LC Paper No. LS 155/98-99
Paper for the House Committee MeetingObject(s) of the Bill
of the Legislative Council
on 23 April 1999
Legal Service Division Report on
Hong Kong War Memorial Pensions (Amendment) Bill 1999
To amend the Hong Kong War Memorial Pensions Ordinance (Cap. 386) ("the Ordinance") to expand the range of eligible beneficiaries who may be entitled to a pension under the Ordinance.
LegCo Brief Reference
2. CR 7/5091/82(99) Pt. 12 issued by the Health and Welfare Bureau in April 1999.
Date of First Reading
3. 21 April 1999
4. At present, qualified members of certain service units who have contributed to the defence of Hong Kong in the Pacific War are eligible for pension and other benefits under the Hong Kong War Memorial Pensions Ordinance (Cap. 386). Examples of these services units are The Hong Kong Naval Volunteer Force, The Hong Kong Royal Naval Reserve and The Hong Kong Civil Defence Corps.
5. The Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column ("the Independent Battalion"), formed in February 1942 and operated between 3 February 1942 and 1 September 1945, was a guerrilla unit operating in Hong Kong during Japanese occupation. After the reunification, the names of 115 members of the Independent Battalion who died in the defence of the Hong Kong were included in the Roll of Honour kept in the Memorial Shrine at the City Hall. Having accepted the role of the Independent Battalion in fighting Japanese forces occupying Hong Kong, the Administration considers that members of the Independent Battalion and their surviving spouses should be given the same treatment as other veterans under the existing scheme subject to the same eligibility criteria.
6. This Bill seeks to make former members of the Independent Battalion and their surviving spouses become eligible for pension and other benefits under the Ordinance. According to the Administration, the proposed amendments are in line with the Government's policy to provide pension and medical benefits to those who contributed to and suffered in the defence of Hong Kong during the Second World War.
7. Under the Bill, in order to become entitled to pension benefits under the Ordinance, former members of the Independent Battalion have to prove that they had either sustained injury or were captured and held in captivity by the Japanese authority in Hong Kong during their service. The surviving spouses are also required to prove that they are the spouses of those Battalion members killed in action during the War and that they remain unmarried. These conditions of entitlement are basically the same as those applied to veterans of the other units.
8. The Hong Kong War Memorial Pensions Advisory Committee has been consulted and supports the proposal.
Consultation with the LegCo Panel
9. An information paper on the Bill provided by the Administration has been circulated to members of the LegCo Panel on Welfare Services in January 1999 (LC Paper No. CB(2) 1136/98-99(07) refers).
10. The Legal Service Division is seeking clarification from the Administration on certain drafting points. A further report will be issued in due course.
FUNG Sau-kuen, Connie
Assistant Legal Adviser
Legislative Council Secretariat
19 April 1999