Legislative Council

LC Paper No. CB(2)1479/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB2/PS/1/98

LegCo Panel on Home Affairs
Subcommittee on long-term cultural policy

Minutes of Meeting
held on Thursday, 26 November 1998 at 2:30 pm
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan (Chairman)
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon Christine LOH
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam

Member Absent :

Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo

Member Attending :

Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP

Public Officers Attending :

Mr NG Sek-hon
Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (Culture and Sport)

Mr William SHIU
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (Culture)

Clerk in Attendance :
Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :
Miss Flora TAI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2

I. Work Plan of the Subcommittee
[LC Paper No. CB(2)655/98-99]

1. The Chairman said that no comments had been received from members on the proposed work plan of the Subcommittee. The Chairman therefore invited members to endorse the work plan and the list of topics to be covered in future discussion of the Subcommittee.

2. Members noted that 16 submissions had been received from individuals and organisations since the advertisement on 29 September 1998, and a complete set had been sent to members. At the request of the Chairman, the Clerk would prepare summaries of these submissions, extracting information which was relevant to the agenda of the Subcommittee, to facilitate further discussion by members. The Chairman would later draw up a list of organisations, including the two municipal services departments and relevant arts administration grades associations, to be invited to present their views to the Subcommittee where appropriate. Clerk


II. Meeting with the Administration

Structure of arts and culture in overseas countries
[Paper No. CB(2)700/98-99(01)]

3. The Chairman informed members that Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (Culture and Sport) (DS/HA) would join the meeting later due to other commitments. At the Chairman's invitation, Principal Assistant Secretary (Culture) (PAS/C) briefed members on the Administration's discussion paper on the structure of arts and culture in nine overseas countries or cities. PAS/C said that according to the information provided, the governments of most of these overseas countries or cities had direct involvement (including the allocation of resources) in the promotion of arts, and that arts development was a joint effort of both the government and non-government organisations in these countries. PAS/C added that members of the arts councils in many overseas countries were appointed. Comparing to these countries, Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) was rather unique in that some of its council members were nominated by different arts interests. The Chairman remarked that there was a lower degree of democratic participation in the arts structure of Hong Kong, particularly with the proposed abolition of the two municipal councils. She pointed out that the source of power for appointments to the arts structure in most of the overseas countries under discussion was originated from democratic election.

4. On the selection of overseas countries for comparison in the Administration's discussion paper, the Chairman asked whether the Administration had intentionally select those countries with an arts structure similar to that preferred by the Administration. Noting that the arts structure in these overseas countries were either government funded or jointly funded by government and the private sector, Mr CHENG Kai-nam asked whether the Administration had any blueprint for the future arts structure in Hong Kong. PAS/C responded that the Administration had no preference in mind and the information was gathered with the assistance of consulates in Hong Kong and the overseas Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices. The nine overseas countries included in the discussion paper already covered the North America, Asia, Europe and Australia. The Administration had adopted an open mind in conducting the public consultation exercise on the future arts structure in Hong Kong based on the following objectives -

  1. to strengthen both the professional input and community participation and to maintain a balance among different interests;

  2. to ensure effective use of resources and to avoid dominance of particular interests; and

  3. to facilitate the formulation and implementation of an overall art and sport policy.

5. Members were generally of the opinion that the discussion paper only provided superficial information on the institutional structure on arts and culture in overseas countries. In this connection, Mr CHENG Kai-nam sought further information on the decision-making mechanism, the constitutional structure and the checks and balances of the arts structure in these overseas countries. PAS/C responded that due to the time constraints for preparation of the discussion paper, only an overview of the overseas arts structures could be provided based on available information. He said that the Administration would make its best efforts to collect further information as requested by members, but that some lead time would be required for obtaining and translating information from overseas countries. He added that Hong Kong would have to identify its own model to suit its circumstances, and that the arts structure in overseas countries might not be applicable to Hong Kong due to cultural and historical differences.

6. Mr MA Fung-kwok said he was disappointed with the Administration's discussion paper as the scanty information provided would not have much reference value in devising the future arts structure in Hong Kong. He considered that the Administration should conduct thorough research on the arts structure in overseas countries to provide more information including the background leading to the present structure in these countries, the rationale/ philosophy behind the structure, the constitutional structure, and source(s) of funding, etc. Miss Christine LOH also queried the Administration for not conducting in-depth research on the arts structure in overseas countries. She suggested further research be conducted either by the Administration or the Research and Library Services Division of the LegCo Secretariat to provide information on the political structure and policy-making mechanism, the amount or share of public funding on arts and culture, and the accountability of these mechanisms. Mr Ambrose CHEUNG shared other members' view that supplementary information would be necessary to facilitate further discussion by the Subcommittee. He suggested inclusion of Sweden in the list of overseas countries and the subject of management of arts facilities in the research paper.

7. On the list of countries to be included in the research paper, Mr MA Fung-kwok suggested inclusion of some Chinese communities such as Taiwan and the Mainland. Mr Edward HO was of the opinion that the Subcommittee should confine the scope of the research to the nine countries already covered in the discussion paper, and include only one or two countries such as Sweden and Taiwan. His suggestion was agreed by members. With regard to the topics to be included in the research paper, the Chairman summed up the views of members as follows -

  1. the constitutional framework, the system of appointment or election of board/council members, functions and responsibilities, and the policy-making mechanism;

  2. the source(s) of funding, allocation of resources and management of facilities; and

  3. accountability of the above mechanisms.

8. In response to members' comments, DS/HA said that the Administration would try to gather the required information as far as possible, and that a lot of the requested information would have to be collected through the consulates in Hong Kong. He stressed that while information on overseas countries might be of reference value, Hong Kong would still need to devise its own structure appropriate to its circumstances. Adm

Public consultation on the new institutional framework for arts and culture in Hong Kong
[LC Paper No. CB(2)800/98-99]

9. The Chairman asked about the approach the Administration would adopt in consulting the artists associations and the community, for example, whether the Administration would issue a public consultation paper or conduct closed-door meetings to gather views on the subject. PAS/C said that the Review of District Organizations Consultation Paper had outlined the consultation arrangements and an information paper had also been issued to the LegCo Panel on Home Affairs about the details of consultation. The public had been invited to forward written submissions to the Home Affairs Bureau by 15 December 1998, and 30 submissions had been received so far. About 240 participants attended the open forum on 14 November 1998 and more than 100 persons attended another seminar. The Administration had also invited Members of the two provisional municipal councils, district boards, and various arts groups and organisations to attend the open fora and seminars. PAS/C stressed that consultation was conducted both at the district and territory-wide levels. The Chairman expressed concern that there had not been much public participation in the consultation sessions and she urged the Administration to step up publicity in this respect. PAS/C responded that more than 240 persons had attended the open forum and a number of valuable submissions were received. The open fora had also provided good opportunities for interested parties to express their views. He said that the Administration was open and sincere in the public consultation exercise, and would welcome members' suggestions to further improve the consultation arrangements.

10. Mr Ambrose CHEUNG expressed concern that the Administration did not have a systematic approach in dealing with the comments and views received. In this connection, he asked about the method of evaluating different opinions by the Administration for the purpose of devising proposals for a new arts structure. He also expressed disappointment that the Administration did not prepare a consultation paper to provide a basis for further discussion with the Subcommittee. He considered that there should be an objective mechanism to gauge and evaluate views from various interested parties including the arts and sports community, the provisional municipal councils and their executive departments, the professionals and academics, the HKADC and Hong Kong Sports Development Board.

11. Miss Christine LOH asked whether the Administration would consult the LegCo and the public on the views collated from the current consultation exercise. The Chairman suggested that the Administration should collate the views obtained from the current consultation exercise and set out the various options for the new structure of arts and culture in a consultation paper for public comments. Responding to members' comments, PAS/C said that the Administration had yet to complete the consultation exercise. He informed members that an independent consultant had been engaged to recommend on the future structure of arts and culture and the report would be available in early 1999. He assured members that the Administration would brief LegCo Members and the Subcommittee on the consultancy report which was intended to be published for public information.

12. To address members' concerns about the consultation on the future arts structure, the Chairman requested the Administration to advise the Subcommittee on the views collated and the various options proposed after completion of the public consultation exercise in mid-December 1998. DS/HA noted the request.Adm

Consultancy studies on the structure of arts and culture

13. PAS/C said that the independent consultant appointed by the Government had already commenced his work and had been seeking views of the arts and sports communities and representatives from the community about the future institutional framework for the delivery of arts and cultural services. Depending on the progress of consultation, the consultant was expected to forward his recommendations to the Administration by January/February 1999. In response to Miss Christine LOH, PAS/C stressed that the consultant would make independent assessment on the views obtained. At Miss LOH's request, PAS/C undertook to provide the terms of reference of the independent consultant and the timeframe of the consultancy study for members' reference. Adm

14. Miss Christine LOH said that there were other consultancy studies being conducted by the provisional municipal councils, HKADC and other statutory bodies. At her request, DS/HA undertook to check with these organizations and relay members' request for copies of these consultancy reports if these were available. Adm

Current division of responsibilities among various bodies in arts and culture
[Paper No. CB(2)700/98-99(02)]

Members noted the information note provided by the Administration on "Current Division of Responsibilities among Government, Municipal Councils and Other Relevant Statutory Bodies in the Area of Arts and Culture". Miss Christine LOH suggested that this could form the basis for future discussion. Mr Ambrose CHEUNG considered that the provisional municipal councils and relevant bodies could be invited to explain to the Subcommittee the deficiencies of the current structure at a later stage.

Legislative programme

15. In response to the Chairman's enquiry about the legislative programme in respect of the new structure of arts and culture, DS/HA explained that as the public consultation exercise had yet to be completed, there was no definite timetable for legislation. If legislation was required for the new structure, the Administration would introduce the necessary legislative proposals into the LegCo as soon as possible so that the new structure could be put in place by the end of 1999. In this regard, the Chairman said that the Administration should also provide a written response to the Subcommittee on the timetable for legislative and administrative arrangements. Adm

16. Considering that the future legislative proposal might straddle the work of different panels of the LegCo, Mr Ambrose CHEUNG said that it would be more effective for the LegCo panels to agree on a mechanism to deal with the relevant legislative proposal(s) on the new structure for arts and culture. He sought the views of other members whether the Panels on Home Affairs, Constitutional Affairs and Health Services should hold joint meetings with the Administration on the subject. Mr Edward HO considered that different panels would have their own areas of concern and it might not be appropriate to involve the Panel on Health Services in arts matters. He was of the view that scrutiny of the legislative proposals could be dealt with at a later stage by a bills committee which could make reference to the discussion of the relevant panels. His views were shared by Miss Christine LOH.

III. Way forward

17. Some members expressed disappointment about the superficial discussion papers prepared by the Administration and the latter's reluctance to issue a consultation paper on the future structure for arts and culture. Members therefore discussed the strategy and focus of the Subcommittee's future work.

18. Miss Christine LOH suggested to enlist the assistance of the Research and Library Service Division of the LegCo Secretariat or the Clerk to provide further information on the arts structure in overseas countries, in view of the fact that the Administration might take a long time or have difficulties in providing the necessary information. The Chairman suggested and members agreed that the Clerk could, as a first step, liaise with the Administration and the consulates to obtain further information on the arts structure in overseas countries for members' reference. Clerk

19. Miss Christine LOH suggested the Subcommittee to focus on the institutional framework for arts and culture in these two months. She expressed reservations that a subcommittee of LegCo should discuss policies in depth, particularly in the absence of a common definition of 'a cultural policy' acceptable to all parties. Mr MA Fung-kwok said that he was concerned about the formulation of a long-term cultural policy, and had tried to press the Administration for a proposal. The Chairman concluded that while it might not be possible for the Subcommittee to discuss policies on individual art aspects in great detail, the Subcommittee would need to cover both the institutional structure and the overall cultural policy as they were inter-related.

20. As regards the 16 written submissions received by the Subcommittee, the Chairman suggested and members agreed to request the Clerk to prepare a summary of the submissions for members' perusal before deciding the way forward. Clerk

21. Members generally agreed that the Subcommittee should follow its work plan as far as possible while the timeframe and meeting dates could be flexible depending on availability of information and progress of discussion. The Chairman will fix the date of next meeting after receipt of further information.

22. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 4:30 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
12 March 1999