LC Paper No. CB(2) 1798/98-99
(These minutes have been seen by
Ref : CB2/PL/SE/1
LegCo Panel on Security
Minutes of meeting held on Thursday, 11 February 1999
at 2:30 pm in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building
Hon James TO Kun-sun (Chairman)
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Public Officers attending:
Clerk in attendance:
- Item III
- Mr Raymond WONG
- Deputy Secretary for Security 1
- Mr Philip CHAN
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E
- Mr Gordon FUNG
- Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime)
Hong Kong Police Force
- Mr Harry BLUD
- Assistant Commissioner of Police (Service Quality) (Designate)
Hong Kong Police Force
- Mr MAK Man-poon
- Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police (Service Quality)
Hong Kong Police Force
- Item IV
- Mr Raymond WONG
- Deputy Secretary for Security 1
- Mr Philip CHAN
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E
- Mr Gordon FUNG
- Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime)
Hong Kong Police Force
- Dr Betty LAW
- Senior Chemist
- Item V
- Ms Mimi LEE
- Principal Assistance Secretary for Security (Narcotics)
- Mr Carlos LEUNG
- Assistant Director of Social Welfare (Youth and Training)
Social Welfare Department
- Dr Cindy LAI
- Assistant Director of Health (Special Health Services) (Atg)
Department of Health
- Item VI
- Mr Stephen FISHER
- Deputy Director of Administration
- Mrs Apollonia LIU
- Assistant Director of Administration
- Mr Thomas CHAN
- Director of Corruption Prevention, ICAC
- Mr Wallace LAU
- Assistant Secretary for Financial Services
- Mr Michael LAM
- Government Counsel
Law Drafting Division
Department of Justice
Staff in attendance:
- Mrs Sharon TONG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2)1
I. Confirmation of minutes of meeting
- Miss Betty MA
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 1
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1258/98-99)
The minutes of meeting held on 3 December 1998 were confirmed.
II. Date of next meeting and items for discussion
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1257/98-99(01))
Items for discussion at the next Panel meeting
2. Members agreed to discuss the following items at the next Panel meeting to be held on 4 March 1999 -
- Proposed amendments to Drug Trafficking (Recovery of Proceeds) Ordinance and Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance;
- Replacement of Police Launches;
- Immigration Services Training School and Perwone Immigration Centre; and
- Visa-free access for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passport holders.
(Post-meeting note : The item at para.2(d) has been deferred to the meeting to be held on 31 March 1999)
Items for discussion at future Panel meetings
3. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong said that in the light of the recent Judgment of the Court of Final Appeal fdelivered on 29 January 1999, he was concerned about the possible influx of illegal immigrants from the Mainland. He requested the Administration to brief members on the anti-illegal immigration measures put in place to combat the problem. The Chairman suggested to convene a special meeting in late February or early March 1999 to discuss the issue of right of abode of persons born in the Mainland to Hong Kong permanent residents and the arrangements for their orderly arrival, as well as the anti-illegal immigration measures. He added that the date of the special meeting would be fixed pending the response from the Administration and subject to decision of the House Committee to refer the issue to the Panel for follow-up. Members agreed.(Post-meeting note : No special Panel meeting was scheduled as two special House Committee meetings were held on 2 March and 5 March 1999 to discuss issues related to the Judgment. A letter was issued on 15 February 1999 to the Administration requesting it to provide an information paper on the preventive measures taken/being taken against illegal immigration.)
III. Police Force service quality improvments
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1257/98-99(02))
Briefing by the Administration
4. Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police (Service Quality) (ACP/SQ(Ag)) briefed members on the salient points of the information paper. He said that the Police Force was committed to building a set of shared values throughout the Force. A series of Living-the-Value Workshops had been held for officers of all ranks in the Force with a view to cultivating the Force Values among every member of the Force. Trial scheme on providing specific customer training was organized for the Police officers working at the North Point Police Station, which had been extended to the Sau Mau Ping Police Station and the Shatin Police Station. Based on the experience of the pilot scheme at these Police stations, the scheme would be carried out in all Police stations.
5. As regards the handling of reports from the public, ACP/SQ(Ag) said that when receiving a report from the public, the Police officer concerned would first examine and determine whether the report was criminal in nature. If so, the report would be referred to the Crime Investigation Team for investigation. If the report did not disclose any crime, the Police officer concerned would explain clearly to the public why the case could not be followed up by the Police and provide the necessary assistance or advice where appropriate. The Police officer would also explain in detail the limitation of Police power in that case. The public could request for a review of the decision by a senior officer in the report room if they were dissatisfied with the handling of cases. In addition, representatives from the Commercial Crimes Bureau were invited to explain the distinction between a crime and a civil case at the Police Training School.
Disputes between landlords and tenants
|6. While supporting the Force's efforts to improve the quality of services provided to the public, Mr Albert HO considered that the provsion of prompt assistance to the public whenever needed was of the utmost importance. He said that he had received a number of complaints on advice given by report room staff on cases related to alleged harassment and intimidation by private developers on residents in the New Territories. Very often the complainants were advised that the cases were not covered under the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance and thus could not be dealt with by the Police. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) (ACP/Crime) said that internal orders had been issued in 1997 to explain the law and how such disputes should be processed. For example, according to the order issued by the New Territories North Region, such report would be handled by an officer at the rank of Inspector/Senior Inspector or above when a report was received. The number of cases received had been decreasing since the issue of the internal order. Mr Albert HO requested and ACP/Crime agreed to provide a copy of the internal order adopted in the New Territories North Region for members' reference. Mr Albert HO further suggested the Administration to review the need for amending the relevant legislation to tackle the problem.||Adm
Debt collecting malpractice
7. Mr Albert HO expressed concern about the handling of reports on debt collecting malpractice and the measures put in place by the Force to combat the problem.
8. Noting from para.13 of the information paper that the Police would monitor those cases classified as "No Offence Disclosed" or "Nuisance Only" until such time that there was an end to the alleged nuisance and harassment caused by debt collecting agencies, Mr Andrew CHENG enquired about the specific actions taken by the Police.
|9. In response, ACP/Crime said that a new internal order had been issued to deal with such complaints. Upon receipt of a complaint and regardless of whether there was sufficient evidence at the time, the case would be thoroughly investigated until an officer at the rank of Superintendent was satisfied with its overall investigation. Where allegation of a criminal nature was suggested, the case would be further investigated. He assured members that the Police attached importance to each and every such report received. Mr Albert HO requested and ACP/Crime agreed to provide a copy of the new internal order on handling such complaints for members' reference.||Adm |
|10. Mr Albert HO suggested the Administration to consider prosecuting those debt collectors who had caused nuisance and harassment for committing "disorderly conduct" or causing "a breach of the peace". Mr Albert HO requested the Administration to provide information on whether any debt collectors had been prosecuted for committing "disorderly conduct" or causing "a breach of the peace". ACP/Crime agreed to provide the requested information, if any.||Adm
11. The Chairman opined that more training on common law offences would strengthen the capabilities of front-line Police officers in dealing with such complaints.
Culture in the Police Force
12. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong expressed concern about the existence of "underground culture" in the Force. Citing recent cases of suicide by Police officers, he worried that the problem of gambling, alcoholism and over-borrowing from the loan sharks by Police officers might result in poor performance or the commission of illegal activities. He asked whether the Force management were aware of the problem and about the preventive measures adopted as well as the assistance offered.
13. In response, ACP/SQ(Ag) said that there was no sign that the problem had deteriorated. The reported incidents were individual cases. Disciplinary actions would be taken if Police officers were found to have borrowed from the loan sharks. Prosecution against the Police officers would be instituted in the case of committing offences. He said that the Force was cultivating a change in the culture of the Force. Police officers were encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The Force also aimed to recruit good quality staff members. The quality and performance of the Force would be improved in a longer term. He added that supportive measures were provided by the Force management. For example, counselling was offered by Police Welfare Officers and specially trained District Staff Relations Officers to Police officers who required assistance. In some cases, the Force would help Police officers in financial difficulties to restructure their debts.
14. Deputy Secretary for Security 1 (DS/S(1)) supplemented that the Commissioner of Police was determined to maintain a clean and honest Police Force. Accordingly, the Force management had adopted a comprehensive strategy for preventing, identifying and dealing with the indebtedness of Police officers. Regarding the preventive measures, the Force management had conducted indebtedness awareness training and launched campaign to promote the virtue of thrift by discouraging gambling and overspending. District Staff Relations Officers also played an active role to improve communication within the Force. A pilot study on the lifestyle of young Police officers was underway with a view to identifying the spending pattern and the interpersonal relationship of the Force members. As regard the identification measures, the Force management had issued guidelines, particularly for the senior management, outlining ways to identify and tackle the problem. In addition, the Force management closely monitored the situation by conducting six-monthly surveys on indebtedness among Police officers. The Force management had also studied the causes of unmanageable debts. Overspending and gambling accounted for the major reasons for Police officers with unmanageable debts. While the Force management would render assistance to Police officers who were indebted due to unforeseen or compassionate circumstances, there was no sympathy for officers who borrowed simply because of indulgence in overspending or gambling. Police officers might be subject to disciplinary proceedings if they borrowed from unauthorized financial institutions. DS/S(1) stressed that the Force management would keep under review the effectiveness of the various measures to tackle the problem.
|15. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong opined that the Force management should render every assistance to Police officers with unmanageable debts, at least once, regardless of the reasons for indebtedness, except for borrowing from the loan sharks. To facilitate the understanding on the latest situation of indebtedness among Police officers, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong requested and DS/S(1) undertook to provide the findings of the six-monthly survey on Police officers with unmanageable debts for the second half of 1998, when available.||Adm
16. The Chairman said that the problem of Police officers with unmanageable debts was much more serious than what had been revealed. He suggested that the issue be followed up by the Panel at the meeting to be held in April or May 1999.(Post-meeting note : The subject of indebtedness of Police officers was included in the Panel's list of outstanding items for discussion.)
Measures adopted for cultivating the shared values and their effectiveness
17. Dr LUI Ming-wah enquried about the measures put in place to encourage the building of a quality culture with shared values throughout the Force and the measures adopted by the Force management to review the effectiveness of the Force's strategy. In response, ACP/SQ(Ag) said that the improvement measures involved the participation of all levels of the Force. A series of new workshops on two-way communications were held which provided channels for officers of all ranks to exchange their views on the adoption of the values within the Force. Assessments on the progress of the improvement measures were conducted and responses from staff members were reflected to the Force management. Views from staff members were collected by conducting the Staff Opinion Survey. To ensure the findings of the Survey were objective and accurate, it was conducted by an independent survey company. In addition, the Force conducted the Public Opinion Survey and the Customer Satisfaction Survey in alternate years.
18. Mr Andrew CHENG expressed concern about the handling of reports on youth gangs wandering around in housing estates. He had received a number of complaints on the problem. Despite the Police arrived at the spot shortly after receiving reports on the alleged nuisance caused by the gangs, the youth gangs dispersed once the Police arrived, and hence no further action would be taken up by the Police. To tackle the problem, Mr CHENG suggested the Police to consider deploying plain clothes officers to their gathering places and improving the intelligence work on any illegal activities engaged by these youth gangs. ACP/Crime pointed out that it was difficult to institute prosecution against the youth gangs simply because of causing nuisance to residents nearby. Apart from the enforcement work carried out by the Police, the juvenile problem had to be tackled in conjunction with the local social services agencies.
Provision of Video-Interview Rooms (VIRs) in Police stations
19. In response to Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong, DS/S(1) said that 60 VIRs had been made available in various Police stations and two more were on their way. There was at least one VIR in each major divisional Police station. Mr CHEUNG considered that the provision of VIRs in Police stations was essential to safeguard the fairness in the course of statement taking. He suggested that the provision of VIRs be discussed at a future Panel meeting.(Post-meeting note : The subject of provision of VIRs was included in the Panel's list of outstanding items for discussion.)
Handling of domestic violence
Operation of 999 Control and Command Centre
|20. Mr Albert HO expressed concern about the handling of reports on domestic violence by the Police officers. The Chairman requested and the Administration agreed to provide a copy of the existing guidelines on the handling of such reports.
21. Regarding a recent traffic accident in the Happy Valley in which the public could not get their phone calls through to the Control and Command Centre or receive any response from the Centre, Dr LUI Ming-wah considered the situation unacceptable. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E (PAS/S(E)) said that very often when a catastrophic accident occurred, many reports on the accident were received by the 999 Control and Command Centre simultaneously, and hence the telephone lines in the Centre might be jammed. Notwithstanding this, the Police arrived at the scene within a short span of time in the above incident. He pointed out that the Police were able to respond to over 98% of the emergency calls received by the 999 Control and Command Centre within its target set in the performance pledge.
IV. Taking of intimate and non-intimate sample
|22. Dr LUI Ming-wah said that the Police should look into the matter seriously. Any other reports should not be jeopardized simply because the emergency phone calls could not be get through to the 999 Control and Command Centre. He requested the Administration to further explain the operation and establishment of the 999 Control and Command Centre. DS/S(1) undertook to provide an account of the incident, and information on as well as the operation of the 999 service together with its performance pledge.||Adm
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1257/98-99(03))
Briefing by the Administration
23. DS/S(1) said that the purpose of the information paper was to seek members' views on the proposed legislation on the taking of intimate and non-intimate samples. There was no statutory provision governing the taking of intimate or non-intimate samples at present. The proposals were drawn up on the basis of the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission and the further study of the recommendation by the Inter-departmental Working Group. The use of DNA analysis had become a very effective tool used by the law enforcement agencies. The degree of interference was relatively low when taking a non-intimate sample by means of buccal swab. In addition to the written consent given by the suspect, prior judicial authorization was required for the taking of intimate samples. For the taking of non-intimate samples, judicial authorization would not be required. To avoid the abuse of power by the Police, the authorization by an officer at the rank of Superintendent or above, who had reasonable grounds for suspecting the person's involvement in a serious arrestable offence for which the term of imprisonment was five years or more, was required for taking intimate and non-intimate samples. Moreover, the suspect would be clearly informed of the grounds for taking the sample and the authorization being given. He stressed that the legislative proposal would be able to strike a balance between the need for effective law enforcement and the protection of rights of individuals.
Authorization from the court for taking samples
24. Noting from the examples of successful use of DNA profiling set out in the Annex of the information paper, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong said that DNA analysis was apparently mostly used in serious offences such as murder and rape. Thus, he considered that the decision on taking an intimate sample could be rested with the court regardless of the imprisonment term of the offence committed by the suspect. DS/S(1) clarified that under the legislative proposal, the taking of samples was determined on the basis of the imprisonment term of the offence in question, i.e. the offence must be a serious arrestable offence for which the term of imprisonment was five years or more. Prior authorization from the court should be obtained in respect of the taking of intimate samples owing to its relatively high degree of interference to the suspect. He pointed out that from a practical point of view, the suspect, if he was the culprit, would likely refuse to consent to the taking of samples to avoid being identified. Given the wide application of DNA profiling, it would be time consuming and impose a great burden on the court if judicial authorization was required for each case. This would also delay the investigation of crimes. It was estimated that about 5 000 non-intimate samples would be collected at the first year upon the enactment of the legislation.
25. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong opined that should there be some prima facie evidence to support the commission of a serious offence, the court should be empowered to decide on whether intimate samples should be taken from the suspect even if the suspect refused to do so. Mr Albert HO shared Mr CHEUNG's view. He added that the judicial authorization should be obtained in respect of taking intimate samples only when it was absolutely necessary and critical to do so. Under such restrictive scenario, the number of cases for judicial authorization would be reduced.
Necessity for the taking of intimate samples
26. In response to the Chairman's enquiry about the differences between a DNA profile given by intimate and non-intimate samples, DS/S(1) said that the analysis of DNA material extracted from intimate and non-intimate samples would give a similar DNA profile of the subject. Senior Chemist /Government Laboratory (SC/ Govt Lab) added that it was not necessary to take an intimate sample from a suspect so as to compare with the intimate sample obtained at the crime scene.
27. The Chairman and Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong asked about the rationale for the taking of intimate samples if the DNA profiling results obtained from non-intimate samples would suffice for the analysis. PAS/S(E) responded that the legislative proposal should be able to deal with the future need for the taking of intimate samples. Otherwise, there would be a lack of legal basis when such a need arose. There was indeed a need for the taking of intimate samples, such as a sample of urine was required by the Customs and Excise Department to substantiate whether a person had stored drug inside his body. Moreover, DNA samples kept by the Government Laboratory in respect of outstanding cases were mostly intimate samples obtained by old methods. He said that the legislative intent was to provide more protection to the suspect when the technique with a relatively high degree of interference was adopted for the taking of samples. DS/S(1) added that strict procedures would be laid down.
28. Mr Albert HO asked whether intimate samples could be taken if the suspect refused to cooperate. SC/Govt Lab said that an intimate sample must be taken by a medical practitioner. According to medical advice, the taking of a sample of blood from a person would be dangerous if he refused to do so.
29. Dr LUI Ming-wah asked whether a sample of hair could be used for DNA profiling as it was usually found at a crime scene. PAS/S(E) said that the non-intimate samples taken by means of buccal swab would be more reliable because a sample of hair might be contaminated. SC/Gov Lab said that under the existing DNA profiling technology used in Hong Kong, a sample of hair must consist of hair follicles. DNA profile could be obtained from a sample of hair by other DNA profiling technology which was not adopted in Hong Kong. Consideration was being given to introducing technology in this field. She added that the taking of a hair sample was more intrusive.
30. The Chairman opined that if non-intimate samples were able to give a DNA profile of a suspect, the Administration might consider introducing the proposed legislation in two phases. As the first phase, the Administration might consider obtaining non-intimate samples by taking a buccal cell sample from a suspect. Should the taking of samples prove to be effective and no complaints be lodged against any allegation of abuse of power by the law enforcement officers, the Administration might further consider extending the application to the taking of intimate samples. The taking of intimate samples might be mandatory if it was proved to be necessary and critical for the investigation of serious crimes.
31. Mr CHENG Kai-nam enquired whether the Administration had made reference to overseas legislation on the taking of intimate and non-intimate samples. DS/S(1) said that DNA profiling technology had advanced tremendously in the recent years, and hence overseas legislation in this regard varied greatly. The legislative proposal was drafted on the basis of the legislation in the United Kingdom (UK). Under the UK legislation on the taking of non-intimate samples, no consent from the suspect was required. While in some countries, such as Canada, judicial authorization was required for the taking of various bodily samples irrespective of whether consent was given by the suspect. As regards the legislation in New Zealand and Australia, the judicial authorization was required when the suspect refused to cooperate. He pointed out that the Administration had also examined the scope of overseas legislation. For example, the legislation on taking DNA samples in Australia was applicable to offences which were liable to an imprisonment term over five years.
32. In response to Mr Andrew CHENG, PAS/S(E) said that there would be no separate database for storing intimate and non-intimate samples. He pointed out that DNA material extracted from intimate and non-intimate samples would give a DNA profile of the subject in the form of a series of numbers that was highly specific to a person. To avoid doubts on the technique chosen for sampling taking, he said that the Administration might consider spelling out clearly in the proposed legislation that non-intimate samples would be relied on the taking of buccal swab along the inside of the cheek part of the mouth of the subject.
33. Referring to para. 17(j) of the information paper, Mr Andrew CHENG asked for the rationale for taking non-intimate sample from a person who was already convicted. PAS/S(E) said that DNA profiles would be stored in a DNA database to assist in the detection and investigation of crimes in future. The rationale was the same as that for keeping records of fingerprinting. SC/Govt Lab added that experience from Australia and New Zealand showed that about 90% of sex offenders had previous convictions for lesser but still serious crimes. If their DNA profiles were stored in a database at the time they had committed a less serious offence, they could be easily identified when they committed sexual offences.
34. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong enquired about the application of DNA database in overseas countries. ACP/Crime said that DNA profiles had been stored in DNA database in UK two years ago. SC/Govt Lab supplemented that the target groups of DNA database varied in different countries in the light of their respective legislation. In some countries, when a person was suspected for involving in a serious arrestable offence, he was subject to the taking of DNA samples. While in some countries, DNA sample was taken from a person once he was convicted.
35. The Chairman opined that the proposal to take non-intimate sample from a person who was already convicted and to store the profiles in DNA database for future reference should be handled with due care in order not to intrude one's privacy. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong commented that the proposal set out in para.17(j) of the information paper was too aggressive. The Administration had to take into account the acceptance of the general public on the legislative proposal.
Criteria for samples taking
|36. Mr Andrew CHENG said that under the proposed legislation, a sample could be taken from a suspect if he was suspected for committing an offence for which the term of imprisonment was five years or more. Since a number of crimes would be liable to an imprisonment term of over five years, he had reservation about whether an imprisonment term of five years was an appropriate criterion for determining the need for taking intimate or non-intimate samples. He enquired whether consideration would be given to confining the application to specific types of offences, such as crimes related to sex and violence. He also requested the Administration to include a list of crimes for which the term of imprisonment was five years or more when introducing the bill. PAS/S(E) said that the Administration might consider spelling out in the proposed legislation the commission of specific crimes which were subject to the taking of intimate and non-intimate samples.
37. The Chairman said that members generally supported the proposal for the taking of non-intimate sample by buccal swab. He asked the Administration to consider the views of members.
V. Proposed registration scheme of drug treatment and rehabilitation centres
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1257/98-99(04))
Briefing by the Administration
38. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security (Narcotics) (PAS/S(N) said that the Administration proposed that a registration scheme should be introduced for drug treatment and rehabilitation centres providing voluntary residential service to four patients or more, including half-way houses for rehabilitated drug addicts. There would be a single licensing authority, i.e. the Director of Social Welfare, for all these centres under the new legislation. There were about 13 organizations providing voluntary drug treatment and rehabilitation services in Hong Kong. It was estimated that about 40 licences would be issued under the proposed registration scheme. Registration of an applicant was subject to the condition that the drug treatment and rehabilitation centre under application had to comply with the fire and building safety requirements. A licensee should be a "fit" person, i.e. the applicant must not have undertaken any drug treatment and have no record of offences in relation to drug, and/or any other serious crimes ten years prior to registration. She pointed out that a six-month public consultation had been carried out. Views had also been collected through meetings with the Provisional District Boards, the management of drug treatment and rehabilitation centres and so on. The views expressed were in support of the proposal to improve the standard of service provided by the drug treatment and rehabilitation centres. Some centres were concerned about the financial difficulties in conducting the upgrading or improvement works as a result of the registration scheme. The Administration had been liaising with the management of various charitable funds and alerted them of the possible demand for financial assistance from these centres. Lastly, she said that a phased-implementation approach would be adopted for the registration scheme. The first phase would cater for centres which were under Government subvention. Centres which were not under current subvention would be included in the second phase.
Financial assistance to the drug treatment and rehabilitation centres
39. Mr Andrew CHENG enquired about the specific financial assistance for those drug treatment and rehabilitation centres which were not under subvention but had demonstrated their effectiveness in providing drug treatment and rehabilitation services. PAS/S(N) said that there was no regulation on these centres at present. As a result of the detailed assessment carried out by an independent tertiary institute in 1997 on services provided by the non-medical voluntary drug treatment and rehabilitation centres, the effectiveness of services provided by Christian therapeutic agencies were confirmed. Since March 1998, government subvention of $4,420 per month for each patient was provided by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) to four Christian therapeutic agencies. SWD was closely monitoring the service quality and provision and reviewing the need to extend the financial assistance to other eligible centres should they put up their applications for recurrent subvention. Assistant Director of Social Welfare (Youth and Training) added that financial assistance for capital and special expenditure could be provided under the Lotteries Fund.
40. The Chairman remarked that as far as he was aware, some drug treatment and rehabilitation centres declined financial assistance from the Lotteries Fund because of religious reason. He asked whether the Administration would render other assistance to these centres. In reply, PAS/S(N) made the following points -
Operating costs for the drug treatment and rehabilitation centres
- the Administration had been liaising with the management of the Lotteries Fund to study the feasibility of exempting certain requirements for receiving assistance from the Fund, for example, exempting these centres from the acknowledgement of receipt of assistance. A grace period of four years was considered sufficient for these centres to seek funding support from other sources in meeting the registration requirements, to conduct the upgrading and improvement works or to relocate their premises, if necessary;
- the Administration had alerted the management of various charitable funds of the possible demand for financial assistance in the coming years; and
- the Lands Department and the Government Property Agency had been approached with a view to securing their commitment for assisting centres which would need to relocate their premises as a result of the registration scheme. Support from the Provisional District Boards concerned had also been solicited.PAS/S(N) pointed out that those centres which came into operation after the implementation of the registration scheme were required to comply strictly with the fire and building safety requirements.
41. Responding to the Chairman's enquiry, PAS/S(N) said that non-medical drug treatment and rehabilitation centres were usually operated in small houses in the New Territories. Thus, the upgrading and improvement works as a result of the registration scheme would not incur huge additional costs. Instead, the operating costs for these centres varied in accordance with the facilities provided as well as the types of premises located.
Granting of exemption certificates
42. In response to Mr Andrew CHENG's enquiry about the specific arrangements in respect of the granting of exemption certificates to existing operators, PAS/S(N) said that the registration procedures were laid down in paragraphs 10 - 12 of the Annex to the information paper.
Views collected in the public consultation
43. Responding to the Chairman's question on the views collected in the public consultation on the registration scheme, PAS/S(N) said that the consultation process was open. The Administration had collated and analysed all views received and consulted the Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) and the Drug Liaison Committee in December 1998 and January 1999 respectively. With the support of ACAN, the following aspects of the registration proposal were modified having regard to the views received -
- the eligibility criteria of the licensee under the registration scheme;
- a single licensing authority for all drug treatment and rehabilitation centres; and
- the inclusion of half-way houses for rehabilitated drug addicts under the proposed registration scheme.PAS/S(N) added that while operators of drug treatment and rehabilitation centres were in support of the proposed registration scheme, they were concerned about the provisions of the legislation, and the details of the general guidelines and the code of practice. Under the registration scheme, the licensing authority would issue guidelines and code of practice covering areas such as the building and fire safety requirements and other operational aspects. The drug treatment and rehabilitation centres would be consulted on the guidelines and the code of practice in due course.
44. To conclude, the Chairman said that members generally supported the proposal.
VI. Proposed amendments to the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO)
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1257/98-99(05))
Briefing by the Administration
45. Deputy Director of Administration said that employees and members of public bodies under POBO were "public servants". In considering the making of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (SEHK), the Hong Kong Futures Exchange Limited (HKFE) and three clearing houses public bodies under POBO, two issues needed to be addressed. Firstly, the ordinary broker members of the Exchanges and clearing members of the clearing houses were not involved in the control and management of these bodies. Secondly, not all the persons responsible for the control and management of the Exchanges and the clearing houses were "members" of these bodies. In this regard, a new category under the definition of "public servant" in POBO was introduced so as to ensure that the ordinary broker members of the Exchanges and clearing members of the clearing houses were excluded from the definition of "public servant".
46. The Chairman enquired about the differences in the obligations between a "public servant" and a "non-public servant" in the context of POBO. In reply, Director of Corruption Prevention, ICAC (DCP/ICAC) said that employees and members of public bodies and non-public bodies were subject to different sections of the POBO. The major differences were as follows -
- under section 4 of POBO, it would be an offence if a public servant accepted a corrupt advantage whether in Hong Kong or elsewhere;
- under section 9 of POBO, an agent was permitted to solicit or accept an advantage with the permission of his principal; and
- ICAC had a statutory responsibility to offer corruption prevention recommendations to public bodies.
47. In response to a further question from the Chairman on the relatively long time taken for the discussion between SEHK, HKFE and ICAC over the legislative proposal, DCP/ICAC said that the primary concern was that the ordinary broker members of the Exchanges and clearing members of the clearing houses should not be included within the meaning of "public servant". It was believed that the proposed amendment to POBO would be able to achieve this intent.
48. The Chairman said that members raised no specific objection to the legislative proposal. He asked the Administration to introduce the legislative amendments in accordance with its legislative timetable.
49. The meeting ended at 4:50 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat1