LC Paper No. CB(2)2857/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/PL/HA
LegCo Panel on Home Affairs
Minutes of special meeting
held on Monday, 29 March 1999 at 4:30 pm
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building
Members Present :
Hon CHOY So-yuk (Chairman)
Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon Christine LOH
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP
Members Absent :
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan (Deputy Chairman)
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Member Attending :
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Public Officers Attending :
Mr David LAN
Secretary for Home Affairs
Mr NG Sek-hon
Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (Culture and Sport)
Mr NGAI Wing-chit
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs
Clerk in Attendance :
Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2
Staff in Attendance :
Miss Flora TAI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2
I. New Structure for culture and sports
[File Ref : HAB CS/CR 1/1/124]
The Chairman informed members that the Administration had briefed
the Panel at a meeting on 8 March 1999 about the public consultation exercise
conducted by Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) on the new administrative framework
for culture, arts, recreation and sports services. The Administration
subsequently released the Consultant Report and the Administration's Initial
Responses on 26 March 1999 to Members of the Legislative Council (LegCo).
The purpose of the meeting was to follow up on the concerns raised by members
particularly those relating to the independent Consultant's Report on the
new structure for culture and sports. At the Chairman's invitation, Secretary
for Home Affairs (SHA) highlighted the key points in the Legislative Council
Brief on Review of District Organizations : New Institutional Framework
for Arts and Culture, Sports and Recreation. SHA informed members
that the Administration was examining the 35 main recommendations in the
Consultant's Report on Culture, the Arts, Recreation and Sports Services,
and the following three main recommendations had been accepted as the basis
for the new framework -
- a new Department should be set up under HAB to take over the Provisional
Municipal Councils' (PMCs') main responsibilities in arts and culture,
sports and recreation;
- a non-statutory high-level Culture and Heritage Commission (the
Commission) should be set up to advise Government on the formulation of
the overall cultural policy and on broad funding priorities for arts and
- the Administration should bring in more private sector management
initiative into the new Department by contracting out a wider spectrum
SHA stressed that the overall objective was to reduce Government's direct
involvement and to bring in more private sector initiative in the delivery
of arts and culture, sports and recreation services.
2. The Chairman invited questions from members and requested the Administration
to respond. The gist of the ensuing discussion is summarized in the
Public participation in the new structure for culture and sports
3. Ms HO Sau-lan expressed strong dissatisfaction with the Consultant's
recommendations. She said that setting up a new government department
to take over the main responsibilities of the PMCs would defeat the purpose
of enhancing public participation. SHA responded that the future
Culture and Heritage Commission would also provide for public participation,
as most of its members would be unofficials who possessed knowledge, experience
and interest in culture. The only government officials representing
on the Commission would be SHA and the Director of Leisure & Cultural
Services. Referring to paragraphs 5, 7 and 8 of the Administration's
Initial Responses (Annex B to LegCo Brief), SHA said that the new structure
provided new venues for expert and community participation in the management
of arts and cultural services. Ms HO Sau-lan disagreed with the Administration's
argument, pointing out that the Commission would only have an advisory
role as the policy-making power would be centralized in the hands of Government.
Moreover, the Commission would not comprise any elected members.
SHA responded that the Administration did not preclude the possibility
of appointing some elected members to the Commission.
4. Mr Fred LI also expressed disappointment that the Consultant's Report
had not explained the reasons and benefits for replacing PMCs with a new
government department. He asked the Administration to explain what
improvements would be brought about by the change. SHA clarified
that it was not the responsibility of HAB to determine the future of PMCs,
but the Chief Executive's 1998 Policy Address had given direction in this
respect. SHA considered that there would be increased accountability
of the new Department in the provision of cultural and recreational services,
as its funding would require LegCo approval while PMCs were financially
autonomous. The Chairman remarked that the existing municipal services
departments were also accountable to the elected councils. Mr Fred
LI opined that the new structure would lead to Government steering the
direction of cultural and recreational development with reduced public
participation. This would hamper the development of culture, arts,
recreation and sports in the long run. SHA reiterated that up to
10 members of the Culture and Heritage Commission would be drawn from the
business, professionals, the management, the arts community, and supporters
of cultural programmes, etc. It would be for the public to judge
whether the Commission members or the elected members of PMCs would make
more contribution to the development of culture and sports. He stressed
that one main objective of the Commission was to co-ordinate the efforts
of various sectors in the provision of cultural services, in order to address
the problem of fragmentation in the existing structure of culture.
SHA emphasized that Government was committed to facilitating the long-term
development of culture and arts, based on the principles of freedom of
expression and creativity and pluralistic development of arts.
The Culture and Heritage Commission
5. Mr CHENG Kai-nam commented that the role of the proposed Culture
and Heritage Commission was unclear. He was worried that, without
a specific, concrete role for the Commission, it would simply become
one of the many advisory bodies to the Government. Mr MA Fung-kwok
shared similar concerns. Mr CHENG Kai-nam was of the view that, as
a high-level advisory body, the Commission should concentrate more on policy
formulation. He criticized that while the Consultant's Report gave
a detailed account on promotion of culture in tourism, it failed to address
some important aspects such as the future direction for cultural development
and international exchanges.
6. In response, SHA said that the operation of the Commission would
be similar to that of the Education Commission, and its members would be
drawn from the experts and practitioners in the arts and culture community.
He agreed with Mr CHENG Kai-nam that the function of culture was not limited
to promotion of tourism, and that the Commission should advise the Government
on broader policy issues. On the membership of the Commission, SHA
said that the Chairmen of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, the Hong
Kong Arts Centre, Antiquities Advisory Board and Council of the Hong Kong
Academy for Performing Arts would be appointed to the Commission to provide
the necessary co-ordination among these statutory bodies. In this
regard, Mr MA Fung-kwok expressed concern that their appointment might
lead to conflict of interest, as the Commission would advise on broad funding
priorities for these statutory bodies. Deputy Secretary for Home
Affairs (DS(HA)) replied that the Administration had considered carefully
whether potential conflict of interest would arise and concluded that their
appointment would be necessary for the effective co-ordination of services
by the Commission. As there would be a maximum number of 17 members
on the Commission, the possibility of conflict of interest should be minimal.
7. Mr MA Fung-kwok asked about the authority and resources for
the Commission to perform its task of formulating a cultural policy.
SHA and DS(HA) said that adequate resources would be provided for the operation
of the Commission which would also have its own secretariat. The
Commission could make funding requests to carry out research projects.
In this connection, Mr Ambrose CHEUNG expressed doubts on whether the Commission,
being advisory in nature, could effectively assist in policy formulation
since Government would assume the policy-making role.
8. The Chairman asked the Administration whether there were any clear-cut
objective and terms of reference for the Commission. SHA informed
members that a Task Force would be set up shortly and one of its tasks
was to work out the detailed terms of reference for the Commission.
He also referred members to paragraph 12 of the Administration's Initial
Responses which gave a brief account of the Commission's role.
9. Mr Edward HO noted that the proposed Commission would be a non-statutory
body although it would advise on broad funding allocations to other statutory
bodies. In this connection, he inquired why the Administration did
not set up a statutory Commission. SHA explained that it would be
simpler and expeditious to establish a non-statutory body. Moreover,
the high status of the Commission and its ability to discharge its functions
would not be affected whether or not it was a statutory body. The
Education Commission was a good example which had proved to be operating
successfully. In this regard, Mr Edward HO reminded the Administration
that the overlapping responsibilities and the relationship between the
non-statutory Education Commission and the statutory Board of Education
had given rise to a number of problems. Ms HO Sau-lan commented that
the Administration might want to bypass LegCo by establishing a non-statutory
Commission. SHA clarified that the Administration had no intention
to bypass LegCo in the provision of cultural and leisure services.
On the contrary, the estimates of revenue and expenditure of HAB and the
new Department would have to be vetted by LegCo under the new structure.
10. In response to Mr Edward HO's enquiry about the need for various
tiers of departmental advisory committees, SHA said that these committees
would assist the new department in providing different services such as
museum and library services.
Formulation of an overall culture policy
|11. Ms HO Sau-lan expressed dissatisfaction that the Consultant's
Report had only focused on rationalization of the organizational structure
and the operations of the new Department, without any discussion on the
policy direction for culture and arts, sports and recreation. Mr
Ambrose CHEUNG expressed similar views. Ms HO added that the Consultant's
Report had emphasized the function of culture to promote tourism but neglected
the importance of enhancing the quality of the community. She also
pointed out that there was no mention of the role of Education Department
in promoting the development of arts and culture. In response, SHA
explained that the Consultant was only tasked with recommending a new structure
for the provision and management of culture and the arts, recreation and
sports services; formulation of the cultural policies would be the task
of the future advisory body (the Culture and Heritage Commission).
To address Ms HO's concern, the Administration could consider including
a representative of the Education Department in the Commission.||Admin|
12. Mr CHENG Kai-nam expressed disappointment that the Consultant's
Report did not provide an in-depth analysis of the development of culture
and sport in Hong Kong for the purpose of formulating long-term policies
in these areas. he also noted that the Report did not describe the
philosophy or model adopted for devising the new structure. In this
connection, he hoped the Administration could conduct more research to
facilitate the formulation of a cultural policy. SHA responded that
the Administration did have a policy for arts based on two broad principles
as set out in paragraph 5 of the Administration's Initial Responses.
He explained that it was not possible for the Administration to formulate
a cultural policy in the past, as over 80% of the resources and venues
for culture and art were controlled by PMCs. With the rationalization
of the administrative structure, Government had a vision for the future
cultural scene which was described in paragraph 5 of the Administration's
Initial Responses. The Culture and Heritage Commission to be established
by the end of 1999 would advise Government on the formulation of an integrated
cultural policy. However, the Administration did not have a concrete
timetable for an overall cultural policy yet.
13. Ms HO Sau-lan expressed doubts about the competence of government
officers, who were not experts in cultural and arts matters, in formulating
a cultural policy for Hong Kong. SHA responded that the Administration
would consult the Commission, international experts, other stakeholders
and the general public before reaching a decision. In this connection,
Mr MA Fung-kwok reminded the Administration that it should avoid giving
the impression of dominating or steering the future direction of cultural
development. Mr Andrew CHENG added that the policy should allow pluralistic
and diversified development of arts and culture.
Improvements to the administrative framework
14. Members noted that a new Department would be established to take
over the responsibilities for providing culture, recreation and leisure
services, and some 250 posts would be deleted as part of the streamlining
exercise. Mr Fred LI noted that the structure of Hong Kong Arts Development
Council (HKADC) and Hong Kong Sports Development Board (HKSDB) remained
largely unchanged under the new structure. He therefore inquired
what improvements would be brought about by the reorganization, given a
similar structure and staff force.
15. SHA responded that the deletion of some 250 posts was only the first
step of the streamlining exercise. The Administration would continue
to examine other measures to achieve economies of scale, with regard to
staff views. There would also be increased accountability under the
new structure. While LegCo approval was not required for the financial
arrangements and contracting-out proposals of PMCs, such arrangements and
management initiatives of the new Department would be scrutinized by LegCo
16. Mr Timothy FOK stressed the importance of a balanced distribution
of resources for the healthy development of culture and sports, as most
cultural and sports bodies faced the problem of insufficient resources
at the time of economic downturn. Mr FOK urged the Administration
to further reduce red-tapes and streamline the structure so that more resources
could be directed to benefit the development of culture and sports.
He said he would collate views from the 71 National Sports Associations
(NSAs) under Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong (SF&OC)
on the Consultant's Report.
17. In response, SHA acknowledged the concern about effective allocation
of resources and the need for further streamlining. He said that
the Administration would take the following measures -
- to further streamline and rationalize the existing structure and
operation within one year after establishment of the new Department;
- to expand the scope and speed up the pace of contracting-out arrangements
in the provision of culture and leisure services; and
- to launch pilot schemes for contracting out the management of selected
18. The Chairman inquired about the delineation of responsibilities
among new Department, HKSDB, 71 NSAs, District Councils (DCs) and the private
sector to avoid duplication of resources in sports and recreation.
She asked how economies of scale could be achieved under the new structure.
SHA said that each stakeholder would have a role to play under the new
structure. While HKSDB would continue to focus on elite sports, the
new Department would be responsible for general recreation and sports for
the community. DS(HA) added that the 71 NSAs, which possessed expertise
in different sports, would work alongside with HKSDB on elite training
and with the new Department to promote general recreation and sports.
At the district level, the new Department would work closely with District
Offices, DCs and various District Sports Associations.
19. Referring to paragraph 10.04 of the Consultant's Report, Mr Fred
LI queried why the Administration had accepted the Consultant's recommendation
to discontinue small-scale free outdoor entertainment. Mr LI noted
that the Task Force had yet to review all public entertainment programmes
to assess the cost-effectiveness of each programme. SHA responded
the Administration only gave some preliminary views on the Consultant's
recommendations about possible savings upon reorganization. He noted
that different opinions had been expressed on ways to achieve cost-effectiveness,
and proposals such as corporatization and contracting out of services would
require further examination before a decision was taken. DS(HA) supplemented
that the Administration had only indicated agreement in principle as more
detailed reviews on the cost-effectiveness of the programmes would be necessary.
In this connection, the Chairman remarked that the community was more concerned
about streamlining instead of discontinuation of services.
20. Mr CHENG Kai-nam queried whether it was necessary to appoint international
experts to advise Government on the development of culture, arts, sports
and recreation services, since such development must suit the unique situation
of Hong Kong. SHA responded that the new Department would largely
rely on the local experts on the advisory panels, and international experts
would only be invited to inject new ideas and to advise on the long-term
development of certain specialized services such as museums and libraries.
Mr MA Fung-kwok commented that while Government could make reference to
overseas experience, Hong Kong must develop its own model on cultural development
appropriate to its situation. Mr Timothy FOK shared Mr MA's view,
and urged the Administration to make more use of local expertise.
The Role of Government
21. Mr Andrew CHENG expressed strong views that the Consultant's Report
was to support Government's intention to centralize all powers for the
provision of art, culture and leisure services. While the Consultant
recommended that Government should adopt a non-interventionist policy,
the new structural framework would create an environment conducive to monopolization
of cultural and leisure services by the Government and bureaucratic interference.
He strongly urged the Administration to improve the co-ordination among
PMCs and other stakeholders in the provision of cultural and sport services
under the existing framework. SHA stressed that Government had no
intention to centralize all powers for the development of cultural and
sports activities. SHA reiterated that there had been criticisms
about the lack of co-ordination for the provision of cultural and sport
services and overlapping resources under the existing structure.
A new structure was therefore proposed to streamline the existing administrative
framework, and to bring about other improvements such as rationalization
of resources and increased participation of private sector. Mr Andrew
CHENG said that he remained to be convinced of the purpose of the reorganization.
22. Mr Ambrose CHEUNG shared the view that it would be more fruitful
for the Administration to improve the co-ordination of management of venues
and resources under the existing structure. He expressed grave concern
that the new structure would reduce the scope of pluralistic cultural development,
if all resources and venues were to be centrally controlled by Government.
In response, SHA reiterated that the broad direction was to reduce Government's
direct involvement and to bring in more private sector initiative in the
delivery of arts and culture, sports and recreation services.
23. Mr Ambrose CHEUNG commented that the review of the current structure
did not give any direction for future cultural development. He said
that government officials in HAB and the Consultant were not familiar with
the provision of culture, arts and sports services. In this connection,
he informed members that PMCs had already sought expert advice on corporatization
of the performing companies. Mr CHEUNG also suggested that the Consultant
should be invited to explain to the Panel the rationale of his recommendations
in the Report. In this regard, SHA said that it would be up to the
Consultant to decide whether to accept the invitation. In response
to Mr CHEUNG's enquiry of whether the Consultant was required under his
terms of appointment to be present at meetings, DS(HA) advised that the
Consultant had attended relevant meetings and open forums.
|24. Mr Ambrose CHEUNG pointed out that the Consultant had only discussed
with a limited number of organizations/individuals and senior government
officials, and the number of written submissions received by the Consultant
was less than 30. He therefore questioned whether there had been
sufficient input to enable the Consultant to formulate his views on the
existing structure and operations. Mr CHEUNG was of the view that
the Administration should conduct another round of public consultation
on the Consultant's Report, and to obtain views of the culture and sports
communities on the proposed structure. His views were shared by Ms
HO Sau-lan. In this connection, the Chairman advised the Administration
to conduct another round of consultation, since no concrete proposals had
been put forward by the Administration during the previous consultation
exercises and divergent views had been expressed by the community on the
|25. In response, SHA said that the Administration had conducted
public consultation in June and July 1998 on the review of district organizations,
and it had noted the concerns raised by the arts and sports communities
about overlapping responsibilities and the lack of co-ordination under
the current structure. To address these concerns, HAB had commissioned
another round of consultations in November - December 1998 to gauge public
views. The views obtained had been relayed to the Consultant who
had taken them into consideration when compiling his report. Concerning
a member's comment on the late issue of the Report, SHA said that HAB needed
time to examine the Consultant's Report which was received only in February
1999. The Administration had released the Consultant's Report together
with the Administration's Initial Responses at the earliest possible opportunity.
Ms HO Sau-lan maintained the view that it was totally unacceptable to deprive
the public of the opportunity to express their views on important proposals
in the Consultant's Report. In this connection, she requested the Administration
to widely publicize the Consultant's Report so that the general public
could comment on the Report.
Provision of Municipal Services (Reorganization) Bill
26. Referring to the Administration's previous indication that the Provision
of Municipal Services (Reorganization) Bill would be introduced into LegCo
in mid-April 1999, Ms HO Sau-lan considered that the Consultant's Report
on the new structure would have an impact on the Bill. Mr Ambrose
CHEUNG expressed concern that members would have difficulties to discuss
the Bill before further public consultation on the new structure was conducted.
Ms HO commented that it might not be appropriate for LegCo Members to scrutinize
the Bill at the present stage until after further public consultation.
II. Way forward
27. Following up on the concern about gauging public views on the Consultant's
Report, Mr Ambrose CHEUNG suggested that the Panel should conduct public
consultation to provide representative views to the Administration.
Members noted that there were about 1 200 electors under the relevant functional
constituency. After discussion, members agreed that the Panel should
place advertisements in newspapers inviting public submissions on the Consultant's
Report and receive oral representation from deputations of the arts and
sports communities. To allow time for concerned organizations to
prepare their submissions, members agreed that two special meetings should
be held in May 1999 to meet deputations. Members further agreed to
invite Mr Albert LAM, the independent consultant, and representatives of
the PMCs to attend the special meetings.
(Post-meeting note : Advertisements had been placed in South China
Morning Post and Ming Pao on 1 April 1999 to invite public submissions
on the Consultant's Report.)
28. Mr Ambrose CHEUNG suggested that the Panel might put forward its
own proposal on the new structure for culture, arts, sports and recreation
after meeting deputations. Nevertheless, Ms HO Sau-lan expressed
concern that the Panel might have difficulties to agree on a proposal as
different members and political parties would have different opinions.
The Chairman acknowledged that there would be difficulties to reach consensus
among members on a proposal, and advised the Panel to further consider
the suggestion after meeting deputations.
29. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 6:45 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
21 September 1999