LC Paper No. CB(2) 1889/98-99
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/PL/SE/1
LegCo Panel on Security
Minutes of meeting held on Wednesday, 31 March 1999
at 10:45 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building
Hon James TO Kun-sun (Chairman)
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Public Officers attending:
Attendance by invitation:
- Item II
- Mrs Regina IP
- Secretary for Security
- Mr Timothy TONG
- Deputy Secretary for Security 3
- Mr SO Kam-shing
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Security D
- Mr CHOY Ping-tai
- Deputy Director of Immigration
- Item III
- Mr Raymond WONG
- Deputy Secretary for Security 1
- Mr David TONG
- Assistant Commissioner (Border and Drugs)
Customs & Excise Department
- Mr CHAN Wing-shing
- Superintendent (Marine and Land Enforcement Command)
Customs & Excise Department
- Mr M B DOWIE
- Assistant Commissioner of Police (Support)
Hong Kong Police Force
- Ms Amy TSE
- Principal Assistant Secretary for the Treasury R
- Item IV
- Mr Raymond WONG
- Deputy Secretary for Security 1
- Mr Philip CHAN
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E
- Mr Alex MA
- Assistant Director (Departmental Services) D
Information Technology Services Department
- Mr Peter HALLIDAY
- Assistant Commissioner of Police (Information Systems)
Hong Kong Police Force
- Mr George LEUNG
- Chief Systems Manager (Information Technology Branch)
Hong Kong Police Force
Clerk in attendance:
- Item III
- Representatives from the Tobacco Institute of Hong Kong
- Mr Albert CHAN Yu-chung
- Tobacco Institute of Hong Kong
- Mr LAI Wai-chiu
Ms LI Shun-choi
Ms TO Kin-yuet
Staff in attendance:
- Mrs Sharon TONG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2)1
I. Date of next meeting and items for discussion
- Miss Betty MA
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 1
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1598/98-99(01))
Items for discussion at the next Panel meeting
Members agreed to discuss the following items at the next Panel meeting to be held on 6 May 1999 -
Items for discussion at future Panel meetings
- Progress of Year 2000 compliance in Government, Government-funded and Government-regulated organizations within the purview of the Security Bureau; and
(Post-meeting note : The Independent Commission Against Corruption had been invited to brief members on its progress of Year 2000 compliance.)
- Policy on Closed Area permit.On item (a), members agreed to decide whether it was necessary to form a subcommittee to follow up the issue pending the deliberations at the next Panel meeting.
2. The Chairman said that the House Committee had referred to the Panel for follow-up with the new application procedures for the Certificate of Entitlement and related issues. He suggested and members agreed that the matter be scheduled for discussion when the Administration finalized the new application procedures.
3. The Chairman said that he was aware that members expressed grave concern about a recent incident where an 18-year-old man died in Police custody in Sheung Shui Police Station on 20 March 1999. The Administration agreed to provide the Panel with a report on the incident shortly. He suggested to decide whether it was necessary to hold a special meeting after studying the report. Members agreed.(Post-meeting note : A special Panel meeting was scheduled for 20 April 1999 at 2:30 pm.)
II. Visa-free access for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport holders
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1598/98-99(02))
Briefing by the Administration
4. Secretary for Security (S for S) briefed members on the lobbying strategy for promoting visa-free access for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) passport holders as follows -
- to secure maximum travel convenience for HKSAR passport holders from countries/territories that were mostly visited both for business and pleasure;
- to lobby influential countries, such as the European Union (EU)/Schengen Member States; and
- to approach those countries/territories which had expressed an interest in having visa abolition talks with the Administration in the first instance so that the granting of visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders by these countries would have a demonstration effect on the less forthcoming countries.
5. S for S said that EU countries would continue to be the Administration's priority targets. In this connection, she had written a letter to the German Minister of Interior in November 1998 setting out the detailed arguments and formally requesting him to initiate a review of visa treatment for HKSAR passport holders. The letter had been handed down to a technical group of the Schengen Member States for detailed consideration. The Administration would continue with its active lobbying work. Support would be solicited in particular from Germany, France and Spain.
6. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong asked whether the Administration would send officials to lobby Germany, France and Spain directly notwithstanding their lukewarm response towards the granting of visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders and whether the Administration would secure support from other Schengen Member States. S for S responded that France and Spain were comparatively reserved for granting visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders because France was facing immigration problems arising from the Asian immgrants whereas Spain was having disputes with the United Kingdom over the soverignty of Gibraltar. Spain had expressed concern that the recognition of HKSAR passport as a travel document independent from the one issued by the People's Republic of China (PRC) would set a precedent for Gibraltar. She pointed out that Germany had indicated support for granting visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders. The matter was withheld due to a change in its cabinet in the recent election. Discussion could probably be resumed in the second half of 1999. Lobbying had been made at both the political and working levels. The visa issue had respectively been raised by the Chief Executive, the Chief Secretary for Administration and the Financial Secretary during their official trips to Europe. In fact, the Administration had secured the support of several Member States, including Italy and the BENELUX countries. However, under the Schengen Agreement, its Member States had to adopt a common policy on the movement of people and in particular on the arrangements for visas. S for S further said that the lobbying strategy for EU countries was to invite their Ministry of Interior experts to Hong Kong to further understand the immigration control and passport issuing systems in Hong Kong.
7. Mr Howard YOUNG asked whether the Administration would consider lobbying Schengen Member States to issue multiple-entry Schengen visas of extended validity to HKSAR passport holders who were frequent travellers. In reply, S for S said that since the reunification, Italy and Germany had agreed to issue multiple-entry Schengen visas of validity up to a maximum of five years to frequent travellers on business visits. She pointed out that the validity of five years was the maximum duration issued by the EU/Schengen Member States UK and Ireland had already granted visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders.
8. Mr Howard YOUNG was concerned that the visa-free access to British National (Overseas) (BNO) passport holders granted by some Schengen Member States might be abolished in the light of the common policy on the arrangements for visas adopted by these countries. S for S said that the Administration had raised the issue of a common visa list adopted by EU/Schengen Member States with the UK Government who had expressed its continued support for granting visa-free access to BNO passport holders. The Administration would pay due attention to the development of the arrangement for visas in these countries arising from the signing of the Amsterdam Treaty. She pointed out that given holders of BNO and HKSAR passports belonged to the same category of persons, it was a forceful argument in pursuing the granting of visa-free access to both BNO and HKSAR passport holders.
Enhancing travel convenience for HKSAR passport holders
9. Mr Howard YOUNG enquired whether more people using HKSAR passports would have a positive impact on securing visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders. Deputy Director of Immigration (DD of Imm) said that out of the some 833 000 HKSAR passports which were ready for use, about 814 000 had been issued. The number of BNO passports in circulation was about 3.3 million. S for S pointed out that as HKSAR passports would be the mainstream travel documents for HKSAR residents in the future, the securing of maximum travel convenience for HKSAR passport holders was an important task. She added that the more overseas customs officers saw HKSAR passports, the more familiar they would become with the passport. No complaints on the admission of HKSAR passports by overseas countries had ever been received.
10. Mrs Selina CHOW said that simplifying visa application procedures and reducing application fees in respect of HKSAR passports would encourage more Hong Kong residents to use HKSAR passports instead of BNO passports. She urged that the Administration should play a more proactive role in liaising with the respective consulates to enhance the travel convenience for HKSAR passport holders. S for S said that the Administration was aware that some countries adopted different visa application fees for HKSAR and BNO passport holders, such as Japan. In fact, the Administration had raised the matter with the Japanese consulate. She cited France as an example which had shortened the processing time taken for issuing visas to HKSAR passport holders as a result of the Administration's repeated efforts to request overseas countries through their respective consulates to simplify their visa application procedures. Nevertheless, some countries had indicated that the requests to shorten visa processing time or reduce the application fees could not be acceded to because of the resource or financial implications.
11. In response to Mrs Selina CHOW's enquiry about the processing time for visa applications and their respective application fees, S for S said that brochures published by the tourist industry provided detailed information in connection with visa applications. Upon receipt of complaints about travel inconvenience for HKSAR passport holders, the Administration would reflect the concerns to the respective consulates.
12. Dr LUI Ming-wah asked whether consideration had been given to using HKSAR passport or combining the Home Entry Permit with the Hong Kong identity card for the purpose of visiting the Mainland. S for S said that in line with the one country principle, it was considered inappropriate to adopt HKSAR passport as a travel document to enter the Mainland. To further enhance travel convenience for HKSAR residents, the Mainland authorities had recently introduced a Home Entry Card. She further said that as a long term measure, the Administration might discuss with the Mainland authorities the possibility of combining Home Entry Permit/Card with the Hong Kong identity card. However, both the technical and legal issues would have to be examined. She added that a consultant would be engaged to study the information technology system in the Immigration Department, which included the feasibility study of the new identity card.
13. Mr Andrew CHENG said that the Administration should step up its efforts to promote the greater use of HKSAR passports. He enquired about the measures and plans put in place, in particular whether consideration would be given to reducing the application fees for HKSAR passports. In response, S for S said that the Administration had always publicized the use of HKSAR passports. She hoped that when EU granted visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders, northern European nations would follow. The more visa-free access being granted by other countries, the more HKSAR passports would be used. Given that the applciation for HKSAR passports would take time and inccur additional expenses for BNO passport holders, it was believed that most of the BNO passport holders would apply for HKSAR passports only until the expiry of their BNO passports. Regarding the application fees for HKSAR passports, S for S said that the current price level at $280 was below cost.
14. The Chairman asked whether the relationship between PRC was a major consideration factor taken into account by those countries in granting visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders. S for S said that according to her experience, some countries such as Egypt and South Africa had taken into account their relationship with PRC in their decision to grant visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders. Some countries were concerned whether similar visa-free access treatment had to be extended to PRC passport holders.
15. The Chairman suggested the Administration to provide members with an information kit so that members could assist the lobbying for visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders in every possible opportunity. Since the Parlaimentary Liaision Subcommittee of the Legislative Council was actively developing its liaison with EU Parliament, it might raise the issue in its forthcoming visit. S for S welcomed the suggestion. She pointed out that members might consider soliciting support particularly of the commercial sectors and the Parliamentarians of EU.
Visa treatment of nationals from countries not yet granted visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders
16. Dr LUI Ming-wah enquired about the visa treatment of nationals from those countries which had not yet agreed to grant visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders. In reply, S for S said that as Hong Kong had adopted a liberal visa policy, the Administration did not adopt a policy of reciprocity. It would also seem unthinkable to impose visa requirements on nationals from some countries, e.g. our major trading partners like the United States.
Forged HKSAR passports
17. In response to Mr Andrew CHENG's enquiry about the use of forged passports of HKSAR, S for S said that the number of forged BNO passports seized by other countries outweighed those of HKSAR passports. It was because the HKSAR passport contained state-of-the-art anti-forgery features. DD of Imm added that since the issuance of HKSAR passports in July 1997, only two forged passports had been detected. The first one was detected in Hong Kong and the second one by the Canadian authorities. The syndicate producing the forged passports was neutralized.
18. The Chairman said that the progress might be reviewed at a half-year to one year interval.
III. Measures to tackle the smuggling of cigarettes into Hong Kong
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1598/98-99(03))
Briefing by the Administration
19. Deputy Secretary for Security 1 (DS(S)1) said that cigarette smuggling had become a lucrative trade because of the substantial price differential between Hong Kong and neighbouring areas. To tackle the problems of smuggling and illegal sale of cigarettes, the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) and the Police Force had adopted a five-pronged strategy which was set out in paragraph 5 of the information paper. The Finance Bureau, in conjunction with the relevant departments, would shortly initiate a review of the current enforcement strategy against the smuggling and illegal sale of cigarettes.
Views from the Tobacco Institute of Hong Kong
20. Mr Albert CHAN took members through the statistics provided by the Tobacco Institute of Hong Kong (the Institute). He pointed out that the sales of duty-paid cigarettes had dropped by 65% after an increase in the tax on cigarettes. The retail prices of cigarettes in Hong Kong were the most expensive in Asian countries. More than one-half of the smokers in Hong Kong consumed duty-not-paid cigarettes. He added that the recent experience from Sweden showed that the problem of cigarettes smuggling could be curbed by means of a reduction on tobacco duty.
21. Mr Albert CHAN further said that the Institute was concerned about the followings -
- the problem of cigarette smuggling could generate health problem, in particular on the youth because of its comparatively lower price which was more affordable by the youth; and
- it was lawful for a Hong Kong resident to enter Hong Kong with no more than five packets of duty-not-paid cigarettes daily. With the introduction of the new Home Entry Card, the Immigration Department staff would be difficult to find out how many times a Hong Kong resident had crossed the border in one day.
22. On behalf of the Institute, Mr Albert CHAN made the following suggestions -
- the Administration should step up its educational publicity works on the anti-illegal trading of cigarettes. The Institute was willing to assume partial expenditure on such publicity;
- C&ED should consider strengthening manpower and equipment in respect of combating cigarette smuggling. The Institute could fund partial costs for installation of advance equipment in the department to curb cigarette smuggling;
- to increase the deterrent effect on cigarettes smuggling, the Administration might consider setting up a non-dutiable passage in the Lo Wu immigration control point. It would be an offence for carrying excessive duty-not-paid cigarettes through the non-dutiable passage; and
- to reduce tobacco duty.
23. Ms LI Shun-choi and Ms TO Kin-yuet pointed out that the sales of duty-paid cigarettes in the retail market had dropped by more than 70%. Mr LAI Wai-chiu added that according to the wholesalers, duty-paid cigarettes represented only some 40% of the total sales of cigarettes in the market.
Problems of smuggling and illegal sale of cigarettes
24. Noting from press reports that the problem of illegal sale of cigarettes was getting worse, Mrs Selina CHOW asked whether the Administration had ever invoked the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance (OSCO) to bring prosecutions against the illegal sale of cigarettes. Assistant Commissioner (Border and Drugs)/ Customs and Excise Department (Asst Comr (B&D)) responded that C&ED had instituted prosecution under OSCO once in 1997 and the defendant was sentenced to a three-year imprisonment term. He added that C&ED and the Police had conducted joint enforcement actions against street peddlers. Of the number of cases and arrests in respect of street peddling and distribution handled by C&ED in 1998, about 30% were referred by the Police. The department was aware that in order to avoid law enforcement actions, some peddlers advertised their illicit sale by distribution of leaflets in residential areas, soliciting orders which could be placed by phone. Notwithstanding that the Administration needed time to collect evidence to institute prosecutions against such illicit sale, over 20 persons were arrested in 1998 for illegal sale of cigarettes by distribution of leaflets. He assured members that C&ED would endeavour to combat street level peddling.
25. The Chairman enquired whether the smuggling and illegal sale of cigarettes were serious offences within the meaning of OSCO. In reply, Asst Comr (B&D) said that in some cases, cigarette smuggling were organized by syndicates. They exported cigarettes to neighouring cities under proper permits and then re-routed them back into the local market. While for the retail sector, there was no evidence showing that the illicit sale activities were conducted in an organized manner.
26. Referring to the statistics provided by the Institute, Mr Howard YOUNG pointed out that the sales of duty-paid cigarettes had been decreasing in the past few years as a result of an increase in tobacco duty. However, the percentage of daily smokers remained rather steady in the past few years. Hence, it was believed that most smokers were consuming duty-not-paid cigarettes. He asked whether consideration had been given to reducing tobacco duty so as to stimulate the sales of duty-paid cigarettes and increase the government revenue. In response, Principal Assistant Secretary for the Treasury (Revenue)(PAS(Tsy)R) said that the Administration had taken into account its fiscal and health policy objectives in determining the level of tobacco duty. She added that the Administration was concerned about the decrease in revenue generated from tobacco duty. However, the Administration believed that simply increasing tobacco duty would only enhance the attractiveness of contraband cigarettes and provide further impetus to smuggling and illegal sale. It would be counter-productive in revenue terms and contribute little to furthering an anti-smoking policy. As a result, the Financial Secretary did not in line with the usual practice propose any revision to tobacco duty level in his latest Budget speech. Having regard to the seriousness of the smuggling and illegal sale of cigarettes, the Administration would review the current enforcement strategy shortly.
27. Noting from the information provided by the Institute that the retail prices of cigarettes in Singapore and Malaysia varied greatly which was similar to the situation in Hong Kong and the Mainland, Mr Howard YOUNG enquired whether the Administration had made reference to the experience in Singapore on how to prevent smuggling of duty-not-paid cigarettes from Malaysia into Singapore. PAS(Tsy)R said that the Administration did not have ready information in respect of the measures adopted by the relevant authorities in Singapore to combat the problem.
28. Referring to the Annex to the information paper, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan enquired about the reasons for the decreasing trend in the amount of duty-not-paid cigarettes seized at entry/exit level and whether it was due to the incapability of the enforcement agencies. Asst Comr (B&D) explained that several seizures in 1996 in which extraordinary amount of duty-not-paid cigarettes were found accounted for the relatively significant figure in that year. The amount of duty-not-paid cigarettes seized in 1997 and 1998 were on a par. He pointed out that the overall situation should be evaluated by taking into account the seizure of duty-not-paid cigarettes from street peddlers and distributors. Notwithstanding the enforcement actions undertaken at various levels, the enforcement agencies could not detect smuggling activities thoroughly. DS(S)1 added that it was difficult to quantify the undetected duty-not-paid cigarettes. He stressed that it was an established policy to discourage smoking from the health policy point of view. However, revenue generated from tobacco duty was one of the income sources of the Government. Having regard to the problems of smuggling and illegal sale of cigarettes, he reiterated that a comprehensive review of the enforcement strategy would be initiated by the Finance Bureau shortly.
29. Mr CHENG Kai-nam opined that apart from stepping up enforcement actions against smuggling and illegal sale of cigarettes, enhancing educational promotional publicity with a view to changing the social norms of consuming duty-not-paid cigarettes was the way to solve the problem thoroughly.
30. Mrs Selina CHOW expressed concerned that C&ED had not accorded proper priority for combating the problems of smuggling and illegal sale of cigarettes. As the livelihood of cigarette retailers were being seriously affected by the illegal sale of cigarettes, she enquired about the specific measures in place to combat the problems and the average response time for C&ED to take enforcement actions after receiving reports on smuggling and illegal sale of cigarettes. DS(S)1 responded that due emphasis had been placed on the problems. C&ED and the Police had taken vigorous enforcement actions. PAS(Tsy)R added that the Administration was concerned about and well aware of the problems. Thus, the comprehensive review to be carried out shortly would not only be confined to examining the revenue aspect, but also from the angle of enforcement. The review was expected to be completed in several months.
31. In response to Mrs Selina CHOW, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Support) said that the Force had worked closely with C&ED at various levels and it would continue to support C&ED in carrying out relevant enforcement actions. About 30% of the arrested cases were referred by the Police. Should the situation worsen and more organized street level peddling be discovered, the Force would do its very best to take actions. He added that the Marine Police took actions on the sea in respect of smuggling of cigarettes. It would continue this action.
|32. Mrs Selina CHOW requested and Asst Comr (B&D) agreed to provide information on the number of reports received on smuggling and illegal sale of cigarettes and the response time needed for carrying out raids.||Adm
Cigarette smoking patterns
33. In response to the Chairman, DS(S)1 said that according to the Administration's information, the smoking population was gradually decreasing with the exception in 1998 where there was a slight increase. The daily smokers represented 23% of the total population in 1982. The figure dropped to 15% in 1998.
34. Mr Albert CHAN pointed out that the statistics on cigarette smoking patterns provided by the Institute were extracted from the findings of the bi-annual survey conducted by the Census and Statistics Department. During the 1980s, the smoking population represented 23% of the total population in 1982 and subsequently dropped to 15% in 1990. Since the drastic increase in tobacco duty and the prohibition of advertising tobacco products in television in 1991, the smoking population remained at about 15%. Hence, taxation on cigarettes had no direct impact on discouraging smoking.
Rewards for Informants
35. Mr Andrew CHENG considered that a reward scheme which was funded by the tobacco industry was undesirable from the angle of promoting anti-smoking. Such reward scheme would be better to be funded by C&ED or the Anti-smoking Committee. Asst Comr (B&D) clarified that when members of the public made reports on cigarette smuggling, they were rewarded under two schemes which were funded by the tobacco industry as well as the Administration.
|36. Referring to the Annex to the information paper, Mr Andrew CHENG enquired about the reasons for the decreasing number of reports received under the reward scheme and the relatively low effected cases as compared with the total number of reports received. Asst Comr (B&D) said that despite the number of reports received were decreasing, the total amount of seizures were steady in the past few years. The number of reports shown in the statistics refer to those reports provided by "registered informers" who supplied information involving large quantities of illicit cigarettes and would get reward funded by the government and the tobacco industry if seizures were made as a result of the information provided. In fact, C&ED received a lot of anonymous reports made by the public which were not recorded under this category. The Chairman requested and Asst Comr (B&D) undertook to provide a breakdown of the number of reports received under the reward scheme made by members of the public, cigarette distributors and other organizations. The Chairman asked whether C&ED was able to carry out follow-up actions with all the reports on smuggling and illegal sales of cigarettes having regard to the large number of reports received. Asst Comr (B&D) said that for an effective enforcement action, it did take time to verify the validity and reliability of the reports before taking action.||Adm
37. Mr Andrew CHENG remarked that the Administration had launched inadequate publicity about the reward scheme. He enquired whether measures would be adopted to encourage members of the public to report cigarette smuggling and illegal sale activities. In response, Asst Comr (B&D) said that the Administration had placed due emphasis to the reward scheme. A new series of reward scheme for smuggling of cigarettes and marked-oil had been launched. Members of the public would also be rewarded for coming forward with information on the purchase and the sale of duty-not-paid cigarettes. To discourage the public from consuming duty-not-paid cigarettes, Asst Comr (B&D) said that the Administration was considering launching publicity to this effect.
38. Mr Albert CHAN said that members of the public were rewarded for providing information on cigarette smuggling only if a specified substantial quantities of cigarettes were seized as a result. The Institute contributed $500,000 annually for the operation of the reward scheme funded by the tobacco industry. Having regard to the problem, the Institute increased its contribution to $750,000 in 1999. He added that the Institute had issued stickers bearing C&ED's reporting hotlines to cigarette retailers in order to facilitate making reports on smuggling and illegal sale of cigarettes.
IV. Office automation for Hong Kong Police Force
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1598/98-99(05))
39. The Chairman said that when the funding proposal on the office automation for the Police Force was discussed at the Finance Committee (FC) meeting held on 12 March 1999, members expressed the following concerns -(a) of the new commitment being sought, the amount which might have to be aborted as a result of the re-development of the Police Headquarters at Arsenal Street;(b) plans to invest in computerization of front-line services for the public, the items of front-line services (such as the issue of certificates or of criminal conviction, security personnel permits, etc.) which would benefit from the proposed Office Automation (OA) system and/or computerization of the Police Force as a whole, and the extent to which performance pledges and performance indicators could be improved; and(c) whether the senior Police officers being provided with information technology facilities were in fact ready and competent in using computers in their work.
Benefits of office automation
40. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E (PAS(S)E) said that office automation was a civil service wide programme. Apart from improving internal communication within the Force, a notional 1% saving in staff costs (amount to about $19.5 million a year) of those with direct access to the OA system could be achieved. There would also be an annual saving of about $229,000 in the consumption of paper in the Police Force. He pointed out that in parallel with the planning of the OA network in the Force, it had been implementing a five-year Information Technology Strategy (ITS). The implementation of ITS would enhance the efficiency of the Force by streamlining procedures and facilitating sharing of information as well as bringing about improvements in services provided to the public. FC members' concerns could be addressed in that context.
41. DS(S)1 added that FC had previously approved funding submissions in respect of OA network system in various policy bureaux and departments. Since the implementation of OA programme in 1993, there were 22 policy bureaux and 29 departments had their OA network systems in operation. The cost estimate of the Police OA project was in line with the funding requirements of similar systems adopted by other bureaux/departments.
Training on OA application
42. While supporting the implementation of OA project in the Police, Mr Howard YOUNG was concerned about the training provided to the Force members, in particular the senior officers, to tie in with the provision of IT facilities. DS(S)1 said that appropriate training would be provided to all OA users. Training costs would be included in the funding submission. As the Force management was determined to implement the OA network system, senior officers would be encouraged to use information technology. In fact, uses of electronic mail were becoming a Government wide practice for exchanging information.
Measures to prevent abuse of IT
43. In response to Mr Howard YOUNG's enquiry about the measures in place to prevent abuse of IT in the Force, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Information Systems) (ACP(IS)) said that experience showed that there were some sort of abuse when a new IT system was installed. However, such abuse would diminish quickly. He assured members that there was a high standard of integrity within the Police Force in the way IT was used. Moreover, each workstation was subject to audit check which would be able to pinpoint each and every transmission of data. In addition, an officer was nominated in each formation to be the system administrator who would be responsible for carrying out monthly random check on how the workstations in his formation were used. If any abuse of IT were discovered, the Force would take a strong line.
Re-development of the Police Headquarters
44. To address FC members' concerns about the amount that might be aborted as a result of the re-development of the Police Headquarters, ACP(IS) said that some $9 million were needed for the automation of Caine House at Arsenal Street which included wiring the building and the purchase of hardware and software. Majority of the funding would be used for the purchase of hardware and software. The hardware and software could simply be moved over to the new Police Headquarters upon removal. Although the cabling and trunking in Caine House would be lost upon removal, it was still considered cost-effective because the wiring of the building could be used for over a 5-year period. The return of investment was considered reasonable.
45. While supporting OA programme in the Force, Mrs Selina CHOW urged that Administration should carry out the programme in the most economical way.
46. In concluding the discussion, the Chairman said that notwithstanding the Panel understood that OA programme had no direct correlation with the implementation of ITS, it would follow up the improvements in services provided to the public after the implementation of OA having regard to FC's concerns. The Panel also understood that funding proposal was the basic requirements which would enhance the efficiency of the Police Force. The Panel supported the funding proposal.
47. The meeting ended at 12:50 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
27 April 1999