breach of the principle of equal opportunities. This is because the EOC has been established with a specific role of monitoring the situation. Nevertheless, the Government has also put up another excuse by claiming that the policy group under the Chief Secretary for Administration are taking care of the matters already. But now we understand that what has been said was not true. There has never been any specific supervision on this front, and so far only Bureaux Secretaries have been involved; the principal Secretaries still remain very much outside the picture, Honestly speaking, how could the Bureaux Secretaries be expected to do a decent job if their seniority is not high enough? As to the non-governmental organizations, the Government just may not consider them suitable to play a leading role in campaigns, reviews, reforms and so on. Indeed, I believe only statutory bodies could do the jobs commensurate with the role of a commission in this respect. Does it take a lot of money to set up a commission on women? I have thought it over and over for many times but still cannot understand it. Given the existing development and situation of Hong Kong, the minimal cost required should by no means be the reason behind the Government's strong opposition. Or perhaps the Secretary for Home Affairs is afraid that the commission on women would take away some of his powers? When powers are gone, they are gone. Nevertheless, I do not believe this is the reason, since the Government would still be the ultimate body responsible for policies on human rights as a whole. On the contrary, if the Secretary has the breadth of mind and calibre to put forward a proposal to establish a commission on women, just like that demonstrated in the establishment of the EOC, I am sure he could do an even better job.

If we consider the matter from a negative point of view, the EOC has shouldered for the Secretary many of his blame and burden. In fact, much of the work involved has to be handled by the EOC, so it should be the one to blame if the relevant work has not been dealt with properly. This is perhaps a rather absurd point of view, but at least the Secretary or even the Government would have nothing to lose if we see the matter this way. But then again, if the members appointed by the Government to the commission on women are incapable or inefficient, members of the public will naturally voice out their dissatisfaction and press the Government to replace them with other persons.

As such, I have spent a lot of time wrecking my brain but still I cannot see why it will do us no good to have a centralized mechanism. The Government just keep on saying that there is not any need for such a mechanism. Well, the Government may perhaps see no need from its own point of view, but the public have been looking forward to and harbouring high expectations of such a mechanism. To the public, one such centralized mechanism is very important. In view of the attitudes mentioned just now, I feel that the Government must have found a commission on women very repulsive, undesirable, disappointing or intolerable, otherwise it should have yielded to the strong quest of the community at large. I really hope I have convinced the Secretary to urge the Government to set up a commission on women in these last seven minutes.

MR LEE WING-TAT (in Cantonese): Madam President, the UNCEDAW has, in its concluding comments, urged the Government of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) to take measures to safeguard the rights of women to hold office as members of the various representative councils, as well as to enable women to have more opportunities of participating in rural committees. In regard to the issue of participation in rural committees, the Democratic Party holds that we should start with he electoral system.

The Democratic Party strongly urges the Government to expeditiously introduce legislation to regulate the village representative elections, so as to ensure that the rules of the game are in line with the principles of fair, open and equal elections. In addition, the Government should also expeditiously introduce amendments to the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Bill currently under examination by this Council, with a view to making any corrupt or illegal conduct involved in elections of village representatives an offence in law.

Village representative elections have all along been lawless and undisciplined, even the Heung Yee Kuk is unable to monitor them. As such, various kinds of unfair arrangements have been made, such as the one-household-one-vote system practised in the past to allow only the head of a household to have the right to vote, and the denial of voting rights to female villagers. What is more, the registers of electors are kept by the respective incumbent village representatives, which means any incumbent village representative could always delete from the register the names of electors supporting other candidates and get re-elected easily, or they may influence the voting result by means of threats, coercion and so on. Given the close neighbourhood relationship in villages, many disgruntled villagers do not dare to lodge any complaints or voice out their discontent for fear of antagonizing other villagers.

During a rural committee election earlier, there was an incident in which two rival camps of villagers were gathering outside a polling station like triad members showing off their strengths before a "turf war"; in addition, some electors have also been prevented from casting their votes or threatened. Nevertheless, no one dared to speak out or accept any interviews by the media. Such things did have happened in the past, but the colonial government simply overlooked them purposely. Today, as we advance into the 21st century, could the SAR Government still turn a blind eye to the problem?

In August 1994, the Heung Yee Kuk published a set of model Election Regulations for Village Representative, with a view to providing the villages some guidelines on the procedures in electing village representatives. Apart from requiring the elections to comply with the principles of one-person-one-vote and gender equality in the right to vote, the model regulations also set out that a village representative shall hold office for a term of four years. Compared to the utter indifference in the past, this is really an improvement.

Unfortunately, however, the guidelines have never been strictly adhered to, since the Government has merely advised the villages to observe the guidelines given to them and permitted the villages to amend the guidelines in the light of their respective needs. In order to do away with the new arrangements made by the Heung Yee Kuk, certain stubborn villages have resorted to many different means like calling a general meeting of the villagers to pass a resolution on the denial of voting rights to female villagers, or prohibiting married daughters from registering as voters; others have withheld the names of female electors from the District Offices concerned during the re-registration of voters for village representative elections while some others have even resorted to deferring the re-election again and again. Although the guidelines have been in place for more than four years, the Government is still unable to say that the village representative elections are 100% in line with the principles of one-person-one-vote and gender equality!

Over the past four years since the publication of the model regulations, the New Territories regional sub-offices of the Democratic Party has continuously been receiving complaints from villagers. Not only female villagers but also their male counterparts have grievances to complain about. For instance, earlier on there was an appeal case involving more than 300 male and female villagers who had been denied of their rights to vote for reason of not being indigenous villagers.

So now we can see that despite those guidelines, the village representative elections just may not necessarily be in line with the principles of one-person-one-vote and gender equality in the right to vote. Given that the village representative elections are not subject to any statutory regulation or supervision, the Government simply could do nothing if the villagers refuse to accept the guidelines or even involve in some corrupt and illegal conduct.

The Democratic Party should like to stress that the elected village representatives need to have their status endorsed by the Secretary for Home Affairs under section 3(3) of the Heung Yee Kuk Ordinance and receive from him a certificate of appointment. Since village representatives are also members of rural committees, they may become rural committee chairmen and then ex officio members of relevant district councils through election among the executive committees of their respective rural committees; besides, they may also be elected as Member of the Legislative Council by way of the Heung Yee Kuk functional constituency. In view of such important public service and responsibilities involved, how could village representative elections be regarded as private elections and exempted from legislative control? The Democratic Party hereby stresses once again our stance: We strongly urge the Government to expeditiously introduce legislation to regulate and supervise the village representative elections.

I so submit.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Does any other Member wish to speak?

(No Member indicated a wish to speak)

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, first of all, I wish to brief Members on the developments made by women in terms of education and employment. In Hong Kong, both sexes have the same opportunity in receiving education. In senior classes in secondary schools, for the past five years, the number of female students is greater than that of male students. In undergraduate programmes, the proportion of female students against males rises from 39% 10 years ago to 51% now. Nowadays, more than 21% of the females of the appropriate age receive university education in undergraduate programmes. This is a marked increase against 9% 10 years ago. It is also higher than the 19% of males of the same age. From this it can be seen that there is no discrimination against women in households or institutions of higher education in Hong Kong.

Among the staff of the institutions of higher education, females used to occupy 25% of the total number of staff five years ago. The proportion continues to rise and the figure for the current year stands at 30%. As Hong Kong is a free market economy, the wage and promotion prospects of the staff are determined by their individual qualifications and performance. In recent years, women take up an increasingly important position in the labour market. For example, the proportion of women in higher executive and professional positions rises from 19% in 1991 to 25% in 1996. Mr LEE Cheuk-yan mentioned just now that the average salary of men is higher than that of women. This is a fact. But it is also a fact that the disparity and difference have narrowed down over time. The average monthly wage of female employees rose 32% during the period from 1994 to 1998, which is 7% more than the average monthly wage of male employees over the same period. The ratio of women of the age bracket of 25 to 34 in active employment rose from 69.2% in 1991 to 77.5% in 1998.

In the Government, for example, which is the largest employer in Hong Kong, a lot of its senior staff are women. Apart from the Chief Secretary for Administration whom we all know, almost half of the Administrative Officer grade are women, that is, 230 out of a total of 496 as at 1 January 1999. This is a marked increase compared to the time when I joined the Civil Service. I think most of the firms in the private sector would abide by the principle of giving the job to the most capable person when they are to hire or to promote any staff. Gender is certainly not a factor for consideration.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (UNCEDAW) has made many suggestions in the areas of employment and education for women in Hong Kong. Many of these suggestions are in fact measures which have already been implemented in Hong Kong. I wish to use this opportunity to explain the situation at the moment. In education, the UNCEDAW suggests using certain provisional special measures to increase the number of women in certain unconventional professional subjects, especially the number of female students in science and technology, as well as engineering. In recent years, the number of female graduates of certain unconventional professional subjects has continued to rise and the proportion in medicine, dentistry and health sciences is as much as 53%. In the final analysis, these figures reflects personal choices and not the results of discrimination. We always respect the freedom of students in choosing their major subjects in the hope that students can choose according to their personal interests and capabilities. As for certain subjects which do not attract a great number of female students, if we are to adopt some special measures just because we want to make the number of male and female students equal, that will not be an appropriate thing to do. In secondary schools, we do not impose any restrictions on the choice of subjects by the students by virtue of their sex. We encourage schools to eliminate traditional gender stereotypes and offer equal learning opportunities to both male and female students.

The UNCEDAW also suggests certain special measures to encourage the institutions to promote female employees from junior positions to senior positions. On this issue, the various tertiary institutions funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) are all committed to employing the most suitable persons to fill their academic positions. When employing or promoting teaching staff, the various tertiary institutions will assess their academic qualifications, ability and performance in teaching or research. As far as I know, in employing and promoting teaching staff, the UGC-funded institutions will strictly adhere to the principles of equal opportunities and non-discrimination. The same system of assessment is applied to both male and female teaching staff. Should the tertiary institutions implement any gender preference measures in employment or promotion, it will not only contravene the principle of equal opportunities, but also undermine the ability of the institution concerned in attracting and retaining outstanding teaching staff.

A few Honourable Members mentioned the recent cases of sexual harassment on university campuses. I am well aware of the concern of Members and I would ask the UGC to get itself informed about the specific preventive and disciplinary measures of the institutions. The UNCEDAW urges the Government to solve the problem of the constant inculcation of stereotyped gender behaviour in the early stages of education. It also urges the Government to allocate enough resources to run gender studies courses. The Education Department is actively promoting the concept of equality and has produced teaching materials to help schools achieve the objectives. In terms of civil, political and social rights, the concepts of equality and equal opportunities between sexes are incorporated into both the formal and informal curricula of primary and secondary schools. When we produce teaching materials or review textbooks, we will pay particular attention to the principle of gender equality, so as to avoid putting in contents of gender difference and stereotyped behaviour.

I agree with Miss Emily LAU who raised the point just now that there were some Chinese sayings and words which were somewhat derogatory to women, such as referring to women's views are worthless views. Similar examples are found in English. Some English words have been changed in order to avoid being sexist, for example, the word "chairman" is changed to "chairperson". Words like "mankind" are not yet changed into "womankind" or "humankind". As for the word "human", I wonder why it is not changed into "huwoman". (Laughter) I would seek the advice of the Education Department to solve the problem.

The UNCEDAW suggests that work of a equal value should receive the same reward. That is to say, the principle of equal pay for equal value of work should be incorporated into the law. The Sex Discrimination Ordinance has already provided for the principle of equal pay for equal work. The code of practice of this Ordinance also encourages employers to apply the principle of equal pay for equal value of work. In Hong Kong, people have the freedom to change their jobs if they so wish. The principle of equal pay for equal value of work is in line with market demands and the principle with which employers determine wage levels. Some Honourable Members mentioned that the Equal Opportunities Commission is beginning to study this issue. I have not read the report, but I think the Government should study carefully whether there is any practical need to codify this principle without causing any inconvenience to both employers and employees. Nor will any bureaucratic red tape be created. To be frank, I personally have great reservations on the legislative proposals.

The UNCEDAW urges the Government to study again those saving clauses in the convention on labour legislation and maternity and pregnancy protection. This refers to the qualifying period for these benefits. We are prepared to study again whether the saving clauses can be repealed.

The UNCEDAW urges the Government to amend legislation incompatible with the convention. This includes legislation on retirement fund schemes, about which the saving clauses in these ordinances should be repealed. Our studies have shown that if the proposals are to be carried out under the Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance, there would be difficulties. As the Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance is enacted before the Sex and Disability Discrimination (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, therefore the former does not provide for the retirement benefits of male and female employees. Such retirement benefits include eligibility to join retirement fund schemes, contribution rates, retirement age, formula for calculation of benefits and so on. There is no provision on the enjoyment of the same benefits by male and female employees. But after the Sex and Disability Discrimination (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance come into force, it will be illegal for any retirement fund scheme set up according to the Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance to carry any element of discrimination. As the Sex and Disability Discrimination (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance does not have any retrospective effect, we cannot require retirement fund schemes set up before the enactment of the Ordinance to come under the regulation. Certain employers and managers of retirement fund schemes said that as employee benefits are to be allocated on an equal basis, some unfavourable effects may be made on the vested interests of certain employees under the scheme. The UNCEDAW's suggestions will encounter a lot of difficulties if they are put into practice.

On the impact of economic restructuring on the employment of women, in general, the unemployment rate for females in Hong Kong is lower than males. The latest statistics obtained from December 1998 to February 1999 show that the unemployment rate for women is 4.7%, less than that for men which is 6.8%. However, the UNCEDAW notes that as there has been an economic restructuring in Hong Kong, some of the low-income women have found it difficult to re-enter the job market. In this regard. the Local Employment Service of the Labour Department has been trying its best to ease this problem. Over the past three years, the successful placement rate for female job seekers was slightly higher than that of their male counterparts. The Employees Retraining Board also offers a wide range of retraining opportunities to women. For example, among the graduates of full-time retraining programmes, 31% are male and 69% are female. Quite a large proportion of the graduates are now re-employed.

The UNCEDAW suggests that the Government should take action to protect imported female workers, that is, foreign domestic helpers, and prevent them from being subject to physical abuse and forceful detention. In addition to preventing such acts of violence from happening, the Government should also provide follow-up service to the survivors of such acts of violence. We are very much aware of the concerns of the UNCEDAW. At present, although there is no evidence to show that female foreign domestic helpers are being physically abused, both foreign and local employees are all protected by the labour laws of Hong Kong, including the Employment Ordinance and the Employees Compensation Ordinance. They are also entitled to the rights as provided in the standard employment contract for foreign domestic helpers. The Labour Department has published two booklets especially for these domestic helpers, setting out their rights and responsibilities as well as those for their employers. Apart from the Chinese and English versions, they are also published in Tagalog, Indonesian and Thai. Should the foreign domestic helpers have any claims of any of the rights under the Employment Ordinance or their employment contract or should any disputes arise with their employers, they can seek help from the Labour Department. The Labour Department will help to solve disputes between the two parties through conciliation service. In 1998, the Labour Department handled 2 552 cases of claims lodged by foreign domestic helpers. These cases account for 1.4% of the total number of 180 000 foreign domestic helpers. Among these cases, almost 70% are resolved through the conciliation of the Labour Department, while others are transferred to the Labour Tribunal and the Small Claims Court for arbitration. Over the past three years, the Labour Department has issued 22 summons to prosecute employers of foreign domestic helpers for violating the Employment Ordinance. Twelve persons who received these summons were found to be guilty. As for the other summonses, they are presently being processed. In 6 January 1999, the Immigration Department, the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Labour Department carried out a joint action and made a blitz search of seven employment agencies which were alleged to be aiding and abetting employers to deduct pay from their Indonesian domestic helpers.

Madam President, the situation of Hong Kong women in education and employment has been improving but we will continue to work hard in law enforcement, providing services and education, in order to eliminate sex discrimination.

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, the UNCEDAW has made several suggestions on the services provided to assist domestic violence victims and women sex workers. As Honourable Members have also touched upon these two aspects, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to their remarks.

I note that one of the concerns of the UNCEDAW is that the Government should step up the services provided to domestic violence victims. I would like to assure Honourable Members that the Hong Kong Government will devote itself to provide those tragic victims with the necessary assistance. First, we will provide instant medical services and counselling to battered women and refer such cases to social workers, when necessary, so that they can be offered the assistance they needed and in-depth psychological counselling to tackle all the problems they encountered.

We also understand that domestic violence victims may need to be provided with a temporary place of refuge far away from their homes. At present, three shelters in Hong Kong provide temporary refuge to battered women and their children. These shelters operate around the clock and provide a total of 120 temporary accommodation places. As the current utilization rate of these shelters is around 70%, there are enough places to meet their needs.

The UNCEDAW also states that it is necessary to provide psychological counselling and other support services. At present, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) and non-governmental bodies are running 65 Family Service Centres in which social workers and clinical psychologists provide psychological counselling services.

To enhance co-operation among different professions and assist domestic violence victims and their family members, the Government established in 1995 a Working Group on Battered Spouses made up of representatives of government departments and non-governmental bodies. Since its establishment, the Working Group keeps looking for feasible methods to ensure that the services provided can satisfy the needs of battered women. Recently, the Working Group has worked out a comprehensive code of practice for handling battered spouse cases. It hopes that the scope and quality of its services can be expanded through the code of practice. The Working Group also actively promotes community education activities at the central and regional levels to arouse the public's concern about the battered spouse problem and encourage them to report similar incidents as soon as possible.

To improve the existing services, the SWD is carrying out two new programmes to enable it to handle domestic violence cases better. The first programme is to step up the counselling services provided in temporary shelters so that the assistance given to battered women will not be restricted to the provision of temporary refuge. The second programme is to reorganize the existing Child Protective Services Unit to provide one-stop service to domestic violence victims including families fraught with child abuse and battered wife problems. In line with this mode of service provision, a senior social worker, as a casework supervisor, will co-ordinate the work of and give clearer guidance to front-line workers.

As for medical services, the Government notes that the UNCEDAW has expressed concern about the medical services provided to sex workers. Although Mr LEE Cheuk-yan did not have enough time to elaborate this just now, he had expressed his views on this aspect and I would respond to his views. The Social Hygiene Unit of the Department of Health provides free health counselling, venereal disease education, pathogeny tracking and health check-up services to sex workers. These workers will be given priority in the treatment of venereal diseases without making appointment.

Apart from the key services I have just mentioned, women and men are equally entitled to various medical services largely subsidized by the Government. The Government also understands that women need special care for many reasons. First, women and men have different physiological structure; second, sick women and men have different symptoms; third, women will suffer from some diseases that men are immune to; fourth, the utilization of medical service by women and men is somewhat different; fifth, women have a higher chance of contracting chronic illness than men, partly because there are more female senior citizens. Therefore, the Government has always emphasized the provision of comprehensive health services required by women including health education promotion, disease prevention, medical treatment and rehabilitation services. It can be said that our medical services can provide a woman with medical and health services from childhood to school days and to later years.

In respect of health promotion, the Health Ambassador Training Programme of the Department of Health transmits to young students, women and senior citizens diversified messages including those related to women's health through training courses and various activities. The participants can benefit directly and transmit such messages to others in order to promote healthy lifestyles and the prevention of diseases especially chronic diseases.

The most important link in health services for women is childbirth services. To provide women of child bearing age with antenatal, childbirth, postnatal care and family planning services, Maternal and Child Care Centres and maternity homes have been established for many years. The Hospital Authority (HA) hospitals also provide comprehensive obstetrical services and their performance is obvious to all. To further provide comprehensive women health services, woman health centres have been established one after another since 1993 to provide health education counselling and check-up services to grown-up women. At present, a total of five centres are providing these services. Women who unfortunately suffer from gynaecological diseases can seek consultation at the specialists out-patient clinics under the HA and be hospitalized when necessary. I can give Honourable Members some data for reference. As Hong Kong has well-developed medical, obstetrical and child care services, women have good health in general. Besides, the life expectancy of women in Hong Kong is higher than that of women in many other places in the world and their life expectancy is also longer than that of men in Hong Kong and many other places in the world.

I so submit in response to the questions raised by Honourable Members.

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I am very pleased to note that more than 15 Members have spoken, a testament to the level of concern among both man and woman Members of this Council about women issues in Hong Kong. The Government shares Members' concern in this respect. Our achievements in economic development have been due to the efforts by the people of Hong Kong in making full and effective use of various resources. As women account for half of the local population and are our important assets in the form of manpower resources, the Government therefore attaches great importance to their development.

Women in Hong Kong

As a matter of fact, the Government has been making strenuous efforts to improve conditions for women for many years. It is an indisputable fact that our efforts have resulted in considerable improvement to women's life. Let me cite a few examples. As mentioned by Mr Joseph WONG just now, both women and men enjoy equal opportunities in access to education in Hong Kong. Our female university students even slightly outnumber their male counterparts. As far as employment opportunities are concerned, women are protected from discrimination in addition to enjoying equal pay for a job of equal value. We are also seeing more and more women take up jobs which are traditionally for men only, such as Station Officer in the Fire Services Department. As a civil servant, I have also noted that women are playing a more important role in the Civil Service. The proportion of men to women in the Administrative Officer grade is now six to five compared with three to one 10 years ago; the number of women occupying directorate posts in the Civil Service has increased to the present 279 from 129 in 1992, representing a growth of 116%. Women now account for 20% of directorate officers in the Civil Service.

Women have become considerably more active in participating in public life and more and more women are serving on various tiers of representative councils. There was only one woman member in the then Executive Council back in 1981 and now we have four. Women accounted for nearly half of the registered voters in the 1998 Legislative Council election in which 10 women were elected, a 43% increase compared to the number of woman legislators in the former Legislative Council back in 1995.

There are many factors contributing to the above changes, and the Government's efforts should certainly not be discounted. Since 1976, the Government has been implementing a nine-year free and universal school education for all children aged between six and 15 regardless of gender. Students who wish to continue with their studies but have difficulties in meeting the expenses can apply for grants and loans. These measures have in effect guaranteed equal opportunities for both male and female students in pursuing education.

Under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance enacted in 1995, all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex, marital status and pregnancy are banned in fields such as employment and education. One of the main tasks of the Equal Opportunities Commission which was established in 1996 is to eliminate discrimination through publicity, handling complaints, encouraging conciliation and conducting investigations, in order to promote equality of opportunity between men and women. We also enacted the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance in 1997 to eliminate discrimination on grounds of family status.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

The introduction of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has clearly demonstrated to the international community our commitment to eliminate discrimination against women. Since the introduction of the Convention in 1996, we have been striving to fulfil our obligations. We also treat seriously the United Nations mechanism for vetting various signatories' implementation of the Convention. Pursuant to Article 18 of the Convention, the initial report compiled by the Home Affairs Bureau for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) was enclosed as part of China's submission to the United Nations in August last year. The report outlined general information about the SAR and various aspects of women in Hong Kong, as well as the government services and measures provided and adopted for women.

The Examination of the Report

The hearing of China's report was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 1 and 2 of February this year. The Central Government's report was examined on 1 February while that of the SAR was examined in the morning of 2 February.

The SAR Government attached great importance to the hearing and dispatched a 10-member delegation led by me to attend the hearing as part of the Chinese delegation, which was led by Ambassador QIN Huasun, the Permanent Representative of the Chinese Mission to the United Nations. Members of the SAR delegation included representatives from the Home Affairs Bureau, Education and Manpower Bureau, Department of Justice, Social Welfare Department and Department of Health. During the hearing of the SAR's report, seven members of my 10-member delegation briefed the UNCEDAW on the situation in the SAR in a vivid, active and detailed manner, and explained various issues.

The Recommendations of the UNCEDAW and the Response by the Government

During and after the hearing, the UNCEDAW made a number of comments on the SAR in many aspects. We attach great importance to the fact that the UNCEDAW welcomed the guarantee of human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and men in the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance.

The UNCEDAW also commended the SAR Government for adopting various active measures, such as promoting the Convention through the Internet, and the recent adoption and revision of laws to eliminate discrimination against women, particularly the Sex Discrimination Ordinance enacted in 1995 and the subsequent establishment of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

The UNCEDAW also expressed satisfaction at the high level of literacy among the people of Hong Kong and the universal system of basic education adopted by the Government.

At the same time, the UNCEDAW expressed concern in several aspects and made a number of recommendations as mentioned by some Members earlier. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that the UNCEDAW usually expresses satisfaction at commendable aspects as well as identifies areas for improvement for the country concerned when examining reports submitted to it. The SAR Government will carefully consider and study all the recommendations made by the UNCEDAW. We will also try our best to implement the recommendations while taking into account the circumstances and needs of the SAR. I have told several Members that improvements could be made and we hope we will always be given the chances to make such improvement in the future. We all agree on that. While Mr Joseph WONG and Mrs Katherine FOK have already responded to some of the recommendations, I would like to briefly comment on other recommendations as follows.

Central Mechanism

The UNCEDAW recommended a high-level central mechanism be set up to develop and co-ordinate a policy on women. As women issues concern a wide range of policy areas and nearly all Policy Bureaux are involved in these issues, we therefore agree that there is a need to co-ordinate them. At present, the Home Affairs Bureau is responsible for co-ordinating women issues while other Policy Bureaux are responsible for providing various protection and services for women within their own policy areas. If the Home Affairs Bureau encounters problems in its co-ordination efforts, I will report to the Chief Secretary for Administration or her Policy Groups for assistance.

The Honourable Miss Emily LAU said earlier that this mechanism might not work because of the wide range of areas involved in the co-ordination. But I want to cite a factual example and that is: She phoned me two days ago and told me that it was not acceptable to her if only I would attend the debate of this motion. She asked me whether two more Policy Secretaries could attend and one of them should be the Secretary for Health and Welfare and the other the Secretary for Education and Manpower. I told her that I would try my best to arrange it. This is part of the co-ordination of women issues and the three of us have responded to the motion on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. (Laughter) I have tried on my part. Members can see now co-ordination did work. Members cannot say it is impossible to co-ordinate simply because the Home Affairs Bureau is on an equal footing with other bureaux. My example is a typical one and there are other examples. However, if I could not do it, I would report to the inter-departmental Policy Groups under the Chief Secretary for Administration. Even if the existing mechanism is adequate, I think we still need to improve. We do not resist improvement and we are willing to study in this respect and monitor the situation.

I would also like to point out that the Equal Opportunities Commission is mainly tasked with promoting equality between men and women as well as eliminating discrimination through the enforcement of three anti-discrimination ordinances. I am fully aware of the views expressed by Members on how to enhance or improve the existing mechanism. The SAR Government takes an open-minded attitude towards Members' views and the UNCEDAW's recommendations and will carefully study them.

The Definition of Discrimination

The UNCEDAW also expressed concern that the SAR Government had not laid down a constitutional definition of discrimination apart from enacting the Sex Discrimination Ordinance. As a matter of fact, Article 8 of the Basic Law already provides that the laws previously in force in Hong Kong shall be maintained. As such, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, apart from the provisions which were declared by the relevant authority to be inconsistent with the Basic Law, continues to be in force, including Article 1 which provides the equal rights of men and women to the enjoyment of all rights set out in the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. Besides, Article 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is entrenched in our constitutional document by virtue of Article 39 of the Basic Law. Article 1 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights is also based on Article 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Elections

On the UNCEDAW's concern about women representation in constituencies on the principle of universal and equal suffrage, we wish to reiterate that Article 68 of the Basic Law stipulates that the ultimate aim for the Government is to have all members of the Legislative Council elected by universal suffrage. Men and women in the SAR enjoy the same right to vote and to stand for election, which is safeguarded by the Basic Law. I also agree with what the Honourable Mrs Miriam LAU and James TIEN said earlier in the debate that even in functional constituency elections, no discrimination against women exists. Of course, men are not discriminated against either. In other words, our elections are fair.

We are also committed to upholding the principle of equal opportunities between men and women in rural committee elections. Under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, the Government will not recognize a body as a rural committee where members of its executive committee are not returned by a procedure in which women have been able to participate on equal terms with men.

Participation in Public Life

On participation of women in public life, we have tried our best to ensure that recruitment of civil servants is free of sex discrimination. Selection of candidates for appointment is made on the basis of merits regardless of their gender. Similarly, gender is not a factor for consideration in judicial appointments. Candidates are assessed on the basis of their professional competence in law, judicial temperament and personal conduct. In fact, the qualifications for judicial appointments are stipulated in law.

For appointment to advisory and statutory bodies, men and women are considered on equal footing. Regarding the UNCEDAW's recommendation that measures such as a quota system should be adopted for appointment of women to these bodies, we consider that it goes against the principle of appointment based on individual merits. Nevertheless, we will continue to encourage more women with relevant experience and expertise to serve on these bodies. In addition, we will regularly update and expand our database of individuals who are willing to serve on such bodies. We will also invite members of women organizations to indicate their interest to serve on these bodies. To make it more convenient for members of the public who are willing to serve on government advisory and statutory bodies to store their personal information into the database, we have recently uploaded the relevant form onto the Internet.

Rape in Marriage

As regards the UNCEDAW's recommendation to amend existing legislation to include rape in marriage as a criminal offence, under common law, a husband cannot be criminally liable for raping his wife because a wife cannot revoke her consent to sexual intercourse. However, this rule was abolished by the United Kingdom House of Lords in 1991. As a result, a husband can be guilty of raping his wife if he has sexual intercourse with her without her consent. The Crimes Ordinance provides that a man commits rape if he has unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman who at the time of the intercourse does not consent to it. A husband may be guilty of raping his wife, if on the evidence of the case, his wife does not consent to the sexual intercourse.

Protection for Women Sex Workers

We agree to the UNCEDAW's recommendation that protection should be provided to women sex workers. Mrs Katherine FOK has explained earlier the medical services available to them. On the other hand, the Crimes Ordinance provides for sanctions to be imposed on those who organize and exploit prostitution, and ensures that women are protected against violence. We will continue to take all measures necessary to combat illegal activities.

Reservations and Declarations

The UNCEDAW is also concerned about the reservations and declarations entered to CEDAW. We attach great importance to and are fully committed to discharging the obligations under the Convention. However, we must carefully assess the feasibility of discharging these obligations at the moment taking into consideration the practical needs and special circumstances of the SAR, the provisions in the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance. We are of the view that the reservations and declarations, including those in relation to religious organizations and the small house policy, remain necessary. If circumstances change in the future, the SAR Government will review the case for their retention.

Public Consultations

We totally agree to the UNCEDAW's recommendation in paragraph 84 that non-governmental organizations should be consulted in the preparation of future periodic reports. As a matter of fact, we conducted widespread public consultations in the course of preparing this report. Apart from consulting Members of this Council, we also consulted the public on the outline of the report during the period between 20 May and 25 June 1997. We have taken into account public views when compiling this report.

The Provision of Service for Women with Special Needs

Our participation in the hearing of the report on the Convention and the opportunity to exchange views on women's issues in the SAR with the UNCEDAW have been of enormous benefit. But our work will not stop with the conclusion of the hearing. We will continue to take care of the special needs of women if resources permit. In fact, we have been providing services suited to the needs of women. For example, as Mrs FOK has said, many forms of assistance are now available for women victims of family violence. The Working Group on Battered Spouses plays a co-ordinating role in the provision of these services. In addition, as mentioned by Mr WONG earlier, we have also provided some retraining courses which are suitable for middle-aged and less educated women who have encountered difficulties in finding jobs as a result of the economic restructuring, in order to make them better equipped for re-entering the labour market. Actually, more than 80% of the retrainees attending such retraining courses are women. According to the latest statistics, 65% of those retrainees who have completed these courses have been able to find jobs.

On single parents, particularly mothers, we understand that they may be discriminated against in daily life. The enactment of the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance has ensured that they will not be discriminated against as a result of having to take care of their family members. Moreover, they can apply for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance if they have financial difficulties. On the other hand, in order to eradicate violence and offer help to victims of sex offences, the Government has proposed to amend existing legislation by abolishing the rule to require the production of corroborative evidence in sex offence cases.

Conclusion

What the Government has done over the past years does lead to improvement in many aspects for women in Hong Kong. But as circumstances in society have changed, there is still much room for improvement in terms of various services and safeguards for women. The recommendations of the United Nations Committee and the Members' views have provided an overall direction for the way forward. We will carefully consider all views, including the establishment of a central mechanism and a Women Commission which are of concern to the Honourable Miss Christine LOH and some other Members. We hope the study will be completed by 1999 and we will expeditiously implement all practicable recommendations, having regard to the circumstances in the SAR. I hope that gender equality will be further improved so as to facilitate the development and progress of Hong Kong ─ our home. Thank you, Madam President.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): While the Secretary for Home Affairs was speaking, Mr Martin LEE indicated a wish to speak. Mr LEE, you may speak now.

MR MARTIN LEE (in Cantonese): Madam President, I am very pleased to hear the Secretary for Home Affairs say that we can express any views and he will gladly make further improvements. I really appreciate his spirit. He also says that if we pose any problems, he will pass the message on to the Chief Secretary for Administration. I will now give him a chance to put on a show. I have the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Hong Kong, on hand and I want to talk about section 7(1). However, I would like to read out section 7(2) first: "Words and expressions in the singular include the plural and words and expressions in the plural include the singular." In other words, in the Laws of Hong Kong, the singular is equal to the plural and the plural is equal to the singular. But what about the masculine and feminine genders? Let me read out section 7(1): "Words and expressions importing the masculine gender include the feminine and neuter genders." However, it stops there and does not state that "Words and expressions importing the feminine gender include the masculine and neuter genders". In other words, "him" is equal to "her" but "her" is not equal to "him". Now, I would give the Secretary for Home Affairs a chance to put on a show at once. Thank you.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Does any other Member or public officer wish to speak?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Mr Martin LEE has overestimated my ability by asking me to put on a show in such a way. I am at a total loss as to what kind of show I should put on? (Laughter) But that does not matter. If I do not know something, I will admit it. Fortunately, my female colleague is more knowledgeable than me, (laughter) and she told me that in laws on equal opportunities ─ she cannot speak but through me on this occasion today ─ that the Chinese character of "he" is identical to that of "she". Thank you, Madam President.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Miss Emily LAU, you may now reply and you have one minute 45 seconds left.

MISS EMILY LAU (in Cantonese): Madam President, first, I would like to tell the Secretary that he is asked to put on a show and he is expected to put on a lively show just like the one he put on at the United Nations. But I believe that we are asking for more. The Secretary just said that he had played a co-ordinating role for he had invited two Secretaries to attend the Council meeting today. I am really sorry but I am grateful to the two Secretaries for coming. I believe that the United Nations demands a mechanism, resources and authority whereby all policies can be scrutinized from the perspective of women. The Secretary has mentioned the establishment of a Women Commission. If it is only a consultative body, I do not think it can achieve the aim. I do not want to criticize this proposal but I just think that it cannot achieve the aim. The Secretary has attended the meetings of the United Nations in person and I believe that he knows what kind of a mechanism is called for. Therefore, I ask the Secretary not to play tricks or think that he has carried out proper co-ordination so long as he can invite two or 10 Secretaries to attend our meeting. They are two entirely different things. The Secretary said that the proposal would be implemented within a year. It will be too late after a year and I hope that the Secretary will implement the proposal as soon as possible. The Secretary is right as far as election is concerned. He said that it should be a popular and fair election instead of a functional constituency election or any other election. The United Nations also asks that measures be taken to implement the proposal immediately.

Lastly, Madam President, I would like to talk about sexual harassment. As the problem has become more and more serious, many people think that universities should have a compulsory mechanism to address the problem and the Secretary should also consider whether such acts should be criminalized.

I would like to thank Honourable Members again for their support. Madam President, I am going to claim a division for I hope that the result will be recorded for future reference. Thank you.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now put the question to you and that is : That the motion moved by Miss Emily LAU be passed. As Miss Emily LAU has already claimed a division, let us not waste time, the division bell will ring for three minutes now.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Voting shall now begin. (Nothing shown on the computer screen)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I think that the votes Members have just cast are void for the computer has not shown the result. Please remain seated. (Laughter)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Will Members please proceed to vote again.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Before I declare that voting shall stop, are there any queries? Voting shall now stop and the result will be displayed.

Functional Constituencies:

Mr Kenneth TING, Mr James TIEN, Mr Michael HO, Dr Raymond HO, Mr Eric LI, Mr LEE Kai-ming, Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong, Mr HUI Cheung-ching, Mr CHAN Kwok-keung, Mr Bernard CHAN, Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Dr LEONG Che-hung, Mr SIN Chung-kai, Mr WONG Yung-kan, Mr Howard YOUNG, Mrs Miriam LAU, Mr LAW Chi-kwong, Mr FUNG Chi-kin and Dr TANG Siu-tong voted for the motion.

Geographical Constituencies and Election Committee:

Miss Cyd HO, Mr Albert HO, Mr LEE Wing-tat, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan, Mr Martin LEE, Mr Fred LI, Mr James TO, Miss Christine LOH, Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung, Dr YEUNG Sum, Miss Emily LAU, Mr Andrew CHENG, Mr SZETO Wah, Mr TAM Yiu-chung, Mr HO Sai-chu, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr YEUNG Yiu-chung and Mr Ambrose LAU voted for the motion.

THE PRESIDENT, Mrs Rita FAN, did not cast any vote.

THE PRESIDENT announced that among the Members returned by functional constituencies, 20 were present and 20 were in favour of the motion; while among the Members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections and by the Election Committee, 20 were present and 19 were in favour of the motion. Since the question was agreed by a majority of each of the two groups of Members present, she therefore declared that the motion was carried.

NEXT MEETING

PRESIDENT(in Cantonese):I now adjourn the meeting until 2.30 pm on Wednesday, 28 April 1999.

Adjourned accordingly at four minutes past Ten o'clock.

Annexes I and II

WRITTEN ANSWERS

Translation of written answer by the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands to Mr CHAN Kam-lam's and Mr Edward HO's supplementary questions to Question 1

The relevant information on the 33 private residential developments completed and occupied for which certificates of compliance have not been issued is now tabulated in the Appendix for Members' reference.

Appendix

33 Private Residential Developments Completed and Occupied
for which Certificates of Compliance (CCs) have not been Issued
as Reported at the Legislative Council Sitting on 21 April 1999
(Position as at 11 May 1999)

Names of residential
developments
Reasons why CCs
have not been issued
Government's actions taken

1. City Garden The developer has complied with the Conditions of Grant for the lot but not yet filed an application for a CC with the District Lands Office.

The District Lands Office will issue a CC upon application.
2. Park Vale The developer is required to submit the updated Master Layout Plan to the District Lands Office in accordance with the conditions of lease modification for the lot. The District Lands Office will process the updated Master Layout Plan submitted by the developer. If the Plan is approved, the District Lands Office will issue a CC upon the developer's application.

3. Mt. Parker Lodge The open space has not been constructed to the Government's satisfaction in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lot. The District Lands Office will pursue with the relevant Government departments as to how the developer can complete the works to the Government's satisfaction, and thereafter issue a CC upon the developer's application.

4. Lei King Wan The pavements and landscaping area have not been constructed to the Government's satisfaction in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lots. The District Lands Office has already asked the developer to provide an undertaking to ensure that the developer will bear the maintenance responsibilities for the pavements and landscaping area concerned. The District Lands Office will then issue a CC upon the developer's application.

5. Dragon Centre The developer has complied with the Conditions of Grant for the lot but has not filed an application for a CC with the District Lands Office.

The District Lands Office will issue a CC upon application.
6. Las Pinadas The landscaping and recreational facilities have not been constructed to the Government's satisfaction in accordance with the Conditions of Exchange for the lot. In addition, the developer has not yet registered the carpark layout plan with the Land Registry in accordance with the Conditions of Exchange for the lot.

The District Lands Office will request the developer to improve the facilities concerned to the Government's satisfaction and to register the carpark layout plan with the Land Registry. The District Lands Office will then issue a CC upon application.
7. Stanford Villa The developer has not yet completed the landscaping works to the Government's satisfaction in accordance with the Conditions of Exchange for the lot. The District Lands Office will request the Owners Incorporation to complete the facilities concerned, or the Government will complete the facilities concerned and the Owners Incorporation will pay the cost involved. The District Lands Office will then issue a CC upon application.

8. 75 Repulse Bay Road(*) The lot owner has yet to complete upgrading of right of way in accordance with the Conditions of Exchange for the lot. Upon the lot owner's completion of the works concerned, the District Lands Office will issue a CC upon the lot owner's application.

9. Whampoa Garden The developer has not yet submitted a report to confirm that the roads have been constructed to the Government's satisfaction for surrender to the Government in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lot. The developer has also not yet surrendered a school site and submitted the updated Master Layout Plan to the District Lands Office for approval. The District Lands Office has already notified the developer of the Government's criteria for road construction that have to be met before the roads are surrendered to the Government, and will request the developer to submit the updated Master Layout Plan. Upon the developer's completion of the above obligations, the District Lands Office will issue a CC upon the developer's application.

10. Wen Po Mansion The developer has not yet registered the carpark layout plan with the Land Registry in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lot. After the developer has registered the carpark layout plan with the Land Registry, the District Lands Office will issue a CC upon the developer's application.

11. Laguna City
Phases I, II & IV
The developer has completed the Government, institution and community facilities in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lot, and has filed an application for a CC with the District Lands Office.

The District Lands Office will issue a CC.
12. Sceneway Garden The access roads have not been constructed to the Government's satisfaction in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lot. The developer has completed the rectification works. The District Lands Office has been pursuing with the relevant Departments as to whether the rectification works have been completed to the Government's satisfaction, and thereafter issue a CC upon the developer's application.

13. The Galaxia The developer has not yet completed the road works and the construction of the structural supports to a future footbridge. The District Lands Office has already requested the developer to complete the road works to the Government's satisfaction and provide an undertaking backed by a bank bond to ensure that the structural supports to the future footbridge will be constructed. Upon the developer's completion of the above obligations, the District Lands Office will issue a CC upon the developer's application.

14. The Verandah
Garden
The carpark headroom is not in compliance with the Conditions of Grant for the lot. The District Lands Office is processing the developer's application for a technical lease modification in respect of the carpark headroom and thereafter issue a CC.

15. Lot 1936 in
DD 3,
Lamma Island(*)
The developer has constructed an illegal building structure. The District Lands Office has asked the developer to demolish the illegal building structure, and will issue a CC upon the developer's completion of the demolition works.

16. 188°
Seaview(#)
The lot owner has effected unauthorized conversion works. The District Lands Office is requiring the lot owner to rectify the unauthorized conversion works, and thereafter issue a CC.

17. Floral Villas The developer has not yet completed Phase 2 of the development in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lot. Upon the developer's completion of Phase 2 of the development, the District Lands Office will issue a CC upon the developer's application.

18. Sussex Lodge(#) The developer has not filed an application for a CC with the District Lands Office.

The District Lands Office will issue a CC upon application.
19. Fanling Town
Center
The developer has effected unauthorized conversion works and the actual carpark layout is not in accordance with the approved carpark layout plan. Upon the developer's rectification of the unauthorized conversion works and carpark layout, the District Lands Office will issue a CC upon the developer's application.

20. Pictorial Garden
Phase 2
The developer has not yet submitted the Master Layout Plan to which amendments are required and the design and disposition plan to the District Lands Office for approval in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lot.

The District Lands Office will request the developer to submit the plans concerned. As soon as the plans are approved, the District Lands Office will issue a CC upon the developer's application.
21. Bauhinia Garden (not applicable) The District Lands Office has already issued a CC.

22. Chateau Royale The developer has not yet completed the drainage works in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lot. The developer has already provided an undertaking backed by a bank bond to ensure completion of the drainage works. The District Lands Office may issue a CC upon the developer's application.

23. Rhine Garden The developer has not yet completed construction of a footbridge in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lot. The developer has provided an undertaking backed by a bank bond to ensure completion of construction of the footbridge. The District Lands Office may issue a CC upon the developer's application.

24. Lot 1500 in
DD 453, Lo Wai, Tsuen Wan(*)
The developer has applied for a lease modification in respect of the road works and has to complete the outstanding road works. The District Lands Office is processing the developer's application for lease modification. As soon as the developer has completed the outstanding works concerned, the District Lands Office will issue a CC upon the developer's application.

25. Discovery Park The developer has not yet completed construction of a footbridge in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lot. As soon as the developer has completed construction of the footbridge, the District Lands Office will issue a CC upon the developer's application.

26. Bo Shek Mansion The Housing Society has not yet completed construction of a footbridge in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lot. As soon as the Housing Society has completed construction of the footbridge, the District Lands Office will issue a CC upon the Housing Society's application.

27. Hong Kong
Garden
The developer has not yet formed a school site in accordance with the Condition of Grant for the lot. The developer has provided an undertaking to ensure completion of the site formation works for a school. The District Lands Office may issue a CC upon the developer's application.

28. Kingswood Villas

(i) Maywood Court (not applicable) The District Lands Office has already issued a CC.

(ii) Sherwood Court, Linwood Court and Kenswood Court The developer has already filed applications for CCs with the District Lands Office but not yet submitted the revised Master Layout Plans to the District Lands Office for approval and register them at the Land Registry in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lots.

The District Lands Office will require the developer to submit the revised Master Layout Plans and (when the Plans are approved) register them at the Land Registry. The District Lands Office will then issue CCs.
29. Baguio Villa The roads have not been constructed to the Government's satisfaction in accordance with the Conditions of Exchange for the lot. The District Lands Office has requested the Owners Incorporation concerned to implement road improvement programme to the Government's satisfaction, and thereafter issue a CC.

30. Hong Lok Yuen The developer has not filed an application for a CC with the District Lands Office. The District Lands Office is examining if there are any outstanding obligations under the Conditions of Exchange for the lot, and consider whether a CC can be issued.

31. Wah Yan
Building
(not applicable) The District Lands Office has already issued a CC.

32. Pine Villas The developer has effected unauthorized building works. The District Lands Office is requiring the developer to rectify the unauthorized building works and thereafter issue a CC upon the developer's application.

33. Hiram's Villa The developer has not yet registered the carpark layout plan at the Land Registry in accordance with the Conditions of Grant for the lot. The District Lands Office will request the developer to register the carpark layout plan at the Land Registry and thereafter issue a CC upon the developer's application.

(*) private residential developments with no names

(#) private residential developments with no Chinese names

Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau
11 May 1999

Annex III

WRITTEN ANSWER

Translation of written answer by the Secretary for Education and Manpower to Dr YEUNG Sum's supplementary question to Question 6

The Education Department (ED) provides the following information on the number of schools which have joined the School Management Initiative (SMI) Scheme with parent or teacher representatives on their School Management Committees (SMCs).


Primary
School
Secondary
Schools
Special Schools/
Practical Schools/
Skills Opportunity
Schools
Total
Number of SMI Schools 196 148 18 362

Number of SMI Schools having Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) 140
(71.43%)
111
(75.00%)
13
(72.22%)
264
(73.00%)

Number of SMI Schools having parent representative as an SMC member 71
(36.22%)
76
(51.35%)
1
(5.55%)
148
(40.88%)

Number of SMI Schools having teacher representative as an SMC member 110
(56.12%)
111
(75.00%)
5
(27.77%)
226
(62.43%)

Number of SMI Schools having teacher or parent representative as an SMC member 111
(56.63%)
111
(75.00%)
5
(27.77%)
227
(62.71%)

WRITTEN ANSWER ─ Continued

In principle, all SMI schools having PTA should have PTA members on their SMCs. For those SMI schools which do not have teacher or parent representatives on the SMCs, we have already asked the ED to follow up the matter.

Furthermore, the ED is conducting an overall review on the composition of the SMCs. To further enhance the implementation of school-based management, the Government will consider laying down more specific requirements as regards teacher and parent representatives on the SMCs.