Council Meeting (Hansard) 12 May 1999

OFFICIAL RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

Wednesday, 12 May 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.

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

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.

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

MR NICHOLAS NG WING-FUI, J.P.
SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT

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

MR RAFAEL HUI SI-YAN, G.B.S., J.P.
SECRETARY FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES

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

MR STEPHEN IP SHU-KWAN, J.P.
SECRETARY FOR ECONOMIC SERVICES

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

CLERKS IN ATTENDANCE:

MR RICKY FUNG CHOI-CHEUNG, J.P., 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.
District Councils (Subscribers and Election Deposit for Nomination) Regulation   113/99

Maximum Scale of Election Expenses (District Councils) Order 1999  114/99

Electoral Affairs Commission (Nominations Advisory Committees (District Councils)) Regulation 115/99

Nurses (Registration and Disciplinary Procedure) (Amendment) Regulation 1999   116/99

Enrolled Nurses (Enrolment and Disciplinary Procedure) (Amendment) Regulation 1999   117/99

Lifts and Escalators (Safety) (Amendment) Ordinance 1999 (4 of 1999) (Commencement) Notice 1999   118/99

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Will Members please remain standing to observe one minute's silence to pay tribute to the compatriots killed in the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia.

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.

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

If a Member wishes to follow up and seek elucidation on an answer, or raise a point of order, please stand up to so indicate and wait for me to call before speaking.

First question.

Governing Councils of Tertiary Institutions

1. MR CHEUNG MAN-KWONG (in Cantonese): Madam President, regarding the composition and representativeness of the governing councils in the eight tertiary institutions funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC-funded institutions), will the Government:

(1) provide, in the form of a list, the numbers of members of the governing councils in each of the UGC-funded institutions, broken down by the following categories: ex officio members, members appointed by the Chancellor; members nominated by the Vice-Chancellor; members of the public; Members of the Legislative Council; representatives of the teaching staff, students and graduates; and also inform this Council how the qualifications of "ex officio members" and "members of the public" are defined by the UGC-funded institutions; and

(2) adopt measures to enhance the representativeness of the governing councils of the UGC-funded institutions, so that their decisions are more in line with the long-term interests of the institutions; show more regard for the reasonable rights of their teaching staff; and better reflect the overall interests of the community as a whole?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, the governing councils of all UGC-funded institutions are established in accordance with their respective ordinances.  The powers, functions and membership of these governing councils are clearly provided in the relevant ordinances.

(a) In response to part (a) of the question, we have prepared a table setting out the membership of the governing councils of the eight UGC-funded institutions by different categories of members as stipulated in the respective ordinances.  The table is at Annex for Members' ease of reference.  I am not going into the details of the table, which are shown in the Annex.  All these ordinances specify who shall be the "ex officio members" of the relevant governing councils.  The "ex officio members" are mainly the Vice-Chancellors/Presidents, the Pro-Vice-Chancellors/Vice-Presidents and Deans of Faculties while in some cases, the Presidents of the Students' Union or the Chairman of the Convocation are also included.

As shown in the table, a substantial number of the members of each governing council is appointed by the Chief Executive.  Most of these appointees are external members not affiliated with the institutions concerned and they may be generally referred to as "members of the public".  When appointing individuals to sit on the governing council of an institution, the Chief Executive will consider whether the ordinance for that institution has special requirements in terms of the background and expertise of such members.  Another factor to be taken into account is whether the strengths and experiences of these individuals will contribute to the work of the governing council and the development of the institution as a whole.

The table also shows that a total of eight seats in the governing councils of two institutions are filled by Members of the Legislative Council elected among themselves.  Furthermore, another five Members of the Legislative Council have been appointed by the Chief Executive to sit on the governing councils of three institutions in their personal capacity.

(b) As far as the membership of the governing councils of these institutions is concerned, we aim at ensuring that the governing councils should have sufficient capability and representativeness to monitor the administration of their institutions, and to lead the institutions' development in the right direction so as to meet the needs of the community.

To ensure a balanced and sufficiently representative governing council, the respective ordinance for each institution provides that the members of the governing council should come from different sectors.  At present, the governing councils of all UGC-funded institutions include representatives of staff and students, as well as lay members from the business, professional and academic fields.  At this stage, we have no intention to amend the relevant ordinances to change the composition of these governing councils.

(Paste-up three pages)

MR CHEUNG MAN-KWONG (in Cantonese): Madam President, in part (b) of the main reply, the Government indicated that the governing councils of the institutions should have sufficient capability to monitor the administration of these institutions so as to meet the needs of the community.  In view of the recent allegations on suspected abuse of public money and donations by universities, is the Government satisfied that decisions made by university governing councils, as financial watchdogs, have ensured that public money is properly used for the overall benefit of the community?  If not, will the Government make reference to the Hong Kong Institute of Education Ordinance so that the Director of Audit is empowered to carry out examination into the accounts of tertiary institutions to ensure their resources (including public money and donations) are properly used to the best interests of these institutions, their staff and the community?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, we have no evidence to show that there is any irregularity in the use of resources in tertiary institutions.  I must point out that tertiary institutions are subject to monitoring by the Audit Commission, which has in the past made reports on the use of resources in tertiary institutions.  We will be continuing with the monitoring work and we will also see if the tertiary institutions can meet the financial guidelines issued by the UGC.

MR YEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, in part (b) of the main reply, the Government indicated that if the governing councils of the institutions should have sufficient capability and representativeness, they would be able to monitor the administration of these institutions.  But I do not see any causal relationship.  Being representative does not mean the governing councils can monitor the institutions because the number made up by some representatives may be a minority.  For instance, teacher representatives and student representatives account for a minority of the governing councils.  Will the Secretary explain that relationship?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, I agree that representativeness and the ability to monitor are two different things.  I did not seem to have indicated a causal relationship between the two in part (b) of my reply.  When I referred to representativeness, I meant there should be representatives from the institutions (including Vice-Chancellors/Presidents, Deans of Faculties, staff members and students) and external members (including people from different sectors such as the professions, the academia and the commercial sector).  In this respect, we believe the governing councils are sufficiently representative.  As regards individual members, especially members appointed by the Chief Executive, their abilities and experience will be taken into account before appointment.  Therefore, on the whole, I believe external members are capable of leading or monitoring the administration of the institutions.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr YEUNG, which part of your supplementary question has not been answered?

MR YEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Cantonese): The Secretary did not seem to have answered my supplementary question.  I was asking how we can prove the representativeness of the governing councils can make it possible for them to monitor the administration of the institutions.  I could see the representativeness exhibited in the governing councils, but how can they conduct their monitoring work effectively?  I raised this point because many representatives occupy only a small fraction of members on governing councils.  How can they monitor effectively?  Will the Secretary explain the relationship between representativeness and the ability to monitor?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, I have explained it already.  In the main reply, I did not say representativeness mean the ability to monitor.  I only said the governing councils are both representative and capable of monitoring.  I have explained what representativeness is and what ability to monitor is.

MR MICHAEL HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, under existing ordinances, directly elected representatives of staff members are allowed to sit on the governing councils of some institutions.  After accumulating experience for so many years, will the Government inform this Council how these representatives have been contributing to the work of the governing councils?  Is it the intention of the Government to amend the laws to require that all institutions should let directly elected representatives of staff members to sit on governing councils?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, basically all institutions are autonomous and independent in terms of administration.  So, we have not done any assessment on the effectiveness of each governing council for its actual effectiveness.  Of course, the effectiveness of each member in the governing councils depend on the representativeness and ability of the member.  We have no evidence showing there is any difference in the ability of governing councils to monitor due to a difference in the way members are appointed.

Regarding the need to amend the laws to standardize the composition of each governing council, we would like to point out that at this stage it is not our intention to do so, as I have said in part (b) of the main reply.  I need to add one more point.  Each university has its own policies and direction of development, so there is a difference in the composition of its governing council.  This is certainly understandable.

MR ANDREW CHENG (in Cantonese): Madam President, under existing laws, only the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the University of Hong Kong (HKU) have Members of the Legislative Council who are elected among themselves to sit on their governing councils.  The University of Science and Technology, which was recently suspected of operating behind closed doors, has no Members of the Legislative Council on their governing council.  Will the Government make reference to the practice for the CUHK and the HKU for the introduction of Members of the Legislative Council in the governing councils of the other six institutions so that their accountability is enhanced?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, because HKU and CUHK are two universities in Hong Kong with the longest history, their governing councils are different from those later universities in terms of their composition.  This is understandable.  At present, we have no intention to amend the laws to require that there must be Members of the Legislative Council to sit on their governing councils as ex officio members.  But as I said in the main reply, when appointing individuals to sit on the governing council of an institution, the Chief Executive will consider the strengths and experiences of these individuals.  In fact, other than the governing councils of HKU and CUHK, five Members of the Legislative Council have been appointed by the Chief Executive to sit on the governing councils of other institutions in their personal capacities.

MISS EMILY LAU (in Cantonese): Madam President, I would like to ask the Secretary about the procedures through which the Chief Executive appoints people to the governing councils or extend their terms of office.  Does the Secretary know whether the Vice-Chancellors/Presidents often take part in the procedures or express their views in support of candidates?  I heard that in a certain institution, the Vice-Chancellor/President wrote letters to ask members of the governing council whether they would like to be re-appointed and if their answer is in the affirmative the Vice-Chancellor/President indicated he/she could make the request on their behalf.

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, under the law, Vice-Chancellors/Presidents are not empowered to make nominations to the Chief Executive for appointment of persons to governing councils.  I can tell Members that in every appointment the Chief Executive makes, he would take into consideration the opinions of a number of other people before arriving at a decision of his own.  In every appointment, the Education and Manpower Bureau would give its advice.

MISS EMILY LAU (in Cantonese): The Secretary has not answered my question.  I was asking whether Vice-Chancellors/Presidents had offered opinions to the Chief Executive for reference in the appointment of members of governing councils.

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

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, I am not in a position to know whom the Chief Executive has contacted (including Vice-Chancellors/Presidents) or listened to for advice regarding the suitability of someone to be appointed member of a governing council.  But what I know is that a procedure has to be followed in each appointment, which is the submission of a list of names by the Secretary for Education and Manpower for the Chief Executive to decide on whom to appoint.  Of course, the Chief Executive has the authority to appoint according to the list supplied or to appoint someone not on the list.  He has the discretion to do so.

MR SIN CHUNG-KAI (in Cantonese): Madam President, in the main reply the Secretary said all UGC-funded institutions are independent in their administration, that the Chief Executive appointed external members to their governing councils and that the Government allocates funds to them.  Will the Government inform this Council what channels there are for members of teaching staff to complain to higher levels against the management and administration (not against Vice-Chancellors/Presidents) of these institutions?  Take the University of Science and Technology as an example.  It does not have any staff association or any channel for direct elections among staff members.  How can they tell the management when they want to complain?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, in this session, there is a question requiring a written reply about mechanisms for appeal for teaching staff in tertiary institutions.  Mr SIN may refer to the reply.

In addition, I can further add that in any institution (including universities) teaching staff may reflect their views through the usual channels (including the governing councils) if they have any grievances or comments to make, which they want to be examined or discussed in the councils.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): We have spent more than 16 minutes on this question.  I understand that the same question will be discussed again in the Panel on Education on 17 May.  Members who would like to follow up the matter may do so at the Panel.

Second question.

Genetically-modified Foods

2. MISS EMILY LAU (in Cantonese): Madam President, will the executive authorities inform this Council whether they know if genetically modified foods are being sold in Hong Kong; if so:

(a) whether they have conducted any tests to determine if such foods are safe for human consumption; and the results of these tests; and

(b) whether there are plans to regulate the manufacture and sale of such foods?

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

(a) Genetically-modified (GM) foods refer to those foods the original genetic composition of which has been altered through scientific procedures.  As the Department of Health currently does not have a special mechanism for regulating GM foods, we do not have detailed records of the types and quantities of GM foods being sold in Hong Kong, and we have not conducted any specific tests on GM foods.

At present, the Department of Health controls and regulates the preparation and sale of food through the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132).  Under section 54 of the Ordinance, any person preparing or selling food for human consumption has the legal responsibility to ensure that food prepared or sold is fit for human consumption.  The Department of Health collects food samples from the market regularly for testing in order to ensure their safety standards.

(b) The Department of Health is aware that the types of GM foods available in the market will gradually increase as the related technology matures.  The Department will examine how to enhance the regulatory measures to ensure that these foods are safe for human consumption.

In considering the establishment of a suitable local regulatory framework for GM foods, the Department of Health will take into account the recommendations of international authorities like the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and the regulatory systems currently adopted in other countries.

MISS EMILY LAU (in Cantonese): Madam President, under section 54 of the Ordinance, any person preparing or selling food for human consumption has the legal responsibility to ensure that the food prepared or sold is fit for human consumption.  However, the Secretary said they do not have detailed records of the types and quantities of GM foods being sold in Hong Kong, then how can the legislation be enforced?  I am sure that there must be such records, so will the Secretary inform this Council of the exact figures?  Does the Administration think that it is necessary to amend the legislation in order to enhance the power of control over GM foods?  Madam President, since our ultimate goal is to protect the safety of the public, does the Administration think that there are great loopholes in the existing Ordinance?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, we do not have at present records on the sale of GM foods in Hong Kong.  However, many different types of GM foods are on sale in overseas markets, and they can broadly be divided into two categories: the first category is food made from soya beans or soya bean products, and the second category is food made from sweet corns.  At this stage, we do have in Hong Kong a specified mechanism for monitoring GM foods.  In the future, if we find that such foods are becoming more popular, then the Government will try to provide more information by adopting measures like labelling so as to let the public know what they are purchasing because we think that the public should have the right to know.  As regards the form of labelling, there are also two different schools of thoughts in overseas countries.  The first is that all foods should be properly labelled, and the other is that a more progressive approach should be adopted with only certain types of GM food being labelled.  We can, therefore, see that there are different opinions in the world market as to how and to what extent should GM foods be regulated.  We have been collecting information in this regard for reference purposes.

MR RONALD ARCULLI: Madam President, there is a saying that "we are what we eat".  I wonder if the Secretary agrees with that?  And if she does, can she please tell us what we, as a community, are going to turn out to be?  (Laughter)

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, I think different people may have different answer to this question.  As to the impact GM foods may have on human beings, scientists all over the world are now conducting researches with the intention of applying genetic modification technology in manufacturing foods of higher quality at cheaper prices, in order to solve the food shortage problem of the more densely populated and poorer countries.  These researches are really well-intentioned.

MISS CHRISTINE LOH: Madam President, I wish to ask the Secretary to what extent does she believe that long-term health impact from the genetically-modified foods has to be evaluated, and what is she personally doing to expedite this?  In order to give consumers a choice, will the Secretary consider pushing for labelling, so that whilst we do not fully understand what the impact may be, at least consumers would be able to have a choice of buying genetically-modified or ordinary produce?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, as regards the impact of GM foods on human beings, we understand that a lot of countries are conducting researches in this relation, but since overseas scientists have not come to any conclusion, we have to be more patient.  To date, there is no evidence to show that GM foods are harmful to human beings.  However, though there is no evidence to show that GM foods have an adverse impact on human health, it does not mean that they are completely safe for consumption.  I agree with Miss Christine LOH that we can, at least, let the public know which produce has been genetically-modified; and labelling is only one of the many approaches.  As to how this can be implemented, we still have to conduct further studies, but I agree that we should follow up along those lines.

MISS CYD HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, I fully endorse the proposal on introducing the labelling system. However, since the speed of technological developments may be faster than the speed of consolidating government policies, and if it is so difficult to label GM foods, would the Secretary tell us whether it is possible to label foods produced through the natural process instead, for by doing so, consumers can at least make informed choices?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, I thank Miss HO for her suggestion. However, under the actual circumstances prevailing, according to our assessment, a lot of administrative costs will be incurred if all non GM foods have to be labelled because most of the foods in Hong Kong are not genetically-modified.

MR HOWARD YOUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, in the last paragraph of the Secretary's main reply, it was mentioned that in considering the establishment of a suitable local regulatory framework, the Department of Health will take into account the recommendations of international organizations like the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization.  However, since GM foods are relatively new products, I would like to ask the Administration whether these organizations have already made specific recommendations on the regulation of these products, or that we expect that they will come up with specific recommendations when we actually consider the regulatory framework for Hong Kong in the future?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, some discussions have actually been held over this issue between three international organizations, namely, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  Though these organizations do have some criteria and basic principles on the control of GM foods, a consensus has not been reached as to how these principles could be consolidated and implemented.  As regards the labelling system, different international organizations also have different views, and I have just mentioned that there are two different schools of thought.  The measures adopted by European countries, America and Australia in labelling GM foods differ greatly.  Countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States only require that GM foods which are vastly different from conventional foods in composition, nutrition and uses should be labelled; while the European Union, in particular, the United Kingdom is of the opinion that in addition to food safety, consideration should also be given to the consumers' right to know.  Therefore, they wish to introduce a system which stipulates that all GM foods should be labelled.  These two completely different schools of thought have been in existence for some time, and so far there has not been any international consensus.  Various international organizations are now considering these two vastly different approaches and hope that a consensus can be reached.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr Howard YOUNG, do you have a follow-up question or do you wish to wait for a second turn?

MR HOWARD YOUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, I will wait for a second turn.

MR MICHAEL HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Secretary has just mentioned in her main reply that there is no evidence to prove whether GM foods are safe or otherwise, and there is also no scientific proof to show that GM foods are harmful to human beings.  However, I would like to know what consideration the Administration is making at the moment?  What factors have been taken into account?  And when will a regulatory framework, be it the labelling system or some other systems, be introduced?  What is the Administration waiting for and how advance is the Administration in the course of its deliberation?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, let me repeat what I have said.  At present, there is no evidence to prove that GM foods are harmful to human beings.  This is confirmed by the information we have obtained.  As to what we will do to regulate GM foods, since the organizations I have just mentioned have provided us with a lot of criteria and guidelines, the Department of Health will make reference to those guidelines in its consideration.  However, at this stage, I do not have any specific information as to when the regulatory system can be implemented.

MR AMBROSE CHEUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, what measures will be taken by the Administration as a first step to confirm whether GM foods are available in the market?  And since the Secretary has told us today that there is no evidence to prove whether GM foods are safe for consumption, under such circumstances, once the Administration gets hold of such information, will it launch a publicity programme and lay down a timetable for introducing the labelling system or monitoring the present situation?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, we have not conducted any studies or tests in this respect and there is no statutory regulatory framework on GM foods.   If we want to take further follow-up actions, the first thing we have to do is to consider what kind of regulatory framework should be established.  Once such a plan is in place, then a lot of work will have to be done in the areas of publicity and administration.  But at present, we simply do not have such a framework.

MR AMBROSE CHEUNG (in Cantonese): I think the Secretary has not answered two of my questions, and those are: Why is it impossible to inform the public about the current situation, and what is the timetable for introducing the labelling and monitoring system?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): I would first answer the second question which is on the issue of a timetable.  In response to Mr Michael HO, I have indicated that I am not in a position to answer this question because we have not yet got a concrete plan.  As regards the question on public education, though we have not launched any publicity programme on that front in the past, I feel that we can step up our publicity efforts in the future.

MR HOWARD YOUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Secretary told us that at present there are no regulatory framework, no monitoring system and no proposals in relation to GM foods.  Does the Administration have any ideas on the source and distribution of GM foods under the current situation of "three naughts"?  And do we have any mechanism to deal with any crisis that may arise?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): According to the information on hand, we know that GM foods are not manufactured in Hong Kong.  GM foods are manufactured mainly in overseas countries like Europe, the United States and Australia, and we also know that these countries have very stringent regulatory systems, so even if a large amount of GM foods are imported to Hong Kong, we will still have the necessary knowledge and mechanism to control GM foods.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): We have already spent 15 minutes on this question.  We will now move onto the third question.

Services for "Aged Carers"

3. MR FRED LI (in Cantonese): Madam President, it is reported that in January this year, a 70-year-old man died at home, leaving his elderly mother unattended.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) it has any information on cases in which the aged have to care for their elderly family members at home (aged carers); if so, the details of that; if not, whether such information will be gathered to facilitate the formulation of policies on services for the elderly;

(b) it has assessed if the existing outreaching services for the elderly can cover all the aged carers who need assistance; and

(c) it has assessed if the services for the aged carers currently provided by the Administration and by the Carer's Support Centres are comprehensive and adequate; the resources involved and the number of people who have received assistance therefrom?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, the old man in question was 69.  He lived with his 93-year-old mother before he died.  According to the Social Welfare Department (SWD), he had a younger sister who maintained frequent contacts with them.  She would pay visits to them at least once a week and call her mother almost every day.  The sister was not aware that her brother had any health problems.

I gave these details just now because I would like Members to note that the deceased and his mother were not isolated, nor were they being cut off from help.  They have relatives who have been in close contact with them.

(a) We understand that owing to the difference in age, health condition and ability to look after others, the assistance the carers need in caring for the elderly is not the same.  In considering an application for long-term care services, general social service providers will assess the service need of the case, including the ability of family members to care for the elderly.  In the past year, over 8 600 cases handled by the SWD were related to aged carers.  Services provided included making general referrals, personal care, escort service, residential care home and day care centre for the elderly, and so on.  In addition, elderly service units of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also provide services for carers including aged carers.  According to the statistics of the Support Teams for the Elderly in South District, about 8% of clients fell into the category of aged carers.  The SWD can therefore get hold of information on family carers and their service need for the purpose of formulating policies on elderly services.

(b) To realize the policy of "ageing in place", support from their family members is indispensable.  At present, various types of elderly residential care and community care services are offering assistance to the family members who need to take care of their elderly.  The outreaching service is one of the support services for the elderly.

The existing outreaching services for the elderly are delivered mainly through social networking by 31 Support Teams for the Elderly in multi-service centres and 12 Visiting Health Teams.  The Visiting Health Team is a new service which provides support to family carers and volunteers through collaboration with various NGOs and volunteer groups to enhance their skills in taking care of the elderly so as to relieve the carers of their pressure.  The Support Teams for the Elderly mobilize a lot of volunteers, district bodies, residents' associations and so on within their communities to visit elderly persons who are infirm or lack community support or family care.  The Support Teams for the Elderly also provide referral services as required.  While the Support Teams and the Visiting Health Teams are strengthening their outreaching services to the vulnerable elderly, we have to enlist the assistance of the public, especially the family members concerned to ensure that the elderly in need get what they need.

(c) The Government is providing various support services to carers of elderly family members.  We have just set up two Carers' Support Centres with a view to providing a full range of support and assistance services for them.

The Carers' Support Centres are manned by professional social workers, welfare workers and clerical staff.  Each centre is expected to provide services for 1 500 people per year at an annual operating cost of about $1.68 million.  As at 30 April, there were 100 members including 80 being aged carers and the attendance for services was about 3 200.  The centres provide about 21 items of services which include provision of information on available social support network for elderly services, training on elderly care, promoting mutual support among carers and formation of support groups as well as mobilization of volunteers to provide services for carers and community education programmes.

There are performance indicators to assess whether the service of the two centres are comprehensive and adequate.  However, since the two centres have only been open for a few months, we still need some time to make a more detailed assessment.  As a long-term objective, we hope to introduce the element of carers' support service in various elderly service settings.

MR FRED LI (in Cantonese): Madam President, from the figures provided by the Secretary, we can see that among the cases handled by the Government and the NGOs, there were at least 10 000 cases which were related to aged carers.  While the "help bell" or "safety bell" provided by the Government to the elderly for emergency purposes usually target at the elderly living alone, a family with two elderly persons may not be able to successfully apply for one.  At present, we have more than 10 000 such cases.  With so many urgent problems, will the Government review the policy of application for the "help bell"?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, the "help bell" or "safety bell" has been very popular among the elderly ever since it was introduced.  We also find that it is able to perform its functions most of the time.  With regard to application, we are studying the present criteria for application to see if more flexible arrangements can be made.  The number of elderly persons living together is not a problem because we would give consideration to factors such as whether the elderly person concerned has such a need, the condition of his health and his ability to look after himself, and so on.

MR TAM YIU-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, other than the "safety bell", there is an electronic sensor which can be installed in the homes of elderly singletons.  The device is usually installed above the bathroom door.  If nobody passes under it for a certain number of hours, the sensor will be triggered.  The party concerned will then be informed and its staff may telephone the elderly to see what has happened.  Has the Government considered whether this sensor would be useful or whether the device would be installed for the elderly patients who are in special need?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, there have been many diversified and hi-tech developments in this regard.  No matter whether it is a sensor or a "safety bell", we will give consideration to all such devices to find out which one is most helpful to the elderly in calling for assistance.

DR YEUNG SUM (in Cantonese): Madam President, taking long-term care of the elderly, especially the ill and frail ones, may exert a very heavy psychological and work pressure on the carers.  Many studies in Hong Kong have pointed out that the provision of respite service in subvented residential care homes or Day Care Centres may adequately ease off the pressure on the carers for a while so that they can continue to take care of the elderly in the long run.  Does the Government plan to expand this service?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, the respite service which allows the carers to take a short break is welcome by many carers.  We also encourage all the residential care homes to start this kind of service.  However, so far, the rate of utilization of this service is not satisfactory.  It may be due to the fact that the elderly dislike moving frequently from home to places where they are unfamiliar with.  Therefore, we may have to enhance counselling in this aspect in order to make the elderly willing to leave their habitual places.  The elderly may not find any problem as receivers of services, but their families may really be exhausted and want to take a break from time to time.  We will continue to provide the service because the families of the elderly also feel such a need.  However, serious conflicts often occur between the elderly and their families where the families like to use this service but the elderly do not.

MISS CHAN YUEN-HAN (in Cantonese): Madam President, in the last paragraph of her main reply, the Secretary said that: "As a long-term objective, we hope to introduce the element of carers' support service in various elderly service settings."  In making such a remark, has the Government given consideration to the present economic downturn in which many service providers encounter difficulties in the provision of services because they are unable to obtain sufficient subsidies from sources such as the Community Chest?  In the last meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Welfare Services, we also asked the Government whether it could fully subsidize these service providers, including elderly service providers.  Will the Secretary tell us whether she had objectively taken into account the financial positions of these service providers when she made the remark?  To really encourage the providers to offer such services, I am afraid that it will not be effective if it is just a lip service without actual assistance from the Government in terms of funding.

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, what we are trying to do now is to provide new services.  I mentioned just now in the main reply that we had set up two Carers' Support Centres which were independent.  However, some elderly persons or their carers may not find these centres very convenient because they may be located far away from their homes.  We hope to provide more similar services at the district level.  In fact, not every single centre must use the same amount of manpower or fund for the provision of services.  We will give consideration to the redeployment of resources without increasing funding.  Under the present mechanism, adjusting the allocation of resources for the existing service providers may be more effective.

MR LAW CHI-KWONG (in Cantonese): Madam President, when the Secretary answered the Honourable Fred LI's question, she said, "the SWD can therefore get hold of information on family carers and their service need".  But as far as I know, it was only after Mr Fred LI had raised the question that the Government hurriedly looked up the relevant records in 42 Family Services Centres and 35 Medical Social Services Units for the purpose of preparing the reply.  In this connection, with regard to its information system, will the Government consider collecting the personal data of the carers in greater details?  What the Government has provided us with are simply figures, no information on the age, health condition and financial status of the carers is available.  Will the Government consider improving its information system?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, if we are to collect the relevant data, there are several methods we can use.  One of them is the implementation of a comprehensive registration system, but this could be very costly.  Another method is that we send out questionnaires from time to time so as to gather the appropriate information.  I hope that we can get hold of more relevant information through different channels in the future.  In particular, we should be able to grasp better information about the districts with exceptionally large numbers of elderly or carers.  We will give thoughts to different methods of collecting more practical data.

MR HO SAI-CHU (in Cantonese): Madam President, although the Secretary has tried very hard to tell us what they are going to do, it seems that she has not given us an official reply about the data.  Is there a need in the community at present to provide assistance to the aged carers?  Can our present work meet the needs of the aged carers?  Just now the Honourable LAW Chi-kwong has asked about the situation, I would like to supplement a bit here.  Can the Government find out the relevant data through the Census?  If many similar cases are found by way of the Census, will the Secretary consider addressing the issue from different angles?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): Madam President, we sent out some questionnaires two years ago and collected certain information, but they only reflected the situation two years ago.  We will regularly conduct follow-up surveys in order to gather the most updated and authentic data.  As for the Census, we may consider adding certain questions to its questionnaire so as to collect other data on the elderly issue other than the information on the carers.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Fourth question.

Termination of Property Managers' Appointment by Owners' Corporations

4. MR GARY CHENG (in Cantonese): Madam President, in respect of the terms of deeds of mutual covenants, the Building Management Ordinance (Cap. 344) stipulates that if an Owners' Corporation seeks to terminate the property manager's appointment, a general meeting must be convened to pass a resolution by not less than 50% of ownership shares in the building.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the criteria and justifications used in setting such a percentage in the Ordinance; whether it has assessed if such a percentage is too high, resulting in many cases in which Owners' Corporations were unable to gather sufficient shares to terminate the appointment of incompetent property managers; if so, what the results of the assessment are;

(b) whether it will review if such a percentage is still appropriate; if so, of the timetable for the review; if not, of the reasons for that; and

(c) whether it has assessed if the assistance offered to Owners' Corporations in respect of the termination of the property managers' appointment is adequate; if it has, what the result of the assessment is?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, my response to the above question is as follows:

(a) Paragraph 7(1) of the Seventh Schedule to the Building Management Ordinance provides that at a general meeting convened for the purpose of the Ordinance, an Owners' Corporation may, by a resolution of the owners of not less than 50% of the ownership shares, terminate by notice the manager's appointment without compensation.  I would like to take this opportunity to explain the criteria and justifications used in setting such a percentage.

Years ago, the Government found that there were unfair terms in the deeds of mutual covenants of many private multi-storey buildings, under which, for example, developers had the power to offer permanent appointments to property managers while the flat owners, as employers of the managers, were deprived of the right to have their say.  The Government, therefore, proceeded to study how to rectify such a situation.

We drafted the Multi-storey Building (Owners Incorporation) (Amendment) Bill in 1991 and gazetted in the form of a White Bill in May of the same year for public consultation.  One of the proposed amendments allowed an Owners' Corporation, by a resolution of the owners of not less than two thirds of the shares at a general meeting, to dismiss the manager appointed under the deed of mutual covenant.

We received 340 submissions in the course of consultation and the public generally supported the above amendment proposed in the Bill.  The percentage of ownership shares required to terminate a manager's appointment as suggested by the public ranged from 33% to 75%.  But the majority opined that a manager's appointment could be terminated so long as owners of not less than 50% of the shares consented.

We carefully considered the opinions of various parties and found that the consent of not less than 50% ownership shares in a decision to terminate the appointment of a property manager was acceptable to us.  If a majority of ownership shares had to be obtained for the dismissal of an incompetent manager, then the chances for his dismissal would be remote and difficult to attain for practical purposes.  On the other hand, if only a minority of ownership shares was required, the termination process might become so simple as to affect the interests of the employee (that is, the manager) and lead to frequent changing of hands which would have an adverse impact on the effective management of buildings.  Given the above considerations, we amended the Bill by changing the required ownership shares from two thirds to not less than 50% and submitted it to the former Legislative Council for consideration in 1992.  The Bill was passed in 1993.

To our knowledge, since the implementation of the Ordinance in 1993, a total of 156 Owners' Corporations have successfully invoked it to dismiss managers appointed under the deeds of mutual covenant, while no evidence shows that there often is the case that Owners' Corporations are unable to terminate the appointment of incompetent property managers simply because they cannot meet the requirement on ownership shares.  Therefore, we think the present Ordinance is effective in practice and the then legislative purpose has been served.

(b) In our opinion, the termination of a property manager's appointment is an important decision on building management which should be made jointly by owners.  Support from no less than 50% of ownership shares for the dismissal of the manager well demonstrates that it is the common wish of the majority of owners.  Owners may vote either personally or by proxy at a general meeting convened for this purpose.  Therefore, it should not be too difficult to obtain support from 50% of ownership shares.  We are of the view that this percentage is reasonable and works well.  If the percentage is lowered, it cannot reflect that the dismissal of the manager is a decision of the majority of owners for its lack of representation.  However, if a significant portion of ownership shares has to be obtained, it may be difficult and practicably impossible to make such dismissal.  We consider, therefore, that the existing requirement on the percentage of shares is appropriate and feasible and at this stage, there is no need for review or amendment.

(c) Owners' Corporations are statutory bodies registered under the Building Management Ordinance to enable owners of private buildings to deal with the management, administration, maintenance and so on, of common parts of their buildings in an effective way.  Generally, if an Owners' Corporation considers it necessary to dismiss the manager appointed under the deed of mutual covenant, a general meeting can be convened under the Ordinance to discuss this and vote for a decision.  The management committee of the Owners' Corporation is responsible for organizing and conducting the general meeting, such as issuing notices of meeting to each owner and preparing the agenda and ballots.  These jobs have to be done by the committee itself and the Government cannot meddle in and take up the job on its behalf.  Staff members of our District Offices can provide guidance on the general provisions of the Building Management Ordinance and procedures of the general meeting.  An impartial Government must remain neutral on matters like the dismissal of managers.  It is neither proper nor desirable for the Government to participate in the discussions of the general meeting or influence the decisions of owners.  Someone may say that in some large scale housing developments, it is technically difficult to obtain support from 50% of ownership shares for the dismissal of a property manager and so assistance has to be sought from the Government.  In my opinion, whether it is a small building or large scale housing development, so long as most owners tend to support the dismissal of the incompetent manager, they will naturally come together to vote for it.  On the contrary, if the proposal to dismiss a manager can only gain support from the minority of owners, that means most owners have reservations about the proposal.  I have to reiterate that in order not to influence the wishes of owners, the Government should not intervene in such matters and it is inappropriate to do so.

I would like to add that when considering the dismissal of the manager appointed under the deeds of mutual covenant, an Owners' Corporation may have to study the related clauses in the deeds of mutual covenant and the content of the employment contract on the appointment of the manager.  Since some legal knowledge may be required in this respect, the Corporation should engage legal consultants to examine these documents in order to safeguard the interests of owners.

The first Building Management Resource Centre set up by the Home Affairs Department in Yau Ma Tei has secured support from many professional bodies such as the Hong Kong Law Society.  Members are sent from these bodies to the Centre to provide the public with free preliminary professional advice on building management.  The public can make maximum use of the service offered by the Centre.

We consider that the various measures currently adopted by the Government to assist Owners' Corporations are proper and adequate.  Under the principle that owners of private buildings are responsible for the management and maintenance of their private properties, we are open to opinions and ideas on service improvement.  We will adhere to the principle of "helping owners to self-manage their buildings" and continue to actively provide assistance to Owners' Corporations and owners of private buildings in order to achieve the objective of "A good home is a safe home".

MR GARY CHENG (in Cantonese): Madam President, I do not agree with what the Secretary said in the last paragraph of the main answer and that is, that the measures currently adopted to assist Owners' Corporations are proper and adequate, since we only asked this question after complaints had been received.  The approval of service contracts by Owners' Corporations of private buildings is as important as the appointment of managers.  However, the former can be approved with the consent of owners of only 10% of ownership shares.  May I ask why, in comparison, the requirement on the percentage of shares is higher for the termination of the appointment of managers?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, generally, it depends on the importance of the issue.  As I said in the main answer, the termination of the contracts of property managers is a major decision.  If the support of the majority of owners can be obtained, the matter will be handled in accordance with the wishes of the majority of owners.  However, if it is an ordinary and minor issue, such as the simple question of whether more rubbish bins should be placed on each floor, Owners' Corporations may simply issue instructions, since they have the power to do so.  However, if the rubbish bins are particularly expensive and the Owners' Corporation deems that the majority of owners should be consulted, it can notify the owners in writing and they can attend the meeting at their own will.  The meeting may only be attended by owners of a very small portion of ownership shares and other matters can also be decided at the meeting.  I know that this is not a very good example.  What I am trying to say is that it very often depends on whether it is a serious matter.  In our view, it may be irresponsible to make a decision on whether or not to replace a manager with only 10% ownership shares.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr CHENG, which part of your supplementary question has not been answered?

MR GARY CHENG (in Cantonese): Madam President, in my supplementary question, I said that the above matters are equally important to owners.  If elevators have to be replaced, a lot of money would have to be collected from the owners.  Why is it that only 10% of ownership shares is required to approve such projects, while 50% of ownership shares is required to terminate a manager's appointment?  The Secretary only cited the example of increasing the number of rubbish bins.  This happens not to be the kind of cases that I want to ask about.

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, let me take up the excellent example cited by Mr CHENG.  An elevator might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or one million, depending on the size of the building.  If it is a small building with only a few dozens of owners, I do not think it would be too difficult to obtain the consent of half the owners to replace the manager.  However, if it is about replacing elevators, in the case of a large building with dozens of elevators, even if only one is to be replaced, it would be an entirely different matter.  But in general, the replacement of elevators is just a matter of money.  It might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, which is not such a big problem.  In such cases, notices might be issued to owners proposing that a general meeting be convened some time in the following week or month, or sufficient notice might be given for such a meeting to decide whether to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on replacing an elevator.  Some owners might not care about these things and would simply follow the majority's decision.  In that case, the decision could probably be made with only 10% of owners or their proxies attending the meeting.  However, in the case of replacing a manager, we think that it would be better to consult more people.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Members, we have already spent more than 15 minutes on this question.  However, I notice that the Secretary for Home Affairs already used up more than 10 minutes in answering the main question.  Therefore, I will give Members five minutes more to ask supplementary questions on this question.

DR RAYMOND HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, when the Multi-Storey Building (Owners Incorporation) (Amendment) Bill was passed in 1993, the required ownership shares of 50% seemed fairly reasonable.  At that time, I was also a member of the Advisory Committee on Private Building Management.  However, later, we realized that it is very difficult to obtain consent from 50% of ownership shares, especially since some property managers are companies under the developer.  In order to overcome these difficulties more easily, will the Secretary consider excluding the ownership shares of the developer from the required ownership shares of 50%, so that the small owners have a better chance of achieving the aim of dismissing the property manager?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, we must deal with this question carefully.  We could consider the difficulties in detail in the future.  Dr Raymond HO has raised an interesting question.  If the developer has 50% of the ownership shares, and the Owners' Corporation can only obtain the consent of other owners of 10% to 15% of shares, I am sure that controversy would arise as to whether the shares of the developer should be excluded.  In view of this, we really have to deal with it very carefully.  For the time being, I just want to quote some figures to explain this.  Since 1993, there have been 156 cases in which the managers were successfully replaced, while there have only been nine cases in which this could not be done.  The reason for the failure in these nine cases was not because there was difficulty in convening a meeting of owners.  If we have enough evidence to show that there is a problem and that it must be reviewed again, we will certainly conduct another review.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Dr Raymond HO, please be brief.

DR RAYMOND HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Secretary seemed to have misunderstood my supplementary question somewhat.  I did not mean that the developer has half of the ownership shares.  Even if he only has 20% of the shares, the small owners still cannot dismiss an incompetent manager with whom they are dissatisfied due to his dishonesty in financial matters or mismanagement.  From my experience in this respect, it is very difficult to do so.  I hope that the Secretary will think about this.  I am not saying that the developer has 50% of the ownership shares.  Even if he only has 20%, it would make such dismissal very difficult.

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

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I would like to respond briefly.  If the developer holds 20% of the votes, we cannot just exclude the 20%.  What should we do if he holds 30% or 15%?  I do not think we can provide a meaningful answer to Dr Raymond HO's question easily in today's meeting.  I can only say that we will look into it if there is sufficient evidence to show that the present 50% requirement is unreasonable.

MR JASPER TSANG (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Secretary mentioned several times that there is inadequate evidence to show that the 50% requirement is too high.  But could it be that there is sufficient evidence, only the Secretary is not aware of it?  The last study was conducted years ago, before the passage of the Bill.  Will the Government conduct another comprehensive study to see if Owners' Corporations have met with difficulties in this respect and whether they want the percentage lowered?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, with regard to this point, I will look into it with the colleagues concerned.  However, I cannot guarantee what the outcome will be.  So far, we have not received any complaints about a failure to convene a meeting of the owners, or a failure to obtain the consent of enough owners to dismiss the manager, even if the meeting could be convened.  We will continue to study this question.  We will make an appropriate proposal to the Legislative Council, on the strength of information or evidence collected.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Last supplementary question.

MR ALBERT HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, I would like to let the Secretary know that we have recently received several complaints about the impossibility of establishing an Owners' Corporation or of dismissing the managers without the developer's consent.  However, the situation is not what the Secretary thinks.  What he refers to is a situation where the developer hoards many flats which have not been sold.  Since he holds many ownership shares, he will have more votes than the other owners.  What is the situation like in the cases that I am talking about?  In these cases, the management shares and ownership shares are separate in the deeds of mutual covenant.  The developer holds the management shares of many common parts and hence the majority of management shares, but without having to pay management fees.  Thus, even if the developer has sold many units, he still has over 51% of ownership.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr HO, what is the supplementary question that you would like to ask?

MR ALBERT HO (in Cantonese): After hearing about the complaints that I have mentioned, what solutions does the Secretary have?  How can the Secretary tell the people that this law is fair?

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, the management of private buildings is certainly not a simple matter.  The only advice I can give to the complainants is that they should go to our Resource Centre and talk to the professionals there.  Since each case is different, we can only provide preliminary advice after learning about its details, so that the relevant parties know how to improve the situation.  I admit that the management of private buildings is a long-term question.  We are gradually improving it and are even considering amending the legislation.  We will keep working on different areas to make it better.

MR ALBERT HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, I believe that the supplementary question that I asked is quite technical and that it is not easy to answer it.  I wonder whether the Secretary could give a written answer later to explain whether it is possible to solve this difficult question technically.

SECRETARY FOR HOME AFFAIRS (in Cantonese): Madam President, I do not think that there is a need to give a written answer, since I have answered it already.  (Laughter)  What I mean is that the complainants should go to our first Resource Centre, which has experts on law and other areas (including fire protection) to help the complainants solve their problems.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Several Members are still waiting for their turn to ask supplementary questions.  But since we have already spent more than 24 minutes on this question, I suggest that Members follow up this issue through other channels.

Fifth question.

Pedestrian Precincts

5. MRS SELINA CHOW (in Cantonese): Madam President, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether there are plans to designate certain areas with heavy pedestrian traffic as pedestrian precincts; if so, the details of them;

(b) whether it will consult owners of retail shops in the district concerned before designating an area as a pedestrian precinct; and

(c) of the established procedure for designating an area as a pedestrian precinct?

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Cantonese): Madam President, a pedestrian precinct is an area reserved exclusively for use by pedestrians into which vehicles are restricted either permanently or for specified periods.  As a traffic management measure, it serves to alleviate pedestrian congestion and remove conflicts between vehicle and pedestrian flows.  Pedestrianization may also help to improve the roadside air quality in and around the pedestrian precinct.

Before designating an area as a pedestrian precinct, the Government will take into account factors such as pedestrian flow, capacity of available pedestrian facilities, availability of viable traffic diversion routes, impact on the environment and amenities in the neighbourhood and servicing needs of occupants in the residential, commercial and retail units in the vicinity.  Public views will be sought before any scheme is finalized for implementation.

In general, consultation will be done through the relevant district board and District Office.  Where necessary, targeted consultation with affected groups such as the transport trade, the operators of retail shops and the building management in the area will be carried out.

For pedestrian precincts which are permanently and totally closed to traffic and where material public interest is affected, it will be necessary to gazette the scheme under the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance (Cap. 370).  This procedure allows objections to be raised and dealt with under the statutory procedures provided for in the Ordinance.  For pedestrian precincts which are closed to traffic for specified periods only, they will be authorized under the Commissioner for Transport's power to close roads under the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374).

Currently, the Transport Department is planning to pedestrianize the section of Russell Street between Lee Garden Road and Percival Street in Causeway Bay later this year and consultation with the affected parties is in progress.  The Department also regularly examines the need and possibilities of establishing pedestrian precincts in other busy areas with heavy pedestrian and vehicular movements.

MRS SELINA CHOW (in Cantonese): Madam President, in the third paragraph of his main reply, the Secretary mentioned that targeted consultation with affected groups will be carried out where necessary.  In this connection, could the Secretary inform this Council of the meaning of "where necessary"?  Moreover, could the Secretary clearly explain to this Council whether the various organizations of the districts concerned will definitely be consulted; and whether the affected shops will be consulted particularly on the traffic arrangement during the specified periods, so as to ensure that the operation of the shops will not be unnecessarily obstructed?

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Cantonese): Madam President, the answer is yes.  Perhaps let me add one more point, and that is, it should be "where specific needs arise".  Generally speaking, we will certainly consult all parties concerned, including the relevant district board and the operators of affected shops.  However, if we should receive requests from certain bodies or groups of persons for detailed consultation or exchange of views, we will certainly make special arrangements to cater for their requests.  Anyway, I can assure Honourable Members that normally we will consult all the shops and households affected by the scheme through different channels.

MRS SELINA CHOW (in Cantonese): The Secretary has not answered the part of my supplementary regarding whether special efforts would be made to see if the traffic arrangements of the specified periods would constitute an obstruction to the operation of shops.  The Secretary did not seem to have given any definite answer for this.

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

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Cantonese): Madam President, we will certainly take such impact and issues into consideration.  One thing I should like to stress is that since roads are limited in Hong Kong while the pedestrian and vehicular traffic on them is heavy, we are now adopting a balanced arrangement to strike a balance between the needs of the different road users, including pedestrians, drivers, as well as households and shop operators who need to commute to and from the areas concerned.  However, such a balance could hardly be achieved in most cases, and we have therefore set our target at a "near balance", depending mainly on the actual needs of the parties concerned.  Let me explain this with the Russell Street case I referred to just now.  It is very obvious that both the pedestrian traffic and the pedestrian needs along Russell Street call for special consideration; as such, we have proposed to designate that section of the road as a permanent pedestrian precinct.  Besides, we have also taken into consideration the loading and unloading as well as transportation needs of the shops there, that is why we will designate additional on-street loading and unloading areas in the vicinity of Russell Street, like Lee Garden Road and so on.

MRS MIRIAM LAU (in Cantonese): Madam President, most of the areas which the Government is now planning to designate as pedestrian precincts are the shopping areas.  However, having done their shopping, members of the public would in many cases need to commute by vehicles.  In this connection, could the Secretary inform this Council how the Government is going to cater to the transport needs of the public after designating a certain area as pedestrian precinct?

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Cantonese): Madam President, if a certain area should be designated as pedestrian precinct and closed to traffic, we would certainly make an effort to locate an area in the vicinity for drivers to pick up and drop off their passengers, as well as for the provision of minibus and taxi stands.  We will certainly take such needs into account.  Let me take Russell Street as an example.  Apparently there are many pick-up points for taxis and minibus stands in the vicinity of Russell Street.  As regards the question of whether we could cater fully to the actual needs, it would nevertheless depend on the usable space available as well as the number of pick up points we need to provide.

MR LAU KONG-WAH (in Cantonese): Madam President, although a new pedestrian precinct, which is the pedestrian precinct at Russell Street, has been designated, it does not mean the vehicular flow in the vicinity could be reduced.  In this connection, I am very interested to know what measures the Government will take to ensure that the traffic situation along the roads in the vicinity would not turn bad, and that the air pollution problem of other areas will not deteriorate.

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Cantonese): Madam President, Russell Street has not been designated as a pedestrian precinct yet, but will be so towards the end of the year according to our plan.  Nevertheless, we have already started consulting the relevant parties of the area.  Besides, we closed Russell Street to vehicular traffic for two weeks during the last Christmas and the result was very satisfactory, that is why we will designate the area as a permanent pedestrian precinct.

The Honourable LAU Kong-wah was right in saying that the closure of certain roads to vehicular traffic would not necessary imply the vehicle flow will lessen.  If the vehicle flow should lessen, it will be attributable to the fact that drivers have shifted to other means of transport instead of their own cars to get there, knowing that the area has been closed to vehicular traffic.  Nevertheless, it does not necessarily imply a decrease in the number of cars.  On the other hand, I dare not say whether the number of cars would increase or not.  This has yet to be found out and we would need to observe the actual situation.

As I said just now, before designating an area as a pedestrian precinct, the first and foremost factor we take into consideration is the traffic and transportation needs of the area, in particular the need for pedestrian facilities.  To a certain extent, other road users may be affected since there would be some inconvenience and they cannot get to the area direct by motor vehicles.  But then again, we need to take into consideration the traffic flow of the entire district.

Just now Mr LAU referred to the issue of air pollution.  As I said in my main reply, one of the effects of pedestrianization is that the air pollution problem of the area could be alleviated.  As regards the actual improvement or effect, it would be very hard to say in a general manner, since the geographical conditions of the different areas are different.  Nevertheless, the first and foremost factor we take into consideration in designating an area as a pedestrian precinct is the actual transportation and traffic needs of the area.

MR EDWARD HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Honourable Mrs Selina CHOW and Mrs Miriam LAU represent the retail sector and the transportation sector respectively, I understand very much their points of concern.  If the retail sector is satisfied that its members would not be affected, and if the transportation sector is also satisfied, will the Government consider formulating policies to designate more areas as pedestrian precincts as a means to enhance environmental protection and tackle air pollution?  It is regrettable that the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands is not present at this meeting.  I wonder if the Secretary for Transport could answer my supplementary, since the reply made by the Secretary just now was concerned with transportation, while my concern is environmental protection.

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Government of course concerns itself very much with environmental protection, we will certainly take appropriate measures to improve the environment.  If we should be able to prove that proper pedestrianization efforts could achieve environmental improvement objectives without affecting the traffic conditions, the Government will certainly implement more pedestrianization schemes; besides, the Transport Bureau and the Transport Department will also make active moves to collaborate in implementing the schemes.

MR CHAN KAM-LAM (in Cantonese): Madam President, pedestrian precincts are usually provided at places where there are acute conflicts between vehicle and pedestrian flows.  I understand that certain areas cannot be pedestrianized due to the limitations posed by the road conditions or the buildings in the vicinity, albeit the conflicts between vehicle and pedestrian flows there are very serious.  The Central District is one typical example.  Could the Secretary inform this Council whether the Government would consider moving the pedestrian precincts underground to resolve the problem?

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Cantonese): Madam President, from the planning point of view of transport facilities, we certainly hope to cater for the needs of different road users as far as practicable, and we also hope to deal with their needs separately; as such, one of our objectives is to separate the roads used by pedestrians with that designed for vehicles.  Pedestrianization is one of our methods only, we have also employed other measures like footbridges and pedestrian crossing systems, including subways and pedestrian subways.  As regards the underground pedestrian precinct and underground access referred to by the Honourable CHAN Kam-lam just now, they are also provided where appropriate; however, in many cases we need to resort to several measures at the same time.  As such, we may still have to provide footbridges or underground walkways in areas which have been designated as pedestrian precincts.  We will try to adopt several suitable measures together as far as possible.  Bearing in mind the limited space and large population in Hong Kong, we definitely have to adopt several measures at the same time.

MR KENNETH TING (in Cantonese): Madam President, in regard to the set procedures for designating an area as a pedestrian precinct, will the relevant Panels of the Council be informed of the schemes concerned, so that we could participate by providing the Transport Department with more information?  Could the Secretary inform us when will the Government be submitting the relevant plan to this Council for reference, if Russell Street should be designated as a pedestrian precinct permanently closed to vehicular traffic at the end of the year?

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Cantonese): Madam President, we will certainly consult the public on any large scale transportation infrastructure projects or traffic management measures, and such consultation exercise would include submitting the proposed schemes to the relevant Legislative Council Panels for discussion.  The proposal to close Russell Street to vehicular traffic is part of the Time Square Traffic Management Scheme, and we have already submitted the entire scheme to the Transport Panel for comments and secured support from the Panel.  If the Government should implement any large scale schemes, it will certainly submit the proposed plans to the relevant Panels of the Council; by the same token, if the Government needs to pass any laws or enact any new laws, it would naturally submit the drafts to the relevant Panels and this Council for consideration.

MISS CHOY SO-YUK (in Cantonese): Madam President, just now the Secretary has mentioned that the Government would take the environment into account.  Moreover, in the second paragraph of his main reply, he has also said that servicing needs of the occupants in the retail units in the vicinity would also be taken into account.  Speaking of the areas in the Central District designated as pedestrian precincts on Sundays, although the problem of air pollution could be alleviated, the pedestrian precincts are always covered with not only people but also waste materials.  In this connection, could the Secretary inform this Council whether the Government has any specific measures to resolve such problems in the pedestrian precincts in the Central District; and whether Russell Street will develop into another Central District pedestrian precinct?

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Cantonese): Madam President, let me respond to the last part of the supplementary first.  Russell Street does not possess the conditions to make it another extensive Sunday pedestrian precinct like that of the Central District.  As regards the Central District pedestrian precinct, I think Honourable Members could perhaps recall that it was not for any traffic or transportation purposes that the Central District pedestrian precinct was designated more than two decades ago.  Instead, the main purpose of pedestrianizing the area was to bring more life to this commercial and banking centre on Sundays and weekends by allowing more activities and programmes to be held there.  It was the original purpose, albeit the situation has changed as things develop.  In this connection, I could not reply on behalf of my colleagues regarding the environmental problems or the measures to resolve the hygienic problems of the Central District on Sundays.  Nevertheless, I will relate the question to my colleagues concerned and ask them to provide the Honourable Member with a written reply.  (Annex)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Which part of your supplementary has not been answered, Miss CHOY?

MISS CHOY SO-YUK (in Cantonese): Just now the Secretary has referred to the purpose of designating that part of the Central District as a pedestrian precinct, but he has not answered as to what measures have been employed to achieve the objective set then.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Miss CHOY, I think the Secretary has already answered your supplementary.  Besides, he has also promised to defer that part of your supplementary to the public officers concerned to provide you with a written reply.

Sixth question.

Pilot Project on Integrated Education

6. MR YEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, a two-year pilot project on integrated education was launched in September 1997 to assist students with special education needs to integrate into ordinary schools.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) it has reviewed the implementation and effectiveness of the project; if  so, the findings of the review;

(b) it knows if the nine schools currently participating in the project will continue to take part in it, and of the number of other schools which have indicated their interest in joining the project; and

(c) it has formulated measures and has plans to allocate additional resources for the promotion of the project; if so, details of them?

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

(a) The Board of Education (BoE) Subcommittee on Special Education published its report in May 1996.  Having regard to opinions received during public consultation on the report, the BoE noted the need for a long-term strategy on integration.  It therefore recommended a pilot project to facilitate formulation of a future strategy.  The two-year pilot project was launched in September 1997, involving nine schools and 49 students with special educational needs.  These students are either mildly mentally handicapped, hearing impaired, visually impaired, physically handicapped, or autistic with average intelligence.

In October 1997, the Education Department (ED) commissioned the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) to evaluate the pilot project.  The HKIEd conducted a survey on the school heads, teachers and parents of the nine pilot schools.  An interim report was submitted to the ED in July 1998.  The major findings included the following:

(i) Most parents of the disabled students (77%) were satisfied with the academic progress of their children.

(ii) All school heads and teachers considered that the pilot project could encourage social development of the students.

(iii) Most parents of the regular students (75%) supported integration.

(iv) Teachers who had direct contacts with the disabled students accepted individual differences more readily than those without such contacts.

(v) Most regular teachers (70%) were confident in applying teaching skills and methods to help disabled students; while only 45% and 35% were confident in curriculum tailoring and co-operative teaching respectively.

Regarding areas where improvements were recommended in the interim report, the ED has taken the following action starting from September 1998:

(i) Promoting whole-school involvement ─ the ED continued to provide assistance to schools in implementing whole-school approach, strengthening home-school co-operation, and enhancing teachers' skills in co-operative teaching.

(ii) Staff development ─ the ED has invited local tertiary institutions to provide more training courses to strengthen the skills and confidence of teachers.  The ED would also organize various activities like seminars, school-based workshops and inter-school experience-sharing sessions.


(b) The nine schools currently in the pilot project will continue to practise integration.  Eleven more primary and secondary schools have indicated readiness to practise integration in the 1999-2000 school year.

(c) Apart from the nine pilot schools, the ED has planned to expand the number of participating schools to 20 in the 1999-2000 school year, and further to 40 in the 2000-2001 school year.  Resources have been reserved in the baseline allocation for implementation ─ the ED will be allocated $11 million and $22 million for this purpose in the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 school years respectively.

The ED has organized a series of publicity activities to promote integration.  These include roving exhibition, newsletters, puppet show, essay competition, poster and slogan competition, variety show, seminar, teaching kits and promotion video, and so on.  The target group includes teachers, students and parents.

MR YEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, to my understanding, this pilot project should not be "pilot" forever because the ultimate purpose is participation by all schools.  How does the Secretary evaluate whether the ED is satisfied with the progress of having 40 schools participating in the project in the 2000-2001 school year?  At what time does the Government expect the final target of full participation by all schools to be achieved?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, according to the feedback of the teachers, parents of students and other students as reflected in the HKIEd's interim report on the pilot project, we are pretty satisfied with it.  When we receive the final evaluation report of the HKIEd in July this year, we will, on the basis of the report, consider whether this pilot project can be made a permanent one.  We will consider whether those who are mildly mentally handicapped, hearing impaired, visually impaired, physically handicapped, or autistic with average intelligence should be allowed to join the integrated education project direct instead of studying in special education schools.  Nevertheless, I hope we can come up with a final decision when we have received the final report this year.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr YEUNG Yiu-chung, which part of your supplementary question has not been answered?

MR YEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, my supplementary question is not concerned about whether or not the project itself is excellent.  As a matter of fact, the evaluation report shows that it is a very good project.  I would like to ask whether the Secretary finds the progress satisfactory in view of the fact that only 40 schools will join the project in the 2000-2001 school year?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, there will be 40 schools participating in the project in the 2000-01 school year basically because resources in the baseline allocation are just enough for 40 schools.  So, we have to look into the deployment of resources if we come to the view that the number of participating schools should be further increased after we have studied the report.  At the present stage, resources are not available for more than 40 schools.

DR RAYMOND HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, my supplementary question has something to do with the evaluation of the pilot project on integrated education by the HKIEd and special education, as mentioned by the Secretary in the main reply.  When I was serving on the management board of a special school a few years ago, I found that there was a shortage of special education teachers.  In items (iv) and (v) of part (a) of the main reply, the Secretary mentioned the degree of acceptance by teachers who had contacts with the disabled students, and regular teachers' confidence in applying teaching skills and methods and curriculum tailoring in item (v).  Does it imply that there is a shortage of this kind of teachers?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, in the main reply, it is pointed out in item (v) of the HKIEd's interim report that some teachers were not confident enough in curriculum tailoring and co-operative teaching.  This is understandable because item (v) refers mainly to teachers in regular schools.  Indeed, many teachers in regular schools do not have any opportunity to receive training in special education.  Therefore, we are going to co-operate with local tertiary institutions in an effort to provide more training to them.  This is also mentioned in my main reply.

DR RAYMOND HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Secretary has not answered my supplementary question clearly.  I ask if there is a shortage in teachers specialized in special education and, as a result, regular teachers are required to share part of the work?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, we are talking about the pilot project on integrated education which is implemented in regular schools.  Therefore, we are basically talking about teachers in regular schools.  There is some difference between the former and special education teachers.

MR JASPER TSANG (in Cantonese): Madam President, in the main reply, the Secretary said that 11 more schools, under the ED's planning, will join the pilot project on integrated education in the next school year.  It so happens that 11 more schools have indicated readiness to practise integration.   Is it the case that there is no open invitation to all schools by the ED, which has just identified a sufficient number of schools to fill the required quota of the project?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese):  Madam President, according to information on hand, the ED has openly invited all interested schools to join the pilot project on integrated education.  If Mr TSANG is aware that some schools are very interested in joining the project, they will certainly have the opportunity.  In fact, we make constant contact with schools and headmasters through our colleagues in the ED.  We earnestly hope that more schools will be interested in joining the project.  There are 20 participating schools this year and 40 in the next.  Therefore, we welcome more schools to take part.

DR YEUNG SUM (in Cantonese): Madam President, according to the findings of the HKIEd, about 70% of the parents are in strong support of the pilot project on integrated education.  I personally also support it.  But it implies that almost 30% of the parents do not support the project.  Has the ED tried to find out from the study the reasons why they do not support the project with a view to improving it and winning more support from the parents?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, it is in fact pretty encouraging to have the support of more than 70% of the parents, according to the interim report.  Please do not forget that the interim report is based on only one year's experience.  It is understandable that less than 30% of the parents of regular students have reservations about integrated education during the year under review.  The reason is that the regular schools involved have to enroll students with special education needs who are different from the ordinary students in terms of intelligence and physical conditions.  As a result, some parents may worry that it may adversely affect the students in terms of communication and studies.  I think this is understandable.  As stated in my main reply, we will continue to co-operate with schools, enhancing home-school communication and co-operation.  The target of a series of publicity activities, as mentioned in the last part of my main reply, includes parents as well.

MR LAW CHI-KWONG (in Cantonese): Madam President, in the main reply, the Secretary mentioned that the ED would be allocated $11 million and $22 million for this purpose this year and the next respectively.  To my understanding, each participating school will receive a subsidy of $50,000 for procurement of the necessary facilities.  More often than not, $50,000 is far from being enough for acquiring facilities such as those for the visually impaired.  Will the Secretary consider the following proposal: funds are provided to a resource centre for the disabled for acquiring these facilities which are then loaned to schools and students?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam president, apart from a non-recurrent allowance of $50,000, each school will be provided with an additional resource teacher for having enrolled five students with special education needs; and an additional teacher assistant for having enrolled eight special students.  Mr LAW's suggestion is noted and will be considered in our review.

MR LAU KONG-WAH (in Cantonese): Madam President, I would like to know how many students will be involved and what is their percentage in relation to the total number of special students when 40 schools have joined the project next year?  What is the significance on the operation and the number of special schools in Hong Kong in future?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Madam President, according to our current plan, each school will accept five to eight students with special education needs.  If there are 40 participating schools and each of them enroll eight students, the total number of students involved will be 300 plus.  Compared with the 4 000 places provided by special schools for these students, the percentage is in fact rather low.  I hope that the relationship between integrated education and special education will be taken into consideration when the long-term strategy on the former is formulated on the basis of the final evaluation report to be received this year.

WRITTEN ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS

Ophthalmic Services for Senior Citizens

7. MR DAVID CHU (in Chinese): It is reported that one in every five senior citizens suffers from eye diseases.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the existing average waiting time between a senior citizen's first treatment on eye diseases in a public hospital or a Department of Health (DH) clinic and his/her admission to hospital for ophthalmic operation or treatment;

(b) the policy and measures in place to shorten the above-mentioned waiting time; and

(c) its long-term policy on the provision of ophthalmic services for senior citizens?

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

(a) The general out-patient clinics under the Department of Health provide treatment on general eye diseases, and will, when necessary, refer patients to the ophthalmology departments of the Hospital Authority (HA)'s specialist out-patient clinics for further treatment.  In March 1999, the average waiting time for first attendance for ophthalmic services at the HA's specialist out-patient clinics is 15 weeks.  These clinics have implemented a triage system to assess the conditions of patients referred to the clinics, and patients with urgent or emergent eye problems will be accorded priority treatment or operation.  Patients suffering from eye diseases requiring elective operations will have to await their turn.  Cataract is a common non-acute eye disease among the elderly.  In March 1999, the average waiting time for cataract operation is about 11 months.

(b) The HA is all along well aware of the community's increasing need for ophthalmic services.  It will open 40 in-patient beds and two additional operating theatres in the Hong Kong Eye Hospital in mid-1999 and a new eye specialist out-patient clinic in Tseung Kwan O Hospital in end 1999.  In addition to these, the HA has implemented various improvement measures, including internal deployment of resources and manpower, commencement of evening operating sessions and streamlining of workflow, in order to efficiently deal with more patients requiring treatment.  We hope that these measures can help to shorten the waiting time for first attendance for ophthalmic services at specialist out-patient clinics and for cataract operations.

(c) At present, public primary and specialist eye care services are provided by the DH and the HA respectively.  In 1999-2000, the DH will increase the number of elderly health centres from 12 to 18.  These centres provide for the elderly comprehensive primary health care services, including eye examinations and visual tests, and will refer patients to the HA for further treatment when necessary.  For specialist eye care services, the HA plans to meet the continuous increase in demand through the following measures:

(i) To train more eye specialists to ensure that sufficient eye specialists are available for providing quality eye care services;

(ii) To provide training in ophthalmology for Family Medicine trainees to empower family practitioners to provide better eye care for patients;

(iii) To plan for expansion of facilities for ophthalmic services in areas of rising demand, for example, the New Territories;

(iv) To collaborate with primary care doctors to ensure provision of proper ophthalmic care for patients before and after referral to eye specialists; and

(v) To collaborate with other health care providers and the community in educating the public on proper eye care.

Installation of Octopus System

8. MR ANDREW CHENG (in Chinese): In connection with the installation of the Octopus system, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:

(a) the progress of various public transport service companies in installing the Octopus system;

(b) the total number of Octopus value adding machines (VAMs) at present; the number of VAMs installed in stations along the railways; the major locations of VAMs installed other than in railway stations;

(c) the respective numbers of VAMs with Easy Payment System (EPS) function and those with such function put to use now; the major locations and number of the latter which are installed other than in railway stations;

(d) if the company managing the Octopus system plans to increase the number of VAMs other than in railway stations; if so, the details of it; and

(e) details of the company's feasibility study on passengers using bank autopay as a means for adding value to Octopus cards?

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Chinese): Madam President, according to Creative Star Limited, the Company which manages the Octopus system, priority of installation of the Octopus systems has been given to mass carriers which convey more passengers: all railway lines of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation and Mass Transit Railway Corporation, the entire fleet of the Citybus and the major routes of the Hongkong and Yaumati Ferry are already fully equipped with the Octopus system.  About 40% of the Kowloon Motor Bus fleet are equipped with the Octopus system with full installation scheduled for end 2000.  About 12% of the First Bus fleet are similarly equipped with full installation scheduled by end 1999.  Ongoing discussions about the extension of the Octopus system to other transport operators are continuing.

The number and distribution of VAMs with and without EPS is set out below:

Location of VAMsNumber of VAMsVAMs with EPS

Mass Transit Railwaypremises

324122

East Rail premises

15114

Light Rail premises

4511

Hongkong and YaumatiFerry passenger piers

130

Total:

533147

Creative Star Limited has plans to extend the installation of additional VAMs at 24-hour convenience stores.  In addition, the Company is carrying out discussions with banks on the introduction of autopay to enable Octopus users to add value to their Octopus cards.  The Company is planning to implement these new measures before the end of the year.

Industrial Safety in Manufacturing Sector

9. DR LUI MING-WAH (in Chinese): The Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance (FIUO) (Cap. 59) regulates matters relating to industrial safety in various trades.  As the use of heavy machinery is usually not involved in manufacturing operations and serious industrial accidents seldom occur in the manufacturing sector, will the Government inform this Council whether it will consider enacting separate legislation to regulate matters relating to industrial safety in the manufacturing sector, so as to reduce the operating costs of the industries concerned; if not, the reasons for that?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Chinese): Madam President, the FIUO, enacted in 1955, is the principal legislation governing safety and health at work in the industrial sector.  The Ordinance and its subsidiary regulations are intended to embrace all industries although some of these regulations are more relevant to certain trades than others.

Whilst there may be fewer accidents and generally less hazardous processes in the manufacturing sector, the FIUO lays down minimum standards applicable to various trades in the industrial sector.  There is therefore no compelling reason to have different safety and health legislation for different industries.  To do so would be cumbersome and cause confusion, without achieving any additional benefits.

Vacant Government Premises

10. MR ANDREW CHENG (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the respective current numbers of government property blocks which are wholly or partially vacant; please give details concerning the name, gross floor area, vacant area and duration of vacancy of each block; and

(b) the total number of government property blocks which had been left vacant for one year before they were rented to non-government organizations since 1995; the locations of such properties and the names of their sitting corporate tenants?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Chinese): Madam President, with regard to part (a) of the question, according to the records kept by the Government Property Agency (GPA), there are at present 22 wholly vacant government properties, details of which are set out at Annex A.

There are also 12 partially vacant government properties.  Of these, seven are properties occupying sites scheduled for land disposal or redevelopment.  Details of these properties are at Annex B.

With regard to part (b) of the question, according to the records of the GPA, there are five government properties which had been left vacant for one year before letting out to non-government organizations by the GPA since 1995.  Details of these properties are at Annex C.

Annex A

Wholly Vacant Government Properties

Name of Building
(Address)

Total Gross
Floor Area
(sq m)

Vacant From

Present Position

(1) Ex-East Ping Chau Training Camp

550

September 1994

Remote and dilapidated. Future use to be decided.

(2) Ex-Pak Nai Training Camp

200

October 1994

Remote and dilapidated. Future use to be decided.

       

(3) West Point Filters, 50, Kotewall Road

170

June 1996

Isolated location. Future use to be decided.

       

(4) Ex-Marine Police HQ, Tsim Sha Tsui

4 870

November 1996

Declared monument. Allocation under consideration.

       

(5) Ex-South Lantau Hospital, Cheung Sha, Lantau (five units)

1 100
estimated

December 1996

Scheduled for land sale after 1999-2000

       

(6) Bethanie, 139 Pokfulam Road

2 000

January 1997

Grade II historical building. Allocation under consideration.

       

(7) Ex-South Lantau Police HQ, Cheung Sha

200

estimated

January 1998

Scheduled for land sale after 1999-2000.

       

(8) Beas Stable, Kam Tsui Chuen, Sheung Shui

1 550

March 1998

For land sale in 1999-2000.

       

(9)Ex-Singapore International School, 12 Ka Wai Man Road, Kennedy Town

4 620

March 1998

Planned for school use by September 1999.

       

(10) Ex-HKIEd Bonham Campus, 40 Po Hing Fong

8 910

March 1998

Planned for school use by September 1999

       

(11) Ex-HKIEd Northcote Campus, 9A

2 210

March 1998

Planned for school use by September 1999

       

(12) Ex-HKIEd Morrison Hill Campus, 373 Queen's Road East

1 400

March 1998

Intended for non-GIC use pending rezoning.

       

(13) Ex-Green Island Police Recreation Club

300

April 1998

Within restricted area. Future use to be decided.

       

(14) Tai Po Kau San Wai, Tai Po Road

890

June 1998

Scheduled for land sale after 1999-2000.

       

(15) Ex-Castle Peak Hospital Quarters, 15 Tsing Chung Koon Road, Tuen Mun, New Territories

2 820

July 1998

Available for leasing. Redevelopment as welfare centre in 2003.

       
(16)Ex-Government Flying Service Building

11 000

July 1998

To be allocated to government departments in mid 1999.

       

(17) 1 and 3 Homestead Road

2 990

September 1998

For land sale in 1999-2000.

       

(18) Ex-Islamic College, 22 Cloud view Road

5 500

November 1998

For short-term leasing pending school redevelopment in 2002.

       

(19) Ex-Hong Kong Air-cargo Terminal Building 2

75 000

November 1998

Will be tendered out in mid 1999 for temporary industrial use.

       

(20) Ex-Chai Wan Police Post on Tai Tam Road

220

November 1998

Isolated location. Future use to be decided.

       

(21) 4 Gough Hill Road/99 Peak Road

580

December 1998

For land sale in 1999-2000.

       

(22) Ex-Nethersole Hospital Nursing Quarters, 2 Breezy Path

8 500

estimated

April 1999

Available for leasing. Future redevelopment plan to be decided.

Annex B

Partially Vacant Government Properties

 

Name of Building
(Address)

Vacant Gross
Floor Area
(sq m)

Vacant From

Present Position

       

(1) Ex-Pearl Island Married Quarters

1 440
(2 125)

October 1994

Part of the building is used for government storage. The rest is available for leasing. The site is scheduled for land sale after 1999-2000.

       

(2) Ex-Dills Corners Camp Garden site, 193 Castle Peak Road, Sheung Shui, New Territories

2 650
(13 450)

October 1994

Most of the space available has been leased out. The site is scheduled for land sale after 1999-2000.

       

(3) Ex-Kowloon Tsai Married Quarters, Pilgrim Way, Kowloon

14 400
(17 910)

March 1997

Part of the space has been leased out. The site is scheduled for land sale in 1999-2000.

       

(4) Block E, Prince of Wales Hospital Quarters, 46 Ngan Shing Street, Sha Tin

7 360
(17 220)

October 1997

More than half of the space has been allocated for welfare purposes. The rest is available for leasing.

       

(5) Ex-Kai Tak Terminal Building

47 000
(84 500)

July 1998

Offices on 2/F to 6/F and Arrival Hall already allocated/ taken up by departments. Departure Hall and Basement available for leasing.

       

(6)Ex-Government Supplies Department Headquarters,12 Oil Street, Hong Kong

7 000
(20 000)

July 1998

Most of the space has been leased out. The site is scheduled for land sale in 1999-2000.

       

(7) Ex-British Military Hospital Quarters, 12-14 King's Park Road, Kowloon

2 570
(8 950)

July 1998

Most of the space has been leased out. The site is scheduled for land sale after 1999-2000.

       

(8) 8 and 10 Caldecott Road

10 929
(13 238)

August 1998

38 units are vacant and available for sale or leasing.

       

(9) Hollywood Road Ex-Police Married Quarters, 35 Aberdeen Street, Hong Kong

3 900
(8 500)

September 1998

More than half of the space has been leased out. The site is scheduled for land sale after 1999-2000.

       

(10) Ex-St George School, Suffolk Road, Kowloon Tong

8 300
(10 770)

October 1998

Part of the space has been leased out. The site is scheduled for redevelopment as public transport interchange in September 1999.

       

(11) Vista Panorama, Kowloon Tong

706
(1 412)

December 1998

About half of the space has been leased out. Four units are available for leasing.

       

(12) Baguio Villa, Pokfulam

1 299
(14 506)

April 1999

Most of the space has been leased out. Six units are available for sale or leasing.

       

Figures in ( ) denote gross floor area.

 

Annex C

Government Properties Which Had Been Vacant For One Year Before

Letting To Non-Government Organizations Since 1995

Name of Building

 

Name of Tenant

     

1. Ex-EMSD Incineration Plant Staff Quarters, Mui Wo Ferry Pier Road

 

Christian Zheng Sheng Association Limited

     

2. Ex-Wai Chow Primary School, Wang Chau, Yuen Long

 

The United Muslim Association of Hong Kong

     

3. Former Au Tau Fisheries Office, Au Tau, Yuen Long

 

Society for Aid and Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers (SARDA)

     

4. "White House", Wong Yi Au, Tai Po, New Territories

 

Hong Kong Family Welfare Society

     

5. Tai Mei Tuk, House No. 6, Tai Po

 

Wu Oi Christian Centre

Child Abuse

11. MR ALBERT HO (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of complaints or reported cases of suspected child abuse received in the past three years; among them, the number of cases which have been followed up by the police or the Social Welfare Department (SWD);

(b) whether the Administration has given instructions to various government departments and non-governmental organizations requiring them to report suspected child abuse cases; if not, the reasons for that;

(c) of the number of abused children, their families and abusers who have received psychological counselling services in Hong Kong in the past three years;

(d) of the professional qualifications which such psychological counsellors must obtain for providing such services; and the percentage of these professionals who have received special training in the skills required for providing counselling to the victims of child abuse;

(e) of the number of cases involving repeated child abuse offences in the past three years; and the measures in place for preventing these cases, such as keeping an abused child away from the abuser; and

(f) whether the Administration will consider making laws to require abusers to receive compulsory psychological counselling in order to prevent the recurrence of child abuse?

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

(a) The Child Protection Registry (CPR) of the SWD registers suspected child abuse cases reported by service units operated by the SWD and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The number of suspected child abuse cases newly registered by the CPR in 1996, 1997 and 1998 was 311, 381 and 409 respectively. Of these, 269, 324 and 351 cases were substantiated and followed up by social workers and the police.

(b) In keeping with our multi-disciplinary approach in combating child abuse, we have set up a Committee on Child Abuse under the chairmanship of the SWD. This comprises representatives from the relevant government departments and professional disciplines. In 1998, the Committee issued a guidance note on "Procedures for Handling Child Abuse Cases" to assist professionals, including social workers, teachers and health personnel to handle all forms of child abuse. A "Guide to Identification of Child Abuse" is included in these procedural guidelines and this is aimed at encouraging the reporting of cases.

(c) Counselling services are provided to the victims (that is, the abused children and their family members) and the abusers, as appropriate. In 1996, 1997 and 1998, social workers in the SWD's Child Protective Service Units (CPSUs) provided counselling services in respect of 741, 1 029 and 1 211 child abuse cases (this includes both new and active cases in that year). Of these, 163, 229 and 266 cases were subsequently referred to clinical psychologists for more intensive counselling.

(d) All of the 32 social workers in the CPSUs (who are holders of either a Masters or Bachelor degree, or post-graduate diploma in social work) receive basic in-service training to acquire the skills associated with interviewing abused children. Clinical psychologists must possess a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. Both clinical psychologists and social workers are trained in the necessary skills to provide psychological treatment for children who are emotionally disturbed, including abused children. More specialized training in handling different forms of child abuse, such as sexual or psychological abuse, is also provided. Similar training is also arranged for social workers and clinical psychologists working in NGOs.

(e) According to the CPR, the number of repeat child abuse cases is small. Of the newly registered cases in 1996, 1997 and 1998, only two, three and eight respectively were repeat cases. To prevent a recurrence of abuse, we focus on providing victims and their families with the necessary counselling and preventive education. For children subject to a high risk of repeated abuse, the SWD can arrange for out-of-home care. Where necessary, statutory provisions under the Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance can be invoked to protect abused children.

(f) At present, counselling is provided to abusers, on a voluntary basis. However, the Court may order convicted child abuse offenders to receive compulsory counselling treatment under a probation supervision order. The Correctional Services Department may also arrange psychotherapy sessions run by clinical psychologists or psychiatrists. We are aware that mandatory counselling for child abusers is practised in some overseas countries, but is not always successful. Unmotivated abusers may refuse to co-operate. We therefore do not intend, at this stage, to legislate to make counselling mandatory but will keep the issue under review.

Treatment of Water

12. MRS SOPHIE LEUNG: In view of recent concerns that chlorinated water may be harmful to the environment and human health, will the Government inform this Council whether it will use safer alternatives, such as ozone and bromine, in the treatment of water; if not, the reasons for that?

SECRETARY FOR WORKS: Madam President, it is well established worldwide that chlorine is a safe, effective and reliable disinfectant for drinking water to control pathogenic bacterial and viral agents. One of the major advantages of using chlorine for disinfection is that a residual level of chlorine can be maintained throughout the distribution system to provide prolonged safeguard to the water quality.

The use of alternative disinfectants, such as ozone and bromine, for treatment of water will also result in the formation of by-products which at high concentration are potentially hazardous to the health of consumers.

Bromine is not effective against cholera and typhoid bacteria. Also according to international research results, the disinfection efficiency of bromine is inferior to chlorine against E. coli.

The use of ozone only achieves primary disinfection. It cannot maintain a residual disinfectant in water throughout the distribution system to provide prolonged safeguard to the water quality.

We will continue to observe the applicability of alternative disinfectants in other countries and adopt the best possible treatment technology in providing a safe supply in Hong Kong.

Fee Waivers to Aged CSSA Recipients for Medical Treatment

13. MR LAW CHI-KWONG (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council of the total number of cases in which Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients aged 60 or above were granted fee waivers for out-patient and in-patient treatment at the public-funded clinics and hospitals in the past five years, and the total amount of medical fees waived in respect of such CSSA recipients during the period?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Chinese): Madam President, under current provisions, all CSSA recipients are entitled to free medical treatment at a public hospital or clinic. With the Certificate for Medical Waiver issued by the Social Welfare Department, the CSSA recipients will have out-patient and hospitalization fees waived when they seek out-patient treatment or are admitted to hospital.

According to records kept by the Department of Health, the number of CSSA recipients who were granted fee waiver of their out-patient treatment and the amount waived in the past five years are as follows:

Year

Number of visits to out-patient
clinics by CSSA recipients

Amount waived
($ million)

     

1994-95

249 000

7

1995-96

336 000

11

1996-97

420 000

15

1997-98

519 000

19

1998-99

627 000

23

It is estimated that about 65% of the CSSA recipients who use the out-patient services of the Department of Health are aged 60 or above.

According to the information extracted from the Patient Billing and Revenue Collection System (PBRC) of the Hospital Authority, the number of CSSA recipients aged 60 or above who received in-patient services and the amount of their fees waived in the past two years are as follows:

Year

Number of admission of CSSA
recipients aged 60 or above

Amount waived
($ million)

     

1997-98

111 500

78

1998-99

137 000

94

Similar information before 1997-98 is not available.

As the age-related data of out-patients is not captured by the PBRC, the information on the number and amount of out-patient fee waivers granted to CSSA recipients aged 60 or above is not available.

Application of Occupational Safety-related Legislation

14. MR LEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the provisions in the existing occupational safety-related legislation that are not applicable to government employees; the types of work involved and the number of government employees involved, broken down by the provisions and the types of work;

(b) the reasons for government employees engaged in such types of work not being subject to such provisions; and

(c) the number of industrial accidents involving employees engaged in such types of work in various government departments, and the number of casualties in the past three years?

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

(a) There are two pieces of legislation which aim at protecting workers at work. They are the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance (FIUO) and the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance (OSHO) enacted in 1955 and 1997 respectively. The FIUO has 27 sets of regulations governing the safety and health at work in the industrial sectors. The newer OSHO has one set of regulations so far and covers all economic sectors. The FIUO is not applicable to the Government and its employees. However, through internal regulations, viz. General Regulation 700, the Administration is to conform in all respects to the standards of safe working as prescribed by the FIUO and its regulations in government workplaces. On the other hand, the OSHO binds the Government and places on it the obligation to provide a safe working environment for its employees.

(b) The FIUO, like many other contemporary legislation enacted in Hong Kong in the 1950s and 60s, was modelled closely on similar legislation in the United Kingdom. In the case of the FIUO, it was modelled on the United Kingdom Factories Act which did not bind the Crown. It is for this reason that when the FIUO was enacted in Hong Kong the Government was likewise excluded from its application. However, as noted in the reply to part (a), the Administration has in effect been required to comply with all provisions of the FIUO by means of internal regulations.

It should be noted that the thinking on the application of occupational safety and health law to the Government has changed in recent years and therefore the new OSHO, enacted in 1997, applies to the Government.

(c) As the FIUO and its subsidiary legislation do not apply to the Government, all accidents involving civil servants are classified as Occupational Injuries instead of Industrial Accidents. Over the past three years, the occupational injuries statistics for government employees are as follows:

Year

1996

1997

1998

       

No. of Occupational Injuries

2 452(5)

2 585(2)

2 801(6)

       

Note:

1. Figures in brackets refer to the number of fatal accidents.

2. The figures for 1996 and 1997 were based on cases reported to the Labour Department. The figures for 1998 referred to cases that occurred during that year.

Downsizing Plan of the Auxiliary Police

15. DR DAVID LI: It is reported that in line with the plan to downsize the establishment of the Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force (HKAPF) from 5 721 to 4 500 through natural wastage in the next three to five years, all patrol duties previously undertaken by the auxiliary police officers have been taken over by their regular counterparts. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has assessed the effect of the plan on the morale of the auxiliary police officers; if so, the details of it; and

(b) how it will ensure that the downsizing plan will not undermine the personal and property safety of the public?

SECRETARY FOR SECURITY: Madam President,

(a) In November 1998, the Police Force set up a Committee to review the HKAPF with a view to improving its management and deployment in the light of changing circumstances. The Committee consists of regular police officers, including senior police officers of the five land Regions, as well as officers from the HKAPF including its Deputy Commandant. In arriving at its recommendations, the Committee has taken into consideration the views and the morale of the auxiliary police officers. When the review was underway, representatives of the Regions have reported the progress at the monthly Regional Command and Management Conferences attended by the Chief Superintendent of the Auxiliary Police Force in each Region. In turn, their views were relayed to the Committee. In addition, the Chairman of the Committee has exchanged views with the Commandant of the HKAPF on the review from time to time.

The Committee has made a total of 33 recommendations covering the role, establishment, organizational structure, recruitment and training of the HKAPF. Of the 33 recommendations, 13 have been implemented since 1 April 1999. As the recommendations involve a redefinition of the role of the HKAPF, it is understandable that some officers have expressed concern when the review report was published in mid-March 1999. However, after a series of briefings given to both regular and auxiliary police officers at different levels, such concerns have been to a large extent allayed. It is now generally accepted that the auxiliary police officers will continue to play an important role in providing support to the regular Police Force. They will serve as a trained manpower reserve to support the regular police officers in crowd management operations during major public events and festivals. They will also be deployed to perform some beat duties as part of their practical training.

The Force Management will continue their dialogue with auxiliary police officers over the implementation of the remaining 20 recommendations which include a review of the syllabus of the basic training, the appraisal system and discipline regulations of the HKAPF.

(b) The reduction of the establishment of the HKAPF will not undermine the capability of the Police Force in maintaining law and order in Hong Kong. One of the main reasons for redefining the role of the HKAPF is that the regular Police Force is now up to establishment and has sufficient manpower to perform frontline operational duties. In fact, over 2 000 additional police officers have been deployed to perform frontline duties since 1992. The revised establishment of the HKAPF is also assessed to be adequate in providing support to the regular Police Force in an internal security situation.

We have one of the best equipped and trained Police Force which has the full capability of protecting the safety of our citizens. Hong Kong remains one of the safest cities in the world. The crime rates of 1997 and 1998 were kept at a very low level. We will, nevertheless, remain vigilant as the security of our community is the cornerstone of the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong.

Women Studies

16. MISS CHRISTINE LOH: Will the Administration inform this Council:

(a) whether there is any evidence that the University Grants Committee (UGC) and the UGC-funded tertiary institutions have regarded women studies as a major area of academic research; if there is no such evidence, the reasons for that; and

(b) of the amount of grants and other resources allocated to this area of research in the past three years?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER: Madam President, the Research Grants Council (RGC) is responsible for vetting proposals and allocating government funds for academic research projects undertaken by staff of the UGC-funded institutions. The RGC's main criteria for supporting research projects are the academic quality and intellectual content of the proposals, irrespective of the subject areas of the projects.

In accordance with their respective roles and missions, the UGC-funded institutions regard gender studies (including women studies) as an integral part of academic research, and have conducted studies in this area. It is estimated that about $32 million have been allocated to these projects during the past three years. Funding came from various sources such as the RGC's Earmarked Research Grant, institutions' block grants, the Equal Opportunity Commission, Industry Support Fund and Health Services Research Fund. Some examples of these studies include:

- Climacteric in Chinese Women: Symptoms, Hormone Replacement Therapy and Osteoporosis

- Gender in the Hong Kong Civil Service

- Baseline Survey on Equal Opportunities (Gender) in Hong Kong

- Postnatal Depression in Hong Kong Chinese

- Are Gender Differences in Academic Achievements of Hong Kong Students Disappearing?

In addition, the University of Hong Kong established a Women's Studies Research Centre in 1995. Lingnan College also hosted an International Conference on Feminist Studies in Modern Literature in Chinese in 1996.

Frequency of MTR Trains

17. MR LAU KONG-WAH (in Chinese): The Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) has reduced the frequency of trains running on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays since 24 April, which results in longer waiting time for passengers and more crowded train compartments than in the past. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) it knows the criteria adopted by the Corporation in determining the frequency of trains;

(b) it will assess the impact of the Corporation's reduction of train frequency on the public; and

(c) it will set minimum requirements regarding train frequency for all railways?

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Chinese): Madam President,

(a) The Corporation keeps under regular review train frequencies and makes operational adjustments if necessary to reflect changes in ridership pattern. The recent adjustment of train frequencies for Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays has been introduced as a result of the following changes in ridership pattern:

(i) with the increased passenger capacity provided by the Tung Chung Line, the passenger demand on the Tsuen Wan, Kwun Tong and Island lines has experienced mild decreases;

(ii) the patronage on Saturdays has been declining as fewer companies now work on Saturdays; and

(iii) patronage on Sundays has remained static.

(b) The Corporation has notified the Commissioner for Transport about the proposed changes in train frequencies. The Commissioner has examined the implications of the changes on passenger service standards. The Corporation has stated that the maximum extra waiting time for passengers after the frequency adjustment will be no more than one and a half minute on Saturdays and two minutes on Sundays and Public Holidays. The Corporation has also undertaken to monitor the situation closely and slot in additional trains if and when necessary. Statistics from the MTRC indicate that the carrying capacity after the frequency adjustment is still well above the passenger demand in critical sections of the railway during peak hours.

(c) The Corporation is required by law to operate on prudent commercial principles, under which it should make adjustments to train frequencies to suit changing ridership pattern and operational requirements. However, the Government monitors closely any moves that may have implications on MTR service standards.

Compulsory Retirement and Dismissal of Teaching Staff of Tertiary Institutions

18. MR CHEUNG MAN-KWONG (in Chinese): With regard to the compulsory retirement and dismissal of teaching staff of tertiary institutions funded through the University Grants Committee (UGC), will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:

(a) the retirement ages set for the teaching staff of these institutions;

(b) the conditions to be met by the teaching staff who have reached the retirement age in order to extend their services;

(c) which institutions have legislation or statutes to govern the retirement age of the teaching staff and the extension of service, and the details of these; and the criteria used by other institutions in governing the above aspects and the details of these;

(d) the specific mechanism, handling procedure and assessment criteria that individual institution has adopted for dealing with the dismissal of teaching staff; and

(e) whether there is any mechanism for lodging appeals against such dismissal in these institutions; if so,

(i) how such mechanism operate;

(ii) the criteria adopted by such mechanism in assessing the dismissal decisions concerned; and

(iii) the representativeness of the members and the size of membership of such mechanism, and whether management staff of the institutions, representatives of the teaching staff and outsiders are included?

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

(a), (b) and (c)

All the UGC-funded institutions have their own rules on retirement age and conditions for the extension of service beyond the stipulated retirement age. Details are set out in Annex A.

(d) and (e)

All the UGC-funded institutions have their own established mechanisms/procedures for handling dismissals and appeals against dismissals. Details are clearly set out in staff handbooks, administrative circulars and so on which are published and accessible by all their staff. The institutions' heads and senior management are involved in the processes, where necessary. In some circumstances, the institutions' Councils are involved, or special committees with both internal and external representatives may be formed to consider individual cases. Details on handling dismissals are at Annex B.

In the event that staff concerned are not satisfied with a decision against dismissal, they may appeal to the relevant committees, established either under the institutions' Councils or the administration, or to the head of the institutions, as appropriate. Details are set out in Annex C. The appeal mechanisms and procedures seek to ensure that the whole process is, and is seen to be, fair and reasonable. For instance, the composition of membership of the appeal mechanism comprise, in general, the senior management, representative of teaching staff, and persons outside the institution such as non-staff Council members. In addition, the complainant and the person against whom the complaint is made, are given an opportunity to respond to any information or evidence which is brought to the attention of the appeal body. Furthermore, the appeal authority does not include any person who has a direct interest in the complaint. In addition, it is open to staff to pursue legal action or other established complaints/petitions channels if they so wish and consider the case so justifies.

Annex A

UGC-funded Institutions' Rules and Procedures on Retirement Age

Institution

Retirement
age

 

Conditions/criteria for
extension of service beyond retirement age

 

Instruments which stipulate
the retirement age and/or
the conditions/criteria
for extension

           

CityU

With effect from 1 January 1999:

65

Before 1 January 1999:

60

 

The appointment and extension of service of eminent scholars of international status beyond the normal retirement age of 65 may be exceptionally considered for the purpose of promoting the research and teaching activities of the University.

 

- Administrative circular issued to all staff

           

HKBU

60

 

Extension of appointment beyond the normal retirement age will be considered only on functional grounds.

 

- Terms of Service for staff

- Circular to all staff

- Staff handbook

           

LC

65

 

The Council may consider upon recommendation of the College whether a staff member can continue service in the College after the retirement age on a case by case basis.

 

- Terms of Service for staff

           

CUHK

60

 

The Council may, by a vote of at least two-thirds of the number of members present request any person who has already attained the age of 60 years to continue in his office or appointment for such period thereafter as it shall from time to time determine.

 

- Terms of Service for staff

- Statute 22 of the CUHK Ordinance (Cap. 1 109)

           

HKIEd

60

 

Any appointment beyond the retirement age will be on functional grounds, for example, proven difficulty in recruiting a replacement, and/or requiring the staff member concerned to continue in a major task/project of significant importance to the Institute.

 

- Administrative circular to staff

- Staff handbook

           

PolyU

60

 

Extension of service/re-appointment after retirement may be considered exceptionally on the basis of service needs and suitability of the incumbent.

 

- Conditions of service documents

- Staff handbook

           

HKUST

65

 

Continuing appointment beyond the normal retirement age requires Council's approval, which will only be given in exceptionally justified circumstances.

 

- Employment contract

           

HKU

60

 

Applications for extensions of teaching and non-teaching equivalent staff will be considered and approved by the Retirement Review Board. The overriding consideration behind whether or not an extension should be offered is whether it is in the University's best interests to retain the appointee's service, which can be demonstrated by reference to the following criteria for teaching staff:

 

- Terms of Service booklet

- Staff Manual - Sections on Procedures for Extension of Appointment Beyond Retirement Age (Terms of Service I) and Terms of Service I (Clinical Medical Staff)

           
     

(a) Performance in teaching;

(b) Performance in research; and

(c) either participation in administration; or possession of qualities of special value to one department.

   

Legend:

CityU

City University of Hong Kong

HKBU

Hong Kong Baptist University

LC

Lingnan College

CUHK

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

HKIEd

The Hong Kong Institute of Education

PolyU

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

HKUST

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

HKU

The University of Hong Kong

Annex B

UGC-funded Institutions' Rules and Procedures on Dismissals

Institution

Mechanism/procedures and criteria for dismissal

 

Relevant documents

       

CityU

There are established procedures for dismissals pursuant to performance evaluation and disciplinary proceedings respectively.

 

 

- General circulars on Staffing Procedures for Academic staff, and for Non-academic staff.

 

Performance evaluation:

   
       
 

The major criteria which will be taken into account in deciding continuing employment of a staff member are:

 

- Regulations governing staff discipline

       
 

(i) age, in line with the University's policy on retirement age;

   
       
 

(ii) ability to deliver adequate performance;

   
       
 

(iii) continuing demand for the work performed by the staff member;

   
       
 

(iv) availability of funding and so on.

   
       
 

Disciplinary proceedings:

   
       
 

The Disciplinary Committee will be set up to examine and investigate any alleged breach, and recommend to the President on the course of action. A breach is referred to as a breach of the standards of behaviour reasonably expected to be attained by a staff member of the University commensurate with his position in the University. The Disciplinary Committee shall comprise at least three of the following categories of membership:

   
       
 

(a) the Vice-Presidents and Deans or their academic and administrative equivalents;

   
       
 

(b) one member of the Senate from a panel of five nominated by the Senate;

   
       
 

(c) one member of the Staff Consultative Committee for Academic and Equivalent Administrative Staff nominated by the Staff Side of that Committee; and

   
       
 

(d) one or more members of the Council including the Chairman of Staffing and Conditions of Service Committee from amongst those members who are not staff members of the University.

   
       
 

The President having taken into account all the relevant matters shall decide on the appropriate action.

   
       

HKBU

A substantive staff member on the academic and equivalent administrative staff grades may be removed from appointment, after due enquiry, by the Disciplinary Committee or the Personnel Committee as appointed by the Council. The staff concerned shall be entitled to appear and to be heard, and be given written notice of all allegations made against him before any meetings of the Committee.

 

- Terms of Service for staff

- Circular to all staff

- Staff handbook

       

LC

The College has established procedures for termination of employment of appointees whose performance is considered "unsatisfactory". "Unsatisfactory" performance applies when a staff member fails to meet his/her contractual obligations by such actions as rudeness, tardiness, inefficiency, performing his/her duties below the required level of competence or producing work below the required standard or of the required quality.

 

- Circular

- Staff handbook

- E-mail

       
 

There is a three-tier mechanism to deal with renewal of contracts and termination of employment on the grounds of performance, that is:

   
       
 

(a) the Academic or Non-academic Staff Review Committee, which considers cases of applications for contract renewal or recommendations of termination on the grounds of performance;

   
       
 

(b) the Staffing Committee under the Council, which considers recommendations from the two Staff Review Committees, and either make decisions or make recommendations to the Council for approval; and

   
       
 

(c) the Council, which deals with all staffing matters including termination.

   
       

CUHK

Probationary Employment

Subject to the provisions of the Ordinance and Statues, the University may at any time terminate the appointment of an appointee in probationary employment on giving the stipulated period of notice of termination in writing or salary in lieu of notice.

 

- Clause 6(c) / 7(c) of Terms of Service for Staff

- Statute 24 of the CUHK Ordinance (Cap. 1 109)


 

Substantive Employment

   
       
 

Subject to the provision of the Ordinance and Statutes, the University may at any time terminate the appointment of an appointee in substantive employment on giving the stipulated period of notice of termination in writing or salary in lieu of notice. Reasons for termination usually relate to wrongful conduct or poor performance of appointee concerned. Recommendations/decisions for termination of staff appointment from unit(s) concerned will be scrutinized and processed centrally by the Personnel Office to ensure that any recommendation for termination must be supported with valid reasons and evidence and that such actions are in full compliance with the relevant provisions of the Terms of Service, the Employment Ordinance, the CUHK Ordinance [in particular Statute 24 and other relevant Ordinances.] Input from the recommending officers and the appointees concerned will be sought. The appointee concerned may appear in person and/or nominate a representative (not a legal representative) to speak on the case when it is being considered. Such recommendations/decisions will be considered by the Council or a body with delegated power from the Council.

   
       

HKIEd

Staff may be dismissed in accordance with the disciplinary procedures if he/she neglects, or willfully refuses to perform his/her duties or in any manner misconducts himself/herself. Any disciplinary case will be investigated by a Disciplinary Committee appointed by the Director and chaired by the Deputy Director, with an Associate Director, or Head of Department, and a Council member (who is not a staff member) as members, and a staff observer in attendance.

 

- Administrative circular to staff

- Staff handbook


PolyU

The authority for dismissing a staff member of the University rests with Council. If a staff member at any time neglects or refuses to perform any of his duties or in any manner (whether in relation to his employment or otherwise) misconduct himself, the Head of Department concerned, after careful review and in consultation with senior colleagues of the department, may make a case with full supporting evidence to the President for consideration. An independent panel of inquiry will be set up to inquire into the case. The staff member concerned shall be entitled to appear and to be heard, accompanied by someone of his/her own choice who must be a staff member of the University, in front of the panel. After inquiry, the panel will submit a report of findings to Management. If the findings substantiate a case of dismissal, the report of findings will be forwarded via the President to Council for debate and decision.

 

- Conditions of service

       

HKUST

The President or the Council (as appropriate depending on the rank of the staff member concerned) may dismiss a staff member having regard the outcome of a rigorous three-tiered performance review process involving deliberations at the department, school and university levels. The University's general performance criteria for academic staff are:

 

- Employment contract

- Faculty Handbook

       
 

(a) Teaching effectiveness;

   
       
 

(b) Excellence in research and scholarship; and

   
       
 

(c) University, professional and public service.

   
       
 

The University's employment contract further provides that the University shall always not terminate the employment of an appointee "by reason only of anything done or omitted by the appointee pursuant to his freedom in the classroom to discuss his disciplines, in the conduct of research in his fields of special competence and in the publication of the results of his research except where the Senate is of the opinion that what the appointee has done or omitted amounts to a failure to meet the standards required by the University."

   
       

HKU

For teachers protected by "good cause":

The Council shall not terminate their appointment except where after due enquiry into the facts and after receiving the advice of the Senate there exists in the opinion of the Council "good cause" for such termination.

 

- S.2(2) and 12(9) of the HKU Ordinance (Cap. 1 053)

- Staff Manual ─ Section on "Termination of appointment"

 

"Good cause" means inability to perform efficiently the duties of the office, neglect of duty, or such misconduct, whether in an official or a private capacity, as renders the holder unfit to continue in office.

   
       
 

For appointees on Terms of Service II and III (that is, general and junior staff)

   
       
 

An appointee on Terms of Service II and III may be removed from appointment, after due consideration by an ad-hoc group on termination, comprising the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Staffing), the head of a department from another Faculty, and the Head of the Staffing Section. The appointee can appear in person before the ad hoc group, and can be accompanied by a second person of the University. The appointee can appeal to the Committee on Personnel Matters against the decision of the ad-hoc group.

   

Annex C

UGC-funded Institutions' Appeal Procedures

Institution

Mechanism/procedures and criteria for appeals against dismissal

   

CityU

Staff members who wish to appeal against termination of their employment due to performance evaluation may lodge an appeal in writing to the President. The President will decide on the appointment of the appeal authority. The appeal body (in most cases, a Vice-President appointed by the President) will decide on the procedure for considering the appeal. The decision made by the appeal authority, with delegated authority from the President, will be final. Statistics on non-continuation of employment will be reported to the Council periodically.

   
 

Staff members who wish to appeal against termination of their employment, as a result of disciplinary procedures, may lodge an appeal in writing to the President. The President shall decide on the appropriate action to be pursued, having taken into account all matters in the written report submitted by the Disciplinary Committee, and the further representation made by the Respondent and other relevant parties. If the President decides to dismiss the appeal, the President must submit a report to the Council. The decision of the President shall be final.

   

HKBU

All staff member who is removed from his/her appointment consequent upon the decision of the Disciplinary or the Personnel Committee may appeal to the University Council whose decision shall be final.

   
 

Membership of the Council comprises members from outside the University; members elected by eligible university staff from among themselves; members elected by the University Senate and so on.

   
 

The Council shall have power to prescribe from time to time regulations as to the mode, manner and procedure to be followed on any such appeal.

   

LC

There is a comprehensive mechanism to deal with appeals from staff members against non-renewal of contract, or termination of employment on the grounds of performance.

   
 

- staff on substantiated terms may appeal to the Council which will normally appoint an ad hoc Committee to deal with the appeals;

   
 

- academic staff and non-academic staff whose rank is equivalent to lecturer or above may appeal to the Appeal Committee chaired by a Council member who is not a staff member and comprising a Council member who is not a member of the Staff Committee, the President and two co-opted members who are persons outside the College and whose expertise may be required in reaching a decision in the Committee; and

   
 

- other non-academic staff may appeal to another "Appeals Committee" chaired by the Vice-President and comprising two heads of units, one academic staff and one administrative staff who is not head of unit and two co-opted members (internal and external).

   

CUHK

Recommendations for the termination of appointment of an appointee shall be considered by the Administrative and Planning Committee (AAPC). The appointee may appear before AAPC or may nominate a representative (not a legal representative) to the meeting to speak on the case. AAPC is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor. Other members are the Pro-Vice-Chancellors and other University Officers.

   
 

If an appointee wishes to appeal against a decision of AAPC to terminate his/her appointment, he/she should address the appeal to the Vice-Chancellor, who may after due consideration of the appeal and such other consultation as deemed necessary, either endorse the original decision or initiate a second review. In any case, the AAPC decision will be submitted to the Council for final decision, which will take into account the appeal. The Council's decision shall be final.

   

HKIEd

Formal appeals against matters such as staff dismissal will be submitted to and considered by the Staff Selection and Review Sub-Committee (SSRS) of the Staffing Committee set up by the Council. SSRS is chaired by the Vice-Chairman of the Staffing Committee who is a non-staff Council member. Other members of the SSRS include up to three Council Members (including one elected staff representative) and the Director.

   

PolyU

Any staff member who wishes to lodge an appeal or to pursue a grievance (including those related to dismissal) should set out his case in writing and submit to his Head of Department. A copy of the submission should be sent simultaneously to the Appeals and Grievance Committee (AGC). The Head of Department, Dean, Vice-President or President, as appropriate, may consider the case. If they cannot reach a decision, or if the staff concerned are not satisfied, the case may be referred to AGC for consideration.

   
 

The composition of AGC is as follows:

   
 

Chairman :

one Chairman and an alternate Chairman to be elected by and from members of the Senate, who shall be from two different faculties.
   
 

Members :


 

(a) One member and one alternate member to be selected by drawing lots from a list of four persons elected from Faculty Boards different from those of the Chairman and alternate Chairman.

   
 

(b) One member and one alternate member to be selected by drawing lots from a list of persons elected by and from each of the following academic units/groups:

  1. Academic Secretariat (including Faculty Offices)

  2. Estate Office

  3. Finance Office

  4. Office of Information Technology Services

  5. Library

  6. Personnel Office

  7. Research and Postgraduate Studies Office

  8. Student Affairs Office

  9. Industrial Centre

  10. President's Office, Education Development Unit, Office of Communications and Public Affairs, Centre for Professional and Continuing Education, Office of Media Resources and Services, Office of Academic and Professional Collaboration, Office of Industrial Development (Home Resources), Office of Industrial Development (Technology Resources) and any other non-academic unit.

 

(c) One member and one alternate member to be nominated by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Staff Association.

   
 

(d) One additional member may be co-opted from outside the University by the Chairman in consultation with the other three members. This member shall serve only for the duration of the particular case for which he is co-opted.

   
 

Notes:

 

1. The term of office for membership shall be one year. Serving members will be eligible to stand for re-election. The President, Deputy President, Vice-Presidents and students shall not be eligible to serve on the Committee:

   
 

2. Any member of the same department as any party to the appeal or grievance and/or any member who declares himself to have an interest in a particular appeal or grievance case shall not participate in the Committee's consideration of that case, and his place will be taken by the alternate member.

   
 

3. A person shall only serve in one capacity on the Committee.

   

HKUST

A staff member served with notice of termination of appointment may appeal against the decision in writing to the appeal authority. The appeal authority is the next higher level of authority.

   
 

(a) a faculty committee of the School and the School Dean;

   
 

(b) a faculty committee of the University and the Vice-President for Academic Affairs;

   
 

(c) the President; and

   
  (d) the Council.
   
 

At each level, the appeal authority may appoint an appeal committee comprising internal and/or external members on the merits of individual cases. In addition, there is an Academic Integrity Committee of the Senate.

   

HKU

Appeals against decisions made by the Committee of Enquiry into Possible Good Cause are considered by the Council on the recommendation of the Senate. The Council shall notify the teacher of its decision. The teacher may appeal to the Chancellor.

Sub-degree Teacher Training Places

19. MR YEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Chinese): It was stated in the 1998 policy address that in the three academic years from 1998 onwards, teacher training places at degree or above level would replace some 900 sub-degree teaching training places. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the tertiary institutions which will provide such teacher training programmes at degree or above level, and the number of such places to be provided by each tertiary institution;

(b) whether there is any plan to reduce the number of places of other degree programmes so that the total number of degree places remains unchanged; if so, of the tertiary institutions, programmes and the number of places involved; and

(c) whether there is any plan to gradually replace other sub-degree programmes at the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) by programmes at degree or above level; if so, the specific timetable for such a plan?

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

(a) As announced in the 1998 policy address, we will progressively upgrade the sub-degree pre-service teacher training places for primary and secondary school teachers at the HKIEd to degree and above levels in the HKIEd and other institutions, starting from the 1999-2000 academic year. Having regard to the unique role and mission of the HKIEd, and the willingness and capacity of other institutions currently offering teacher education programmes, the University Grants Committee (UGC) advised, and the Administration agreed, that the upgraded places should be distributed among four UGC-funded institutions offering teacher education programmes. The following table shows the distribution of additional teacher training places at degree and above levels in full-time-equivalent (FTE) terms:

Institution

1999-2000

2000-01

Total

       

Hong Kong Baptist University

50

100

150

       

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

90

155

245

       

The Hong Kong Institute of Education

340

946

1 286

       

The University of Hong Kong

90

140

230

       

Total

570

1 341

1 911

It should be noted that in the context of the 1998-2001 triennial planning, the UGC had approved the HKIEd's proposal to introduce three-year Diploma in Education (DipEd) programmes in the 1999-2000 academic year as an intermediate measure towards degree level teacher training. In the light of the Chief Executive's policy objective to upgrade all sub-degree teacher training places, the resources and student numbers originally allocated for the DipEd programmes have also been used to expand teacher training at degree and above levels. As a result, the number of additional teacher training places at degree and above levels in the 1998-99 to 2000-01 triennium will be 1 911 places.

Coupled with the planned provision, the total number of teacher training places at degree and above levels will increase to about 8 660 FTE in the current triennium, representing a 78% increase over the previous triennium. There will be an increase in training places for all the institutions offering UGC-funded teacher training programmes in the current triennium over the previous triennium.

(b) It is our policy that the number of first-year first-degree (FYFD) places should be maintained at the present target of 14 500 FTE places. On this basis, the UGC advised, and the Administration supported, that 216 FYFD places should be redistributed among all the other institutions to support the development of four-year Bachelor of Education programme in the HKIEd. It will be for the institutions to decide the programmes from which the 216 FYFD places should come.

(c) We plan to upgrade the remaining sub-degree pre-service training places for primary and secondary school teachers at the HKIEd to degree or above level during the 2001-02 to 2003-04 triennium.

Industrial Accidents

20. MISS EMILY LAU: In view of public concerns over the high incidence of industrial accidents, particularly on construction sites, will the executive authorities inform this Council:

(a) of the number of prosecutions instituted by the authorities for breach of industrial safety legislation in the past three years;

(b) of the number of convictions and the average penalties imposed by the courts during the period, and among these cases, the number of appeals lodged by the convicted and the results of appeals; and

(c) whether there are plans to strengthen the deterrent effect by proposing heavier penalties stipulated in relevant legislation?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER: Madam President,

(a) and (b)

The table below shows the statistics on prosecutions, convictions and average penalties in the past three years under the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance and the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance and their subsidiary legislation:

 

1996

1997

1998

       

Number of summonses heard

2 804

1 064

3 181

Number of convictions

2 557

933

2 912

Average fine ($)

14,514

21,465

20,387

Total fine ($)

37,112,600

20,027,000

59,365,537

The following table shows the number of appeals by defendants and their results:

   

1996

1997

1998

Remarks

           
 

Allowed

3

2

-

Fine reduced on appeal against sentence

Appeal

Dismissed

1

4

7

 

Against

Abandoned

7

7

2

1996: 1 summons from $50,000 to $10,000

Conviction

Pending

-

-

16

1 summons from $100,000 to $65,000

 

Total

11

13

25

1997: 1 summons from $100,000 to $60,000

         

2 summonses from $100,000 to $40,000

         

1 summons from $60,000 to $40,000

 

Allowed (see remarks)

2

4

4

1998: 2 summonses from $12,000 to $6,000

1 summons from $9,000 to $6,000

Appeal

Dismissed

-

-

2

1 summons from $7,600 to $6,000

Against

Abandoned

-

3

-

 

Sentence

Pending

-

-

-

 
 

Total

2

7

6

 
           

Grand Total

13

20

31

 

(c) The average fine for each conviction for breaching industrial safety legislation has risen from $14,514 in 1996 to $20,387 in 1998, representing a 40% increase. The level of fines are still way below the maximum fines for most of these offences and are, in our view, not high enough to achieve the necessary deterrent effect. In this regard, the Administration's efforts will focus on convincing the courts that higher fines should be imposed rather than proposing an increase to the maximum fines.

For this purpose, we have created a new computerized database of company safety profiles targeting those poor performers. We hope that by systematically referring to a company's safety performance, conviction record and the highest and average fines of the offences before the bench, the Administration would be in a better position to persuade the magistrates to hand down heavier sentences.

Moreover, to bring home the concept of collective responsibility, we will be prosecuting more sub-contractors, nominated contractors and any other persons having management and control over a workplace for the specific failures on their part. In addition, we will continue to seek reviews of exceptionally low fine cases through the Department of Justice.

BILL

First Reading of Bill

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Bill: First Reading.

TELECOMMUNICATION (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

CLERK (in Cantonese): Telecommunication (Amendment) Bill 1999.

Bill 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 Bill

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Bill: Second Reading.

TELECOMMUNICATION (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move the second reading of the Telecommunication (Amendment) Bill 1999.

The industry has been consulted in several exercises on the proposed amendments set out in the Bill. The last round of consultation exercise conducted in September last year was on the proposals set out in the consultation paper entitled "1998 Review of Fixed Telecommunications". Having carefully considered the views received, we have already incorporated the useful points into the Bill. To put it simply, the Bill has fully responded to the views expressed by members of the industry with regard to a number of regulatory matters, including enhancing competition safeguards, improving interconnection and access arrangements to telecommunications services, as well as providing the Telecommunications Authority with suitable powers over certain technical areas.

The objective of the Telecommunication (Amendment) Bill 1999 is to further improve the regulatory framework of the telecommunications industry. The provisions under the Bill can be specifically categorized into the following four aspects:

First, consolidating the provisions relating to the promotion of fair competition in the public telecommunications service market, including incorporating into the Telecommunication Ordinance the requirement of promoting fair competition set out in the fixed network telecoms licence;

Second, revising, consolidating and elucidating the existing provisions set out under the Telecommunication Ordinance regarding the entry upon any land to place and interconnect telecommunications lines;

Third, streamlining licensing procedures to cope with the rapid development of the telecommunications industry; and

Fourth, conferring the Telecommunications Authority, the statutory regulator of the telecommunications industry, definite statutory powers regarding radio spectrum control and technical standards.

I will now highlight the relatively more important provisions of the Bill for Honourable Members' information.

First, on the functions and powers of the Telecommunications Authority. The Telecommunications Authority is responsible for regulating the telecommunications industry, and he is expected to take into full consideration the needs of the industry in discharging his duties. In order to reinforce the position of the Telecommunications Authority as an independent regulator, we consider it necessary for the Authority to maintain a high degree of transparency and avoid any delay in exercising his decision powers; besides, he should also conduct consultation exercises where necessary. The proposed new clause 6A stipulates that in exercising his powers under the Telecommunication Ordinance, the Telecommunications Authority when making a determination, direction or decision shall elucidate his reasons in writing. Bearing in mind the great many decisions the Telecommunications Authority needs to make, we do not suggest requiring him to conduct prior consultation before making any decisions. Nevertheless, as a matter of fact, the Telecommunications Authority has always consulted the relevant parties before making any major decisions. What we are now trying to do is to codify clearly the existing practice by incorporating the requirement for consultation into the Telecommunication Ordinance and stipulating that the Telecommunications Authority shall issue guidelines regarding the exercise of his various powers. It is our hope that this proposed amendment will enable the public to monitor fully the work of the Telecommunications Authority. Since members of the telecommunications industry are largely in support of this arrangement regarding the discharge of duties by the Telecommunications Authority, we do not think there is any need for us to introduce any substantial amendment in this connection.

It has been set out in one of the proposed new clauses that the Secretary of a Policy Bureau responsible for telecommunication matters (that is, the Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting) may issue written policy directions to the Telecommunications Authority pursuant to which the Telecommunications Authority is to carry out his functions and exercise his powers, and that the directions shall be gazetted. We must ensure the independence of the Telecommunications Authority on the one hand, and that others consider the Office of the Telecommunications Authority an independent regulatory body on the other. As such, we expect the Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting would very seldom exercise this power of issuing directions. One of the possible cases in which policy directions would be issued is when there is a need to instruct the Telecommunications Authority to suspend issuing, within a specified period, certain type of licences which he has been authorized to issue.

Second, on the licensing system. In order to enable the Telecommunications Authority to make prompt responses to new technology and services, clause 4 of the Bill has proposed to add new sections 7 to 7E to the Ordinance to provide for a tiered licensing system under which:

- The Chief Executive in Council will continue to determine the conditions of and grant exclusive licences under the Ordinance;

- The Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting may, after consulting members of the industry, prescribe the general regulations for the carrier licences issued by the Telecommunications Authority, including fixed network telecoms licences, public telecommunications licences and so on; and

- The Telecommunications Authority may issue carrier licences the general conditions of which shall be prescribed by the Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting. Apart from that, the Telecommunications Authority also has the power to determine the conditions of and grant any licences under the Telecommunication Ordinance.

In addition, we also suggest setting up a new system of class licences for certain types of telecommunications services and networks. After considering the views from members of the industry, we propose that the Telecommunications Authority may, after consulting the industry, determine the range of class licences to be issued, as well as the relevant terms and conditions. Under the system of class licences, any person who intends to provide certain specified services or operate certain specified facilities does not need to take up an actual licence so long as he or she complies with the conditions set out in the relevant class licences. Persons operating their businesses not in compliance with the relevant licence conditions will be considered as operating without a licence and in contravention of the Telecommunication Ordinance, and will therefore be penalized.

The existing licensing system is facility based. To safeguard the interests of consumers, we have proposed under clause 5 of the Bill to require persons who provide services other than the specified facilities (such as selling international phone cards in Hong Kong) to apply for licences.

Third, on measures to safeguard competition. At the meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting held on 8 February 1999, I have already explained to Honourable Members the principles in accordance with which the proposed amendments to enhance competition safeguards had been made. Our main purpose is to incorporate the powers to safeguard competition as set out in the general conditions relating to fixed network telecoms licences, with a view to enabling the relevant powers to be invoked to regulate the entire telecommunications market, thereby promoting fair competition within the telecommunications industry. To this end, the proposed new clauses 7K to 7N have been made. As regards new clause 7F, it is aimed at requiring the licensees of telecommunications services to publish their tariffs for consumers' reference.

In view of the comment made by Members that the existing financial penalties that may be imposed upon telecommunications services operators for obstructing fair competition are too lenient, we have proposed under clause 22 of the Bill to increase the maximum financial penalty payable to the Telecommunications Authority for every breach of licence conditions or directions issued by 10 times to $1 million. If the Telecommunications Authority should consider a financial penalty inadequate for the breach concerned, he may make an application to the Court of First Instance. Where appropriate, the Court of First Instance may pass a judgment regarding the case and impose upon the default licensee a financial penalty of a sum of not exceeding 10% of the turnover of the licensee in the relevant telecommunications market in the period of the breach, or $15 million, whichever is the higher. In addition, we have also proposed authorizing the Telecommunications Authority to require the licensee to publish a public announcement regarding any rectification of the breach, or suspend the licence or the relevant part of the licence related to the breach.

In regard to the new section 39A set out under clause 25 of the Bill, we have proposed giving an aggrieved party the right to civil remedies by way of an action for damages against any licensee in breach of the statutory provisions, licence conditions or directions of the Telecommunications Authority relating to anti-competitive practices, misleading or deceptive conduct. The aggrieved party shall bring an action within three years after the commission of the breach concerned or the imposition of a penalty in relation to the anti-competitive practices or deceptive conduct by the Telecommunications Authority or the Court , whichever is the later. According to actual experience, information from clients concerned is required before the relevant government departments could ascertain whether the licensee has committed any breaches. While some clients may be willing to provide information voluntarily, there are some who may think otherwise; as such, we have proposed under clause 23 of the Bill to add a new section 36D which proposes enabling the Telecommunications Authority to obtain a Magistrate's order to obtain from non-licensees or other persons information relating to the alleged breach. This proposed new section serves to ensure that the request made by the Telecommunications Authority for any relevant information must first be assessed independently, thereby safeguarding the interests of the non-licensees or other persons concerned. Moreover, the information provided by the non-licensees or other persons will be kept strictly confidential to the extent that the Telecommunications Authority is not allowed to disclose the information to any other party without the prior consent of the information provider.

Fourth, on interconnection. We has set out clearly the power of the Telecommunications Authority regarding interconnection under clause 19 of the Bill. The Bill has categorically empowered the Telecommunications Authority to make decisions regarding the interconnection arrangement made at technically viable points (including regional networks) and the terms and conditions applicable to an interconnection (including the level of cost-based charges), with a view to ensuring that the compensation cost charged by relevant network operators for the hire of part of their networks or lines by other network operators will be in line with the fair level determined by the Telecommunications Authority.

Fifth, on entering on land and buildings to place telecommunications lines. The provision regarding the entry upon land and buildings to place lines is aimed at setting out clearly that parties authorized by the Telecommunications Authority

In order to extend their coverage to enclosed public places (such as shopping malls and tunnels), operators of mobile telecommunications services need to place their installations in certain specified locations. In this connection, however, their applications for permission to enter upon the relevant places have frequently been met with difficulties. This situation would impede our achievement of the policy objective of enabling the coverage of mobile telecommunications services to extend across the whole territory. For this reason, we have proposed under clause 7 of the Bill that operators of mobile telecommunications services should have the right to enter upon any land to place telecommunications installations to extend their services coverage to such enclosed public places, provided so doing is in the public interest and that the operators have paid a reasonable amount of fees (that is, cost plus a reasonable level of profit). We suggest the mobile telecommunications services providers making an effort to contact and reach an agreement with the relevant landlords or tunnel operators beforehand. The Telecommunications Authority shall have the power to intervene and determine the relevant terms and conditions only when so doing is in the public interest and that an agreement cannot be reached between the two relevant parties. We believe the proposed measure can help to strike a balance between the interests of all parties concerned.

Sixth, on technical standards. The Hong Kong Telephone Company Limited is no longer responsible for certifying the technical standards and specifications of telecommunications installations since 1999 when other local fixed network telecommunications operators commenced operation in Hong Kong, the relevant certification work has now become the responsibility of the Telecommunications Authority. Hence, the Telecommunication Ordinance must categorically give the Telecommunications Authority the appropriate powers to determine the technical standards of telecommunications installations on the one hand, and carry out inspection as well as certification of various telecommunications installations on the other. To this end, we have proposed to add a new Part VA to the Telecommunication Ordinance to give the Telecommunications Authority the relevant powers.

Seventh, on the numbering plan. The proposed new clause 32F has rewritten section 3 of the Telephone Ordinance which provides for the power of the Telecommunications Authority in relation to the local numbering plan. In this connection, the new clause 32F has included a new provision which authorizes the Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting to formulate regulations to enable the Telecommunications Authority put on auction telephone numbers which consumers consider as "lucky" or "special", and to allocate, after deducting the administrative cost, the proceeds from the auction sales to charity organizations or other institutions to carry out education, research or development projects relating to telecommunications.

Eighth, on radio spectrum management. Although radio spectrum management has all along been the responsibility of the Telecommunications Authority, definite provisions have yet to be set out clearly under the Telecommunication Ordinance to empower the Telecommunications Authority to carry out planning and management work relating to radio spectrum, as well as to assign and re-assign the purpose for which bands of frequencies are to be used. Bearing in mind the growing importance of radio communications, we have proposed to add in Part VB to set out clearly the powers of the Telecommunications Authority relating to radio spectrum planning and allocation, including the provision requiring the Telecommunications Authority to conduct prior consultation before exercising such powers. In addition, provisions regarding the prevention of interference will also be included to empower the Telecommunications Authority to direct by notice in writing a person to surrender to the Office of the Telecommunications Authority any apparatus that causes direct or harmful interference, so that the Office could inspect whether the frequency of the apparatus is in line with the specified spectrum. Since radio spectrum is a kind of limited social resources, we have also proposed to empower the Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting to formulate the charge rates for the use of radio spectrum. In this connection, the relevant rates may be set at levels that are higher than the costs concerned, with a view to encouraging the industry to make use of the spectrum in a more cost-effective manner.

The Telecommunication (Amendment) Bill 1999 is an important Amendment Bill which is technical in nature and aimed at improving the regulatory arrangements of the telecommunications industry. The Bill will serve to enhance both the competition within and the economic efficiency of the industry, thereby benefiting consumers and even the community as a whole. The proposed amendments set out in the Bill are made after extensive consultation, I therefore recommend the Bill to this Council. Thank you, Madam President.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the Telecommunication (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.

Resumption of Second Reading Debate on Bill

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): We will resume the Second Reading debate on the Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) (Amendment) Bill 1999.

MERCHANT SHIPPING (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION) (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

Resumption of debate on Second Reading which was moved on 31 March 1999

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): 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 Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) (Amendment) Bill 1999 be read the Second time. 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 of the Members present. I declare the motion passed.

CLERK (in Cantonese): Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) (Amendment) Bill 1999.

Council went into Committee.

Committee Stage

CHAIRMAN (in Cantonese): Committee stage. Council is now in Committee.

MERCHANT SHIPPING (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION) (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

CHAIRMAN (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the following clauses stand part of the Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) (Amendment) Bill 1999.

CLERK (in Cantonese): Clauses 1 to 8.

CHAIRMAN (in Cantonese): Will those in favour please raise their hands?

(Members raised their hands)

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

(Members raised their hands)

CHAIRMAN (in Cantonese): I think the question is agreed by a majority of the Members present. I declare the motion passed.

CHAIRMAN (in Cantonese): Council now resumes.

Council then resumed.

Third Reading of Bill

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Bill: Third Reading.

MERCHANT SHIPPING (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF POLLUTION) (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

SECRETARY FOR ECONOMIC SERVICES (in Cantonese): Madam President, the

Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) (Amendment) Bill 1999 has passed through Committee without amendment. I move that this Bill be read the Third time and do pass.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) (Amendment) Bill 1999 be read the Third time and do pass.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now put the question to you as stated. 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 of the Members present. I declare the motion passed.

CLERK (in Cantonese): Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) (Amendment) Bill 1999.

MOTION

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Motion. Proposed resolution under the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance.

PROPOSED RESOLUTION UNDER THE MANDATORY PROVIDENT FUND SCHEMES ORDINANCE

SECRETARY FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move that the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes (Fees) Regulation be approved by this Council.

Early this March, the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (MPFA) formally announced the implementation timetable for the MPF System. Contribution is scheduled to commence from 1 December 2000 in the timetable. To achieve this target, the MPFA has pressed ahead in full steam on all fronts of the preparatory work. The priority is to conduct the licensing exercise, that is, the approval of MPF trustees, MPF schemes and investment products, in the second half of the year. This will enable trustees to market their schemes next year and leave sufficient time for employers and self-employed persons to join the schemes.

The MPFA's preparatory work for licensing has achieved very promising progress in the past few months. First of all, the MPFA has issued to the industry almost all the guidelines on licensing and has also commenced informal discussions with prospective applicants on licensing issues. As regards the legislative exercise, the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance (Commencement Notice) 1999, which was made to tie in with the major steps of the implementation timetable, was endorsed by the Executive Council in March and subsequently passed by this Council last month (April). A number of provisions required for the preparation for the MPF implementation will be brought into force in phases. Among which, those relating to licensing will come into effect on 3 August this year. Thus, what remains on our agenda is the making of the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes (Fees) Regulation. I hope to have the support of this Council for the approval of this Regulation so that the licensing process can commence this August as scheduled.

The MPF legislation expressly states that an application for licensing must be accompanied by an application fee of such amount as prescribed in the Regulation. It is therefore necessary to make the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes (Fees) Regulation before the licensing process commences. The fees prescribed in the Fees Regulation mainly fall into two categories, the annual fees and the application fees:

- Annual fees include the annual registration fees on MPF registered schemes and the annual fees on MPF exempted Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance (ORSO) schemes.

- Application fees mainly include fees for licensing, that is, fees for application for approval of trustees, investment products and registration of schemes, as well as fees for applications for exemption of existing ORSO schemes from MPF requirements, and so on.

I fully understand that Members and the general public are very concerned about the level of fees to be imposed by the MPFA. For this reason, the proposed fee level is drawn up after thorough and prudent considerations. The MPFA has not only made reference to the fees currently charged by comparable financial regulators, but has also considered the current economic situation and consulted the MPF Schemes Advisory Committee (which comprises members representing a wide range of sectors) with a view to setting the fees at a reasonable level.

As regards annual fees, the MPFA has decided not to charge any annual registration fees for MPF schemes for the first two years. However, it will review the situation in the light of operational experience and consider charging such fees after the initial two years. There are two reasons for the MPFA in adopting this approach:

(1) Basis of calculation: It is stipulated in the MPF Schemes Ordinance that the amount of the annual registration fee should be fixed on a cost recovery basis and determined by reference to the value of the MPF scheme assets. However, in the initial two years, both the MPFA's expenditure and its revenue position would be fluid. It is, therefore, impossible to use these two factors as a reasonable benchmark for determining the fees level.

(2) Financial burden: As I mentioned earlier on, in drawing up the proposed fees level, the economy has been one of the factors which the MPFA has paid particular attention to. In the light of the current economic situation, the MPFA does not want its annual fees to be perceived as an added financial burden to the general public. To address the public's concerns, the MPFA considers that it is appropriate for it not to levy the annual registration fees for the initial two years.

Regarding application fees, in accordance with the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes (Fees) Regulation, the application fees are paid on a one-off basis. The MPFA expects that with a fee requirement for applications for approval, applicants will take greater care and due diligence to ensure that their applications meet the statutory requirements. This can help the MPFA to avoid incurring unnecessary operating costs resulting from handling licensing applications which are not well considered or delaying the MPF implementation timetable.

The amount of application fees are fixed on the basis of similar fees currently charged by other financial regulators such as the Securities and Futures Commission, Office of the Registrar of Occupational Retirement Schemes and the Insurance Authority. This will make it easier for the applicants to understand and adapt to the MPFA's fees structure.

Members of the MPF Schemes Advisory Committee, when consulted by the MPFA, were very concerned whether scheme trustees would be asked to pay back at a later stage the annual fees waived in the first two years, thus shifting the financial burden to the following years. Let me take this opportunity to point out that the MPFA has no intention to claw back the annual registration fees waived in the first two years.

As I have said earlier, assets accumulated under the MPF schemes will be meagre in the initial years. Unless the annual registration fee is fixed at an extremely high percentage of the asset value, we believe the MPFA will not be able to recover operating cost for each year during the first 10 years anyway, not to mention to recover other costs. Exactly because of this, the Provisional Legislative Council approved in April 1998 the injection of $5 billion into the MPFA for its operation in the initial stage. This amount was already disbursed to the MPFA in March this year. Members can therefore put aside their worry about the clawing back of the annual registration fees.

With all the planning and preparation, the MPF System is now so close to the stage of formal implementation. I must point out that this is the result of years of tremendous efforts put in by various parties including employer groups, labour unions, the industry, relevant professional organizations and all those Members who have taken part in the legislative exercises. From the 21st century onwards, Hong Kong will have in place a secure and cost-effective retirement protection system under which our workforce will be able to enjoy the fruits after years of saving. I firmly believe that Members are striving for the same goal to provide our workforce with a retirement protection system as early as possible. It is, therefore, imperative that we can complete the necessary legislative exercise as soon as possible so that the MPF System can commence operation as scheduled.

I invite all Members to approve the resolution on the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes (Fees) Regulation.

Thank you.

The Secretary for Financial Services moved the following motion:

"That the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes (Fees) Regulation, made by the Chief Executive in Council on 9 March 1999, be approved.

Appendix

MANDATORY PROVIDENT FUND SCHEMES (FEES) REGULATION)

(Made by the Chief Executive in Council under section 46 of the

Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance (Cap. 485) subject to

the approval of the Legislative Council)

1. Commencement

This Regulation shall come into operation on 3 August 1999.

2. Fees

(1) The amounts set out in column 4 of the Schedules are the fees prescribed in relation to the provisions specified in column 2 of those Schedules.

(2) A fee prescribed in Schedule 2 is payable when an application is lodged with the Authority for the relevant approval.

SCHEDULE 1

[s. 2]

FEES PRESCRIBED FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE MANDATORY
PROVIDENT FUND SCHEMES ORDINANCE (CAP. 485)

Item

Relevant section
of the Ordinance

Description

Amount

       

1.

20

(a) Fee payable when an application is lodged with the Authority by a company for approval as a trustee

$81,500

       
   

(b) Fee payable when an application is lodged with the Authority by a natural person for approval as a trustee

$4,900

       

2.

21

Fee payable when an application is lodged with the Authority for registration of a provident fund scheme as an employer sponsored scheme or a master trust scheme

$40,000

       

3.

21A

Fee payable when an application is lodged with the Authority for registration of a provident fund scheme as an industry scheme

$40,000

       

4.

22B

Annual registration fee payable
in respect of a registered
scheme

An amount equal to 0% of the net asset value of the scheme as at the end of the immediately preceding financial period

       

5.

34

Fee payable when an application is lodged with the Authority in respect of the voluntary winding up of an employer sponsored scheme

Nil

       

6.

34B

Fee payable when an application is lodged with the Authority in respect of the merger of registered schemes

Nil

       

7.

34C

Fee payable when an application is lodged with the Authority in respect of the division of a registered scheme

Nil

       
 

SCHEDULE 2

[s. 2]

       

FEES PRESCRIBED FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE MANDATORY
PROVIDENT FUND SCHEMES (GENERAL) REGULATION
(CAP. 485 SUB. LEG.)

       

Item

Relevant section
of the Regulation

Description

Amount

       

1.

6

Approval of a pooled investment fund

$10,000

       

2.

36

Approval of a constituent fund

$5,000

       
     
     
 

SCHEDULE 3

[s. 2]

       

FEES PRESCRIBED FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE MANDATORY
PROVIDENT FUND SCHEMES (EXEMPTION) REGULATION
(CAP. 485 SUB. LEG.)

       

Item

Relevant section
of the Regulation

Description

Amount

       

1.

5

Fee payable when an application is lodged with the Authority for an exemption certificate in respect of an ORSO exempted scheme

$600

       

2.

16

(a) Fee payable when an application is lodged with the Authority for an exemption certificate in respect of an ORSO registered scheme which is a participating scheme of a pooling agreement

$1,200

       
   

(b) Fee payable when an application is lodged with the Authority for an exemption certificate in respect of an ORSO registered scheme which is not a participating scheme of a pooling agreement

$2,400

       
       

3.

Schedule 2,

section 10

Fee payable when an annual return is lodged with the Authority

Nil

       

4.

Schedule 3

section 7

(a) Fee payable when an application is lodged with the Authority for approval to the appointment of a trustee of a scheme which is a company and is a trustee to which section 5(1)(a) of the Schedule applies

Nil

       
   

(b) Fee payable when an application is lodged with the Authority for approval to the appointment of a trustee of a scheme which is a company but is not a trustee to which section 5(1)(a) of the Schedule applies

$11,250

       
   

(c) Fee payable when an application is lodged with the Authority for approval to the appointment of -

$4,900

   

(i) a trustee of a scheme who is a natural person; or

(ii) in the case of a trustee of a scheme which is a company but is not a trustee to which section 5(1)(a) or (b) of the Schedule applies, a director of the trustee

 

Clerk to the Executive Council

COUNCIL CHAMBER

9 MARCH 1999

Explanatory Note

This Regulation prescribes fees for the purposes of the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance (Cap. 485) and the regulations made under the Ordinance."

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the motion moved by the Secretary for Financial Services, 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 the Secretary for Financial Services, 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 of the Members present. I declare the motion passed.

MEMBERS' BILL

First Reading of Members' Bill

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Members' Bill: First Reading.

ALICE HO MIU LING NETHERSOLE HOSPITAL INCORPORATION (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

CLERK (in Cantonese): Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital Incorporation (Amendment) Bill 1999.

Bill 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 Members' Bill

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Members' Bill: Second Reading.

ALICE HO MIU LING NETHERSOLE HOSPITAL INCORPORATION (AMENDMENT) BILL 1999

MR ERIC LI (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move the Second Reading of the Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital Incorporation (Amendment) Bill 1999.

The Bill seeks to amend the definition of the powers of the corporation as set out in section 4(1) of the existing Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital Incorporation Ordinance (Cap. 1072).

The original provision has made a general statement that the corporation has the power to invest moneys upon mortgage of any lands, buildings, debentures, stocks, funds, shares or securities. To avoid problems arising from this indistinct provision in relation to the investment made by the corporation, the Bill will clarify and further define the power of investment of the corporation. The Bill will very distinctly define the following:

1. the corporation may invest moneys upon any lands, buildings, and any debentures, stocks, funds, shares or securities of any corporation or company; and

2. the corporation may invest moneys upon mortgage of any lands and buildings.

Consequential upon the Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998 having been passed at the Legislative Council meeting on 28 April 1999, certain changes will need to be made to this Bill and I will move the relevant amendments at the Committee stage later on.

This Members' Bill is in itself in line with the spirit of the Basic Law. Since this is the first Members' Bill moved after the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, I hope that Honourable colleagues of this Council will support the passing of this Bill with an attitude of doing a meaningful and helpful thing for a non-profit-making body for a start.

Thank you, Madam President.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now propose the question to you and that is: That the Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital Incorporation (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.

MEMBERS' MOTION

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Members' motion. A motion with no legal effect. I have accepted the recommendations of the House Committee as to the time limits on speeches for the motion debate. The mover of the motion will have up to 15 minutes for his speech including his reply, and other Members will each have up to seven minutes for their speeches.

Motion: Condemning NATO.

CONDEMNING NATO

DR LEONG CHE-HUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, I move with grief this motion to strongly condemn NATO for bombing our Embassy, intruding into our territory and killing our compatriots.

Firstly, I would like to thank the Honourable LAU Kong-wah because it was he who initiated that we should discuss this motion at this meeting. I would also like to thank Mr LAU and the Honourable HO Sai-chu for generously putting off the motion debates they intended to move to give Honourable colleagues more time to express their feelings, and allow the public and the media to focus on this important motion.

I am also grateful to Honourable colleagues for dismissing party struggle and sectarian differences and convey to the world in one voice our indignation at the unreasonable encroachment on our territory, human lives and dignity.

In fact, angry voices have been heard outside this Council and all over the Chinese territory for quite some time. Since the attack on the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia last Saturday, Chinese people in various parts of China and overseas countries share a bitter hatred of the enemy and over 1 million people have taken to the streets and demonstrated in a matter of days. In Hong Kong, there is a crowd burning with indignation in the Chater Garden right opposite this building holding an assembly and a procession. We are really moved by the surging national affection shown by our compatriots in various places.

Last Saturday, I believe Honourable colleagues were similarly shocked at hearing reports on the bombing of our Embassy. We deeply mourn the dead and we hope that the injured will soon recover. We also express deep condolences to the surviving families of the victims. The three journalists killed in the incident dreaded not the war, stayed in the front line in Yugoslavia, and, fate be it, they lost their precious lives at the end. They deserve our full respect.

A few days after the bombing of the Embassy, NATO and the United States intended to make excuses for the brutal act and there were endless rumours doing the round. Some said that the United States did not want China to grow in power and deliberately provoked it to probe the response of China. Some also said that the fault was merely caused by wrong intelligence. NATO officials even said that the Central Intelligence Agency had provided them with an outdated map. This was nothing but a ridiculous reason. I believe Honourable colleagues will discuss these later. I do not want to comment if the incident was deliberate or not but we are really furious at the responses made by NATO and the British and United States leaders these last few days.

Firstly, NATO is stilling trying to defend by all means its remark that it was "mistaken bombing" and has so far not given a formal apology or mentioned compensation. The British Prime Minister, Mr Tony BLAIR, even said in a relaxed manner that mistakes were often made during wars. The United States, the NATO leader, waited for one whole day after the bombing before President CLINTON expressed regret in a perfunctory way. After a person beaten by another person died, should the killer just express regret to the families of the dead, clap his hands and then leave? Any normal human being will sincerely apologize to the other person whom he has carelessly harmed and compensate him for the medical expenses incurred. However, Britain, the United States and NATO have been irresponsible. Are they cold-blooded? Do they regard human lives as worthless or are they disregarding intentional conventions, morality and justice and wantonly humiliating China and trampling on our territory? China today is not the same as China during the time of the Opium War and the rule by the Northern Warlords. China was wilfully carved up and humiliated by strong countries then but now, we will definitely not mutely tolerate further intrusion into our territory and trampling on our dignity.

President CLINTON did not formally apologize to the Chinese people until Monday, and yesterday, he even directed the United States consulates in China to fly their flags at half mast when the ashes of the three dead journalists were transported back to China. Some said that the people's force has won a victory and the United States was forced to apologize after people in various places had expressed anti-American sentiments violently in the past few days. However, some also said that this was the result of a test of international political strengths. The United States had reluctantly apologized just because it worried that China would further co-operate with Russia and the fact that an unco-operative China would affect the global strategic position of the United States. Therefore, the United States stood up in a hurry and apologized when Russia expressed support for China in a high profile and sent a special envoy to visit China, and when China declared that it would stop military contacts between China and the United States and postpone negotiations between both countries on issues such as nuclear proliferation prevention, armament control and international security.

Evidently, it is true that "there is no diplomacy for weak countries".

After this incident, we Chinese should turn indignation into lasting mobility to vitalize China in various areas. As the saying goes, "China's vitality relies on wind and thunder". We cannot merely rely on such slogans as "vitalizing our country with science and education" or "vitalizing our country with democracy". In addition to helping the Government to work out blueprints and plans, every person has to make unceasing efforts to improve himself, work hard, study hard and actively participate in social affairs. With the collective wisdom and strength of all Chinese people, we must be able to promote the intellectual development of all Chinese people and promote the growth of China into a strong country. But while we promote our economic and technological development, it is equally important for us to develop a democratic system. The spirit of democracy and science held in esteem during the May 4 Movement still holds true to date.

NATO's air raid on Yugoslavia has continued for over 50 days but the flames of war have still not been suppressed. The greatest irony is that the United States-led NATO claimed at the very beginning that it was a war of justice to safeguard human rights and stop ethnic cleansing, but numerous innocent people have been injured or killed and even its neighbour Bulgaria did not have a narrow escape. Is this "war of justice" fought for the protection of human rights or trampling on human rights?

Peace lovers should oppose atrocities that plunge people into an abyss of misery. China has an increasingly important position in the international arena and I believe that it will be able to play an important role in promoting peace of the world in future.

DR LEONG CHE-HUNG: Madam President, with your permission, I would like to express my views to the aggressors in the language they are used to.

Madam President, in the whole saga of military actions in Kosovo, China has called for peace, not war. China has advocated consensus, not confrontation. China has sought settlement based on diplomacy, not atrocity. Yet, we have been brutally attacked. Lives of innocent Chinese nationals were sorrowfully lost and maimed. Our territory and our embassy were unnecessarily shattered. Why does this have to happen? Why does the protector of peace have to be the victim of aggression, be the atrocity, the result of a "tragic mistake" or a "deliberate attempt at ethnic cleansing"?

Madam President, our country has for over a century been the underdog to foreign superpowers, starting with the unequal treaties of the Opium War, the occupation of Diaoyutai Island, and, this issue is the last straw. Let us hope that all these will fade into history.

It is high time that we, as descendants of the Dragon, work together with the Government to strengthen our country through the basis of democratic institution, for a strong country should be based on respect and not on the quantity of missiles, fighter planes and bombers.

Finally, Madam President, to our foreign aggressors, let me say this: "Those who attempt to ride the back of the Dragon will ultimately end inside it."

Dr LEONG Che-hung moved the following motion:

"That this Council strongly condemns NATO for bombing our Embassy in Yugoslavia."

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now put the motion to you and that is: That the motion moved by Dr LEONG Che-hung, as set out on the Agenda, be passed.

CHIEF SECRETARY FOR ADMINISTRATION (in Cantonese): Madam President, the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia triggered off strong reactions among the Hong Kong community. In his statement made on 8 May, the Chief Executive indicated he was deeply shocked by the incident. At the same time, he sent his condolences to the families of the dead on behalf of Hong Kong people and wished those who were injured could recover early.

In the last few days, there were protests in Hong Kong and in mainland China and elsewhere in condemnation of the acts of NATO. I am sure every Chinese will feel indignant at the bombing and the injuries caused to the innocent. We should applaud the restrained, peaceful and orderly manner in which rallies were held by the people of Hong Kong. I hope Hong Kong people will continue to remain rational and calm as they express their feelings so as to uphold the rule of law, consider the safety of the public and public order and the rights and freedom of other people.

The Central Government has followed up the matter through diplomatic channels and demanded NATO to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and account to the Chinese people of the details. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) supports the position taken by the Central Government. We expect the international community will make joint efforts to ensure that the incident can be brought to a close at an early date.

The ashes of the three dead journalists were sent home on a chartered flight. In provinces and cities in mainland China and the SAR Government, flags will be flown at half-mast to pay tribute to the dead. Once again, on behalf of the Hong Kong people, we express our heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. To those employees in the Embassy who were wounded, we wish them an early recovery. Thank you, Madam President.

MISS CHAN YUEN-HAN (in Cantonese): Madam President, to date, the United States and other NATO countries still persist in their barbarous acts, using specious pretexts to justify their continued bombing of Yugoslavia. By the logic of the arguments put forward by the United States and other NATO countries for the bombing of Yugoslavia, a world war should have broken out by now. Why would I say that? They say that action must be taken in view of the circumstances in Yugoslavia. Actually, similar circumstances also exist in other countries, such as the atrocities committed by Turkey against the Kurds, and the long-standing armed conflict between Britain and Ireland. Based on their logic, NATO and the United States should also intervene by bombing Turkey and Britain. However, they have not done so.

The bombing of our Embassy in Yugoslavia has made the world pay greater attention to the situation in Yugoslavia. In Hong Kong, in the Mainland and overseas, Chinese people are furious and have voiced strong protests. NATO has carried out its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia for over 40 days, and during these 40 days, there were over 40 instances of mistargeting. Civilians, medical facilities, even maternity hospitals have become targets. We have seen on television how medical staff hastily moved the pregnant women and new-born babies to safe places. From this, it is obvious that NATO's claim that it only attacks military targets in Yugoslavia is a pack of lies.

During an interview conducted by a United States television station, LI Zhaoxing, the Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations, strongly condemned the United States' hypocrisy and double standards. If we look at how this war were started, we would agree with LI Zhaoxing. The wanton bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO is a war of injustice. Why do I say that it is unjust? Accusing President MILOSEVIC of Yugoslavia of carrying out ethnic cleansing on the Albanians in Kosovo, NATO uses missiles against the territory of Yugoslavia in order to stop the savage act of ethnic cleansing.

Let us see what has come out of this. The plight of the ethnic Albanians has not improved. Instead, they have to leave their homes and flee everywhere. NATO warplanes have more than once mistargeted fleeing Albanians. As described by foreign reporters, the refugees were scurrying about like mice on fields without shelter. Not only did NATO show no repentance for the indiscriminate killings, it put the blame on Serbian military vehicles mixing among the refugees and causing the warplanes to mistarget. This is all a pack of lies.

Despite the United States' claim that it is bombing Yugoslavia to protect the Albanians, they still suffer from such atrocities. It makes one suspect that the United States' ulterior motive is simply to split up Yugoslavia and put it under its sphere of influence.

Madam President, as we can see, the crime of ethnic cleansing committed by NATO member Turkey against the Kurds in its territory is not at all lesser than the crime that NATO accused Yugoslavia of. But since Turkey is of such strategic importance to the West and it also belongs to the western camp, the West has never said no to Turkey. Is this not hypocrisy and applying doubling standards? Therefore, I hope that after this incident, the NATO countries and the United States would stop the bombing today. People all over the world want peace. Thank you, Madam President.

MR MARTIN LEE: Madam President, I rise to support the motion. The Democratic Party mourns the loss of life and property which resulted from NATO's mistargeting of our Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

We note the apologies that have been given for this most unfortunate incident by NATO and by the President of the United States who has shouldered responsibility for the incident. It is important for us to know the difference between the mistargeting of our Embassy and the continuing and deliberate atrocities being committed by the President of Yugoslavia.

We have issued a call for compensation and thorough investigation of this incident which is said to be due to the use of an outdated map. It will be very important to have a full and public report of this incident to go along with the apologies and explanations from all concerned.

Madam President, the Democratic Party believes that the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia must come to an end. However, we also believe that the root cause of the conflict between NATO and Yugoslavia is the illegal and barbaric behaviour of Serb troops under the direction of President MILOSEVIC.

President MILOSEVIC has unleashed a pre-meditated campaign of terror. It has already taken an as yet unknown toll in human lives. Refugees fleeing Kosovo reported mass executions of Kosovar Albanian men, gang rape of women and girls, and growing hunger of those stranded behind in the mountains. Those refugees who are lucky to have survived long marches over snow capped mountains under the constant threat of patrolling and marauding Serbian forces now reside in muddy, squalid, overcrowded camps, stripped of their possessions, if not their dignity. These crimes against civilians are the worst in Europe since World War II. It is unfortunate that our compatriots in the Mainland do not seem to know of the plight of these refugees and the "ethnic cleansing" carried out by the Serbian forces. While we decry the bombing of the Embassy in Belgrade ─ it is important to bear in mind the context in which it occurred.

We in the Democratic Party believe that the solution to this grave crisis can only come through immediate, unilateral and total withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo and a settlement which allows the hundreds of thousands of refugees to return to their own country with their human rights properly protected.

Madam President, even as we condemn and mourn the loss of three lives and the destruction of our Embassy building in Belgrade, we hope that the Belgrade bombing will help bring an urgency to a solution of the war in Kosovo. Only such a result would bring honour to our compatriots who lost their lives in Yugoslavia.

MRS SELINA CHOW (in Cantonese): Madam President, on the early morning (Hong Kong time) of 8 May, NATO attacked the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia with three missiles, killing four people and injuring more than 20 other. This is indeed a serious crime of trampling international conventions.

Insofar as a country is concerned, its foreign embassy symbolizes its sovereign territory. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations specifically sets out: "The premises of the mission and the person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. The private residence of a diplomatic agent shall enjoy the same inviolability and protection as the premises of the mission." Therefore, NATO's bombing was actually in serious violation of China's sovereignty. NATO must take full share of all responsibilities.

But since the outbreak of the incident, NATO, led by Britain and the United States, has not given China as well as the international community the necessary explanation. At the very beginning, the United States only treated the incident as an accident and attempted to shrug off its responsibility lightly. It was only until major cities in the Mainland triggered off anti-United States demonstration tides that President CLINTON of the United States apologized to our country on a public occasion hurriedly on Monday. Nevertheless, the Liberal Party considered his apology fall short of a formal and sincere apology for some United States officials still tried to conceal the wrongdoing of the United States on other occasions.

United States Defence Secretary William COHEN still declared yesterday that it was a mistaken bombing as an old map on Yugoslavia drawn seven years ago had been used. The explanation given by the United States is really ridiculous and laughable. Yugoslavia is not an iron-curtain nation anymore. Officials of various countries can go in and out of Yugoslavia freely. It is impossible for the United States and NATO to have failed to grasp the latest geographical information of Yugoslavia, not to mention the fact that both Britain and the United States are the most advanced military countries. In recent years, both countries have successively taken part in the Gulf War and Iraqi War and have rich experiences in fighting actual battles. We find it really hard to believe that Britain and the United States still need to use old maps to direct their armies in battles. In fact, this is already the third time for the United States to make ridiculous excuses in an attempt to absolve itself from its liability. Apart from putting forward farfetched arguments, COHEN has even condemned the Chinese Government for provoking anti-American sentiments by taking advantage of NATO's bombing of the Chinese Embassy. From these, we can see that the United States was not sincere in offering its apology at all.

The Liberal Party solemnly demands the United States and Britain, as heads of NATO, and the whole NATO organization to offer our country a formal and solemn apology. Moreover, they must investigate this incident thoroughly and offer China and the international community a full explanation expeditiously. The United States and NATO should also, in accordance with international practices, offer compensation to the Chinese Government and those who were killed in the incident.

In fact, since the launching of air raids by NATO on 24 March, including the recent bombing of the Chinese Embassy, at least eight mistaken bombing incidents have taken place, killing hundreds of innocent people. Why ordinary people, who had not committed any crimes, were killed? The Liberal Party strongly demands that NATO must immediately halt its military action of hurting innocent people. We are in full support of the position held by our country that the Kosovo issue should be brought back to the negotiation table for a solution acceptable to all parties concerned.

Over the past five days, not a few members of the public and organizations in Hong Kong took their initiatives to express their strong dissatisfaction against Britain and the United States in response to the cries of our compatriots in the Mainland and Chinese all over the world. Yesterday, the Liberal Party also petitioned to the British and American consulates in Hong Kong. The people of Hong Kong were only trying to argue on the basis of reason and the action they took was purely targeted at the unreasonable bombing of the Chinese Embassy by NATO, led by Britain and the United States. This is not an all-out anti-British or anti-American action. Neither are we adopting a hostile attitude towards the people of these two countries. So far, no retaliatory incidents or incidents involving injuries of British or American citizens have taken place in Hong Kong or the Mainland. The Liberal Party considers this precisely a demonstration of the fact that the people of Hong Kong and our compatriots in the Mainland are behaving in a restrained and rational manner. This is also a principle to which we must strictly adhere in future. China is a state of propriety and righteousness. Faced with NATO's unreasonable brutalities, the Chinese Government has still managed to respond in a reasonable and restrained manner. A few days ago, China announced it would postpone its military exchanges with the United States and the dialogue in respect of human rights for both areas were related to NATO's military action. China has not, however, extended such moratorium on exchanges in such other fields as trade, culture and education. Nor has it proposed any trade sanctions. The Liberal Party supports China's move in dealing with politics and the economy separately. We hope this incident will not deter foreign businessmen from investing in the Mainland, produce an adverse effect on other commercial activities, as well as hindering negotiations on China's accession to the World Trade Organization's negotiation.

With these remarks, I support the motion.

MR AMBROSE LAU (in Cantonese): Madam President, the bombing launched by United States-led NATO on our Embassy in Yugoslavia represented a barbaric act through which a series of international conventions observed by countries all over the world, including the Charter of the United Nations, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, were trampled on openly. A foreign embassy of a state is tantamount to the territory and sovereign of that state. NATO's bombing of our Embassy in Yugoslavia has constituted an obvious act of invasion.

It was pointed out in the Definition of Aggression as passed by the United Nations general meeting held on 14 December 1974 that: "The first use of armed force by a State in contravention of the Charter shall constitute prima facie evidence of an act of aggression." It was also further pointed out that: "Bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State or the use of any weapons by a State against the territory of another State qualifies as an act of aggression." As the symbol of our territory and sovereign, our Embassy in Yugoslavia has now come under the bombing of NATO. In terms of international law, such an act has constituted a violation of our territory and sovereignty by NATO.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, as signed by the United Nations in 1961, has specifically pointed out that a mission, being a permanent diplomatic organ stationing in a foreign country, can also be called the "premises of the mission". Under the sovereignty of the sending State, the flag of the sending State can be hoisted on the relevant land and premises, which is supposedly a solemn premises for the exercise of the power of the sending State. It is for these reasons that the "premises of the mission shall be inviolable". The fact that NATO, under the leadership of the United States, has openly attacked our Embassy in Yugoslavia with three missiles projected from different angles is indeed a brutal act that was rarely seen in world diplomacy since history. As a result of this brutal act, three employees working in the Embassy were killed and more than 20 others injured. Moreover, the premises of our Embassy was seriously damaged.

It has been an internationally accepted principle for many years that a country should respect the sovereign of another country. This is one of the requirements laid down in the Charter of the United Nations. In 1970, the United Nations endorsed the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, thereby further reiterating the principle governing state sovereignty. It was pointed out in the Declaration that: "No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are in violation of international law." Using "human rights are superior to sovereignty" as an excuse, United States-led NATO infringed upon the sovereignty and territory of another state on the pretext of human rights protection. As a result, Yugoslavian civilians have incurred serious losses in lives and property, and our embassy staff in Yugoslavia have suffered from heavy casualties as well. This is indeed an anti-human rights act too. Tory Shadow Cabinet Minister Lord STRUTHCLYDE once criticized NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia for establishing a new doctrine of "moral imperialism" and pointed out that "the attempt of the United States and its allies of forcibly applying their set of values to the rest of the world will unavoidably split up the global institutions". No country in this world has the right to use power to trample on the sovereignty and territory of another country by pretending to be "military police for safeguarding international human rights", or even spare no pains to plunge people into misery and suffering by resorting to indiscriminate bombardment. By using "human rights are superior to sovereignty" as an excuse, United States-led NATO bombarded Yugoslavia for more than 40 days and even bombarded our Embassy in Yugoslavia. This is indeed a new "gunboat policy", representing a dangerous move to dismantle a series of international laws and the international political order under the cover of human rights. Just as pointed out by President JIANG Zemin when telephoning Russian President Boris YELTSIN, it is indeed worthwhile for politicians in various countries to watch out for the new "gunboat policy".

The Hong Kong Progressive Alliance (HKPA) supports the solemn position held by our country as well as a series of measures taken by the Chinese Government in light of the situation. The HKPA holds that both the "apology" given by United States President CLINTON and the "regrets" expressed by British Prime Minister Tony BLAIR are not sincere enough. In this respect, the HKPA agrees that the Chinese Government should uphold its position of reserving the right to take all necessary measures.

Madam President, a century ago, the late Dr SUN Yat-sen pointed out in the Revive China Society Declaration that: "it is indeed worrying that ...... strong powers, like tigers and eagles, are waiting on all sides", "to avoid falling into slavery to other races", (we must) "gather people with lofty ideals to revive China". Later, Dr SUN Yat-sen put forth the slogan of "reviving China", and pointed out that, under the invasion and manipulation of imperialism exercised by various strong powers, our fellow countrymen should "unite and make self-improvement so as to guard against external humiliation". Towards the end of the 20th century, there came NATO's bombing of our embassy. It is therefore necessary for us to carry out Dr SUN Yat-sen's behest of "uniting and making self-improvement for the purpose of reviving China". Only through strengthening our country and race can we prevent Western powers from provoking and bullying our country easily.

Finally, the HKPA would like to express its deepest condolences to those people who were unfortunately killed in the incident as well as expressing its sincere regards to those who have been unfortunately injured. At the same time, the HKPA would like to encourage all ethnic Chinese that we must unite and make self-improvement. Furthermore, the people of Hong Kong must make join efforts to keep Hong Kong prosperous and revive China. This will be the best mourning for those unfortunate dead in the disaster.

Madam President, I so submit.

DR PHILIP WONG (in Cantonese): Madam President, it was the darkest night on 7 May 1999 in Belgrade. It was on this night that NATO, at the leadership of the United States, barbarically bombed our Embassy in Yugoslavia. History will forever remember this bloody night, remember the atrocity committed by NATO in the name of human rights, killing our compatriots and infringing our sovereignty.

Here, I would like to voice our strong condemnation on behalf of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce of the war crimes committed by the NATO and support the righteous position of the Chinese Government in maintaining its sovereignty and upholding international law. We demand NATO to stop all, I stress, all, barbaric behaviour and the killing of the innocent, to give a true account of this incident to the international community, to apologize to and compensate the Chinese Government, the Chinese people and the families of the victims. The culprit must be duly punished!

While I deeply mourn the death of the three Chinese journalists, it is my conviction that Chinese people always love peace and detest war, and they would never tolerate aggression by foreign powers. However, why should the imperialistic powers want to carve up the territory of our motherland 80 years ago? Today, why should the Western military powers headed by American hegemonism bomb our Embassy, kill our compatriots, infringe our sovereignty and damage our dignity? This is indeed worth the deep thinking of all Chinese people. If we take this "gunboat policy" pursued by NATO against Yugoslavia as a "signal", then the NATO attack on the Chinese Embassy may have concealed an even greater conspiracy which cannot but alert our vigilance. A state, a nation, can only be independent when it is prosperous, strong and united; poor and divided, it will only be bullied. In face of this issue of paramount importance, we must remain calm and alert. Everything we do must proceed from the fundamental national interest, and hence we must maintain the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, support the economic reform and open door policy of the Mainland, expedite the pace of modernization in our country, and help to implement the policy of rejuvenating the country with science and education. Only when China can keep on consolidating its national strength and strive for an early reunification with Taiwan will it be able to gain a foothold in the forest of the world's various nations and contribute more to the peace and development of the world.

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

MR TIMOTHY FOK (in Cantonese): Madam President, the Chinese always love peace. The bombing of the Chinese Embassy by NATO under the leadership of the United States is by no means an isolated accident. Beginning from the Opium War, to the overturning of the Qing Dynasty, the establishment of the New China up till the economic reform and open door policy, Chinese people not only have to stand up but to become prosperous and strong. In particular, in the two decades since the economic reform, the consolidated strength of China has substantially increased, giving China an increasingly important position in the world's economic and political affairs. That is a reality that hegemonist countries do not wish to see. They therefore keep stirring up disturbances and raising obstacles with the aim of disrupting peace in China so that the Chinese people can never have their living improved, bending China into dependency. From the entry to the GATT to the accession to the World Trade Organization, the negotiations for the latter have dragged on for 13 years but they still complain about our inadequacies here and there. Hence, the United States should be held responsible for this whole incident.

With these remarks, I support the motion.

MR ERIC LI (in Cantonese): Madam President, the fact that people in China have strongly condemned NATO for bombing the Chinese Embassy, deeply mourned for the compatriots who were killed and delivered to the international community a message urging for peace has attracted widespread concern all over the world.

Exposing its arrogant, unreasonable and conceited mentality, NATO only said it was "regretful" in its initial response. If a person makes a diplomatic slip of the tongue or inflicts bodily injuries to another person unintentionally, it can still be regarded as barely acceptable if he says he is "regretful". But insofar as this incident is concerned, there is nothing more important than human life. The use of such an indifferent, involuntary diplomatic rhetoric gives us the feeling that NATO is completely ignoring the families of the deceased and the feelings of the citizens of the victimized country. This is intolerable indeed. There is an old Chinese saying that goes, "bully others to the extreme".

What Americans fear most is death. Their own lives are the most precious things to them. Even in war, they will only make use of electronic devices to drop their weapons from far away into the territory of other countries. They see it only as a matter of bad luck if something goes wrong with the weapons or targets and even in the case that some people were killed by the bombing. This incident has virtually exposed such double standards completely.

It is absolutely ridiculous for military experts to say that an old map drawn seven years ago has been used for the military action! Were they just looking for a place to dine or visit their friends? They were in fact identifying a target at which they would throw their deadly bombs! It is really unbelievable for someone to explain away by seeing life as nothing and in such a rash manner. What is more, it is doubtful as to whether the war and military actions are still lawful and reasonable.

I think it is really hard to come by for the United States Defence Secretary to have behaved like that. This is because he could completely pretend that nothing has happened and, without any regrets, come forward and face the media all over the world and offer such a ridiculous excuse. I am aware that the spokesmen of many countries always give people a feeling that they say one thing and mean another. If a "20th century government spokesman liar award" did really exist in this world, the award must go to him!

Over the past few days, ferocious waves of demonstration and protest have taken place in major cities in the Mainland, including Hong Kong. This is totally understandable. I believe the motherland as a whole is in support of the position taken by the Chinese Government. The more unreasonable NATO behaves, the more unified and resolute the will of the people of China will become.

To bring NATO to justice is our most fundamental demand. But I do not think this will affect China's open policy and diplomatic line. This is because the Foreign Ministry has made it clear that if the United States can conduct a thorough investigation and publish the findings, it will treat this incident as an isolated case and will not see the incident as an overall strategic change or adjustment. Therefore, investors can rest assured that there is no need to overreact.

Of course, NATO has undoubtedly set a dangerous precedent or a time-bomb for the world by bypassing the Security Council and taking military action against Yugoslavia which, in the long run, will develop into an unstable element that will eventually affect global peace. At the moment, the people of Hong Kong as well as people all over the rest of the world are deeply sympathized with the displaced Albanians and the war-stricken Yugoslavians. What is more, we deeply appreciate the value of peace and recognize that it is imperative for us to urge the United States and NATO countries in stronger terms to bring peace to the world as early as possible.

It has been a usual practice for international communities dominated by major countries to wear all sorts of coats to conceal and safeguard their own interests. This is particularly so in the case of the United States. For the sake of upholding its dominant position and interests in dealing with global affairs, it takes the offensive in the West for the sake of curbing Russia. In the east, it takes the defensive for the sake of guarding against China. From these, we can see that although the Cold War has ended a long time ago, American politicians and militarists still harbour a cold-war mentality.

As for Hong Kong, it is now placed on this big global chess-board. We must bear in mind that we too have our unique historical origin and we too have on our back a unique civil responsibility. In the long run, communication between peoples and exchanges between races are conducive to eliminating hostilities among countries. We should make unceasing efforts to express to the people of the United States and NATO our grief and sorrow in a rational manner. Moreover, even if we receive a clear signal that we will be treated unreasonably and brutally, we still need to represent to them our aspiration for world peace. We should directly seek support from the people of the United States and NATO nationals who know how to distinguish between right and wrong. It is particularly important for western countries to put public opinion before everything and lead their way by the views of the people.

Foresight is far better than the powerful army and gunfire of the United States and NATO.

With these remarks, I support the motion.

MR GARY CHENG (in Cantonese): Madam President, on behalf of Members from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB), I would like to speak in support of Dr LEONG Che-hung's motion.

In response to the indiscriminate bombing of Yugoslavia and the attack on our Embassy in Yugoslavia, the people of China, including overseas Chinese and the people of Hong Kong, should all be on the alert, apart from expressing their anger and grief.

First warning: For the United States Government which speaks of democracy, human rights, freedom and justice every day, how rude, barbaric, arrogant and conceited its conduct is. If we are to tell our next generation what hypocrisy really means, it will be the best textbook case. I would like to tell those people who see democracy, human rights and freedom of the United States as their idols and those who look up to the United States for direction as well as those who take American standards as their own standards that it is now time for them to wake up.

Second warning: How much does a life worth? If we are to tell our next generation what double standards are, we will have a perfect example. During the first half of the war when Yugoslavia came under the bombing of NATO, three American pilots were captured. How many apparatuses have the United States Government and the media all over the country mobilized for the purpose of honouring them as heroes? How about our three deceased Chinese journalists? Are the lives of Chinese people really cheaper?

Have Honourable Members heard what the United States Defence Secretary William COHEN said in this speech in the hearing held by the Department of State this afternoon? He said the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia should bear some responsibilities for the bombing. He said: "Right, our officials did visit your embassy. But you should call me up and tell me that you have already moved." In quoting this example, I was worried that this will belittle my wisdom. Just now, the Honourable Eric LI said it was hard to come by for the Defence Secretary to have behaved like that. I think that was not at all rare. From the very first day, he has been behaving like that. The nature of these people is just like that. They are simply as incompetent as that. That was not rare at all. This is his real face.

Members from the DAB would like to put forward four demands here: First, we support the four demands raised by the Central People's Government and the demand that the United States and NATO apologize to us in an open and formal manner, investigate the matter thoroughly, publish the findings of the investigation and punish the wrongdoers; second, we solemnly demand that NATO, led by the United States, offer compensation to those who were killed in this incident, family members of the dead and the injured as well as the Chinese Government; third, we demand that the United Nations Security Council, on the basis of the spirit and principle for upholding world peace and safeguarding international conventions, solemnly condemn what NATO has done in this incident; and fourth, we demand that NATO immediately halt its air raid on Yugoslavia and resolve the Kosovo crisis by way of peaceful negotiations. I so submit.

MR DAVID CHU (in Cantonese): Madam President, in the wake of the air raid, we can clearly see that NATO countries do not respect our country and, what is more, do not take the lives of the people of our country seriously. I hope this incident can make every Chinese see that if China cannot become prosperous and strong, we, Chinese people, will not be treated on an equal term in this world. In the contemporary world, we must rely on our own ability no matter what we want to do. I also hope that, through this incident, Chinese people all over the world can see the importance of unity and the fact that it is important for a country to become prosperous and strong.

In the course of development, there must be numerous problems for China to resolve. If we are to solve the problems smoothly, we must unite together instead of breaking up; we must co-operate instead of standing in opposition. But there are still some people who rely on external forces and think that we can rely on foreigners to solve China's problems. After going through this incident, we can see the following two points clearly:

(1) The problems that we, Chinese people, have must be solved by ourselves. China's internal problems and conflicts arising from different political views must be resolved through consultation.

(2) It is impossible for China's internal problems to be resolved by relying on external forces. Therefore, it is simply useless to collaborate with external forces. For instance, we have numerous potential problems with China's democratic development, the relations between Hong Kong, Macau and the Central, the relations between the two straits and so on. It will definitely not work for someone to harbour the wishful thinking that the problems can be resolved by taking advantage of external forces. In doing so, the country will only eventually break up and will be subject to control by hegemonist countries in the world.

I hope Chinese people can, through this incident, see the importance of unity. We have to concentrate all of our strength on making the Chinese race even stronger and enhance China's economic, political and military power. This is what we, as Chinese people, must do.

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

MR ALBERT HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, five days ago, our Embassy in Yugoslavia came under NATO's missile attack and, as a result of which, the whole embassy premises was seriously damaged, with three journalists and one embassy staff member killed and more than 20 people working in the embassy injured. The attack has not only aroused great shocks and indignation among Chinese people all over the world and subsequently triggered off a series of protest both in and outside the Mainland, but also made it impossible for countries all over the world to refrain from addressing the development of the situation in Yugoslavia and taking note of the possibility that world peace might come under further threat.

How can we, as Chinese nationals, restrain ourselves from feeling bitter and indignant about the fact that our Embassy was mercilessly attacked by force, thereby resulting in injury and death of our compatriots? An embassy symbolizes a channel for peaceful international communication. What is more, the Chinese Embassy symbolizes the sovereign territory of our country. Does the attack on the Embassy imply that someone is going to infringe the territorial sovereign of our country as well as blocking the channel for peaceful communication with my country?

An attack on a foreign embassy is practically unacceptable and intolerable to any civilized country or society. This is a matter of absolute right and wrong. This Council makes a condemnation today not only because our compatriots were victimized or sacrificed. Nor is it only because we have to put forth our demand for blood is thicker than water and for the deep sorrow we suffer. What is more, this is the echo of the innate instinct of mankind; the verdict of a civilized society.

Madam President, the leading country of NATO ─ has, through President CLINTON, apologized in public. The United States Defence Secretary has also openly explained that the mistargeting was caused by errors, including the erroneous use of an old map. We can hardly accept such superficial explanations. During the repeated mistaken bombing of civilian residence in the air raid, a huge number of civilians were killed. How can peace-loving civilized people refrain from questioning the cruel consequences resulted from the air raid?

Foreign Minister TANG Jiaxuan has, on behalf of our country, put forward four demands, including first, NATO give a formal apology openly; second, conduct a full and thorough investigation to dig out the truth of the incident; third, publish the findings of the investigation promptly; and fourth, punish the wrongdoers in severe terms. We hold that these are very reasonable indeed. NATO countries must accept these demands unconditionally and comply with them immediately. If there is any evidence proving that the attack has been launched by certain people intentionally, we strongly urge that the incident be brought to the International Court of Justice to try the wrongdoers for the war crimes.

Madam President, today, quite a number of colleagues in this Council have strongly demanded that NATO immediately halt its air raid on Yugoslavia. Of course, just like them, we do not want to see the sacrifice of innocent people anymore. While urging for putting a halt on air raids, we must not, however, forget the fact that on the land of Kosovo, countless ethnic Albanians were massacred and tortured by the violent acts of ethnic cleansing. Therefore, we should at the same time strongly demand that the Serb army immediately stop all their military actions in Kosovo, including all violent acts against civilians, and withdraw at once from Kosovo as well as allowing the entry of the United Nations peace-keeping forces to maintain peace.

We fully agree with the proposal put forward by Mrs Mary ROBINSON from the United Nations Human Rights Committee that a full investigation should be conducted into NATO's air raids on Yugoslavia as well as the ethnic cleansing committed by the Serb army. The Human Rights Committee should also, in the light of the findings of the investigation and the evidence acquired, take follow-up actions. This will include holding all those who should bear the responsibility of committing the war crimes to be liable, as well as instituting proceedings in the International Court of Justice.

Madam President, our compatriots who were sacrificed have already passed away. In expressing my grief, I hope their sacrifice can remind peace-loving people all over the world to join hands to halt the hostilities in Yugoslavia as early as possible.

It is also imperative for the United Nations to safeguard peace in Yugoslavia with resolve so as to immediately halt the air raids and the violent act of genocide. What is more, countries all over the world should unite and, in accordance with international laws, justice and humanity principles, resolve disputes through dialogues on a peaceful, rational and equal basis with a view to establishing a new global order which is harmonious and friendly. Only in so doing will we be able to see that the blood of our deceased compatriots had not shed in vain. I wish the deceased could see the god of peace descend on war-torn Yugoslavia very soon and realize that different races in Yugoslavia can live together in harmony and peace and on friendly terms to rebuild their homes in order to lead a happy life. With these remarks, I support the motion.

MR LAU WONG-FAT (in Cantonese): Madam President, NATO bombed the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia and caused serious casualties when we are approaching the end of the 20th century. This is really a shocking incident. The United States-led NATO attacked the Chinese Embassy with several missiles and its invasive act brutally trampled on the international laws and the criteria for international relations, fully exposing that these countries are hypocritical and applying double standards.

The barbarous act of NATO in destroying the Chinese Embassy and killing our compatriots has made all Chinese people feel indignant. In the past few days, there have been surging protests all over the country and the protesters showed unparalleled affection for their country. With absolute proof, NATO can definitely not get by under the false pretence of "mistaken bombing" or having used an outdated map for they are ridiculous excuses indeed. The Chinese are no longer at other people's mercy and they would never allow themselves to be trodden upon. NATO must give a formal apology for its savage act, give compensation and thoroughly investigate the incident as well as make clear whom should be responsible.

Madam President, in regard to major issues of principles such as a serious violation of our sovereignty and bringing our nation into disrespute, all Chinese over the world regardless of party groupings and background should unite to do justice to our compatriots who were killed innocently.

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

MR NG LEUNG-SING (in Cantonese): Madam President, 8 May (China time) is a day that all Chinese people bitterly resent and deeply grieve. Our Embassy in Yugoslavia was bombed by NATO's warplanes, resulting in the death of three journalists and injury of more than 20 people. I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the compatriots killed in the disaster, and I hope that the injured can recover very soon.

NATO, under the leadership of the United States and Britain, bears an unshirkable responsibility for this attack on the Embassy. No matter how NATO officials and leaders of other member states piled up excuses, it was simply impossible to cover up NATO's military action in Kosovo and its inhumane and cruel nature as exposed by this incident. In the name of deterring ethnic cleansing and cracking down on dictatorship as well as boasting humanity, NATO bombarded the Yugoslav allies fiercely for as long as six weeks. During the period, NATO's gunfire has not only destroyed the military facilities of Yugoslavia, but also destroyed many civilian residence, hospitals and schools, resulting in casualties of a great number of civilians and even bombing of neighbouring countries. Furthermore, even refugees of Albanian origin, who were claimed to be the subjects of protection, were sacrificed under gunfire.

The fact that NATO has completely ignored the proposal made by other countries regarding the settlement of the Kosovo issue by peaceful means, overrode the United Nations at its own will, violated the criteria governing international relations, made use of regional disputes to expand its political and military influences and killed indiscriminately, is in essence a barbaric and selfish behaviour. NATO has basically paid no respect to humanity. Even its member states have behaved in an extremely hypocritical manner in handling the issue of receiving refugees and failed to make any commitment on humanitarian ground. Claiming to have used the so-called hi-tech weapons, NATO launched large scale air raids on Yugoslavia, turning a blind eye to the fact that Yugoslavia was swarmed with famished refugees, alleging repeatedly that this was unavoidable in wars. It also tried to put the blame on technical mistakes and repeatedly rejected requests for a halt on air raids, completely exposing the cruel fact that, driven by political interests, NATO has trampled on human rights incessantly, resembling a military machine.

The attack on our Embassy has resulted in the killing and injury of innocent people and furthered exposed NATO's cruel trampling of rules governing international diplomatic relations. After the incident, leaders of Britain and the United States as well as NATO officials, like what they did before, only tried to brush off the matter lightly and even stressed that they would continue with the bombing. They spoke and behaved in such a ruthless manner that we could not help boiling with anger. What is more worrying is that, controlled by the political motives of individual major states, NATO, like a military machine, would actually resort to violence by using humanity as an excuse. Such a behaviour has indeed completely violated international criteria governing justice, humanity and laws and pushed world peace to the edge of danger. I see these as a really vivid set of teaching material through which people who have a rational and fair mind can reflect on themselves in a solemn manner and see clearly for themselves the real picture of the so-called justice and humanity as existing under international power politics.

What NATO has done has triggered off unanimous strong protests from righteous Chinese people. Because of the voice of the people, it has made it impossible for the United States not to apologize. But it is still necessary for various powers to give a full account on the causes of the incident and whom should be held liable. As far as this issue is concerned, NATO has responded to date by acting evasively and trying to conceal what it has done. What we ask for is not only a formal apology. We have to know whom should be held liable as well. The dead, and property losses incurred by the Embassy must be fully compensated, no matter whether the compensation is granted on the basis of law or reasons. Therefore, like our compatriots in general, I firmly support the protest actions, as well as the reasonable demands put forth by the Chinese Government to the United States and NATO.

Finally, I strongly subscribe to the viewpoint that while the public should treat this important international incident in a rational manner, they should more importantly continue to safeguard social stability and endeavour to build up a prosperous, rich and powerful country to guard against global power politics for the sake of seeking genuine peace.

With these remarks, Madam President, I support the motion for the condemnation of NATO.

MR LAU KONG-WAH (in Cantonese): Madam President, when we know that it is very difficult for China to move a motion in the United Nations to condemn the atrocity of NATO, we should treasure more the chance we have today to move this motion in the Council and take advantage of this motion to strongly condemn NATO for bombing our Embassy in Yugoslavia. We must condemn this indiscriminate bombing in the strongest manner. It is an indiscriminate bombing of innocent people, violating human rights, international conventions and our sovereignty.

Madam President, one of those who were killed in this indiscriminate bombing is Miss SHAO Yunhuan. She has become ashes but an article written by her before her tragic death reads, "NATO's air raid on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has continued for 39 days, NATO is making more and more 'mistakes', and the casualties of civilians and the loss of materials of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are increasing. People cannot help asking: How many more 'mistakes' NATO will make while its air raid continues? How many more ordinary people will be killed because of these 'unavoidable mistakes'?" It is extremely unfortunate that Miss SHAO was the one who died a tragic death. Madam President, her article is entitled "When will NATO's mistakes end?" but she could not have a chance to ask this question again. Who deprived her of her right? Let us ask the question for her: When will NATO's mistakes end? When will NATO's atrocities end?

Today, I read another letter by the father of the late ZHU Ying to President CLINTON. The letter reads, "After she got married in autumn in 1997, there was a merry laughter whenever we sat at the table for meals. I can imagine that you must be as happy when you are with your wife and your daughter Cheshire. But now, I can only look at the corpses of my daughter and son-in-law. They will never smile at me, ask after me or come back to me ...... What hindrance did she and her husband cause to you? Just because they were Chinese reporters living in the Chinese Embassy? Why did you and NATO attack the Chinese Embassy?" They are good questions. I hope that President CLINTON would put himself in the position of the families of the victims and ponder over his feelings after having killed the innocent. Looking back at the Kosovo war, we can see that the United States and NATO regarded the lives of the three captured United States soldiers as treasure, but regarded the lives of the three civilians killed as worthless.

We really hope that NATO, other than cheating people in the world that the mistake was caused by a so-called outdated map, will thoroughly investigate the incident at once as this is more important. I trust this is a common demand by people all over the world including those in NATO countries.

Some people in the United States also said that the anti-American wave in China was like playing with fire. But I must ask: Who played with fire first? Some others in the United States also said that China wanted to blow up the issue. Who blew up the issue first? Yet, there were people in the United States who described Chinese students who hurled stones as "barbarous". How would they describe their country's indiscriminate killing of the innocent by bombing? I also heard that the tragedy originated from the barbarous act of MILOSEVIC alone. Is this aimed at diverting attention? Do those who make such remarks make no distinction between right and wrong?

Some people in the United States always advocate humanitarianism but they are actually upholding rule by force. They advocate human rights but they are actually upholding hegemony. It is time we let people know that pleasant slogans cannot cover up ugly acts.

Madam President, the problem does not only lie with NATO's bombing of our Embassy or its attack on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but rather the strategy of the United States which is obviously a threat to world peace. Since Cold War to date, it has been clearly shown that the United States wants to be the lord of the world and they violate the sovereignty of another country under the pretext of so-called human rights. I think that this is an extremely dangerous start.

After the Kosovo crisis, do we not find the United States media referring to Tibet as Kosovo in China? Is this an omen of danger? The United States has actually described the European continent from the Union Republic of Yugoslavia in the West to Asia and North Korea in the East as a big chessboard for exercising its strategies or manipulation in the next century. The United States is the only country that benefits from the Asian financial turmoil and the possible spread of war in Europe, and it is the only country that has a beautiful landscape. After all, the longer hostilities persist, the happier some people are.

Many people in Hong Kong think that our response must be civilized as Hong Kong is an international metropolis. I agree totally with them but this does not mean that we should not expose and condemn uncivilized acts. Therefore, while we condemn the atrocity of NATO, we must also condemn the hegemony of the United States. While we protest against the indiscriminate killing of the innocent by NATO, we must also call upon NATO to stop bombing.

With these remarks, I support the motion.

DR TANG SIU-TONG (in Cantonese): Madam President, 8 May this year is a day we Chinese would never forget. On that day, NATO air force led by the United States launched terrible missiles and ruthlessly blew up the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia, causing three deaths and more than 20 casualties among our diplomatic personnel and reporters. The atrocity is a gross violation of our sovereignty and malicious trampling on the Chater of the United Nations and international relations. We must condemn this strongly.

The brutal air raids on Yugoslavia by NATO troops sent out in the name of justice have lasted for over 40 days. However, Yugoslavians did not yield to the raging bombing and the bombing did not facilitate the settlement of the Kosovo crisis. The act only brought about the death of innocent civilians and economic losses beyond estimation. In fact, this gunboat strategy of going to war without declaration and pressurizing people by force is an overbearing barbarous act, far different from sending out troops for justice.

If people concerned said that the missiles were mistargeted because they did not have eyes, they might be able to shirk responsibilities and claim that what happened could not be controlled in advance. But according to the evidence collected on-site by the military investigation team dispatched by the Chinese military soon after the incident and the analysis made by authoritative persons on missiles with the China National Aerospace Industry Corporation, the missiles that attacked our Embassy were precision weapons with an extremely high percentage of hits and it was impossible for them to commit such witless errors. Evidently, the bombing of our Embassy was not mistaken bombing.

NATO troops led by the United States had enormous and advanced intelligence gathering, collection and analysis systems with fixed procedures of control for the selection of bombing targets. They could accurately hit at a target as small as a bedroom in the official residence of the president. It is utterly unconvincing for those concerned to deny the fact by saying that there were errors in intelligence or the procedures for locking on targets. The actual cause of the incident could only be determined through an independent, comprehensive and thorough investigation. I do not want to speculate but NATO still refuses to carry out a thorough investigation on the incident and its members even obstruct the passage of a resolution by the United Nations to carry out an investigation. It refuses to admit the fault and intends to let the incident fade out. This really makes us feel indignant and we must strongly condemn it.

Although President CLINTON of the United States publicly apologized to the Central Government and Chinese nationals for the first time a few days ago, he was only apologizing "in passing" on an informal occasion and his apology was obviously insincere and unacceptable. The spokesman of NATO restated that the incident was caused by a fault in system not that of a person and he did not think anyone should be held responsible for the incident. He made no mention of public apology or compensation and his remarks were irresponsible and disgraceful.

I support the four demands made by our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr TANG Jiaxuan, including (1) making an open and formal apology to the Chinese Government and people and the families of the victims; (2) conducting a comprehensive and thorough investigation into the attack on the Chinese Embassy; (3) making public soon the detailed result of the investigation; and (4) seriously punishing the wrongdoers. I also support all our compatriots in carrying out all sorts of rational, lawful and orderly protests to prove to the United States and NATO that the Chinese are not the sick men of East Asia, and that we can definitely not be lightly humiliated. If Honourable Members are not forgetful, they should recall the incident at the end of the Qing Dynasty in which the Eight-Power Allied Forces bullied China and plunged Chinese people into an abyss of misery. This is really a warning for us.

Compatriots should unite together to resist foreign humiliation.

With these remarks, Madam President, I support today's motion. I extend my boundless respects to the compatriots who were killed and convey to their families my heartfelt solicitude. The Hong Kong Progressive Alliance and I strongly condemn the barbarous and overbearing acts of NATO.

MISS CHRISTINE LOH: Madam President, my colleagues have said much and I have very little to add, except to say that assuming that indeed the bombing of the Chinese Embassy was a gross mistake, there are two issues NATO needs to deal with.

Firstly, NATO must give a full explanation, however embarassing, so that we can have the truth of how such a mistake could have happened.

Secondly, NATO and the various national leaders involved must give full apologies without reservations.

I watched President CLINTON of the United States make a statement on television last night. His apology fell short of what I would consider a full apology. He sought to ameliorate what happened by saying that it was unintended after his previous phrase that it was a mistake. I felt that it would have been better if he had put a full stop after the apology, instead of trying to justify that it was an unintended incident. I found his words unsatisfactory. Therefore, we are still waiting to hear a clear and unequivocal apology.

Madam President, I wonder when we are going to hear that. I support the motion.

MR TAM YIU-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, on the morning of last Saturday, the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia was bombed by three guided missiles launched from different angles by NATO, resulting in three deaths and over 20 injuries. Nobody was not filled with indignation when they heard the news.

NATO, under the leadership of the United States, has turned Yugoslavia into a testing ground of their "international order", sending troops to Yugoslavia without the approval of the Security Council of the United Nations. Such an act of using force recklessly against a sovereign state is a total disregard of the United Nations and an open challenge to the international covenants. China has always objected to the sending of troops by NATO this time. With such a peaceful attitude, we are however openly provoked by NATO. The high-handedness and hegemony of the United States has filled every Chinese with anger.

The three reporters killed in the incident had gone to the front line to report the sufferings of the people of Yugoslavia under the heavy gunfire. But they also lost their lives to the missiles. Having carried out such an atrocity, the United States, though always boasting about its commitment to upholding freedom of the press, has actually trampled upon the sacred work of journalism.

After committing such a crime that made people boil with anger, the United States tried to get itself off the hook by making such excuses as having "locked on the wrong target" and "gathered wrong intelligence", instead of conducting a thorough investigation into the incident immediately. Yesterday, the Secretary of Defence of the Untied States, Mr William COHEN, admitted that the reason for the attack on the Chinese Embassy was that the maps and information that they depended on were seven years old when they chose and confirmed the targets. Such an explanation is simply beyond our imagination. In its attack on Yugoslavia, the NATO has all along flaunted the banner of human rights. In reality, however, it has no regard for other people's lives and frequently deprives others' of their right to live. It has fully exposed the injustice and inhumane nature of this mission. COHEN opined that this bombing of the Chinese Embassy was not due to human or mechanical error, but the mechanism was to blame. Launching a massive warring machine, NATO has been bombing Yugoslavia for over 40 days, with the collective destructive power of the bombs dropped already exceeding that generated by an atomic bomb. But it is only today that they discover their mechanism for picking out bombing targets is wrong. Does it not imply its admission that all the previous bombings have been wanton and indiscriminate?

Secretary COHEN has tried to shirk the responsibility on the one hand, and criticized on the other the Chinese media for being biased in reporting the warfare in Kosovo and thus using the bombing of the Embassy to incite the Chinese's anti-American sentiment. Such an irresponsible accusation is merely an excuse for him to get out of the embarrassment of dereliction of duty. COHEN has not only failed to apologize for this incident but even accused the three reporters killed in this incident of giving biased reports, implying that their deaths should not be sympathized. In making such comments, is he any different from a cold-blooded exterminator?

The present predicament of Yugoslavia cannot be resolved by gunfire. The bombing has continued for over 40 days now, but NATO has not only failed to free the refugees of Kosovo from the plight of being slaughtered or driven out of their homes, but created instead more killings and war and greater suffering of the innocent. More than 40 years ago, the crazed HITLER wantonly bombed Europe and indiscriminately killed its people, lost his mind and few supported him. Today, while we condemn NATO for bombing our Embassy, we also hope that NATO, headed by the United States, will not repeat the same old wrongful course of HITLER.

With these remarks, Madam President, I support the motion and express my condolences to the families of the martyrs and the injured staff of the Chinese Embassy.

MR HOWARD YOUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, I did not intend to speak for I thought that we do not need to argue about this motion and the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Liberal Party who will speak today will state the position of the whole Party.

However, before speaking impromptu and taking part in this motion debate, I have considered whether government officials are present today because strictly speaking, condemning NATO or commenting on the wars that took place in Europe is a diplomatic affair. It can be said that wars have something to do with national defence, therefore, the matter has gone beyond the scope of the autonomy of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. I can fully understand it if officials do not have much to say today. Precisely for this reason, in addition to mourning the compatriots sacrificed, I do not know what else I can say. However, I was given an article on my way to this Chamber today. I did not know if it is a draft speech but I thought that a kind-hearted person had provided me with a draft speech. As I have not prepared a draft speech, I might as well read out this article. But if I read out the draft, I will surely be rebuked as a servile follower of the United States instigated to draft the speech. The article was not meant for me to read out, it was a statement made by the United States Consulate. I can understand that Americans have their position and this statement should state the position of Americans. The Consul General should represent his master — his government and "mother". Is he supposed to speak for the Chinese?

Madam President, I have visited Yugoslavia before. I do not know how many people have visited that place, but I did so many years ago. I got an impression then that it was a very peaceful country and it was basically a harmonious nation. Eastern Europe was not opened up at that time, but Yugoslavia was different from other so-called iron-curtain countries. It gave me a very good impression but I also heard people (within the tourist area of course) say that the southern part of their country was adjacent to Albania (which was almost the most diehard socialist country at that time). There were racial disputes in the south and splittism had emerged. Therefore, some people always wanted to separate southern Yugoslavia from the country. Yugoslavia is a very proud nation and Yugoslavians say that Yugoslavia is the only iron-curtain country which was not liberalized by the Russian Red Army or occupied by Germany, even during the Second World War. The Germans occupied France, Hungary and many other countries but not Yugoslavia. It did not rely on the Russian Red Army in the War for TITO had its own Red Army. Therefore, it is a very proud nation and the nationals treasure the country's sovereignty. We are Chinese people in Hong Kong and Hong Kong has been reunited with China for quite some time. In the past, we did not agree or even did not know we were Chinese or understand what sovereignty and nation meant. This is understandable because Hong Kong has been placed under colonial rule for more than a century, and nobody taught Hong Kong people that they should recognize that they were Chinese. We could be attached to our nation but it would be best if we did not know our national flag well. After the reunification, I know that a lot of friends, including me and those travelling to foreign countries, will visit Chinese Embassies or Consulates. Embassies are different from consulates. Embassies are resident representatives in countries while consulates are resident representatives in cities. The bombing of the Embassy representing our country and territory is tantamount to bombing our territory. Can we not be angry under such circumstances?

I have thoroughly studied the article before us again. I do not know if it is intended to influence our views on this incident. The statement comprises three pages, and two thirds of it only focus on the background of Kosovo and less than one third including the heading is about the raid or bombing of the Chinese Embassy. It says that the incident was "mistaken bombing". I would find it acceptable if it says "the mistake of bombing" instead of "mistaken bombing" or "mistargeting" which is hardly acceptable. How can they convince me that the successive launching of three missiles is "mistargeting"? I can accept that an error was committed when bombs were dropped from above, but the missiles were guided and there were three missiles, not one. Therefore, I cannot accept the saying that it was "mistargeting" as the act was basically "targeted". However, perhaps it is a question of "who made the mistake of targeting the Chinese Embassy"? If we regard this as conspiracy, why did they say the "Chinese Embassy in Belgrade" instead of the "Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia"? I have just said that embassies represent countries while consulates are resident in cities. I can understand that from the perspective of Americans, this is a low-key means to water down and ameliorate the incident. To them, it is best to mention other things and it may finally be said that it was not a fault. It is even more ridiculous for the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to say that it is common for errors to be made in a war. Is it a war? Did Yugoslavia declare war against NATO? Western countries are bombing the country. How can it be called a war? Western countries have made many such specious arguments. These messages transmitted by the mass media or themselves really make me doubt their credibility. If they claim that a wrong map was used, why had diplomatic personnel visited the embassy in the past and attended the National Day receptions? They attended the receptions themselves and we did not need to notify them. Would they have no idea or be unclear? How can it convince people that this war was initiated to uphold justice? I think that there are many hidden problems and that we really have to approach the matter from the perspective of Chinese people.

I support the motion.

MR FUNG CHI-KIN (in Cantonese): Madam President, United States-led NATO countries bombed the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia with missiles and caused the death of three journalists working in the Embassy. Although the United States and NATO claimed that the bombing was an accident, if the bombing was a tragic mistake as President CLINTON claimed, why had President CLINTON only expressed regrets but not apologized in his letter to President JIANG Zemin? Why did President CLINTON choose to apologize lightly four days after the tragedy on an informal occasion of a campus violence forum? Why is President CLINTON not yet willing to publicly apologize to China on a formal diplomatic occasion?

We all know that President CLINTON has always been a gifted actor, a diplomat and a good pretender. Why did he not pretend to be sad and apologetic in the first instance after the Chinese Embassy had been bombed? People cannot help questioning if the United States and NATO countries had really bombed the Chinese Embassy mistakenly.

In fact, the argument for mistaken bombing is very weak. As Mr Howard YOUNG has said, the Tomahawk cruise missiles used by NATO had "eyes" and were satellite-guided. The United States army has always claimed that the percentage of hits of the missiles exceeds 90%. More importantly, if it was mistaken bombing, as some military experts queried, why could a few missiles hit the major facilities of the Chinese Embassy from different angles in a co-ordinated and targeted manner?

The argument for wrong intelligence is also weak. According to military experts, the launch of a Tomahawk cruise missile requires three to five days from reconnaissance to preparation and the United States army had sufficient time to verify the target to be bombed. It is also reported that the logistics supply office of the Yugoslavia troops is in the vicinity of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia, so as NATO knew that there was an embassy nearby and that it could bring on a war once it hit the Chinese Embassy by mistake, it should be more prudent when it planned the bombing, why was the Chinese Embassy mistakenly hit by several missiles successively? Therefore, the use of an outdated map was an extremely farfetched reason.

Madam President, some said that the bombing of the Chinese Embassy by NATO countries including the United States was intended by the anti-Chinese forces in the United States to get China into a war and prevent China from concentrating on economic development. Some also said that the United States intends to infuriate China and take advantage of the anti-war and anti-America sentiments of the Chinese to create a flight of steps for NATO to step down in regard to its retreat from Yugoslavia. For whatever reasons, our dead and injured compatriots are innocent. For this, NATO countries including the United States cannot just offer an apology without making substantive compensation.

Madam President, after the United States Embassy in China has been encircled by indignant protesters in Beijing for two days without causing any casualties, President CLINTON hurriedly urged the Chinese Government to protect the safety of Americans. But the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia was in derelict, after the missile attack which caused three deaths and more than 20 casualties. Evidently, in the eyes of President CLINTON, human rights are divided into classes, some human lives are precious while some others worthless. Furthermore, humanitarianism is defined by powerful countries.

Madam President, our compatriots cannot be wronged and driven to death. The United States has to apologize, give compensation, investigate the incident thoroughly and seriously punish the wrongdoers as well as doing justice to China and the families of the victims. I mourn those killed in the incident. With these remarks, I support the motion to condemn NATO.

DR RAYMOND HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, on 8 May 1999, NATO, headed by the United States, bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade for no reason, killing three and injuring over 20 staff members of the Embassy. This tragic incident has shocked the whole world and infuriated all Chinese people. Compatriots all over China have staged protests and demonstrations outside the embassies and consulates of NATO countries to express their resentment at the incident. The National People's Congress, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, various democratic parties and bodies, and various industrial and trade unions, people's bodies and units of organizations all over the country have staged rallies to denounce the bloody atrocity of NATO.

Here in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, part of China, citizens and bodies have also spontaneously held demonstrations. In the last two days, open statements were found in various newspapers condemning NATO's atrocity. The Association of Engineers in Society chaired by me has also announced our position against this. The people's actions all over the country have fully revealed the unity of the Chinese nation, their firm opposition to the open infringement of the Chinese sovereignty and dignity. Although the Chinese is a peace-loving people, the invaders must understand one fact, that is, China will not stand such humiliation and the Chinese nation cannot be bullied.

The explanations offered by the United States, Britain and NATO are actually conflicting and can even be regarded as sophistry. The Untied States and NATO have all along been boasting of the excellent performance and high precision of their weapons. How can these so very highly sophisticated weapons make such a serious error in attacking their targets? Such excuses as deviation in the navigation of the missiles and the use of outdated maps offered for the mistaken bombing are all given in an attempt to justify their wrong doing and to deceive themselves and others. It is a downright insult to the wisdom of the great Chinese nation. Their indifference to the casualties caused by their action to the innocent Chinese people has, in an undisguised manner, exposed the hypocrisy and cruelty of an aggressor. Everyone knows that countries such as members of the NATO, on the pretext of safeguarding human rights, are invading another country, brutally killing the innocent civilians and endangering the lives of the diplomatic personnel of other countries posted there. This barbaric act which has created so many disasters should be strongly condemned by the international community.

On the contrary, our Central Government has fully demonstrated the demeanor of a genuinely great country in its handling of this incident in a rational manner and through diplomatic channels. I support the solemn statement delivered by our Central Government which demands the NATO to be held totally accountable, to seriously apologize to China and compensate our losses, and to stop bombing Yugoslavia immediately and settle the trouble in Kosovo by peaceful means.

Madam President, China is now approaching the status of a prosperous and strong country and the people are united. The Chinese people are not afraid of hegemony and will not tolerate any invasion of our sovereignty and dignity, and the Chinese people will not stand being bullied. Our people will never forget this bloody debt. NATO, headed by the United States, has to bear all the blame for its atrocious attack on our Embassy and must be condemned most severely. I so submit.

DR DAVID LI: Madam President, it was with the deepest sorrow that I learnt of the tragic bombing of our Embassy in Belgrade. I do not wish to enter into the rights and wrongs of the NATO action in Yugoslavia over the last 50 days. But I wish to say that I do not comprehend why three innocent Chinese needed to lose their lives, and many other suffered from the attack on our Embassy. My deepest sympathy goes out to the families of these victims.

We must hope, earnestly, that there are no more such innocent victims. And we must hope, with all our hearts, that the relationship between China and the United States will not become a further victim of this crisis. It is a relationship that is important to us all. It is important to the Chinese people. It is important to the American people. It is important to the whole world. And, of course, it is of critical importance to us in Hong Kong.

I note that American consular offices throughout this country were flying their flags at half-mast today, in honour of the three Chinese journalists who died. I am sure that Americans see that as a sincere and solemn mark of regret. However, I am afraid that the families of the three victims, and many other Chinese people, will see it as an empty gesture. The gap between these two perceptions needs to be filled.

Madam President, I strongly support the motion.

MR YEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, the day before the last Mother's Day in this century, the United States-led NATO powers blatantly bombed the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia with guided missiles, killing four people, injuring more than 20 and almost reducing the embassy premises to rubble. One Chinese mother lost her life and three Chinese mothers lost their beloved children. This is a most unforgivable crime committed by the United States-led NATO powers against the Chinese people.

The three guided missiles have actually awakened the people of Hong Kong to the true nature of American hegemony. Many people may well think that American hegemony is something new, but in fact, it has a very long history. To cite just some recent examples, there were the American invasion of Grenada and the capture of the Panama President for trial in the United States. In all these cases, the Americans invariably waved the banners of "human rights" and "humanitarianism". All these crimes of sovereignty infringement, committed in the name of "human rights", once made some people think that the United States was the true symbol of "human rights". But the recent bombing of our Embassy in Yugoslavia by the United States-led NATO powers has served to expose the hypocrisy of the United States.

Before the start of this afternoon meeting, I received a fax message from the United States Consulate in Hong Kong. In this message, they seek to explain the American position regarding Kosovo, and they continue to embellish their acts of aggression. According to them, MILOSEVIC is guilty of ethnic cleansing and violation of human rights and humanitarianism. In other words, he "deserves it", because he is a "bad guy". And, who are going to decide whether MILOSEVIC is a "bad guy"? The Americans, naturally. But the point is that if all these reasons are indeed valid, then whenever any country refuses to obey the dictates of the United States or violate the values upheld by it, the United States can always invade them on the ground that it is trying to promote the "heavenly cause". When this happens, I am sure that there will be no peace on earth. So, to those who still want to see things from American perspectives, I must say that sooner or later, the United States may well invade China in the name of "human rights". This is simply no threat.

Madam President, in the past few days, all over the lands of our sacred motherland, including Hong Kong, numerous young students and people from various social organizations and different walks of life all took to the streets, staging processions in protest of the United States-led NATO aggression against our country, and demonstrating their intense patriotism. The shedding of blood has awakened many naive people, and those who support the United States or the West blindly should also have experienced a rude awakening. Western countries like the United States, which behave as if they were "protectors of human rights", have often avowed that they all support "human rights" and "humanitarianism". But in reality, theirs are just "power politics under the guise of human rights" and "hegemony embellished by humanitarianism". They have bypassed the United Nations and bombed Yugoslavia without its authorization. When they handle international affairs in such a manner, where have all their avowed support for "democracy" and "the rule of law" gone? They have initiated a war of aggression against a sovereign state, leading to numerous deaths. But they have repeatedly tried to explain away their mistake by laying all the blame on "a series of mistargeting". And, they have even dropped radioactive bombs. What has happened to their support for "humanitarianism" and "human rights"? All the evidence before our very eyes shows that the United States Government is actually engaging itself in hegemony and power politics, in total disregard for the human rights of other countries.

Many young students in Hong Kong do not know too well about the May 4 Movement 80 years ago. Now, it seems that history has repeated itself, or I should perhaps say that it has repeated itself under totally different circumstances because the China today has become more powerful, with its consolidated strength and international status rising to unprecedented levels. And, it is also one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. So, it will never again bow before the savage and ignoble forces of the United States. We must all say "no", and say it loudly. We must strongly demand the United States-led NATO forces to stop bombing Yugoslavia and settle the Kosovo issue through peaceful and political means.

Madam President, the Special Administrative Region Government should actually regard the bombing of our Embassy in Yugoslavia by the United States-led NATO forces as a live and excellent teaching point in its efforts to promote civic-mindedness among our young people. I hope that our education authorities, schools and education organizations can all include this event in the commemorative activities for the 80th anniversary of the May 4 Movement. I hope that they can compile teaching kits, make video tapes and VCDs and organize photo exhibitions on this event. That way, they will be able to promote patriotism among our young people in an unforgettable and lively manner, and enhance their nationalism, thereby laying a foundation for the implementation of "one country, two systems" and the long-term stability and prosperity of Hong Kong.

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

MR HUI CHEUNG-CHING (in Cantonese): Madam President, the bombing of our embassy in Yugoslavia by the United States-led NATO powers has aroused the outrage of all Chinese people over the past few days, and waves of protests have also swept across the whole country. The Hong Kong Progressive Alliance (HKPA) appreciates the feelings of the people and would like to render its support. The HKPA also wishes to extend its condolences to the Chinese journalists and embassy staff who were either killed or injured in the bombing.

The position of China regarding the Kosovo question has always been unambiguous and firm. Since Kosovo is inside the territory of Yugoslavia, the ethnic conflicts there should be treated as the domestic affairs of Yugoslavia and should thus be dealt with by the people of that country themselves.

As a matter of fact, foreign intervention and military involvement will only intensify the ethnic conflicts in Yugoslavia and will not possibly help resolve the problem. During the whole of this century, for 100 years already, foreign powers have been intervening in the Balkan conflicts. But instead of settling the internal conflicts of the Balkan states, foreign intervention has turned the peninsular into a war zone. And, of course, in the course of intervention, foreign powers have been able to fish in troubled waters, to further their own interests there.

The outside world can of course condemn the ruling regime of Yugoslavia for suppressing the people in Kosovo. But the United States and some warlike NATO countries have stepped beyond the line of condemnation, because under the banner of humanitarianism, they have launched a most inhuman bombing campaign against Yugoslavia (including Kosovo). They have even used some radioactive weapons which inflict lasting damage on the ecology and human beings, victimizing residential settlements, hospitals, factories and academic institutions. Is this really a genuine effort to promote humanitarianism and human rights, or simply outright hegemony? Even if the United States and those warlike NATO countries can force Yugoslavia to tolerate Kosovo independence, just how many habitable areas can be left in a Kosovo after the attacks of radioactive weapons?

Madam President, China is firmly against the military intervention in Kosovo by the United States and NATO. This independent, self-determined and peaceful diplomatic position is certainly very helpful as a means of checking against the current dominance of the United States and NATO in world politics. But because of its anti-hegemony nature, warlike elements in the United States and NATO have naturally looked upon this diplomatic strategy as an offence to them. If the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia has been "intentional", then their total defiance of international law and blatant intention to trample on Chinese sovereignty are altogether very obvious, so obvious that we can all see that they are just doing whatever they like without even bothering to give any reasons. The HKPA wants to express its greatest anger about this. But if the bombing was indeed an "accident" as they have claimed, then I cannot help thinking that many more innocent people must have been killed or injured, because even our Embassy, which is obviously not a target of attacks, has also been hit.

With all seriousness, the HKPA wishes to tell the United States and NATO that they must not think that they can conclude the whole matter simply by apologizing to China. They must also pay full compensation to China and the families of those killed or injured. NATO must call an immediate halt to its military intervention in Yugoslavia. Then, it must go back to the United Nations and negotiate with peace-loving countries like China, so as to draw up a peaceful solution to the Kosovo question.

The HKPA also wishes to call upon the people of Hong Kong to unite. It hopes that they can take all rational actions permitted by our laws to promote peace and justice and to oppose the hegemony of the United States and some NATO powers. It also hopes that they can all stand up to defend our territorial and sovereignty integrity and national dignity.

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

MR CHAN WING-CHAN (in Cantonese): Madam President, the United States-led NATO powers have hit the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia with guided missiles, causing heavy casualties and severe damage to the embassy premises. This is a blatant infringement upon the sovereignty of China, a most barbaric act.

On behalf of the Federation of Trade Unions and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, and with great anger, I now condemn the barbaric act of the United States-led NATO powers, and I also wish to extend my condolences to the compatriots killed in the attack.

We fully support the four legitimate demands made by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

(1) The Chinese Government, the Chinese people and the families of the victims must be given a public and formal apology.

(2) A full-scale and thorough investigation must be conducted to find out why the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia was hit by the guided missiles of NATO.

(3) The detailed investigation findings must be released quickly without any delay.

(4) Those responsible for the attack must be duly punished.

The guided missiles attack launched by the United States-led NATO powers on the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Yugoslavia, which has caused heavy casualties and severe damage to the embassy premises, is an open defiance of the Charter of the United Nations and international law principles, and so is the barbaric bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

Over the past few days, hundreds and thousands of compatriots in cities all over China (including Taiwan) have taken to the streets, staging protests outside foreign consular offices and condemning the barbaric acts of the United States-led NATO powers. And, people with a sense of justice all over the world, who have been angered by the actions of NATO, have also taken to the streets to voice their discontent.

Our State President, Mr JIANG Zemin, has recently made a very good remark. He said, "The United States-led NATO powers have bypassed the United Nations and launched a military campaign against the Union Republic of Yugoslavia, an independent sovereign state. This is an outright manifestation of the 'gunboat policy', a dangerous tendency which has naturally alerted statesmen all over the world."

Perhaps, there is one difference here. In the 18th century, British imperialists and the like invaded the territories of other countries under the "gunboat policy", slaughtering their people and robbing them of their resources. But today, the NATO powers are trying to extend their hegemony under the "guided missile policy".

The United States-led NATO powers have blatantly launched a bombing campaign against Yugoslavia without the authorization of the United Nations Security Council, thus violating both the Charter of the United Nations upheld by countries all over the world since the end of World War II as well as the international law principles relating to "the supremacy of state sovereignty and territorial integrity".

In recent years, some United States-led western countries have been trying hard to propagate the idea that "human rights are superior to state sovereignty", and they have attempted to interfere with the domestic affairs of other countries in the name of "protecting human rights". The indiscriminate bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO this time around, which has victimized numerous innocent civilians, is a vivid example.

These United States-led western countries, the so-called "vanguard of human rights", talk eloquently about their "respect for human rights" in Geneva on the one hand. But on the other hand, they are slaughtering numerous innocent civilians in Yugoslavia, tearing families apart and rendering people homeless. So, to put it simply, they are nothing but hypocrites who believe in real politik and hegemony. Their bombing of Yugoslavia has fully exposed their double standards; they are just using human rights as an excuse, as a shameful disguise, to cover up their heinous crimes.

The United States has the habit of making rash criticisms against the "human rights conditions" in other countries, and it often talks about "sanctions" and "punitive military operations". But are the human rights records of the United States itself really that good? Well, there were times when the United States simply hauled refugees from Haiti and Cuba out into the high seas, in total disregard for their lives. Should a "vanguard of human rights and humanitarianism" really do something like this? The indiscriminate bombing of Yugoslavia and the slaughtering of innocent civilians by the United States-led NATO powers have finally exposed their double standards on human rights.

The plain fact is that these western powers are simply pursuing hegemony and dominance, not human rights and humanitarianism. But we want human rights, not hegemony; and we also want peace, not war.

I must reiterate here that we all condemn the barbaric acts of the United States-led NATO powers. NATO must comply strictly with the legitimate demands put forward by the Chinese Government, and it must assume full responsibility for the incident.

With these remarks, I support the motion.

MISS CHOY SO-YUK (in Cantonese): Madam President, let me first voice my strong indignation about the bombing of our Embassy in Yugoslavia by the United States-led hegemonist alliance of NATO! Such a barbaric act is not only an open defiance of the Charter of the United Nations and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, but is also a serious infringement upon the sovereignty of China. Technically speaking, this has already constituted the crime of initiating a war, because according to international conventions, the embassy offices and premises of a country are regarded as part of its territories over which it enjoys sovereignty. So, under international law, the NATO bombing is already an act of aggression against the territories and sovereignty of our country. This must be condemned!

What makes us especially angry is the explanation offered yesterday by the United States Defence Secretary, William COHEN. According to him, the bombing is the result of inaccurate intelligence, because an out-dated map made seven years ago was used. But any sane person can see that such an explanation is simply an insult to our intelligence. The cruise missiles and military intelligence networks of the United States and NATO are both highly advanced and sophisticated, and our Embassy has long since be located at its present address as early as 1996. So, how can such an absurd mistake be made? Such an insult to the intelligence of the Chinese people is indeed comparable in absurdity to the missile attacks on our territories.

What has aroused the greatest indignation is that the United States-led NATO powers have so far expressed absolutely no sincere remorse for their mistake, nor have they ever indicated that they are prepared to assume responsibility. They are still arguing for their own case without any sense of guilt. And, with just a few simple words of regret and condolences, they have resumed their air strikes. They say that they will not kill or injure any innocent civilians with intention, that most of their targets are villains, that people should bear in mind the huge numbers of people killed by MILOSEVIC ...... . But the fallacies of their argument are both simple and straightforward. Should the maintenance of world peace be used as an excuse for blatantly interfering with the domestic politics of any sovereign states? And, can such intervention really maintain world peace? Should the promotion of "justice" be used as an excuse for slaughtering innocent civilians? Should one seek to prevent genocide by committing yet another genocide? Beneath its veneer of "justice", this type of "moral warfare" is in essence an attempt to implement the "new world order" advocated by the British Prime Minister, Tony BLAIR. According to Tony BLAIR, in case NATO thinks that any country has violated human rights, it should interfere with its domestic politics by launching a military campaign against it. By doing so, these imperialists hope that they can gain control of the world by their military supremacy. What is even more worrying is that Tony BLAIR's advocacy is aimed obviously to deprive the United Nations of its legitimate powers to maintain world peace. So, a moment ago, when I heard some Members advocate Tony BLAIR's "new world order", I was terribly shocked.

Madam President, even if the United States and NATO have not bombed our Embassy, all peace-loving, independent and democratic countries in the world must still join hands to check the expansion and hegemony of the United States and NATO, because the concept of a "new world order" is an extremely dangerous one ─ it seeks to force the values held by western countries upon the rest of the world; it attempts to justify the military expansion of NATO; and, it even tries to pre-empt the United Nations, the very international body which enables its member nations to resolve their differences. The arrogance of Britain, the United States and some warlike NATO powers is indeed a great potential threat to world peace. I hope that those NATO members which disapprove of the recent barbaric acts of NATO and which do not want to act as the mercenaries of Britain and the United States ─ countries like Germany and Italy, for example ─ can all join hands with peace-loving countries all over the world and boycott the dominance of Britain and the United States, so as to ensure the balance of power and peace of the world.

Madam President, this legislature is the highest legislative body of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is part of Chinese territory. So, as a Member of this legislature, I must say that each and every Member sitting in this Chamber right now should be obliged to react more actively to the recent bombing of our Embassy. This applies especially to those Honourable colleagues who always say that they want to protect human rights, the rights of women, the reporting rights of journalists and press freedom. At this very time when the human rights of our country have been trampled on, and when three of our journalists have been killed, should all these Members not stand up and voice their indignation louder than anybody else? Besides, some Members of this Council have very close connections with the United States Government, and they have been invited many times before to meet the United States President or to receive prizes from him. At this very time when the human rights of the Chinese people and the peoples of the Third World are being trampled on so badly by the United States, it is all the more necessary for these Members to play a much more active role. I suggest that this Council should immediately organize a mission of condemnation to the United States, and these Members should liaise with President CLINTON, so that members of the mission can meet with him and tell him the position and views of this Council. If such a mission can really be organized, I will certainly take part.

Finally, I wish to reiterate my support for our Central Government's legitimate demand: the United States and NATO must apologize formally to our country as quickly as possible, conduct an in-depth investigation into the matter and condemn the wrongdoers.

With these remarks, Madam President, I support this motion on condemning NATO! At the same time, I also wish to extend my deep condolences to the compatriots killed in the bombing and to all those innocent victims in Yugoslavia.

MR EDWARD HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, NATO's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia, in which lives were lost, people injured and property damaged, has aroused strong indignation among our people. The United States-led NATO's act was outrageous indeed. I wish to take this opportunity to express my deepest sorrow, sympathies and condolences to the family members of those compatriots who were killed or injured in this incident.

As to whether the incident was a mistake, the United States Government should disclose all the information to prove that it was indeed a "mistake". In view of the United States' advanced military technology, such a mistake would be utterly inconceivable. It would be simply ridiculous and extremely presumptuous to say that the killing of innocent civilians and the infringement of our sovereignty have been caused by an outdated map.

I do not wish to discuss whether NATO's air strike is an effective solution to the Kosovo conflict as a whole. Nevertheless, what the United States has done throughout the incident has given us a lot of food for thought. First of all, it is undeniable that the United State is the world's number one in technology, especially military technology, which has given it the capability to dominate in world affairs. It does harbour such ambitions.

I have no hard feelings towards the American people. In fact, I have a lot of American friends. However, the United States Government's foreign policy has fully exposed its mentality of interfering with other countries' internal affairs on the pretext of humanity, in order to eliminate economic, political and military challengers and consolidate its position as the number one economic and military superpower. In recent years, our country's rapid economic development has made it a thorn in the United States' side. Therefore, the bombing of our Embassy in Yugoslavia by the United States-led NATO cannot help but arouse suspicion that the United States might have deliberately made such a "mistake".

The United States has always advocated democracy and human rights. On many occasions when I met American Congressmen, media personnel or scholars in this Council, I saw some of my colleagues go out of their way to appease and praise them, treating them like our "saviour". I take exception to such an attitude. It is evident in many past events that the United States Government always applies double standards. For example, its brutal treatment of refugees from Cuba and Haiti was in sharp contrast to its demand for Hong Kong to accept Vietnamese refugees. Moreover, the United States itself is still plagued by rampant racial discrimination and security problems. All of these have proved that the United States is far from a "paradise", everything about America is not necessarily good and it is not a model for us to follow.

However, I do not want to provoke a wave of anti-American sentiment. As two of the biggest countries in the world, China and the United States play a pivotal role in world peace and stability, they should therefore maintain a relationship based on mutual respect. While we should not just accuse others of playing power politics, we should also reflect on how our country could improve itself and become stronger. We should be frank in admitting many structural shortcomings in our country. We should bravely address and ameliorate our problems, such as the rule by man, a less than perfect legal system, rampant corruption, the long-standing negligence of education and professionals, or even the pace of democratization.

Madam President, while this Council should strongly condemn NATO for bombing our Embassy in Yugoslavia, we should also bear in mind how we can unite in helping our country to move towards building economic prosperity and a wealthy livelihood for the people.

Finally, tragedies occur on a daily basis around the world as a result of power struggles and conflicts between different people, races and religions. I sincerely hope that people all over the world will join together to rebuild a peaceful world for victims of these conflicts and their next generations.

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

MR LEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia by NATO which caused casualties and loss of lives has indeed aroused indignation from every Chinese. This kind of brutality should be severely condemned. However, we should not look at the bombing of the Chinese Embassy alone, we should view the matter from a macro perspective and be concerned about all the victims of the war.

In passing a judgment on any war, usually we are inclined to call one party right and the other wrong, or an incarnation of evil. Or we may call one side the invaders and the other side the victims. But in this war at Kosovo, both NATO and the Serbian Government of Yugoslavia are not the "good guys", they are all "bad guys". And the ones who suffer most are the unarmed civilians. These include the Serbs, the ethnic Albanians and for this time around, the staff of the Chinese Embassy.

Conflicts between Serbs and Albanians in the Balkan peninsula date back to centuries ago, involving very complicated racial and religious factors. The most serious problem is that the Serbian Government headed by MILOSEVIC has been trying for years to advance with its Greater Serbia Movement. In an attempt to expand its territory, the Serbs try to drive out the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo who have been living there for centuries.

The MILOSEVIC Government has committed countless heinous crimes. In 1989, the Serbian parliament unilaterally put an end to the autonomy which should be enjoyed by Kosovo and street violence erupted as a result. Then the Serbian Government sent troops to launch a bloody crackdown. Throughout the ensuing years, NATO has been doing whatever it can to force the Serbs to withdraw from Kosovo, such as freezing the overseas assets of the Yugoslavian Government and even threatened to use force. But the MILOSEVIC Government still engages in massive slaughters of ethnic Albanians, molests the women and forces families out of their homes.

NATO claims that the Serbian troops have killed an incredible 100 000 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. But it is an indisputable fact that Serbs have been conducting ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Therefore, we cannot see the Kosovo question as merely an internal racial conflict. Many people in the West who have experienced the Second World War are calling the events in Kosovo another genocide like the Nazis on the Jews, and MILOSEVIC another HITLER. The international community has the responsibility to use all kinds of fit and proper means to stop these acts of violence and prevent further casualties and loss of lives.

But we are not saying that the NATO air attacks on Yugoslavia are justified. It is very much doubtful that the real motives behind the NATO attacks led by the United States and Britain are that noble or high-sounding as these attacks are professed to be. But even if this issue is put aside, the war should be condemned for it does nothing to make the ethnic Albanians live peacefully in Kosovo.

War in Kosovo has been going on for around one and a half months, but there is no sign of Serbian troops retreating from the place. Support for MILOSEVIC in the Yugoslavian union, on the other hand, is increasing. It can thus be seen that these air raids are basically useless. And it can be said that more harms are done before anything positive can be seen. For the air raids have led to the death of quite a few hundred Yugoslav civilians, including three of our compatriots in the Chinese Embassy. A huge exodus of ethnic Albanian refugees flooded out of Kosovo as they were driven out by the Serbs. In just about 10 days after the war had begun, about 315 000 ethnic Albanians were already forced out of the territory, 200 000 more than the number of people who fled the country during the year before the war had started.

I would like to mention here that NATO has been using a radioactive weapon made from depleted uranium in these air attacks. Depleted uranium would lead to severe environmental pollution with resulting effects like a continued destruction of the human food chain, and people exposed to it are more prone to deadly diseases like cancer and leukemia. NATO claimed that the war had been started to make to make it possible for ethnic Albanians to live in Kosovo and practise self-rule, but will Kosovo still be fit for human habitation after the baptism of fire by radioactive weapons?

As the NATO air attacks have been proven futile, and in view of such a deploring loss of lives, they should be stopped right away. The United Nations and some neutral countries should start peace-making efforts and work out some solutions to the problem.

Madam President, the people of Hong Kong have been quite insensitive to the events in Kosovo and things happening around the world. Were it not for the bombing on our Embassy, Kosovo would never have become a focus of our attention. Things which are about justice and about any humanitarian causes go beyond national boundaries and races. I hope that the people of Hong Kong can show greater concern and be more outspoken in condemning other international events of injustice like what they have done this time.

Madam President, I so submit.

MR CHAN KWOK-KEUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, three guided missiles launched from different directions hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, reducing the five-storeyed building to a mere skeleton and causing heavy casualties.

NATO, headed by the United States, always boasts about the sophistication of their weapons and the precision of their military movements. NATO's claim that this is another "mistaken bombing" is a downright lie told with open eyes. Hardly anyone in the world would believe it.

NATO has bombed Yugoslavia wantonly and indiscriminately for over 40 days now and caused heavy damages there. But the problem has remained unresolved and the dawn of peace is yet to be seen. To answer violence with violence will not settle any international disputes. Although NATO claims the aim of bombing Yugoslavia is to reduce its military power, these bombings have caused enormous casualties and destroyed innumerous civil facilities. NATO insists that Yugoslav civilians are killed "by mistake", another typical "international lie".

NATO's military action is now caught in a dilemma. The deliberate "mistaken bombing" of our Embassy has aroused the Chinese people's strong resentment. This is another incident provoked by the United States and the real motive behind it still awaits analysis. Bombing the Chinese Embassy is no different from bombing the Chinese territory. The loss of lives is irredeemable. In light of that, young students all over China have staged massive demonstrations to protest against the atrocity of the United States and NATO. People's anti-American sentiment has run high and cannot be contained.

In her last article in this warring zone in Yugoslavia, "When will NATO's mistakes end?", SHAO Yunhuan, the Xinhua News Agency reporter killed in this incident, questions how many more innocent civilians in the Union Republic of Yugoslavia will meet a tragic death brought by these "unavoidable mistakes". Who would have expected that less than a week after the article had been released, her residence in the Chinese Embassy was hit by such "mistakenly" guided missile of NATO's and SHAO Yunhuan also met a tragic death herself? Although I do not know her, the humanitarian touches in her writings have left me with a very deep impression. I hope that the death of this brave journalist who dared danger and held fast to her post to report what actually happens in the warring zone will bring the dawn of peace to Yugoslavia, and the world will do her justice.

Madam President, I so submit.

MR JAMES TIEN: Madam President, the Liberal Party condemns the bombing of our country's Embassy in Yugoslavia by NATO and the United States and feel deep sorrow for the loss of three lives and many of those wounded. The situation now demands not only raw emotion, but also composure.

I know the United States up close and personal. My children, wife and myself were educated at American universities. I see the country's virtues and flaws. I dislike American violence that has been institutionalized and sometimes glorified. But I am also impressed by American ingenuity, resilience, optimism and qualities that also abound in Hong Kong.

To me, our territory is the natural filter through which China can distill the best from the United States and discard the rest.

The Liberal Party cannot accept the United States' statement and excuses for what went wrong with the NATO bombing. But we also want to speak on what has gone wrong in Sino-American relations over the past 10 years that created the mistrust, the rancour and recriminations, which went up when the missiles came down.

For a decade, we have seen, from the Hong Kong point, some American political figures and the United States media who want to turn China from friend to foe. They have done this in the paranoid belief that China, strong and unified, would be a menace not just to the United States but also to western civilization. We have heard them say that it is better to fight the next world war on this side of the Pacific than on theirs.

They are the ones who have lobbied Congress and pressured President CLINTON to antagonize and alienate China repeatedly as well as to disown the engagement principle that has guided American relations with China.

We have seen their work in pushing the United States into an aggressive posture, forging a military alliance with Japan against Chinese interest, meddling in Taiwan, promoting Tibetan independence, and imposing impossible conditions on Chinese entry into the World Trade Organization. Much of this is done behind the claims of human rights, fair trade and self-determination. There is no appreciation or tolerance of a different culture, a different set of problems, a different set of priorities and a different people.

Hong Kong was, for a time, another front in the psychological war. Doomsayers among us were given a lot of airtime on American television and space in the United States publications. The picture of Hong Kong they depicted was so distorted that we did not have much of a chance to reflect the truth to the American audience.

I sense that most Americans are sensitive to the struggle of the Chinese people for stability, prosperity, and unity. I base my conviction in the knowledge that Americans' own ancestors had also struggled for the same things through revolutions and civil war.

We can turn back the tide of hostility, starting here in Hong Kong where we host over 30 000 American expatriates. Our people by their hospitality towards our American friends and neighbours demonstrate that not only can we co-exist, but we can co-operate. This grace of ours has already been proven by the distinction we have drawn between the Americans in our midst and the minority who are trying to sabotage relations and make ugly the world.

Madam President, when terrorists bombed two American embassies in Africa last year, the United States went ballistic, firing missiles on Sudan and Afghanistan. Even though the Americans claimed that the bombing in Belgrade last weekend was a bad accident, they should understand the sense of outrage and loss that the Chinese people feel. This outpour of feelings is not "manipulated by the Chinese Government", as some western critics are trying to say, but a genuine grassroots emotion. But this emotion of ours did not evolve into irrational extremes. We controlled our temper, however just our indignation is. The Chinese leadership is fully cognizant of this and is expressing China's indignation on the diplomatic front.

Madam President, I mourn for the victims in Yugoslavia, the Serbs, Albanians, Muslims, Christians and Chinese.

Now I ask President CLINTON to apologize formally to a mourning China and also meet the four conditions demanded by China. Hong Kong always benefits from good Sino-American relations. Let the United States and China use this tragedy to rebuild this relationship.

With these remarks, the Liberal Party supports the motion.

MR ANDREW CHENG (in Cantonese): Madam President, the NATO air attacks on Yugoslavia headed by the United States and Britain have been going on for well over a month. We are shocked to learn that the Chinese Embassy has also come under the devastating attack of NATO guided missiles. Chinese people all over the world are united in their condemnation of the NATO bombing and demand that NATO should assume full responsibility for it.

The centuries-old nationalistic rivalries in the Balkan peninsula are all but easy to come to a peaceful conclusion. In an attempt to keep peace at Kosovo, the United States-led NATO has killed three of our reporters and one of our embassy staff and wounding more than 20 people. The Democratic Party wishes to express its deep condolences for the dead. The people of Hong Kong also find it hard to suppress their upsurge in nationalistic sentiments.

An embassy is the territory of a country. Under international law, it is sacred and inviolable. It should be protected even in the event of a war. The attack on the Chinese Embassy is an act of infringement on Chinese sovereignty. The armed attack has inflicted casualties and deaths of Chinese nationals in the Embassy. The United States-led NATO group has violated the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents. China therefore has the full right to ask the International Court of Justice to demand that NATO should bear the responsibility for the deaths, casualties and loss of property suffered in the bombing.

Madam President, now that the Chinese Embassy has been bombed, but the United States and NATO are trying to water down the gravity of the event. They have done nothing to explain the causes of the mistake and what they intend to compensate and remedy China and the families of the victims. The Democratic Party wishes to express its profound regret and strong indignation over this.

The demands made by China are rightful, fully justified and in keeping with international law. Although President CLINTON of the United States is beginning to listen to the Chinese people's call for justice, he must act swiftly according to international law and assume responsibility for this. Remedies must be made as soon as possible so that the issue can be resolved in a reasonable manner.

It is outrageous to see that the United States-led NATO is trying to block Chinese attempts to pass a resolution to condemn the event in the United Nations. This has aroused the indignation of all Chinese. In places all over China, including Hong Kong, people are holding mass rallies and demonstrations, showing that the Chinese people are sharing and feeling the pain inflicted on themselves in this NATO attack.

Madam President, the deaths of SHAO Yunhuan and the other innocent Chinese are a bloody accusation of the atrocities of the United States-led NATO. For the people of Kosovo, it is a heart-rending call for peace.

Facts have shown that after more than 40 days of senseless bombing, the Kosovar refugees are still unable to get out of their plight. They are still being slaughtered and made homeless. Days of bombing must have killed a lot of innocent civilians and more killings and fightings will continue.

Madam President, Mr GANDHI, the father of independent India and an advocate of nonviolence, once said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind". We believe that this is a truth. For when violence is done to answer violence, there will be more violence in this world. Although we hold different political views in this Chamber, the pains and sorrow we feel are the same. Our wish to end this ethnic cleansing is clear. And our fervent hope for peace is one.

Madam President, this tragedy has intensified the conflicts and contradictions between the call for human rights and nationalist claims. In this burning hope for peace on earth and an opposition to answer violence with violence, I believe these conflicts and contradictions will one day be resolved.

May I end my speech by quoting a verse from the Book of Proverbs in the Bible: "Hatred stirs up strifes, but love covers all sins." Please allow me to present this to all of Honourable colleagues in this Chamber holding different political views and to mankind in general. If we can make this our guiding light, we can truly have peace on earth.

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

MR MA FUNG-KWOK (in Cantonese): Madam President, last Saturday, our embassy in Yugoslavia was bombed by the United States-led NATO warplanes. Three innocent Chinese journalists and one Chinese citizen were killed. More than 20 people were injured. We are shocked and indignant to learn of such gross infringement of our sovereignty.

It must be pointed out that after the incident, both the United States and NATO stressed that the incident was a mistargeting. If this is so, then there should at least be an instantaneous, solemn and sincere apology. But that we have not seen. If this is a mistargeting, then there has to be a serious and thorough investigation. But that we have not heard of. What we have seen and heard so far are a whole series of purposeful cover-ups, lame excuses, outright evasions and deliberate shirking of responsibilities. It is an extremely irresponsible reaction. Not a word of pledge is given from NATO or the United States that thorough investigations will be made. This kind of appalling behaviour simply stretches our wildest imagination. At last, in the presence of a nation-wide uproar and protest in China, a belated and far-from-being-sincere apology is given. It gives one reason to suspect that there may be some sinister motive behind such a move.

During the 40-odd days of NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia, bombings intensified and escalated, more and more facilities become targets of these demented attacks. Bridges, television stations, oil refineries, power stations, hospitals, residential buildings and such like civilian targets were blitzed. Recently, even the humanitarian assistance troops and the Chinese Embassy were attacked. This kind of military actions show that NATO is acting in blatant disregard of human rights, not giving the slightest concern for human lives.

The United States has always claimed that it is most concerned about human rights. It is always saying that it will protect the cause of justice and peace. But behind these high-sounding ideals, there is a series of barbaric acts and bloody slaughter. The Yugoslav people, the Albanians, the Chinese all have a right to survive like the Americans.

The Government of the United States has offered explanations on the bombing of the Chinese Embassy on a number of occasions. But these explanations are inconsistent and seriously flawed. The official line is that the intelligence did not have time to check the military map. This is a most absurd explanation, an insult to our intelligence. For how many innocent people would have lost their lives had the target been a hospital or a school instead? It is simply outrageous to find a government which has always been talking about the protection of human rights, peace and humanitarian ideals to have reacted in such an irresponsible manner.

As these advanced countries headed by the United States do not need to send ground troops into the battlefield, it can well be said that they would not sustain any casualties. When their people are watching the television for news from the battlefield, it is like they are taking part in an electronic war game. They can never feel the physical pain of the injuries and loss of human lives. Nor will they sense the trauma of the loss of loved ones and shattered homes. They do not have to pay for the price of war. Therefore, they are simply taking a nonchalant and uninterested attitude to the question of whether their government should be involved in military actions abroad. Opposition and checks are therefore non-existent.

After the end of the Second World War and with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, the United States came to dominate the world arena. It can use its strong economy and advanced war machine to rule the world. It sets the values and beliefs and demand the world to follow. If it does not feel like the values of other countries, it will resort to force. This is in fact a kind of hegemony by moral values. It is an interference of other people's thoughts, culture and values in the name of morality. Such an interference is not restricted to the military, political and economic spheres. It has invaded into the lives of other people and imposed restraints on human behaviour. The United States Government has changed from being a policeman of the world into an overlord of the world.

The racial and religious conflicts in Kosovo, Yugoslavia should be our concern and they should be resolved. But that is a long-standing and very complicated problem. Can this problem which is a centuries-old legacy of the Crusades be solved by NATO air strikes? No. These air raids are an act by NATO to expand eastwards and to clear up the obstacles in its path.

We must stop this situation from getting worse. Many people in Hong Kong and the rest of the world have been cheated. We must open our eyes to this naked attempt of hegemony to expand in the name of human rights and morality.

Now NATO has evolved from a military organization opposing the Warsaw Pact countries in the Cold War era to a military and invading camp practising moral hegemony. NATO can expand and invade wilfully in the name of the protection of human rights and peace-keeping. The United Nations is handicapped in its peace-keeping functions because such functions have been made null and void by the United States-led NATO. They would take the law into their own hands should the United Nations show any sign of disapproval. Troops would be sent to intervene, at the expense of thousands of lives. And the greatest irony in this is that everything they do is done in the name of peace.

China has made a solemn demand on the United States-led NATO to conduct a thorough investigation into the bombing of the Embassy, make the findings public and penalize the offenders. I am in full support of the demand because I think it is necessary and justified. I also hope that NATO will stop its military actions and hand over the Kosovar issue and the peace-keeping responsibility to the United Nations.

May I offer my deepest condolences and sympathies to those compatriots and Yugoslav people killed in the NATO air strikes.

I so submit to condemn vehemently the bombing of our Embassy in Yugoslavia by the United States and NATO.

MR CHEUNG MAN-KWONG (in Cantonese): Madam President, on behalf of the education sector in Hong Kong I speak to condemn strongly the bombing of our Embassy in Yugoslavia by the United States and NATO which killed a number of our compatriots. Our Embassy is part of our territory and our compatriots are as close and precious to us as our lives. We cannot stand their becoming the victims and targets of the United States and NATO war machine. At this time when we are offering our condolences to our compatriots killed for no justifiable cause in the bombing, our hearts are filled with yet greater grief and indignation. We want to condemn the acts of bullying, violence and the slaughter of innocents done by hegemonist countries. We want to condemn the barbaric acts of oppression, cleansing, expulsion and obliteration of ethnic minorities.

We condemn the bullying of the weak and the helpless. After the loss of their autonomous status, the ethnic Albanians in the Kosovo region of Yugoslavia have been subject to all sorts of oppression by the Serbs in Yugoslavia. A year ago, before the start of full-scale fighting in Kosovo, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union (PTU) to which I belong received a letter from the Albanian teachers' union in Kosovo calling for help. They told us their sad story of an eight-year struggle under ethnic cleansing and massacres. And even to this day, they are still forbidden to learn in the Albanian language. The Serbian regime has closed all the schools for Albanians under the pretext of suppressing illegal activities. 6 000 ethnic Albanian secondary school teachers and 800 university lecturers were fired and a much greater suppression followed. In March 1998, close to 100 ethnic Albanian civilians were killed by Serbian troops, many of them being teachers and students. Then a call for help reached the PTU. At that time, we organized a donation campaign to ask the teachers of Hong Kong to help the families of the teachers and students who were killed. Later we received a letter of thanks from that war-torn killing field.

The reason why I am telling this old story is that I wish to testify in this Council that the oppression and ethnic cleansing that the ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia are experiencing are the truth, nothing but the truth. Countless Albanians are slaughtered in the course of ethnic cleansing and many more are heading towards death and destruction. They are alone and helpless. No one bothers to come to their rescue. If there are people in this world who believe in the right of these people to live, they should offer help, stop the killings and let peace reign in Kosovo again.

Nevertheless, peace must not be secured through the use of an even greater degree of violence. The bombing of Yugoslavia by the United States and NATO is another form of the strong oppressing the weak, and answering violence with yet greater violence. More civilians are killed in these violent air strikes. These include our Serbian and Albanian brothers and sisters. These include our Chinese compatriots who lost their lives. We strongly condemn ethnic cleansing and the use of violence to stop violence. Anyone who practises and condones ethnic cleansing and promotes the cause of this kind of an-eye-for-an-eye air raids does not deserve to see the coming of the new millennium, for they have encroached on human rights, butchered peace and become the common enemies of mankind.

I therefore call for the air strikes to stop, the ethnic cleansing to stop and the war to stop. People must learn from the many tragedies of the 20th century, and from the history of the Balkans, this arsenal of Europe. They must learn from the Second World War and countless racial massacres which took place in this century. For if they do not, the next century will come amid gunfire and battle cries, our civilization is likely to be obliterated and countless lives put to an abrupt end. It will be another Dark Ages for mankind. And all the world will be drowned in tears.

Lastly, I wish to tell Miss CHOY So-yuk calmly that the Democratic Party takes part in today's debate because we want to make our indignation known to the world by shouting with one unified voice and passing one motion unanimously. Please do not create any dissension and sow any seeds of bitterness on this issue of cardinal rights and wrongs that is the concern of the Chinese people and the whole of mankind. We have had too much dissension and bitterness. Why does there need to have such a hostility among us? Do we not come from the same roots? Do we not belong to the same country and the same human race? I hope my message can be heard loud and clear by Miss CHOY, and by all our Honourable colleagues and friends. Thank you, Madam President.

MISS CYD HO (in Cantonese): Madam President, I would like to speak on behalf of the Frontier to support the motion moved by Dr LEONG Che-hung to condemn NATO. Just now I saw Mr CHAU Tak-hay, the Secretary for Trade and Industry here. I got very worried because I thought in the speech he would give later he would talk about what kind of economic loss we would suffer if we were to condemn NATO. I hope that is not what he wants to say later. For when the issues of the loss of human lives and sovereignty are at stake, there is absolutely no room for compromise by giving any consideration to economic interests.

As a matter of fact, I think we are a bit ashamed today for we have responded too slowly. The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia has been going on for more than a month. It may be that too many things are happening around us in Hong Kong that we have become less sensitive to war and things which destroy peace. Or it may be that we are infested with a lot of problems eating into the core of our society that we have become insensitive to life. With the loss of the lives of three compatriots, Hong Kong can at least face squarely the NATO bombing and the senseless killing of civilians there.

Many Honourable colleagues have talked about many historical facts. It was because of countless blunders made in the past that people of different races and religious beliefs came to kill and reject each other. This has killed our compatriots in Yugoslavia for no reason at all. The deaths of these people in an alien land must be addressed squarely by all who cherish human rights and freedom. We must reduce the use of force and promote peace on earth.

Madam President, recently I have become more and more aware of the rejection of different communities between themselves. Sad to say, Hong Kong is beginning to move in this direction as well. We see different races and communities in Yugoslavia rejecting each other and being hostile to each other. When this goes to an extreme, tragic events like this can happen. Therefore, we should guard ourselves against this and avoid using any means which will arouse and provoke sentiments to achieve our goals.

Some superpowers in the world have double standards on human lives. Those of their nationals worth a lot, while those of the nationals of other countries worth very little. In this period of more than a month, a huge amount of highly radioactive uranium has been dropped from the Kosovar sky by NATO warplanes. This has not just caused instant injuries and deaths among the civilians, but also caused long and lasting damage to the local environment and harm to the survivors who will settle on the land again.

I would like to quote two extracts from a speech made by President CLINTON of the United States after the bombing of the United States Embassy in Kenya in 1998. The first one is: "These acts of terrorist violence are abhorrent. They are inhuman. We will use all the means at our disposal to bring those responsible people to justice no matter what or how long it takes." The second one goes like this: "No matter what it takes, we must find those responsible for these evil acts and see that justice is done."

Madam President, there are a lot of administrations in this world characterized by outright hypocrisy. Very often they would resort to war abroad to divert discontent at home. So if human rights and freedom are really to be protected, power must come from the people. It is only when people all over the world can unite together that this lofty ideal be attained.

The life of every human being is extremely precious. It does not matter whether he or she is of a lowly birth. The loss of a loved one means an irreparable loss to the family. Madam President, I offer my heart-felt condolences to all Chinese who were killed in the war. Numerous people have laid down their lives to protect our motherland which has been weak since the late Qing Dynasty and remains so even to this very day. I also want to make use of this opportunity to pay tribute to all Chinese who lost their lives in the course of striving for more human rights and greater freedom in China. It is my wish and hope that the life of every Chinese will be respected and protected like every other person, no matter where he or she may be, and whether it is at a time of war or peace. Thank you, Madam President.

MR JASPER TSANG (in Cantonese): Madam President, there were a lot of repetitions in many Honourable colleagues' speeches just now, some remarks were almost identical and repeated by all of those who have spoken. I saying this, I do not mean disrespect to my colleagues, nor am I getting impatient with such repeated remarks or consider them superfluous. I do not mean that because we will naturally utter the same words when we share the same stance and feelings.

Dr LEONG Che-hung, our Chairman of the House Committee, called on colleagues in this Council to put aside conflicts between different parties and factions for the sake of safeguarding world peace and national dignity. At first, I thought it would be an easy task because we would not have disagreement on this matter. For example, I fully agree with Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung's analysis of the racial conflicts in Albania and his position on the bombing launched by NATO. Mr Albert HO's speech earlier was delivered with the force of justice and weight. With his permission, I would have no hesitation in reciting his entire speech in the name of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong. However, I cannot help but feel surprised and sad after listening to Mr Martin LEE's speech. As a matter of fact, most of what Mr LEE had to say was also a repetition of other people's remarks. The difference is that what he repeated were not the remarks made by other Members but those made by some American officials after the bombing of our Embassy. Apart from denouncing the Serb Government's atrocities, he did not condemn NATO for launching the bombing, nor did he say anything in support of the justified demand by our country and people. He just repeated the remarks made by the United States Defence Secretary and ridiculed our compatriots' ignorance of what is happening in Yugoslavia as well as the atrocities committed by the Serb Government, leaving the impression that such ignorance has prompted many of our people to take to the streets with indignation and consider the bombing of our Embassy unforgivable.

I wish to respond on two points. If our people are said to be ignorant of what is happening in Yugoslavia due to the clamp down on information by the government, how about their counterparts in the United Kingdom and the United States, both of which have an open society and unrestricted flow of information. How much do they know about what is happening in Yugoslavia? Madam President, at the beginning of the bombing, I happened to be in the United Kingdom. During my 10-day stay in London, I closely watched the reaction of the media and people there. Opinion polls conducted by the British media indicated that 80% of the British people opposed NATO's air strikes at the beginning of the bombing. However, as the bombing went on, more and more people changed their positions. Why? We do not have to speculate on this as analysts there made two observations: First, after the air strikes were launched, the daily appearance of bloody pictures on newspapers and TV screens depicting how ethnic Albanian minorities were persecuted by the Serb Government made more and more British and American people feel this war unavoidable. In addition, these analysts pointed out that another factor was that many people in western countries had developed the mentality after the Gulf War that the waging of war was an efficient means whereby the precision of sophisticated weapons was comparable to that of surgery, and a press on the button would be what it takes to target the devils and destroy them without harming civilians there, and more importantly, there would not be any risk of casualties for their own people. Therefore, the shooting down of one jet-fighter sent shock waves across the country: "why was our plane shot down"; "the capture of three of our soldiers by the enemy is unacceptable" and "how could our fellow countrymen be captured by the enemy?" They seemed to have forgotten that this was a war. Let us imagine that if the people of a country have such a concept of war, is this not an extremely dangerous signal to world peace? I do not wish to defend the Serb Government because I did see many ethnic Albanian minorities in Kosovo be subjected to persecution. Nevertheless, just now several colleagues from the Democratic Party repeated their opposition to the idea of answering violence with violence, which reminds me of the similar reasons cited by Mr LEE in the past, whom I hold in respect, for opposing the reintroduction of capital punishment. Should we be against the idea of answering violence with violence in respect of individual atrocities but condone the use of large scale bombing to stop other atrocities and therefore endanger civilians? I believe this is not what the Democratic Party means. I am also aware that the party held a meeting next door just now and I hope that Mr LEE has not told those present at that meeting of what he said just now. Thank you, Madam President.

PROF NG CHING-FAI (in Cantonese): Madam President, three missiles fired by the United States-led NATO destroyed the People's Republic of China's Embassy in Yugoslavia, killing three people and wounding more than 20. Such an outrageous act has aroused strong condemnation from Chinese people in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and other parts of the world as well as other peace-loving people around the world. Over the past several days, crowds after crowds of protesters flowed past the United States Consulate General office in Garden Road. Why has such a strong reaction been aroused? Because it is rare in history for an international military organization to bypass the United Nations and launch unbridled bombing of non-military facilities in a sovereign country without declaring war on it, as well as target a neutral country's embassy for bombing. This is a gross violation of the United Nations Charter as well as the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, an act of trampling on international law, a downright act of invasion and another form of terrorism. It is no wonder that there is a new meaning of the acronym for NATO in the United States: New American Terrorist Organization. The United States Government and NATO must bear the blame and formally apologize to the Chinese people and compensate for all of our losses.

Madam President, the United States bombed Yugoslavia on the pretext of protecting ethnic Albanian minorities from persecution by the Serbs. However, in other similar circumstances, such as the border clash between Ethiopia and Algeria in which the number of casualties was bigger, the suppression of Kurds by Turkey as mentioned by some colleagues, terrorists killing innocent people in Chechen in Central Asia and numerous examples, why was the United States not seen to uphold justice in these places? Why did the United States not dispatch bombers and missiles to these places? Such multiple standards are characteristic of the way the United States handles international affairs. As pointed out by many colleagues, the true purpose of the United States is to protect its own interests instead of upholding justice.

In fact, if the United States is allowed to bomb its way in Yugoslavia under the banner of saving ethnic Albanian minorities, that will mean the United States, as the world's only superpower, may intervene wherever it wants and invade other countries as it so wishes. If so, where can we find justice, human rights and equality in the world?

Madam President, we are indignant when we see the United States-led NATO's indiscriminate killing of innocent people in Yugoslavia, its gross violation of international law as well as its bombing of our Embassy in Yugoslavia. However, it is most important that we must not look at these matters from a nationalist point of view alone, we should have a wider international vision to ascertain the multiple standards and hypocratic characteristic of the way the United States handles international affairs. As "two brothers", the United States and United Kingdom are actively selling their concept of a new world order, which is actually a form of hegemonism under the disguise of morality. It such a concept is allowed to spread and deceive innocent people, it will be disastrous to peace-loving people around the world. This form of hegemonism under the cloak of justice and morality will be the biggest source of threat to world peace in the 21st century.

Madam President, fake goods cannot stand verification and a simple chemical test will differentiate gold from copper. We are glad to see peace-loving people around the world take to the streets to protest, or write to condemn NATO for what it has done. Even some NATO members, such as France and Italy, are opposed to the continued bombing. It seems to me that the hegemony of the United States and United Kingdom will not last long. The people of Hong Kong with an international vision should join with Chinese people in other parts of the world and people from around the world, including American people, to contain the spread of the concept of a new world order and to reaffirm the United Nations as the mechanism for resolving national conflicts in the world.

Madam President, tonight we mourn the death of those at the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia. At the same time, we should also mourn the deaths of hundred of thousands of innocent Yugoslavian people of all nationalities who have been killed in this conflict. We are obliged to support Dr LEONG's motion.

DR YEUNG SUM (in Cantonese): Madam President, I had no intention to speak as many Members from the Democratic Party have already spoken. I feel that in this debate, everyone directs his attention to and unanimously condemn NATO for bombing our Embassy in Yugoslavia. However, the speech of Mr Martin LEE earlier has somewhat aroused the Honourable Jasper TSANG's resentment and hence I would like to make a response.

Mr Jasper TSANG said that he was very disappointed with Mr Martin LEE for not expressing in his speech any condemnation of the NATO's bombing of our Embassy in Yugoslavia. I have read his speech and he has actually mentioned this point. There is no need for me to read it out again as everyone can find it in the record of the meeting. He mourns the killings of our Chinese compatriots and also condemns the atrocity of bombing our Embassy in Yugoslavia. He has indeed make such a point.

Secondly, from the speech of Mr Jasper TSANG delivered earlier, it is very clear that he is very familiar with the ethnic conflicts in the Balkans. I believe that what Mr Martin LEE has mainly wished to say is that there is a background for NATO to carry out the air raid. He wishes to bring it out clearly that the background was the grave ethnic cleansing by the Serb Government against the ethnic Albanians. I think what he mainly wants to bring out is this.

I also wish to take this opportunity to tell Members that this afternoon, Mr Martin LEE wrote to Mr CLINTON, the President of the United States, on behalf of the Democratic Party. As the letter has been sent out, I am not at liberty to read the original text out here. I can only highlight the main points and tell Members the Democratic Party's position on this issue and basically we are in full support of Dr the Honourable LEONG Che-hung's motion.

In light of this incident, first of all, we condemn NATO's destroying of our Embassy in Yugoslavia by missiles. There is no doubt about that. Second, we demand that NATO conduct a thorough investigation into this incident, make public the findings, compensate for our losses, and find out who is to blame.

To the claim that there is a difference between our stand and the Central Government's, I have to disagree. We have made our stand very clear in the letter.

Lastly, we also express in the letter our wish that the Sino-American relationship will not deteriorate further as a result of this, because basically, both China and the United States want to maintain the relationship between them. As Dr the Honourable David LI has said just now, this relation is of great significance to the economic and social development of China, Hong Kong and even the whole world.

Perhaps we have differences in our choice of words, but I would like to stress that we are unanimous in condemning this atrocity of NATO's. The bombing of the Chinese Embassy is tantamount to an infringement of Chinese sovereignty. Against that, the Democratic Party bears the same grudge as any others. I do not wish to see that our different choice of words would arouse such resentment of Mr Jasper TSANG again. Here, I would like to make our position clear on behalf of the Democratic Party.

Finally, I would like to point out it is our wish that the conflict in the Balkans will be settled by peaceful means. At the same time, we also wish that the ethnic cleansing by the Serbs will be ended through peaceful mediation soon.

Thank you, Madam President.

MR SZETO WAH (in Cantonese): Madam President, my speech was finished quite a while ago, but I choose to deliver it now because I want to know whether each of my sentences has been said by other people. Indeed, each of my sentences has been repeated many times, which is a testimony to the fact that what I want to say is something on which people feel and think alike.

Madam President, under international law, a country's embassy and consulate in another country are regarded as the former's territory. Therefore, the United States-led NATO's bombing of our Embassy in Yugoslavia, which resulted in many casualties, is an outrageous violation of our territory and sovereignty. Such a barbarous and unlawful act must be strongly condemned. Chinese people from Beijing to Hong Kong and around world are indignant and take to the streets to protest, demonstrating the unity of our nationals.

Our Central Government has put forward four demands: (1) an apology and compensation be offered; (2) a thorough investigation be carried out; (3) the result of the investigation be made public; and (4) those who are found to be responsible be punished. These four demands are justified and solemn. We will firmly support them.

This incident has not only involved the violation of our territory and sovereignty, but also worsened the international situation, threatening world peace. Peace-loving people around the world must be alert to the intensification of the conflicts and the spread and escalation of the war. To answer violence with violence has never been the proper solution. We call on the United States-led NATO to immediately stop the bombing and Yugoslavia to immediately stop the racial persecution. Both sides should work together again in an effort to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict so that the world will be able to greet the new millennium in peace.

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

MR LEE CHEUK-YAN (in Cantonese): Madam President, I support Dr LEONG Che-hung's motion on behalf of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and the Frontier. I will not repeat what many colleagues have expressed in indignation, namely, condemnation, demands for an apology, compensation, an investigation to find out the truth and punish those responsible. I believe that these are views shared by every Member in this Council.

I wish to point out that I fully agree with what Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung has said, that is, the whole incident concerns not just NATO's bombing of the Chinese Embassy, in which three of our compatriots were killed, but also the ethnic cleansing of Albanian minorities in Kosovo by the Serbs in Yugoslavia. We should condemn the Serbs. We should also condemn NATO for its bombings over the past 48 days which have killed so many innocent Yugoslavian civilians. My basic belief is that no government should have the right to kill the people, no matter whether they are foreigners or its own people. We condemn NATO not just for bombing the Chinese Embassy, resulting in casualties for Chinese people, but also for its military actions which have caused suffering to Yugoslavian people of various nationalities. At the same time, we should not tolerate the persecution of ethnic Albanian minorities.

We condemn atrocities whereby people were killed because we believe that everyone has the right to survive, a basic human right that must not be deprived. Therefore, as we condemn NATO for killing our compatriots, we should also reflect on why we did not take any action in the past to openly oppose the ethnic cleansing of the Albanian minorities by the Serbs, or NATO's air strikes against Yugoslavia? Are we too late? Are we also to blame for such gross violation of human rights? Did the silence of the majority encourage such violence?

Today, I am pleased to note that many colleagues have expressed their love for peace. But if we are pacifists, we must translate our wishes into action. Apart from this incident, we should also pay attention to other acts of violence which happen all the time around the world, the act of violence by the regimes against the people. Therefore, wherever a regime uses violence against its people in the world, we should condemn it and support the people's struggle. I wish to draw Members' attention to East Timor and Burma where the people there are subjected to suppression. If we really want to seek world peace, wherever ethnic cleansing or suppression takes place, or the people are suppressed by a regime, we should stand up and condemn it and support the people's struggle.

Many colleagues have said just now that the Chinese people have "stood up" in this incident. These largest scale demonstrations since the June 4 incident have given play to people's power. As a matter of fact, this incident is of immediate concern to Chinese people, that is why we protest. But more importantly, if we consider patriotic sentiment in a more profound sense, I totally agree with what Mr Edward HO has said, that is, we must have a movement to improve ourselves. However, what Mr HO has stressed is self-improvement in respect of economy and people's livelihood while I believe that it is more important to carry forward the spirit of the May 4 Movement, that is, we must improve ourselves in respect of democracy and science. Only in this way can China be on an equal footing on the international stage along with other countries in addition to possessing a stronger force of morality.

Many colleagues said that the American regime were hypocritical and practised double standards in promoting democracy and human rights. In fact, all regimes are hypocritical and we should not cherish any illusions about them. However, when we condemn regimes for being hypocritical and practising double standards, I do not think we are condemning democracy and human rights because everyone is entitled to these and they are universal values not confined to the United States and Europe alone. I do not think that both the United States and Europe have brought such values into full play. In fact, no place in the world is adequate in this respect and it will ultimately depend on the people to fight for themselves. Therefore, I hope that, despite our opposition to the United States regime, we will not deny these values as they are universal. Otherwise, the spirit of the May 4 Movement I mentioned earlier, which can make China strong and prosperous and become a strong force of morality and have a stronger power of civilization on the international stage, will never be realized.

Thank you, Madam President.

MRS SOPHIE LEUNG (in Cantonese): Madam President, today, after hearing many Honourable colleagues' speeches on the motion, we know that all of them are in support of Dr LEONG Che-hung's motion. As for me, having listened to their speeches, all sorts of feelings go up in my mind. I think that it is a sad story for my generation because our knowledge of the motherland is very limited as a result of the environment in which we were brought up, namely, the British colonial era.

I went to the United States for schooling at about 10. There was a popular saying then that if you wanted to go overseas for schooling, you had better not walk past a Chinese emporium. If you were photographed patronizing such a department store and therefore displaying your love for your country or any connection with your country, your application to go overseas for schooling would definitely be rejected. I lived in the United States for eight years, which I treasure very much as I made many friends during this period and have been keeping in touch with them for many years. During my stay in the United States, I was still an ardent youth full of ideals and went on to make many friends from South America. They were angry because the United States always considered itself as the America. Actually, the America also included South America, so how could the United States say that it ruled the America? And my South American friends said: "We do not have the opportunity to develop because our only and best product ─ coffee beans ─ has been bought out by the United States at a particularly low price, who then hands out some money hypocritically in the name of assisting us in community development."

I heard a lot of such remarks when I was young. However, if you ask me: "Do you like American people?" I will say: "Yes, definitely." I like and adore American people very much because, apart from enjoying a high degree of freedom, they have the mentality to let individuals freely realize their potential and creativity. These are their aspects that I admire. Moreover, our education system is also way behind theirs. Nevertheless, as many of my colleagues have mentioned, politicians are ugly. In the United States, politics represents the mentality of power politics. I believe that no Member will dispute this. People have a kind nature, but individuals will be susceptible to corruption once given power. You do not have to look for proof from a whole country as certain individuals have offered ample proof in this respect.

Although it is sad for my generation because of a lack of knowledge of our country, I hope that the younger generation will make more efforts to get to know more about the country and protect it irrespective of some hypocritical arguments put forward by my generation, especially in view of the fact that we are now under the leadership of the Special Administrative Region Government. What is the most important thing is for them to know it for themselves. The exchanges between peoples, cultural exchanges and economic and trade exchanges, the future integration of the world, are the way that we must follow. I hope that, unlike the present one which is full of the mentality of power politics, the world will enjoy greater peace in the future. We must also have our own way instead of blindly following others in respect of democracy, human rights and women's rights. Having spent eight years in the United States, I have come to realize the meanings of the so-called human rights, double standards and women's rights, which are characterized by double standards to a great extent. Therefore, I hope my colleagues will seek to get a clear understanding of the path that we should take in their discussions of the concepts of human rights and women's rights in western countries. Nowadays, a man no longer dares to say to a female colleague: "You have a pretty dress today" or show his gentlemanly manner by opening doors for her. These are the slightest effect.

Let me and young people encourage each other. They have the obligation to uphold justice and know more about the motherland. My generation should also undergo a process of soul-searching on how much we know about our country. So let us encourage each other in this respect.

Madam President, I so submit.

DR LUI MING-WAH (in Cantonese): Madam President, our Embassy in Yugoslavia was attacked by three missiles fired by NATO, in which more than 20 casualties were caused. Such a barbarous act has sparked protests by Chinese people around the world to condemn NATO's atrocity.

I am shocked and angered by this incident. I originally had much to say, but my colleagues in this Council have said what I intended to say as they share the same feelings as mine, therefore I will not repeat their remarks.

Madam President, I do not wish to discuss the rights and wrongs of NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia, nor do I want to speculate about NATO's real purpose of bombing the Chinese Embassy or the reasons why our Embassy was attacked by satellite-guided missiles. However, I do know that the attack on our Embassy was tantamount to an invasion of our territory, and our compatriots also suffered casualties. Madam President, I speak to support our Central Government's four demands to NATO. I support the Legislative Council's motion to condemn NATO.

Madam President, I so submit. Thank you.

MR LEE KAI-MING (in Cantonese): Madam President, I also rise to speak in support of the Chinese Government's four demands and Dr LEONG Che-hung's motion.

In fact, all those Members who have spoken have told the truth of this incident and expressed our indignation, and I am fully appreciative of their views. We all wish to have a peaceful environment, especially in view of the economic recession that Hong Kong is experiencing. As our economy has shown signs of a recovery, we are eager to have a peaceful environment in which to improve our life and economy. However, as an old Chinese saying goes: "The tree may prefer calm but the wind will not subside." Good intentions alone will not be enough for us to achieve our goals.

To date, we have not seen a moderation of hegemonism on the part of the United Kingdom and United States, which has been demonstrated from the Vietnam War to the bombing of Yugoslavia. How can we have a peaceful environment? I believe that this must depend on people's power. Only when the people unite together and wake up to the reality can war be prevented. I believe that the United States would not have ordered that its flags be flown at half-mast had the Chinese people not roared out their indignation.

Therefore, I agree with Dr YEUNG Sum's remark that the Legislative Council this time around has formed a united front. Although various parties are divided on certain issues, they are united and share a common hatred of the enemy on this occasion. I did not intend to speak today but finally changed my mind because this is an occasion to embody the expression of people's views. People all over the world must unite and awaken to stop war.

Thank you, Madam President.

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

(No Member indicated a wish to speak)

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Dr LEONG Che-hung, you may now reply and you have four minutes 39 seconds.

DR LEONG CHE-HUNG: Madam President, I am grateful for Members' expression in their speeches and the support of this motion. But let me say in no uncertain terms that this is not my motion, but the motion of this Council. I am only a vehicle to bring it into fruition.

There are obviously differences in political aspirations in this Council. Yet, the free expression in this Chamber reflects our own true feeling as Chinese nationals, our respect to those who have lost their lives, our concern for those who are injured, our condolence to the relatives and friends who have lost their loved ones, and not least, our condemnation on those who commit unnecessary atrocities.

Where do we go from here?

Whatever anger or contempt will, regretably, never bring back the lives so sorrowfully lost, the property so ridiculously damaged, and worst, the international relationship so unnecessarily broken.

It is imperative that NATO must, without delay, comply to the four reasonable requests of our Central Government. Let us hope that this tragedy will bring about the early settlement of the Kosovo saga by peaceful means.

If this tragedy or this atrocity can bring about such a turnabout, perhaps those who have honourably lost their lives can find comfort in their final resting place, and this globe can be a better place to live in and to raise our families without having to worry about religious conflicts, racial discrimination and inter-personal rivalries. We are, Madam President, one world. We must have one hope and that hope is PEACE, as we move into the next millennium.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): I now put the question to you and that is: That the motion moved by Dr LEONG Che-hung 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)

Mr James TIEN rose to claim a division.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Mr James TIEN has claimed a divsion. The division bell will ring for three minutes.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Will Members please proceed to vote.

PRESIDENT (in Cantonese): Before I declare the result, Members may wish to check their votes. Are their any queries? If not, voting shall now stop and the result will be displayed.

Functional Constituencies:

Mr Kenneth TING, Mr James TIEN, Mr Edward HO, Mr Michael HO, Dr Raymond HO, Mr Eric LI, Mr LEE Kai-ming, Dr LUI Ming-wah, Miss Margaret NG, Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong, Mr Ambrose CHEUNG, Mr HUI Cheung-ching, Mr CHAN Kwok-keung, Mr Bernard CHAN, Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Dr LEONG Che-hung, Mrs Sophie LEUNG, Mr SIN Chung-kai, Dr Philip WONG, Mr WONG Yung-kan, Mr Howard YOUNG, Mr LAU Wong-fat, Mrs Miriam LAU, Mr Timothy FOK, 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, 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 TAM Yiu-chung, Mr NG Leung-sing, Prof NG Ching-fai, Mr MA Fung-kwok, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr YEUNG Yiu-chung, Mr Ambrose LAU and Miss CHOY So-yuk 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, 29 were present and 29 were in favour of the motion; while among the Members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections and by the Election Committee, 26 were present and 25 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 Council until 2.30 pm on Wednesday, 19 May 1999.

Adjourned accordingly at twelve minutes past Eight o'clock.

Annex

WRITTEN ANSWER

Written answer by the Secretary for Transport to Miss CHOY So-yuk's supplementary question to Question 5

The Pedestrian Precinct in Central (Pedestrian Precinct) covers Chater Road, section between Pedder Street and Jackson Road, and Ice House Street, section between Des Voeux Road and Connaught Road Central. The Pedestrian Precinct is open to the public on Sundays and public holidays from 7.00 am to midnight. To cope with the sanitary problems resulting from the crowds, the Urban Services Department (USD) has adopted the following measures on Sundays and public holidays:

(1) Provision of additional litter boxes

Apart from 94 litter bins normally placed in the vicinity, the USD places an additional 106 larger bins as well as two large mobile collection boxes to cater for visitors. The USD will also deploy additional staff to clear the refuse and increase the frequency of refuse collection from four to six times a day.

(2) Stepping up efforts to clean the streets

While the streets are regularly cleaned six times a day on weekdays, more cleaning teams are deployed on Sundays and public holidays, at 4.00 pm and 8.30 pm respectively, to clean the Pedestrian Precinct. When the last cleaning operation is completed, the street vehicles and road surfaces will be washed to prepare for reopening of the Pedestrian Precinct to vehicular traffic on the next day.

(3) Tightening the prosecution against offenders

Additional law enforcement officers will be sent by the USD to patrol the Pedestrian Precinct and the neighbouring areas during holidays to prosecute littering offenders for deterrent effect. Within the past 12 months, there were altogether 254 litter offenders charged by the USD officers at the location.

WRITTEN ANSWERContinued

(4) Clean Hong Kong Campaign for promotion of civic sense

In collaboration with the Philippine Consulate, the USD held an opening ceremony of the Clean Central Campaign at Chater Garden in Central on 18 October 1998 with an aim to educate the public, enhance their civic awareness and appeal to them for keeping the environment clean. Since then, voluntary workers are deployed by the Philippine Consulate and the Philippine organizations to assist in the cleaning of the Statue Square (including the Pedestrian Precinct) in Central in Sunday afternoons.