Wednesday, 25 October 1995
The Council met at half-past Two o'clock










The following papers were laid on the table pursuant to Standing Order 14(2):


Subsidiary Legislation

L.N. No.

Gas Safety (Gas Supply) (Amendment) Regulation 1995


Census and Statistics (1996 Population Census) Order


Telecommunication (Low Power Devices) (Exemption from Licensing) (Amendment) Order 1995


Building (Administration) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulation 1995


Marine Fish Culture (Amendment) Regulation 1995


Official Languages (Alteration of Text under Section 4D) Order 1995


Official Languages (Alteration of Text) (Detention Centres Ordinance) Order 1995


Official Languages (Alteration of Text) (Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance) Order 1995


Official Languages (Alteration of Text) (Waste Disposal Ordinance) Order 1995


Foreign Lawyers Practice (Amendment) (No. 2) Rules 1995


Solicitors' Practice (Amendment) (No. 2) Rules 1995


Film Censorship (Amendment) Ordinance 1995 (74 of 1995) (Commencement) Notice 1995


Medical Registration (Amendment) Ordinance 1995 (87 of 1995) (Commencement) Notice 1995


Unconscionable Contracts Ordinance (Cap. 458) (Commencement) Notice 1995


Official Languages (Authentic Chinese Text) (Judicial Service Commission Ordinance) Order


Official Languages (Authentic Chinese Text) (Detention Centres Ordinance) Order


Official Languages (Authentic Chinese Text) (Public Service Commission Ordinance) Order


Official Languages (Authentic Chinese Text) (Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance) Order


Official Languages (Authentic Chinese Text) (Prisons Ordinance) Order


Official Languages (Authentic Chinese Text) (The Hong Kong Association of Banks Ordinance) Order


Official Languages (Authentic Chinese Text) (Cross-Harbour Tunnel Ordinance) Order


Official Languages (Authentic Chinese Text) (Eastern Harbour Crossing Ordinance) Order


Official Languages (Authentic Chinese Text) (Waste Disposal Ordinance) Order


Sessional Papers 1995-96

No. 9


Urban Council Annual Report 1994/95

No. 10


Urban Council Accounts for the year ended 31 March 1995 with Report and Certificate of the Director of Audit

No. 11


Fish Marketing Organization - Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31 March 1995

No. 12


Vegetable Marketing Organization - Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31 March 1995

No. 13


Marine Fish Scholarship Fund Report for the period from 1 April 1994 to 31 March 1995

No. 14


Agricultural Products Scholarship Fund Report for the period from 1 April 1994 to 31 March 1995


Bank Notes Issue Ordinance

1. DR LAW CHEUNG KWOK asked (in Chinese): The Hongkong Bank recently sold some new $20 notes at a price about twice their face value. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

  1. such activity is in breach of the Bank Notes Issue Ordinance; and
  2. it has information to show that the Hongkong Bank had sold new notes at a price in excess of their face value in the past five years; if so, what was the total amount of new notes sold and what were the profits so generated?


  1. Nothing in the laws of Hong Kong requires bank notes to be sold at their face value. There is indeed an established market for the sale of new and used notes as collectors' items where notes are transacted at prices different from their face value. The action of the Hongkong Bank is not therefore in breach of the Bank Notes Issue Ordinance or any other ordinances.

  2. We do not require a note-issuing bank to report specific statistics o proceeds it derives from issue of new bank notes. Any profits generated from such an activity will feature in the normal way in the bank's accounts. The information is not otherwise available.

Relocation of Manufactories out of Hong Kong

2. MR LEE KAI-MING asked (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council:

  1. whether it has any statistics showing the number of local establishments engaged in manufacturing which have been relocated overseas this year; if so, how many have been relocated to Mainland China, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand respectively; and
  2. what specific measures are in place to deal with the problem of relocation of manufacturing establishments and how it will assist the manufacturing sector to sustain development in the territory?

SECRETARY FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY: Mr President, the open nature of our economy does not require manufacturing establishments to report their business decisions to the Government. Consequently, there are no statistics available on the number of local factories relocated overseas or to mainland China.

We see the relocation of more labour-intensive, lower value-added production to lower cost areas in the region as part of a healthy worldwide trend towards increased efficiency in industrial production and globalization of production, and therefore do not seek to interfere with such market trends.

We believe that the key to sustain the development and competitiveness of Hong Kong's manufacturing industries lies in the application of higher technology and the production of better quality and higher value-added products. The Government takes a number of positive measures to support industrial development in this direction.

We have been working with educational institutions and industrial support bodies to ensure the adequate and timely provision of a well-trained labour force, the adequate supply of industrial land, and the acquisition and transfer to Hong Kong of new skills and technologies. We have increased also the resources for facilitating and encouraging Hong Kong's manufacturing industries to undertake more applied research and development (R&D) so as to move up the technology ladder. A number of new schemes are in place. These include the Applied R&D Scheme under which loans or equity finance may be provided to private companies to undertake applied R&D; the Co-operative Applied R&D Scheme which encourages collaborative applied R&D between Hong Kong and China; and the Industrial Support Fund which provides grants to projects which would benefit the overall industrial and technological development of Hong Kong.

To strengthen the technology infrastructure of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Industrial Technology Centre was opened in March 1995 to promote the development particularly of small and medium technology-based enterprises. We have completed a study on the feasibility of establishing a science park for high technology industries and are consulting widely on the proposal.

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passport

3. DR PHILIP WONG asked (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council:

  1. whether the Immigration Department has any plan to deploy sufficient manpower to meet the future increase in workload arising from the public's demand for passports of the Special Administrative Region (SAR);
  2. if so, of the estimated number of additional staff required to ensure that applicants can be issued with SAR passports within a reasonable period of time; and
  3. whether the Government will seek appropriations for this purpose?

SECRETARY FOR SECURITY: Mr President, the reply to the Honourable Member's question, in the order they are raised, is as follows:

  1. The Immigration Department is now drawing up a plan for the issue of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passports (and other HKSAR travel documents) from 1 July 1997.
  2. Details of the plan, including the number of staff required, are still being worked out.
  3. Should there be a need for additional resources which cannot be met from re-deployment within the Immigration Department, we will consider seeking additional resources.

Western Buffer Water Control Zone

4. MR ALBERT CHAN asked (in Chinese): Since the declaration of the waters off Tsuen Wan West as a Water Control Zone (WCZ) on 1 June 1993, effluent discharges in this area have been subject to the control of the Water Pollution Control Ordinance. However, over the past year or so, factories in Tsuen Wan district, particularly those engaged in bleaching and dyeing, have continued to discharge vast quantities of untreated effluent into the waters every day, thus severely affecting the water quality in this WCZ. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. why it still allows the discharge of untreated industrial effluent into this WCZ; and
  2. when it will be able to completely stop the bleaching and dyeing factories in the district from discharging untreated effluent into this WCZ?


  1. Perhaps I should first clear up the assertion in the question that the Government continues to "allow" the discharge of untreated industrial effluent into this Water Control Zone. We do not. The Western Buffer Water Control Zone which comprises, in part, the Tsuen Wan district, was declared on 1 June 1993. All existing effluent dischargers were required to apply for a licence under the Water Pollution Control Ordinance (WPCO) before 1 December 1993. Since the declaration of the WCZ, the Environmental Protection Department has issued 681 WPCO licences, including 183 licences to industrial dischargers. The licences stipulate conditions with which dischargers must comply. Continued uncontrolled discharge of sewage or failure to comply with the licensing conditions are punishable offences under the WPCO. Staff of the Environmental Protection Department regularly monitor the higher priority industrial and commercial dischargers within the WCZ. Since the declaration of the WCZ, the Department has served 350 written warnings and prosecuted 48 cases for violation of the WPCO requirements.

    After the declaration of a WCZ, it normally takes up to three years to achieve a significant level of compliance with effluent discharge standards stipulated in the licences. Based on compliance monitoring results, 70% of the higher priority industrial discharges in this WCZ are complying with the effluent standards. Fifty-five factories have already commissioned wastewater treatment facilities, and more treatment plants are nearing completion or being commissioned.

    It should also be noted, however, that major improvements in water quality cannot be achieved through controls under the WPCO alone. Additional actions to curtail pollution from untreated effluent include, (i) controls under the Waste Disposal Ordinance (Chemical Waste Control Regulation): some 150 factories have already arranged to send their chemical wastes for treatment and disposal at the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre so that these wastes do not go into the sewerage system; (ii) the provision of adequate sewerage facilities: a comprehensive sewerage master plan for the Tsuen Wan area has been formulated to increase capacity of the foul sewerage system and to collect the sewage for treatment at the Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Plant, which is under construction. These sewerage improvement works commenced in late 1994 and would be completed by mid-1997; and (iii) rectification of illegal connections and discharges to the storm drains: some 50 illegal drainage connections have been rectified and about 6 200 cu m per day of effluent have been redirected to the foul sewers.

  2. Of the 34 bleaching and dyeing factories in this WCZ, 22 have already installed wastewater treatment plants and are in full compliance with the WPCO. The remaining 12 factories will soon complete the installation of in-house treatment plants with a view to full commissioning in the next 10 months. The Environmental Protection Department will take action against those factories that fail to complete the improvement works in time. Licensing, enforcement, and the provision of adequate sewerage will stop the bleaching and dyeing factories from discharging untreated effluent into the WCZ by mid-1997.

Release of Paul AU

5. MR LEUNG YIU-CHUNG asked (in Chinese): Regarding the imprisonment of Mr Paul AU in the Philippines, will the Government inform this Council what assistance has been provided, and what measures will be taken, to facilitate his early release and return to the territory?

SECRETARY FOR SECURITY: Mr President, Mr AU was sentenced to life imprisonment on 29 November 1991 in the Philippines for drug trafficking. He lodged an appeal on 13 December 1993. The case is still awaiting resolution by the Supreme Court. The British Government, with the full support of the Hong Kong Government, has been pressing the Philippine Government for an early hearing and decision on the appeal.

Since December 1993, the British Embassy in Manila has repeatedly approached the Solicitor General of the Philippines to express concern of the British and Hong Kong Governments over the slow progress of the judicial procedure in the case.

Ministers and senior officials from the British Government visiting the Philippines have also raised the case. In April 1995, during his visit, the Deputy Under Secretary of State of the Foreign Office expressed his concern to his counterpart in the Philippine Government over the slowness of the Philippine judicial system and the time taken to hear Supreme Court appeals.

During her visit in August 1995, the Minister for Overseas Development, Baroness CHALKER raised Mr AU’s case with the Philippine Foreign Secretary and appealed to the Philippine Government to expedite the judicial procedures. The British Ambassador in Manila wrote to the Secretary of Justice on 4 October 1995 to enquire about the progress of the case.

To ensure Mr AU's well-being, consular officials from the British Embassy in Manila visit him regularly. The Hong Kong Government and the British Government will continue to press for an early hearing.

Performance-related Increment of University Teaching Staff

6. MISS EMILY LAU asked (in Chinese): It is reported that the City University of Hong Kong is planning to drop the current practice of following the civil service system of awarding annual increments to civil servants and to replace it with a system whereby the granting of annual increments to its teaching staff will be determined on the basis of performance. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

  1. the University Grants Committee (UGC) knows of the details of this plan and when the plan will be implemented; and
  2. the UGC has requested the other six publicly-funded tertiary institutions to establish a similar performance-based system for the granting of annual increments to their teaching staff; and if so, whether the UGC has considered if the new system accords with the value-for-money principle?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER: Mr President, with regard to part (a) of the question, the Administration understands that the City University of Hong Kong (CityU), which practises the system of withholding a salary increment of those staff who do not perform satisfactorily, is in the process of developing an incentive scheme in the form of double increments or annual bonuses to give recognition to excellence in work performance or outstanding contributions made by staff members. The Administration understands from the University Grants Committee (UGC) that details of the scheme are still being worked out and the University administration intends to put forward a proposal to the Council of the University for consideration in early 1996, after consultation with the UGC and the Government. Subject to the agreement of the parties concerned, the proposal may be implemented before the end of the 1995-96 academic year.

On part (b) of the question, the Administration understands from the UGC that all the seven UGC-funded institutions already have a performance-based system for the granting of annual incremental credits to their teaching staff. The system may take the form, of withholding a salary increment for poor performance, unsatisfactory conduct or lack of diligence, or a system of floating efficiency bars. Under the latter system, staff can only progress beyond the bar points on the salary scale provided they have been assessed and an affirmative decision has been taken by the authorities concerned that their performance is sufficiently satisfactory to merit their passing the bar. The UGC considers that the existing performance-based systems adopted by the UGC-funded institutions have been designed to ensure satisfactory performance, promote continuous development and encourage improvement; hence they accord with the value-for-money principle. The objective of the new system being contemplated by CityU is to offer a further form of incentive for exceptional performance. Since details of the scheme have yet to be finalized, the UGC is not in a position to comment on whether the scheme accords with the value-for-money principle.

Landslip Investigation Reports

7. DR SAMUEL WONG asked: In regard to landslip preventive works on slopes, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the time required to complete the investigation reports on the landslips in Tuen Mun Highway, Shum Wan and Chai Wan;
  2. what resources have been allocated in the past three years (1992-93 to 1994-95) to landslip preventive works on slopes that might affect roads and highways and what resources are estimated to be allocated to such works in the next three years (1995-96 to 1997-98);
  3. whether the resources already allocated are considered adequate; if so, what are the reasons for the occurrence of landslips in Kwun Lung Lau and those areas mentioned in (a) above; and
  4. what resources have been allocated to landslip preventive works in squatter areas in the period from 1992-93 to 1994-95 and what resources are estimated to be allocated to such works in the period from 1995-96 to 1997-98?


  1. It is hoped to release the final investigation reports for the landslips at Shum Wan and Chai Wan by the end of the year. In respect of Tuen Mun Highway, two reports have been produced on the rockfall incident at Tai Lam, one by the contractor and the other by the Supervising Officer for the Contract. The reports have been passed to the relevant government offices including the police, who are conducting an investigation and will probably recommend a Coroner's Inquest. It would not be appropriate to release the reports in full until after the Coroner's Inquest which is likely to be held in February 1996. A further report has been prepared by the Highways Department in readiness for the Tuen Mun District Board later this month. The report will be made public after the Board Meeting.
  2. The following table shows the actual and estimated (in brackets) resources allocated to landslip preventive works on slopes affecting highways for the years 1992-93 to 1997-98:


Expenditure on roadside slope upgrading works under the LPM Programme by CED

Expenditure on roadside slope maintenance/repair works by HyD



















  1. Resources already allocated are adequate for the completion of landslip preventive measures on slopes in the existing catalogue by the year 2000. Resources are being sought for a variety of other initiatives aimed at improved slope safety and these bids will compete with other demands for government resources in the normal way. Given that a very large area of the territory consists of slopes, the degree to which public money should be committed to this issue is in many ways a community decision in competition with other community requirements.

    The landslip at Kwun Lung Lau was not related to the adequacy of government funding. The reasons for the other two landslips will be published in the completed investigation reports.

  2. The Government does not carry out landslip preventive works in squatter areas on government land. It is the policy to offer rehousing to squatters considered by the Geotechnical Engineering Office to be in obvious and immediate danger because of slopes vulnerable to landslips, especially in times of heavy rainfall.

Retaining Wall of Yan Tsui Court

8. MR CHAN KAM-LAM asked (in Chinese): On Tsui House and Ning Tsui House in Wan Tsui Estate, Chai Wan will be demolished and redeveloped shortly. As this redevelopment may affect part of the retaining wall of the nearby Yan Tsui Court, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. whether a geotechnical survey will be carried out on the slope in question before the commencement of the construction works;
  2. what measures have been put in place to ensure that the structure of the retaining wall and residential buildings nearby will not be affected and that there is no danger of the big trees beside the retaining wall falling down; and
  3. how it will ensure the reinstatement of the retaining wall after the redevelopment?

SECRETARY FOR HOUSING: Mr President, in planning the redevelopment of On Tsui House and Ning Tsui House in Wan Tsui Estate, a thorough study of the redevelopment site and its surroundings was conducted by Housing Department engineers in February 1995. The Department was satisfied that the redevelopment project would not affect the small slope and retaining wall below the site.

The contractors for the redevelopment project are responsible for complying with the Government's geotechnical guidelines, and for ensuring that the redevelopment will not affect the slope, retaining wall and trees during the project period. The Housing Department will take precautionary measures, such as requiring the contractors to submit details of the construction method for scrutiny, in order to ensure that the slope, retaining wall and trees are not disturbed by the redevelopment, and will also monitor the contractors' performance closely.

The owners of Yan Tsui Court have been consulted on two possible options of slope treatment during and after the redevelopment project. Under the first option, the retaining wall and slope will be protected from the nearby redevelopment work in the normal way. No reinstatement will be necessary. Under the second option, part of the existing retaining wall and slope will be removed before construction work begins, and the area removed will subsequently be reinstated to the owners' satisfaction. The owners' response is awaited.

Employment of Ex-convicts in Civil Service

9. MR ALBERT CHAN asked: According to the guidelines on the employment of persons with criminal records issued on 8 December 1986 by the Appointments Unit in the then Municipal Services Branch, candidates with records of the following offences should normally be debarred from employment: (i) security (for example, riot, incitement, triad activities); (ii) corruption, extortion and fraud; (iii) possession of offensive weapons; (iv) robbery; (v) possession of drugs for trafficking; (vi) sexual offences (for example, rape); (vii) wounding and assault occasioning actual bodily harm; and (viii) operating a common gaming house. In this connection, will the Administration inform this Council:

  1. whether the above guidelines are still in force; if so, what are the reasons for such a policy to continue, and whether it will review this policy so as to give people with the above-mentioned criminal records a chance to be employed in less sensitive posts such as workman, clerk, and office assistant; and
  2. if the answer to (a) is in the negative, what is the current policy on the employment of people with criminal records in the Civil Service?

SECRETARY FOR THE CIVIL SERVICE: Mr President, the "Guidelines of the Employment of Persons with Criminal Records" issued by the former Municipal Services Branch in December 1986 are still in force for appointments to the Urban Services Department and Regional Services Department. These Guidelines are in line with the government policy on employment of persons with a criminal record and indeed based on the relevant Civil Service Regulations, namely, Civil Service Regulations 148 and 151.

The Civil Service Regulations and the Guidelines referred to above require that persons who have been convicted of certain offences are normally debarred from appointments, if the offences are of such a nature and gravity as to make the perpetrators unsuitable for employment in the Civil Service. However, the Civil Service Regulations also advise that a decision whether or not to employ a person with a criminal record or against whom a probation order or an order for conditional discharge was made, should depend on his general character and experience and on his record before and after the offence for which he was convicted or an order recorded. Moreover, the Government Form (GF. 340) used in applying for a Civil Service post specifically states that a criminal record is not necessarily a bar to appointment.

Thus, heads of department have the discretion to appoint or, in the case of appointments for posts with a maximum monthly salary at or above Point 36 of the Master Scale, to recommend to the Public Service Commission the appointment of those with such previous convictions or probation orders, as long as the public interests is not adversely affected.

The Government's policy on employment of those with a criminal record into the Civil Service is sympathetic and clear. We are committed to taking a lead in employing them where this is consistent with the public interests. The existing arrangements are designed to balance the aim of rehabilitating those with a criminal record with the need to preserve the quality and integrity of the Civil Service. There is sufficient flexibility in the appointment procedure of heads of department to consider the applications of those with a criminal record (whatever the offence committed ) on a case-by-case basis. We believe that the policy is appropriate, but we are committed to working with departments on matters of this sort to ensure that they are clear about the powers delegated to them and that they exercise that power in as just and as fair a manner as possible.

Renovation of Old Public Housing Flats

10. MR SIN CHUNG-KAI asked (in Chinese): It has been announced that $4 billion will be spent on renovating about 15 500 relatively old public housing flats. On this basis, the average cost of renovating such a flat will be in excess of $250,000. Will the Government inform this Council of the names of the housing estates in which the 15 500 flats are located, and whether the renovation work is cost effective?

SECRETARY FOR HOUSING: Mr President, in his 1995 policy address, the Governor referred to our commitment to spend about $4 billion to renovate some 15 500 older flats and to maintain the quality of existing public housing flats. Thus, the amount covers a range of improvement and maintenance programmes.

Under the vacant flat refurbishment programme, $342 million will be spent in 1995-96 to renovate 15 500 flats. The average cost of refurbishment is about $22,000 per flat, and not $250,000 as stated in the question. The programme covers flats in almost all of the 155 public rental housing estates in the territory. Works orders have already been issued for about 5 900 flats. The names of the estates in which they are located are given in the Annex. Renovation of the remaining 9 600 flats will be completed by March 1996.

Contractors undertaking the refurbishment work are selected by open tender. The lowest bid in each batch is normally accepted. The Housing Department supervises contractors to ensure that work is carried out in accordance with the contract terms and to the satisfaction of the Department, and also that expenditure is within budget.

Apart from the vacant flat refurbishment programme, about $3.7 billion will be used to fund other programmes, such as major structural repairs, fire services installations, lift modernization, and other improvement works relating to security installations, plumbing, water supply, electrical rewiring and lighting.


Vacant Flat Refurbishment Programme:
Public rental housing estates where works orders have been issued

North region(1)

South region(2)

West Region(3)

Chak On

Ap Lei Chau


Cheung Wah

Chai Wan

Cheung Ching

Choi Ha

Cheung Kwai

Cheung Fat

Choi Hung

Fung Wah

Cheung Hang

Choi Wan 1

Hing Man

Cheung Hong

Choi Wan 2

Hing Tin

Cheung On

Choi Yuen

Hing Wah 2

Cheung Sha Wan

Chuk Yuen North

Ho Man Tin

Cheung Shan

Chuk Yuen South

Hung Hom

Fuk Loi

Chun Shek

King Lam

Kin Sang

Fu Heng

Ko Yee

Kwai Chung

Fu Shan

Kwong Tin

Kwai Fong

Fu Shin

Kwun Tong

Kwai Hing

Fung Tak

(Lei Yue Mun Road)

Kwai Shing East

Heng On

Lam Tin 1

Kwai Shing West

Hin Keng

Lam Tin 2

Lai King

Ka Fuk

Lei Tung

Lai Kok

Kai Yip

Lok Wah North

Lai On

Kwong Fuk

Lok Wah South

Lai Yiu

Kwong Yuen

Lung Tin

Lei Cheng Uk

Lower Wong Tai Sin 1

Ma Tau Wai

Lei Muk Shue 1

Lower Wong Tai Sin 2

Model Housing

Lei Muk Shue 2

Lower Ngau Tau Kok 1

Ngan Wan

Leung King

Lower Ngau Tau Lok 2

North Point

Long Ping

Lee On

Oi Man

Nam Cheong

Lek Yuen

Po Lam

On Ting

Lok Fu

Sai Wan

Sam Shing

Lung Hang

Sau Mau Ping 1

San Fat

Mei Lam

Sau Mau Ping 2

Shan King

Mei Tung

Sau Mau Ping 3

Shek Lei 1

Nam Shan

Shek Pai Wan

Shek Lei 2

Pak Tin

Shun Lee

Shek Wai Kok

Ping Shek

Shun On

Shek Yam

Pok Hong

Shun Tin

Shui Pin Wai

Sha Kok

Siu Sai Wan

So Uk

Sha Tin Pass

Tak Tin

Tai Hing

Shek Kip Mei

Tsui Lam

Tai Wo Hau

Sun Chui

Tsui Ping North

Tin King

Sun Tin Wai

Tsui Ping South

Tin Shui 1

Tai Hang Tung

Tsui Wan

Tin Shui 2

Tai Ping

Upper Ngau Tau Kok

Tin Yiu

Tai Wo

Valley Road

Tsing Yi

Tai Yuen

Wah Fu 1

Un Chau Street

Tin Ping

Wah Fu 2

Wu King

Tsz Man

Wah Kwai

Yau Oi

Tung Tau 1

Wan Tsui

Yuen Long

Tung Tau 2

Wo Lok

Upper Wong Tai Sin

Wong Chuk Hang

Wah Ming

Yau Tong

Wang Tau Hom

Yiu Tung

Wan Tau Tong

Yue Wan

Wo Che

Yiu On

(1) The Eastern New Territories, Kowloon North, Kowloon Central (to the east of the Airport) and Kowloon West (to the east of Tai Po Road)

(2) Tseung Kwan O, Kowloon East, Kowloon Central (to the west of the Airport), Hong Kong Island and the outlying islands

(3) The Western New Territories and Kowloon West (to the west of Tai Po Road)

Unit Cost of School Places

11. MR CHEUNG BING-LEUNG asked (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council of the unit cost of school places in each of the following categories of educational institutions for the current year:

  1. primary schools;
  2. secondary schools;
  3. institute of education; and
  4. universities?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER: Mr President, the following average costs of places take no account of the different costs for different subjects, the different levels of study or the range of costs in the same subjects at different institutions:

(a) and (b)

based on the actual average costs for 1994-95, the estimated cost of a school place in the current year is:










(c) the average cost for each full-time equivalent (fte) place at the Hong Kong Institute of Education is projected to be $124,300 in 1995-96; and

(d) the average unit cost per fte student for the seven institutions, that is, six universities and one other tertiary institution funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC), is projected to be $202,000 in 1995-96.

Corruption-related Charges amongst Disciplined Services

12. MR AMBROSE LAU asked (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council:

  1. whether the number of prosecutions involving corruption charges against members of the disciplined services over the past 12 months is on the rise when compared with those for the preceding two years; and
  2. what specific measures and plans are in place to combat corruption in the disciplined services?

SECRETARY FOR SECURITY: Mr President, the answer to the first part of the question is that 26 members of the disciplined services have been charged with corruption offences during the past 12 months (November 1994 to October 1995) compared to 21 and 28 over the same period in the preceding two years.

As regards the second part of the question, I can assure Honourable Members that the Government remains fully committed to combatting corruption in the disciplined services, and indeed combatting corruption in the public service as a whole. The overall strategy is to instill a firm attitude against corruption at all levels of the service. The specific measures to combat corruption in the disciplined forces include the following:

  1. Recruitment and Training

    All recruits to the disciplined services are vetted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) prior to appointment. As part of the basic training for new recruits, and also during in-service training, lectures and seminars on corruption prevention and the relevant anti-corruption legislation are organized. Some of these lectures and seminars are given by ICAC staff. Staff are also reminded of the importance of corruption prevention through counselling by senior officers and regular circulation of relevant rules and regulations including, for example, the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, the Acceptance of Advantages Notice and the Civil Service Regulations.

  2. Corruption Prevention

    In order to minimize the opportunities for corruption, procedures and practices are frequently reviewed with the assistance of the Corruption Prevention Department of the ICAC to rectify areas vulnerable to corruption. Levels of authority for processing and approving cases are examined, and spot check systems to prevent deviation from procedures are introduced. Staff are also rotated at regular intervals. The disciplined services have set up specialized groups for combatting corruption. The police have formed a Force Anti-Corruption Steering Committee, which comprises a cross-section of senior police and ICAC representatives to identify areas of police activities which present opportunities for corruption. The other disciplined services departments have also set up advisory groups with the Corruption Prevention Department and have dedicated lines of liaison with the Operations Department of the ICAC.

  3. Enforcement

    The Government takes corruption very seriously and seeks to prosecute any staff found to be involved in corruption. Civil servants are encouraged to report corruption or suspected corruption. Upon receipt, these reports are referred immediately to the ICAC for action. The ICAC has recently deployed 30 additional staff to deal with corruption in the disciplined services. A total of 110 officers are now so employed. In addition, we have plans to increase liaison and the exchange of information between the ICAC and the disciplined services, both at senior and middle management levels.

Clearance of Temporary Housing Areas

13. MISS EMILY LAU asked (in Chinese): It has been announced that the Government will have cleared 42 of the 55 Temporary Housing Areas (THA's) in the territory by 1997, but there are no plans to clear the remaining 13 THA's. In this connection, will the Government provide this Council with:

  1. a breakdown of the 42 THA's to be cleared by name, date of clearance, and number of affected residents who will be rehoused in public housing;
  2. a breakdown of the remaining 13 THA's not included in the clearance programme by name, population, date of completion, and anticipated date of clearance;
  3. the specific date for the start of renovation works in each of the 13 THA's and the estimated cost in each case; and
  4. the estimated number of residents still living in THA's and older rental blocks in the urban fringe areas by 1997?

SECRETARY FOR HOUSING: Mr President, a breakdown of the 42 Temporary Housing Areas (THAs), which have been cleared or will be cleared by the end of 1997, by name, date of completion of clearance and number of affected residents is given in Annex A.

A breakdown of the 13 THAs, the existing residents of which will be offered rehousing by the end of 1997 but which will be retained after that to meet future demand for temporary housing arising from new immigrants from China and scheduled clearance programmes, by name, present population, date of construction and provisional commencement date for offering rehousing to existing residents is given in Annex B.

Refurbishment work on those voluntarily vacated units in the 13 THAs has already begun. The estimated cost in each case varies, depending on the size and condition of the unit and the renovation work required. The average cost for each unit is in the order of $8,000.

We estimate that the capacity of temporary accommodation after 1997, that is, the 13 THAs and redeployed rental blocks in the urban fringe areas, will be about 27 000 persons.

Annex A

Temporary Housing Areas Clearance Programme

42 THAs to be cleared by the end of 1997

(a) THAs which have already been cleared



Date of completion of clearance

No. of affected residents


Yick Yuen




Cornwall Street


1 413


Yau Shing Street




Nam Fung




Hau Man Street




Hau Yan Street




Pok Fu Lam




Choi Chuk


2 103


Tai Wo Ping




Fat Kwong Street


1 529


Yue Wan




Yuen Chau Kok


4 019


Yuen Ping




Yuen Tin




Tsing Tsui




Tsing Fat




Tsing Fai




Welfare Road




Kwai Hong




16 737

(b) THAs which will be cleared between now and the end of 1997



Provisional date for completion of clearance

No. of affected residents


Fortune Street




Hoi Bun




Kai Cheung


4 703


Kai Chiu




Kai Wang




Kai Yuet




Mui Lee


1 848


On Yip Street




Ping Shek


1 841


Shatin Tau


1 211


Sheung On


1 983


Sheung Shui


3 614


Sheung Tai


2 012


Shun Lee Tsuen


2 057


Tai Po Tau




Tin Sam


1 668


Wing Tai


2 190


Hing On


4 305


Hing Tin


2 765


Shing On


2 116


Tsing Kin


1 035


Tsing Yan


4 087


Yuen Tung




41 659


58 396

Annex B

THAs to be retained after 1997



Present population

Date of construction

Provisional commencement date for offering rehousing Date of construction to existing residents


Kai Lok

2 649




Hing Shing

1 788




Kwai Shun





Fat Tseung Street

1 632




Kai Wo





Kai Yiu





Lung Ping Road





Yen Chow Street





Tsing On





Kwai Lok





Tseung Kwan O

1 649




Sha Kok Mei

2 898




Long Bin





13 903

Inspection on Imported Workers

14. MR TSANG KIN-SHING asked (in Chinese): With regard to the incident in which the wages of imported Thai workers working on the Kwai Chung Route 3 and Tsing Ma Bridge projects have been deducted, will the Government inform this Council whether it will :

  1. increase the establishment of inspectors in the Labour Department to monitor the employment of imported workers, and deploy interpreters of various nationalities to cope with communication problems with the imported workers;
  2. conduct an overall review of the system for monitoring the Labour Importation Scheme in order to plug the loopholes, having regard to the various forms of exploitation which have been brought to light, such as deduction of wages through secret deals, withholding of passports, deduction of part of the wages through autopay, changing of job nature, suppression of complaints and so on; and
  3. consider abolishing the relevant labour importation policy since the wage-deduction incident has indicated that some employers or employment agencies have brought in low-wage workers, thereby taking away employment opportunities from local workers and holding down wages?


  1. The Labour Department has about 60 staff responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of the labour importation schemes. To strengthen such efforts, we have earmarked $2.2 million to increase the staffing of the Department in 1996-97. The Department will also improve the effectiveness of its policing efforts through suitable internal deployment of manpower resources. To facilitate communication with imported workers in the event of labour disputes, the Labour Department will ensure that qualified interpreters are present, whenever the situation warrants.
  2. We conduct regular reviews on the monitoring system of the labour importation schemes to ensure that the various safeguards continue to be effective. Additional terms and conditions have been imposed on employers of imported workers under the Airport Core Programme (ACP) Scheme to further strengthen these safeguards following the recent incidents involving complaints from Thai workers. They include the requirements to grant imported workers paid leave to attend briefings on their employment rights organized by the Labour Department, to distribute a copy of the employment contract to the imported workers, to provide wage records and monthly bank statements to imported workers. We have also made it clear that employers should not keep the passports and bank books of the imported workers.

    Any employers who are found to have breached any of these conditions are liable to have their quota withdrawn and may be debarred from participation in the Scheme in future.

  3. The labour importation schemes are operating on the principles that local workers are given priority in filling vacancies and that they should not be displaced by imported workers. Measures are in place to require employers to register their vacancies with the Labour Department for a specified period for the purpose of recruiting local workers and to pay imported workers no less than the median monthly wages of local workers in comparable positions. Given this condition and the fact that the total number of workers permitted under both the General Labour Importation Scheme and ACP Scheme amount to less than 1% of our total labour force, they should have very little impact on the wage movements of local workers.

    The labour importation schemes are also carefully controlled, and targetted precisely towards the alleviation of shortages in the bottleneck areas of our economy. The imported workers are meant to supplement the local labour force in areas where they are in shortage, so as to sustain economic growth. To maintain the competitiveness of Hong Kong as an open and flexible economy, there is a continued economic need to retain this policy option of employing foreign workers where they are necessary.

Promotion of Visual Arts

15. MRS ELIZABETH WONG asked: Will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of its policy towards visual arts in general and the encouragement of local artists in particular;
  2. whether it intends to set up a school/college for the visual arts; if not, why not;
  3. whether, as a measure to promote the development of visual arts, the Government will consider giving tax concessions to those who collect art pieces by local artists in the same way that donations to charities are given tax concessions; and

  4. whether the Government intends to introduce regulations requiring all new buildings to have places for the display of art works by local artists; if not, why not?

SECRETARY FOR RECREATION AND CULTURE: Mr President, the Government is fully committed to the promotion and development of arts, including the visual arts, in Hong Kong. As a result of the Arts Policy Review conducted by the Government in 1993, the Government has established the new statutory Hong Kong Arts Development Council, the scope of which includes visual, film and literary arts in addition to the performing arts. One of the major functions of the Council as enshrined in its own Ordinance is to advise the Government on the policies, standard of provision of facilities, educational programmes, levels of funding and any other matters that may affect the planning, development, promotion and support of the arts. The Council is now formulating its first Five-year Strategic Plan, which includes policy objectives and action steps to promote the development of the arts, including, inter alia, the visual arts, arts education, and the encouragement of local artists. The draft Plan was released for public consultation in September this year. The Council aims to finalize its Plan by the end of this year. Upon receipt of the Plan, the Government will consider carefully its recommendations and resource requirements.

The Government is now considering the proposal to establish a Visual Arts Academy in Hong Kong which has been advocated by the arts community and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. This proposal requires careful consideration in the context of the overall development of Hong Kong’s tertiary education system, and having regard to the financial implications. In parallel, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council will shortly commission a needs assessment study on the proposed Academy. The Government will take into account the findings of this needs assessment study, together with other relevant considerations in formulating our final position on the matter.

The Government has no intention of giving tax concessions to those who collect works of art by local artists as a means to promote the development of visual arts. It is not our policy to provide tax concessions as an incentive to encourage expenditure in a specific sector.

There is currently no plan to require all new buildings to have places for the display of works of art by local artists, as this would be impracticable, given the differing circumstances of buildings in terms of nature of uses, the wishes of the owners, users and residents, and so on. Nevertheless, where venues are required for such purposes in the public areas of government-owned or-leased offices, these may be made available provided the use proposed does not impact on the operational use of, or public access to, the premises. Moreover, Housing Authority shopping centres and some Housing Society shopping arcades are designed with the flexibility for exhibitions, including displays of visual art works by local artists, to be held at any time. We also welcome the initiatives taken by the owners of many large shopping and office complexes to provide displays, performances and other activities in their common areas for the benefit of building users and passers-by.

Occupational Retirement Schemes

16. MR LEE KAI-MING asked (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council of:

  1. the number of companies in the territory having occupational retirement schemes in operation prior to the commencement of the Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance; and
  2. the number of such schemes which have already been registered under the Ordinance, together with a breakdown of these schemes by the ratios of contributions between employers and employees, investment strategies adopted and annual rates of investment returns in the past year?


  1. According to the records of the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, who was the authority for approving retirement schemes prior to the commencement of the Occupational Retirement Scheme Ordinance (ORSO), there were 13 400 occupational retirement schemes as at 31 March 1993. The number of schemes established between 31 March 1993 and the commencement date of ORSO on 15 October 1993 is not available. We believe, however, that the number would have been small.
  2. As at 15 October 1995, the deadline for filing applications for registration or exemption of existing occupational retirement schemes under ORSO, a total of 14 292 applications had been received. So far, 9 091 schemes have been registered while 209 granted exemption. We expect to complete processing of applications by the end of this year.

    ORSO does not require employers or scheme administrators to disclose information on contribution, investment strategy or investment returns when they file their applications for registration. Such information will be available from the annual returns and the financial statements of registered schemes. As the returns are to be submitted within six months of the end of a scheme’s financial year after it has been registered, very few annual returns are due. So far the Registrar of Occupational Retirement Schemes has received only 51 annual returns, including those from large corporations such as the Hospital Authority and the Mass Transit Railway Corporation. We believe that to project from this very small and disproportionate sample the ratios of contributions between employers and employees, investment strategies adopted and ratios of investments returns for registered schemes generally would provide a very distorted picture. We may expect a more representative picture by the latter part of 1996 when about half of the 14 292 schemes will have filed their annual returns with the Registrar.

Securities and Futures Commission Codes of Practice and Guidelines

17. MR CHIM PUI-CHUNG asked (in Chinese): With regard to the codes of practice and guidelines laid down by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), will the Government inform this Council:

  1. whether such codes of practice and guidelines will become an alternative set of laws;
  2. whether the SFC will be requested to be more open and transparent by letting the public know about its power and the criteria for discharging its functions; and
  3. whether there is any mechanism to prevent the abuse of authority under those codes and guidelines?


  1. The codes of practice and guidelines of the Securities and Futures Commission ("the Commission") do not have the force of law. There is no intention for them to become an alternative set of laws.
  2. Section 4(2) of the Securities and Futures Commission Ordinance ("the Ordinance") provides that the Commission may, for the guidance of registered persons and others, prepare and cause to be published in the Gazette guidelines indicating the manner in which, in the absence of any particular consideration or circumstance, it proposes to perform any function. Over the years, the Commission has published guidelines regulating market conduct and criteria under which the Commission is bound to act. For example, the Commission has published:
    1. Codes on Takeovers and Mergers and Share Repurchases. These codes set out the duties of the Takeovers and Mergers Panel and make provision, amongst other things, for disciplinary proceedings and decisions;
    2. Code on Unit Trusts and Mutual Funds which sets out the Commission guideline for approving mutual fund corporations and unit trusts; and
    3. "The Fit and Proper Criteria" which sets out the conditions to be met by persons wishing to be registered as intermediaries.

    It can be seen that the Commission, through the publication of these and other relevant publications, has already been open and transparent regarding its power and criteria for discharging its functions. A full list of the relevant publications is at the Annex.

  3. The exercise of the Commission's power is subject to the requirement for due process and the rules of natural justice governing the exercise of administrative authority. Any alleged abuse of authority may, of course, be referred to the Court for a determination in the normal way. Depending on the nature of the allegation, such complaints may also be referred to the Office of the Commissioner for Administrative Complaints for investigation.

    Within the Commission, there is an established system of checks and balances for preventing abuse of authority. There is a strict system of delegation of powers which clearly identifies who has the power to do what, with the more important powers reserved for either the Committees of the Commission or the Commission itself. The Committees of the Commission consist predominately of industry practitioners. In the case of the Commission itself, all members are appointed and can be removed by the Governor. Moreover, five members are Non-Executive Directors whose presence provides further checks and balances on the Executives serving on the Board.

    It is also relevant that the Commission is subject to the direction of the Governor. The Ordinance provides that the Governor may give to the Commission such direction as regards the performance of any of its functions as he considers appropriate. In addition, senior executives of the Commission also holds regular meetings with the Financial Secretary and with the Secretary for Financial Services to discuss important policy issues. They also appear before the Legislative Council Panel on Financial Affairs to brief Members and to answer questions. All these safeguards have served to prevent abuse of authority under the Commission’s codes and guideline.


    The Fit and Proper Criteria
    Code on Investment-Linked Assurance and Pooled Retirement Funds
    Guidelines for the Exemption of Listed Companies from the Securities (Disclosure of Interests) Ordinance
    Code on Unit Trusts and Mutual Funds
    Licensing Information Booklet
    Hong Kong Code on Takeovers and Mergers and Share Repurchases
    Code on Immigration-linked Investment Schemes
    Notes to Financial Resources Rules
    Code of Conduct for Persons Registered with the Securities and Futures Commission
    A Simplified Outline of the Leveraged Foreign Exchange Trading Ordinance, Subsidiary Rules and Guidelines
    Core Operational and Financial Risk Management Controls for Over-the-Counter Derivatives Activities of Registered Persons

Civil Service Pensions

18. MRS ELIZABETH WONG asked: Will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the current position regarding guaranteeing all pension payments before and after 1997; and
  2. whether it intends to provide such a guarantee by requesting the British and Chinese Governments to sign an international agreement to be lodged with the United Nations; if not, why not?

SECRETARY FOR THE CIVIL SERVICE: Mr President, guarantees in respect of pensions have been made by Hong Kong's present and future sovereign powers. Specifically:

  1. The Sino-British Joint Declaration, is an agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China, binding in international law and formally lodged with the United Nations. Section IV of Annex I to the Joint Declaration specifically provides that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) shall pay all pensions and benefits due to pensioners on terms no less favourable than before, irrespective of their nationality or place of residence; and
  2. The Basic Law of the HKSAR was adopted by the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China in April 1990. Article 102 of which requires the HKSARG to pay all pensions, gratuities, allowances and benefits due to pensioners on terms no less favourable than before, irrespective of their nationality or place of residence.

To address staff concerns about the security of their pensions, the Hong Kong Government also established in March 1995 a Civil Service Pension Reserve Fund which is set aside to be used exclusively for pension payments to former civil servants in the unlikely event that the payment of their pensions could not be met from General Revenue. The Government is committed to ensuring that the Fund is maintained at a level at least equivalent to a full year's pension payment. The Fund was established with a sum of $7 billion in the first instance.

Furthermore, the legislation granting pension benefits in respect of the public service provides for the payment of pension benefits to pensioners as of right. Pensions are a statutory charge, which takes precedence over non-statutory charges, on the General Revenue.

The Hong Kong Government has no reason to doubt the guarantees provided in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. We indeed have no locus, and therefore no intention, to ask for further guarantees from the British and Chinese Governments.

Senior Secondary School Places Allocation

19. MR WONG WAI-YIN asked (in Chinese): In regard to the allocation of places of students promoted from Seconday III to Secondary IV for the year 1995-96, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the number and the percentage of students allocated to school nets (that is those delineated for the allocation of Secondary I palces) outside their own districts;

  2. whether there is evidence to show that the problem of students living in vew towns being allocated to schools outside their districts is particularly serious; wht is the number of students living in Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and the Northern District who have been allocated to schools on Hong Kong Island and outlying islands respectiviely;
  3. if the answer to (b) is in the affirmative, what are the reasons for such a phenomenon; and
  4. what measures the Government will adopt to address this problem?


  1. Under the existing policy, the provision target of subsidized Secondary IV places is 85%. Allocation of subsidized Secondary IV places is made on a territory-wide basis, based on academic performance and parental choice. During the 1995 Junior Secondary Education Assessment (JSEA) exercise, 5 349 out of 64 265 (8.3%) Secondary III students were allocated subsidized Secondary IV places in schools outside their own attending school districts, that is, districts in which the students attended Secondary III.
  2. In 1995, 14.9% of students in new towns were allocated subsidized Secondary IV places outside their own attending school districts. Although this is higher than the territory-wide average mentioned in paragraph (a) above, the majority of these cross-district allocations have been made to the neighbouring districts, as illustrated below:

    Number of students (percentage) allocated to


    their own attending school districts

    neighbouring districts*

    Hong Kong Island

    Outlying Islands


    1 887 (87.77%)

    59 (2.74%)

    14 (0.65%)

    16 (0.74%)

    Yuen Long

    2 730 (92.76%)

    31 (1.05 %)

    21 (0.71%)

    28 (0.95%)

    Tuen Mun

    5 066 (77.21%)

    702 (10.7%)

    77 (1.17%)

    44 (0.67%)

  3. All allocations to the JSEA exercise including cross-district allocations are based on expressed parental choice in a number of schools in order of preference which they wish their children to join having regard to the latter's academic performance; and
  4. With four new secondary schools scheduled to open in the Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and the North Districts in 1996, an extra 640 subsidized Secondary IV places will be provided. In addition, given the projected decline of Secondary I student population in 1996, we intend to increase the provision of Secondary IV places in new towns by converting as far as possible the surplus Secondary I classes into Secondary IV classes, thereby providing an estimated additional 500 IV places. Together, these should substantially reduce cross-district allocations, particularly those to the Hong Kong Island and outlying districts.

* For the North District, its neighbouring districts are Tai Po and Sha Tin; for Tuen Mun, its neighbouring district is Yuen Long; and for Yuen Long, its neighbouring districts are Tuen Mun and the North district.

Residential Care Homes for Elderly

20. DR JOHN TSE asked (in Chinese): Since the implementation of Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Ordinance in Hong Kong in April this year, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. how many homes for the elderly have applied for the allocation of funds to improve their facilities, how many applications have been approved, and what criteria are adopted for determining whether an application should be approved;
  2. how many private homes for the elderly have not been successful in their applications on account of their failure to meet the required standards and have closed down in consequence, and how many elderly persons have been affected by the closure of these homes; and
  3. what measures and policy does the Government have to rehouse the affected elderly persons and when will such measures and policy be put into practice?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE: Mr President, the reply is as follows:

  1. A $50 million Financial Assistance Scheme was introduced in June 1995 to assist self-financing non-profit-making residential care homes and private residential care homes for the elderly to comply with new statutory provisions regarding safety precautions, and design and structural requirements set under the Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Ordinance and Regulation enacted in April this year.

    One application for funds has been received so far but has not yet been approved pending the provision of more information. We expect that more applications will be submitted soon. The delay in receiving applications is understandable since it takes time for home operators to understand the new statutory requirements, assess the improvement works needed to meet them and obtain quotations from contractors before applying.

    The scope and eligibility criteria for the Scheme are explained in the "Application for Grants from the Financial Assistance Scheme Explanatory Notes" which has been distributed to operators of all residential care homes for the elderly. A copy of the explanatory notes is attached.

  2. Inspections of residential care homes, which started in April 1995, indentified some homes with serious safety problems, for example, unauthorized building works, inadequate emergency exist provision and absence of access for emergency vehicles. Subject to our inspectors' advice, these homes have either been modified to meet the standards required or have been reprovisioned elsewhere. Although four homes closed down, the operators managed to arrange for the transfer of the 45 residents affected to other homes with the agreement of the residents concerned and/or their families. As a result, little assistance, other than consultation and advice, has been required from the Social Welfare Department.
  3. Though little assistance has so far been required in rehousing elderly residents due to the closure of homes, the Social Welfare Department has developed contingency plans to deal with possible displacement problems. Displaced elderly residents could be admitted to subvented homes or take up "brought places" in private homes. Most private homes for the elderly do not run at full capacity, so it is expected that vacant places could be found for this purpose.

Application for Grants


the Financial Assistance Scheme

Explanatory Notes


The Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Ordinance provides for the control of residential care homes (RCH) for the elderly through a licensing system administered by the Director of Social Welfare. It aims to ensure that residents in these RCHs receive services of acceptable standards that are of benefit to them physically, emotionally and socially. The Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Regulation specifies among other things, design and structural requirements as well as fire services requirements for RCHs. In order to continue operation of the RCHs, most self-financing homes for the elderly (SFHEs) and private homes for the elderly (PHEs) need to carry out improvement works for meeting the legislative standards. The Working Group on Care for the Elderly has recommended that an one-off Financial Assistance Scheme be introduced with an aim to assist these SFHEs and PHEs to comply with the safety precaution, design and structural requirements of the Regulations.


The Working Group on Care for the Elderly has recommended that $50 M be earmarked under the Lotteries Fund for the Financial Assistance Scheme. Application for grants from the Scheme should be made to the Director of Social Welfare. The maximum grants allocated to each RCH can be up to 60% of the proved costs of the improvement works.


Grants from the Financial Assistance Scheme are to be used to carry out the following improvements works:

  1. Fire Services Installation for compliance with the 'Code of Practice for Minimum Fire Service Installations and Equipment and Inspection and Testing of Installations and Equipment' issued by the Fire Services Department. Examples include installation of smoke detection system, automatic sprinkler system, hose reel system, etc. All installations should be carried out by registered fire service installation contractors.
  2. Electrical Installation for compliance with the Electricity Ordinance, Cap. 406. All fixed electrical installations should be installed, inspected, tested and certified by registered electrical workers or contractors.
  3. Gas Installation for compliance with the Gas Safety Ordinance, Cap. 51. All installations should be undertaken by registered gas contractors.
  4. Rectification of Unauthorized Building Works for compliance with the Buildings Ordinance, Cap. 123 and its subsidiary Regulations.
  5. Improvement works to all fire exits and exit routes for compliance with the 'Code of Practice of Means of Escape' issued by the Buildings Authority.
  6. Installation of non-slippery tiles and railings to places like bathrooms, toilets and corridors and protective barriers to windows and staircases, etc. for compliance with the Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Regulation and the Code of Practice for Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons).
  7. Any other improvement works considered necessary by the Director of Social Welfare for compliance with the Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Regulation.


RCHs should meet the following eligibility criteria before their applications for the Financial Assistance Scheme will be considered:

  1. The SFHEs or PHEs should have come into existence and commenced operation at the existing premises before 1 April 1995.
  2. Operators of SFHEs and PHEs should have intention to improve their RCHs for meeting the licensing standards and should continue operation for at least two more years.
  3. The premises where the SFHEs and PHEs are situated must be self-owned properties or have a valid tenancy agreement of not less than two years at the time of application.
  4. Operators of SFHEs and PHEs should submit evidence to show that the existence of the RCHs has obtained the endorsement of the Ownership Corporation of the building concerned or it is in compliance with the lease conditions and Deed of Mutual Covenant.
  5. The fee charged by the RCHs should be at a rate not more than the current cost recognized by the Bought Place Scheme for Private Homes for the Elderly.
  6. The services provided by the RCHs should be to the satisfaction of the Director of Social Welfare.


All applications for grant from the Financial Assistance Scheme should be made to:

    Director of Social Welfare
    (Attn: Social Work Officer,
    Licensing Office of Residential Care Homes
    for the Elderly)
    Social Welfare Department
    Room 2354,
    23/F.,Wu Chung House
    213 Queen's Road Road East
    Wan Chai
    Hong Kong

    For enquiries, please call 2961 7211 or 2834 7414.


Applications for grants from the Financial Assistance Scheme will be closed once the allocation for $50 M set aside for this purpose is fully committed.


Operators of SFHEs and PHEs should understand that in accordance with the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (Cap. 201), it is an offence to solicit or accept advantages (e.g. commissions). They are also required to declare interests in connection with works granted under the Financial Assistance Scheme.


PRESIDENT: Honourable Members may recall that when the Council voted on Mr LEE Cheuk-yan's amendment to Mr David CHU's motion at the last sitting on 18 October, I directed that a second division be conducted after I had noted from the results of the first division on Mr LEE's amendment that a number of Members had not been able to cast their votes. I made the decision on the basis of the practice in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom Parliament in which the Speaker had "directed the Clerk to alter the numbers by adding the names of the Members and then again declared the numbers as so corrected" after he had received a complaint that some Members had not been counted in a division. The Speaker in the House of Commons had made a similar directive after a Member complained that he had been prevented from voting in a division.

When it was apparent to me that a number of Members had not been able to register their votes in the above-mentioned division possibly because of their unfamiliarity with the electronic voting system, I came to the conclusion that the result of the division should be considered as invalid, ironically because this Council has the benefit of an electronic voting system. Instead of allowing the votes to be corrected by, for example, asking each and every Member whose vote has not been registered to each rise in his place to say "Aye" or "No", I ordered an immediate second division after explaining to Members the procedure of the electronic voting system.

To enable new Members to vote correctly, I will explain the voting procedure to Members in each division in the first few months of this Session.


MR RONALD ARCULLI to move the following motion:

"That the Port Control (Cargo Working Areas) (Amendment) Regulation 1995, published as Legal Notice No. 321 of 1995 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 19 July 1995, be repealed."

MR RONALD ARCULLI: Mr President, I move the amendment standing in my name on the Order Paper. The motion seeks to repeal the Port Control (Cargo Working Areas) (Amendment) Regulation 1995 under section 34(2) of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance.

The Port Control (Cargo Working Areas) (Amendment) Regulation 1995 published as Legal Notice No. 321 of 1995 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 19 July 1995 revises the Public Cargo Working Areas (PCWA) fees upwards by 20% with effect from 4 November 1995.

A Subcommittee under my chairmanship was formed to scrutinize this Regulation and 153 other subsidiary legislation Gazetted from 30 June to 6 October 1995.

This Regulation was considered by the Subcommittee at its first meeting which was also attended by representatives of the Administration. The Subcommittee met at the same meeting in which a deputation from the Joint Concern Group on Cargo Working Area Fee Rises had forwarded a written submission to Members.

The Subcommittee noted that the PWCA fees were already set at a level sufficient to recover the Government's full operational costs for providing the services. However, taking into account the significant amount of capital resources it had provided, the Government decided to determine PWCA fees on the basis of the Government utility approach. This meant that PWCA fees would seek full cost recovery plus a target rate of return of 13% on the average net fixed assets valued at historical cost. In order to achieve the target rate of return over three years, a fee increase of 20% is set for 1995-96. Members were also informed that plans were being made to privatize the operation of PWCAs in the near future.

Members of the Subcommittee shared the view that the target rate of return of 13% and the three-year period for achieving the rate should be further examined. They considered that in view of the planned privatization of PWCA operation, it was inappropriate to introduce a phased plan to achieve a 13% rate of return at the present time. They also considered the increase inappropriate in the present state of the economy and that the cumulative effect of various increases by the Government would adversely affect the economy and people's livelihood. Furthermore, Members also noted that there had been a drop in the volume of cargo using the PWCAs and the increase would have a more significant impact on the cargo trade than envisaged by the Administration.

Taking all these factors into consideration, the Subcommittee shared the view that the PCWA fees should remain at the existing level and the Regulation setting out the fee increases should be repealed.

Mr President, I beg to move.

Question on the motion proposed.

SECRETARY FOR ECONOMIC SERVICES (in Cantonese): Mr President, first of all, I would like to explain the rationale of our proposed increases for the Public Cargo Working Areas (PCWA) charges.

PCWAs provide important facilities for handling cargo from local craft and other small vessels. They are provided and supervised by the Government; all cargo handling is carried out by commercial, profit making operators. The fees at present charged by the Marine Department do not cover the Government's costs which include the cost of capital investment. The operations are therefore subsidized by taxpayers. There is no reason to continue the public subsidy for these facilities. Following our user pays principle, what we are seeking to achieve by the proposed fee increases is full cost recovery, including both operating costs and cost of capital, on a phased basis spread over three years. That is to say, we are proposing to continue to subsidize these services but on a reducing basis so that we achieve full cost recovery in three years time.

Against that background, some Members may recall that when we last revised fees for the use of our PCWAs in 1994, we specifically excluded any revision to the system of land costs at the request of this Council's Economic Services Panel. This was to enable us to consider Members' proposals that we were seeking to recover current commercial land rentals, when taking historical costs as assets might be more appropriate.

The present fee exercise has examined the issue of land costs in conclusion, it was agreed that Members had, indeed, a good and valid point. Our existing new fee proposal agrees not only that historical land costs are more appropriate, but, given that they will have implications for the commercial sector's budgetting, that they should be phased in over three full years. Our aim is to eliminate taxpayers' subsidy to commercial port operators in stages by 1997. In the circumstances, we believe that this is a reasonable proposition.

The motion now seeks to repeal a series of fees determined following the Administration's agreement to Members' earlier intervention. This is apparently justified on the basis of the existing economic situation. But in the port as a whole, our growth continues at record volumes ¢w in the last five years, cargo throughput has grown at an average annual rate of 13.9%. In the PCWA's in particular, cargo volume has grown by 20% so far this year as compared with the same period in 1994. Our forecasts indicate that, in the next five years, growth will continue to increase at an annual rate of 10% every year.

So the effect of this resolution will be to draw continuing taxpayers' subsidy to profitable, commercial operators who have already been consulted on the new levels of fees and whose potential business is increasing. They have, presumably, already included the new charges in their commercial forecasts and have agreed the new fees. The proposed fees increases will represent only an average increase in operating cost of 1.3% for a lorry, or 1.6% for a lighter.

Let me reiterate the importance of adherence to the principle of full cost recovery. It is an integral part of Hong Kong's low tax regime. With this principle, we can centralize our resources in subsidizing selected public services where there are compelling social grounds ¢w hospitals, schools and so on. It is highly undesirable that public funds should be used to subsidize commercial activities such as PCWAs. If users do not pay, the general taxpayers have no option other than to meet the shortfall, and we estimate that the taxpayers' subsidy to port cargo handling operators will amount to $49.5 million for the next financial year.

A freeze on this fee increase will do nothing other than to store up problems for the future; then we shall face the options of either introducing drastic increases, or confirming that general taxpayers should continue to subsidize commercial undertakings.

Mr President, I have explained the reasons for the proposed PCWA fee increases and why we should not hold them up. I hope Members would consider the Administration's views carefully and seriously. Finally, I urge Members to oppose the motion.

DR HUANG CHEN-YA (in Cantonese): Mr President, fees charged by the Government can be divided into a number of categories, that is, fees aiming at recovering cost, fees being subsidized and fees which bear a tax element. Ever since the Legislative Councillors have expressed their intention to freeze charges, the Government has been warning us that the Treasury will suffer a loss of $2 billion in its revenue as a result while it will not help curb inflation much. It is not the position of the Democratic Party to oppose any fee increases. However, the charges may have a direct impact on people's livelihood or the operating cost of commercial activities. Indeed, not every kind of charges which is related to people's livelihood is subsidized by the Government. The Government has time and again proposed to increase the charges for medical services according to the costs incurred based on the "user-pays" principle. The proposal was shelved only after strong opposition had been raised by the public. As regards sewage charges, significant increases have been effected for the purpose of recovering the cost and this has caused public resentment. The above examples show that the Government indeed adopts the principle of cost recovery while subsidized fees are only exceptional cases which serve as an expedient measure.

Why does the Government want to recover the cost? Fees and charges account for 12% of the Government's revenue. The Government naturally wants to maintain these fees and charges or even increase them. The Government can also say that with these fees and charges, it does not need to increase taxes. However, fees and charges are in fact a kind of prepayment, which will create a burden to the individual's livelihood as well as the overheads of companies. As for taxes, it will have a different bearing on taxpayers as one will have to pay taxes only after one has earned the money. Since there are already all kinds of public charges, the Government ought to provide services for the people. Therefore, charges for services which will be used by most people should be kept at a very low level. This is something which is right and proper. Otherwise, fees will have to be charged separately for roads and lighting and the nine-year free education should be withdrawn. The police should also impose protection charges. Such practices are really found in certain countries and the people there have to pay more than 10 or even 20 kinds of complicated charges. Is the Government hinting that it wants to follow this kind of fiscal philosophy?

As far as charges of a commercial nature are concerned, the application of the "user-pays" principle will be fairer to the public. Nonetheless, these charges will have a bearing on the operating cost of companies. As "the wool still comes from the sheep", companies will naturally want to increase their charges imposed on consumers and this will in turn affect inflation. As a result of the multiplier effect, the overall impact might not be as little as what the Government has suggested. Furthermore, with increased cost, companies will certainly find it more difficult to run their business during a period of economic depression. Therefore, while it will be more reasonable to adopt the "user-pays" principle as regards commercial charges and recover the cost, economic implications should also be considered. The Government cannot say that it is tantamount to subsidizing commercial activities if full cost is not recovered. In fact, the Government cannot say that it has not subsidized commercial services. The Government provides support to the industrial and commercial sectors through the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Hong Kong Productivity Council and these are indeed subsidized services. Through these subsidized services, economic growth is fostered. As a result, national income increases and people's livelihood is improved. Therefore, it can be counted as justified in subsidizing commercial services under the condition that it is beneficial to the general public. Hence, we cannot hold it as a sacred and inviolable rule that the costs of all services have to be recovered or that the tax rate has to remain unchanged.

The present situation is that the inflation rate is high, the economy is in recession and the unemployment rate is on the rise. Action which the Government can take to improve people's livelihood and the business environment is the freezing of fees and charges. The freezing of charges currently proposed is basically beneficial to our whole economy no matter whether one regards it as a form of subsidy to people's livelihood or to the economy. It is for the same reason that during a period of economic recession, tax will be reduced in order to stimulate the economy. As we all know, this is not any miraculous invention by the Members. The Government voluntarily froze charges a few years ago. Therefore, the problem between the Government and us only relates to when charges should be frozen but not to the purported premise that the freezing of charges will violate any sacred and inviolable rule. I believe that if the Government put forward a reasonable and appropriate proposal of fee increases at a time when the economic condition has improved, the Legislative Council may not necessarily object to such a proposal. On the contrary, we may even support it.

With these remarks, I, on behalf of the Democratic Party, support the motion.

MR ALLEN LEE (in Cantonese): Mr President, after listening to what the Secretary for Economic Services has said on the principles of fiscal management adopted by the Government, I do not, broadly speaking, disagree with his arguments for the "user pays" and the "cost recovery" principles. However, the most important guiding principle for a government is "to use what is taken from the people for the benefit of the people", rather than calculate costs and returns on individual services. Otherwise, how should we deal with education? Are we supposed to make frequent increases in school fees? This should not be the case. For this reason, the Liberal Party has conducted a prudent study based on Hong Kong's economic downturn in the current year. I will speak at greater length on how to improve our economy in the upcoming debate on the policy address.

I do not concur with the Government's present thinking. That was why during our meeting with the Governor, we proposed, inter alia, that the Government should consider freezing all fees and charges with a view to stimulating the economy. Bearing in mind the huge surplus and substantial reserves of the Government at present, it is high time that we do something to stimulate our economy. Therefore, I cannot agree with the arguments of the Governor and the present thinking of the Government. Since the Government does not take any action even though it is financially capable of stimulating the economy, we are compelled to do something. I am confident that we will be able to secure majority support from Members today because we are not staging a political show but are taking pragmatic steps. When we talked to the Governor on the need to freeze all fees and charges, we had already pointed out that it was nothing new because the Government announced in 1991 that the Executive Council had given approval to the freezing of all government charges for nine months. Why? The measure was prompted by the then high inflation rate and stagnant economy. It was proved to be effective at the time. The Government claims that the freezing of all charges this time will entail all sorts of repercussions. However, we are in a much better financial position than the previous time, with an anticipated reserve of more than $150 billion which should rightly be used for the benefit of the people. The Government is not a company run on a commercial basis. It should adopt measures to stimulate the economy when the need arises.

The Government's inaction disappoints me most. The Governor made no reference to this matter in his policy address and only told us to wait for the Budget to be tabled by the Financial Secretary in March. The wait would be unbearably long for us. By that time, what will become of our social, financial and economic environment? It is envisaged that things will get worse. So, for this reason, the Liberal Party thinks that a series of action will have to be taken to improve our economy, including an effort by this Council to force the Government to do what it should be doing.

Mr President, we support the motion moved by the Honourable Ronald ARCULLI.

MR LEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Mr President, I rise to speak in support of the motion to call for a freeze of the proposed increase in the Public Cargo Working Areas ("PCWA") fees.

First of all, I would like to express my views as regards the attitude of government officials concerned towards the proposed fee increase. After learning that quite a few Members in this Council would support the freezing of the PCWA fees, a government official was very resentful and wrote an article in the newspaper to defend the Government's stand toward the issue. He used a Greek mythology to illustrate that the Government would not be lured by the "Free Lunch Clique", and would even seal its ears with wax to show that it would not listen to the opinions of Members. What is more regrettable is that the government official should regard public discontent as the siren song of an enchantress. I really want to make out the role a Member should assume and the kind of work a Member should do.

The Government has of late kept emphasizing that public opinion has never been better represented as in the current Legislative Council. However, government officials have turned a deaf ear to the opinions expressed by the Legislative Councillors. Such being the case, what is the use of having a Legislative Council that can represent public opinion? What is the point of spending so much public money on organizing elections in the past? Is it just a waste of tax-payers' money? If that is the case, we might as well revert the Legislative Council back to its former system under which members were appointed, so that the Legislative Council will act as a rubber stamp and do whatever the Government says. The government officials can then save money by not having to buy wax to seal their ears. As the Government claims that the Legislative Council represents public opinion, then please respect Members' right to self-determination and independent thinking. Please also respect the pubic opinion they represent and do not waste money on buying wax for ear sealing.

Recently, some media criticized Members for being irrational in proposing to freeze fee increase just to please the voters. They may have underestimated our voters and neglected Members' role in reflecting public opinion. As a matter of fact, in the past few years, the Government has adopted a basic pattern of increasing the PCWA fees at a rate lower than or equivalent to the inflation rate. However, the Government deviated from its usual practice this year and raised the fees by 20% which far exceeded the inflation rate. Is this practice reasonable? The Government is raising the fees not only to recover the costs but to make profit under the return seeking criteria of its public policies. The present increase would secure a return rate of 7.8%. The Government also hopes to gradually bring the return rate up to 13% over the next three years. Actually, with the exception of the Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited, many of our public utility companies cannot achieve such a high return rate. Therefore, in so doing, the Government is turning its public services into commercial activities. In other words, it is mixing up governmental bodies with commercial organizations.

Actual figures in the past showed the PCWA handled 12 million containers per year, representing 80.3% of the total number handled in Hong Kong. By increasing the fees, the Government is undoubtedly killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. It will certainly lead to a rise in the costs of the cargo loading, unloading and transportation industry, thus aggravating the economic difficulties within the industry. Furthermore, in the present situation of economic depression and general hardship in business operation, the Government's inconsiderate increase at such a time is just like hitting a person when he is down. Moreover, cargoes handled by the PCWA are mainly inland river trade goods, which means they are daily necessities. As the saying goes: " wool comes from sheep", so once the fees are raised, the cost so increased will naturally be transferred to the public.

It is on the basis of the above reasons that Members oppose the proposed increase of the PCWA fees. As some Members mentioned earlier on, if the Government had proposed a reasonable rate of increase, probably not every Member in this Council would be opposed to it. However, the Government has not acted in such a way. It has also failed to take into consideration the overall interests of Hong Kong. Our decision was made not as a means to please the voters but as a real effort to safeguard the overall interests of this territory. I am strongly against increasing the PWCA fees as currently proposed by the Government. Also, I do not want to see the Government turning public services into profit-making tools. I hope the Government can pay due attention to the opinions voiced by Members and will not regard our voices as the siren song of the enchantress anymore.

Mr President, I so submit. Thank you.

MR ERIC LI (in Cantonese): Mr President, quite a number of Members have supposedly taken "improvement of people's livelihood" as their election platforms in the Legislative Council election just concluded recently. But the accountancy field which I represent also attaches equal importance to safeguarding a reasonable management policy of public finance, apart from giving support to "improvement of people's livelihood".

At a glance, the exercise of power by Members to freeze part of the public charges appears to be a convenient weapon, in the sense that it involves low politico-economic cost, and can immediately display to the voters their ability to put their platforms into practice. What have been unreasonably trampled on are merely the fiscal management principles of "user pays" and "price adjustment according to inflation" that have been applied by the Government to some public services of non-welfare nature. The users of these services are definitely financially capable of meeting all those fairly stable and reasonable charges and bearing the full cost of the services. There is no need for the Government to subsidize them with such general tax revenue as the salaries tax, profits tax and so on. Such fee-charging policy has long been made public and put into practice. Its "reasonableness" has all along been recognized and accepted by this Council and the public. Therefore, it should not be undermined indiscriminately. In this regard, I hope that Members of this Council will think twice in connection with this motion.

There is no doubt that at present, Hong Kong's economy is slowing down, the consumer market is sluggish, inflation is running high, and the unemployment rate is gradually edging up. The confidence of the general public in the economic prospects has already plunged to the lowest point in the recent period. On the contrary, the Government, which has huge reserves in hand, is acting in a passive and indifferent manner towards the various specific problems that have arisen inevitably as a result of economic re-adjustment. The policy address even indiscreetly regards these phenomena as the "feel-bad factor in the business sector". Acting as usual, the Government continues to adopt the policy of "collecting taxes and spending money" in conducting the business of government. It is indeed understandable that Members of this Council feel a bit aggrieved. As a matter of fact, I am no exception. Upon the release of the policy address, I even took the lead to give an immediate response to the Government by criticizing its extremely evasive attitude and lack of counter-measures in dealing with important economic problems.

Faced with the Government's indifference and its policy of "gathering and storing up grain while the sun shines" but "refusing to give help on a rainy day" ¢w a policy that has long been adopted as a usual practice, the helpless grassroots people can only vent their grievances by means of negative remarks. This is understandable indeed. However, as an authoritative and responsible legislature, this Council should also put forward positive proposals with a view to solving the problems for the people, apart from venting grievances by means of criticisms.

Regarding the use of veto power by this Council to freeze certain charge increases this time, I personally think that the negative message it will convey will be much stronger than the positive one. Let me first try to make analysis from the economic point of view. The freezing of charges will involve a revenue of $38 million or so. When compared with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $1,160 billion for the year 1995-96, the charges only represent a drop in the ocean. Even if all the public charges are frozen to cut the Government's revenue by $2 billion, the stimulation it brings to the economy will still be grossly limited and no concrete effect will be produced, will it? Considering from the aspect of anti-inflation, the freezing of charges and forcing of the Government to run a budget deficit will only have the economic effect of stimulating an inflation "surge" in the medium to long term. This phenomenon should not be difficult to understand. Would anyone tell me what measure can we take to stimulate economic growth and at the same time lower the inflation rate? Such logic is totally in violation of the basic economic principles. If Members intuitively believe that charge freezes are tantamount to anti-inflation, they should re-consider whether their decision is based on false assumptions in economic theories.

Politically speaking, this Council can take this opportunity to build up its prestige and trust by making pleas in the name of the people. It is undeniable that Members can thus enjoy momentary happiness. But their courageous remarks will only affect the rational operation of the Government's fiscal management, exposing that such "political reflexive action" is both groundless and ill-conceived. Faced with the sluggish economy, I think that this Council is acting just like the Government in such a "powerless, helpless and incapable" manner. In my opinion, this motion still carries a negative political message. Neither is it the best decision the Members can make for the public.

Although the debate has already come to this stage, I still hope that this Council can show its superior mien by withdrawing or vetoing the motion to endorse the charge increases first. Afterwards, Members can open a dialogue with the Government and request it to exercise overall restraint in regard to expenditure of the public sector for one year and formulate plans to set public expenditure at or below 16% of the GDP in times of economic recession. The limited social resources thus saved can then be re-channelled, through certain individual tax concession items or direct investment, to people with the highest productivity and business and financial items with the greatest development potential to allow them to give full play to their strong points, to drive Hong Kong's economy out of the doldrums and to restore the confidence of investors. I even intend to further suggest to the Government, during the delivery of my Motion of Thanks speech in response to the policy address, ways to improve the packaging for the numerous advantageous conditions of our financial industry, and to strengthen promotion with foreign countries to attract investment and increase Hong Kong's competitiveness in the face of our neighbouring countries. At the same time, I will also try to explain why, under the present circumstances, the Government still imposes stringent artificial regulatory measures on the real estate sector, one of the major economic driving forces in Hong Kong, resulting in the accumulation of "idle" funds that amount to as much as tens or hundreds of billion dollars for no reason; and I will try to point out that the present state of affairs is reaching such proportions as to be against the normal economic rules.

As an independent Member without experience and expertise, my opinions may be superficial. Nevertheless, I am brave enough to challenge the political parties. I hope that they will put forward their specific and positive proposals for the consideration of the Government and the business sector with a view to restoring the people's optimism towards the future.

Mr President, with these remarks, I urge my colleagues in this Council to withdraw or veto this motion that carries a negative implication.

MISS CHAN YUEN-HAN (in Cantonese): Mr President, we support this Council's request for freezing the increase in fees and charges proposed by the Government. I would like to respond to the Secretary for Economic Services who just said that the fee increases this time had the support of the people involved in the trade. In fact, we have received submissions from some deputations which express that they unanimously oppose the Government's proposal of increasing fees and charges this time. During the process of opposing the Government's proposal of fee increases, they have also gained the support of quite a number of "wage-earners". Their argument is that the cargo handled at the Public Cargo Working Areas are people's daily necessities. If the Government raises the fees, the increases can in fact be easily transferred to the general public. Therefore, workers involved in the trade are in support of opposing the fee increases. This explains why I am surprised to hear the remarks made by the Government just now that the proposal has the support of the people in the trade.

Furthermore, I wish to point out that during the discussion of this issue last week, I also consulted the people in the district about the Governor's policy address. There was an overwhelming call from people in different places for the Government to help tide them over as the current economic difficulties have rendered them, the "wage-earners", unemployed or underemployed. Why does the Government still need to increase charges that have a direct bearing on the public at a time when it is in a relatively robust financial position? We all oppose the increases strongly. Furthermore, the increases this time are higher than inflation and the Government has also failed to gain the support of my colleagues in this Council. Finally, I support this Council's motion ¢w opposing the Government's fee increases in this area.

Thank you!

MISS MARGARET NG: Mr President, I rise to oppose the motion. I have every sympathy with the resistence for fee increase in any area when we are facing high inflation and hard times. However, one has to decide not on sentiment alone but also on principle. It is not said that the principle of charging certain fees on the basis of recovery of costs is wrong. It is not a question that the fees we are discussing pertain to commercial enterprises and are therefore a suitable category of charges to be recovered on the basis of recovery of costs. The amount of a 20% increase over a period of one and a half years does not appear to be excessive or unreasonable. I would also say that the revenue should not be used to subsidize commercial enterprises unless there are very clear and good reasons to do so. The surplus that we enjoy should be used on matters more directly benefitting the wide public.

Mr President, it is argued that the reason for freezing these charges so that they benefit the public is because the increase of charges would indirectly affect the public by affecting inflation. This effect is not categorically denied by anyone. However, no one so far has been able to come up with any sound argument that any positive effect on inflation would be a significant one.

I agree with Mr Eric LEE that the question of inflation is an important one and should be dealt with by the Administration urgently, but I should also think that the question should be dealt with directly and separately and not in a round-about sort of way without knowing exactly what the significance is to the question as a whole.

Mr President, with these few words, I oppose the motion.

MRS MIRIAM LAU (in Cantonese): Mr President, to the cargo industry, the Government's substantial increase in the Public Cargo Working Area (PCWA) fees by 20% is a heavy blow indeed. As everyone knows, Hong Kong's economy is in a depressed state. All kinds of trades and industries are now facing difficulties in running their business, and the cargo industry is also being subject to impact continuously.

I have been told by organizations within the industry that the volume of business of medium and heavy trucks has dropped by more than 40% since August last year, and the cargo industry as a whole is facing a shrinkage of business. At a time when competition is keen and business is getting increasingly difficult to operate, the Government should be under an obligation to help the industry develop. The Government should allow the industry to give full play to its role as far as possible in order to tide over its difficulties, instead of hitting the industry when it is already in the doldrums by increasing the costs and reducing its room for manoeuvre.

As a matter of fact, the average inflation rate this year is only 9%, but the Government demands an increase in PCWA fees of as much as 20%, citing the reason that it hopes to recover, apart from the costs, an additional 13% net capital assets value by way of return over the next three years. I wish to make it clear that basically I am not against the principle of cost-recovery, but we should at the same time take the actual circumstances into account. While the market is still in the doldrums and the Government is having huge fiscal reserves, it is inappropriate for the Government to implement the policy of cost-recovery too hastily. Instead, it should understand and sympathize with people's predicament, and reduce fees and charges, or even freeze charge increases with a view to relieving the pressure borne by the industry.

Just now the Honourable Allen LEE also mentioned that in 1991 the Government had frozen its fees and charges for nine months in view of surging inflation, and the instant result was that inflation immediately dipped and the community at large was benefited. As Hong Kong is now in a stage of economic transformation, any government fees increases will only make it more difficult for the trades and industries to survive. Moreover, the cargoes carried by river trade vessels to the cargoe working areas are mainly our daily necessities. An increase in operational costs will only force the operators to pass the additional costs on to the public. This would have a direct impact on people's livelihood, which is something we do not wish to see.

Mr President, with these remarks, I support the Honourable Ronald ARCULLI's motion.

MR CHAN KAM-LAM: Mr President, Members object to the proposal for fee increases put forward by the Government this time and, in my opinion, the Government has over-reacted. In fact, during our deliberations, we find that we have not raised our objection to certain fee increases. Some of them were even put into effect on 1 August before being passed by the Legislative Council. I am of the view that, during our deliberations, Members have taken into full consideration in a rational way the overall economic condition of Hong Kong before making a decision. The Government should fully understand that Members have to be accountable to the public and should also fully comprehend the present economic environment. In the present situation, we should share our joy and sorrow together.

Some Members doubt whether overturning the fee increase proposal can really help inflation. I would like to ask whether we have any solution to inflation.

In fact, we all understand that in order to enable Hong Kong to continue its development, the Government should do more practical work. In the present climate of economic depression, I think the Government and Members should co-operate with each other so that all the people of Hong Kong can benefit from the growth of our economy.

Mr President, I fully support today's motion.

MRS ELIZABETH WONG: Mr President, thank you. I would like to make three points. The first point is I think we need to listen to the voice of the people, to be sensitive to the voice of people's representatives in this Council. People do not speak without good reason and they have advanced very good reasons.

For future consideration, I ask the Administration to submit two lots of information to Members of this Council before they ask for any fee increases. I know there are over 2 000 fees in the whole of the Hong Kong Government. Some of these fees are really just symbolic fees. They are heavily subsidized. The second lot will be on the basis of full-cost recovery. The third lot really is cost-plus, in other words, with an element of tax in it. I think it would facilitate future consideration if we were to have three lots of fees and with arguments for and against the increase.

The second point I want to make is that, before any increase is asked of this Council to consider, it will be necessary to consider putting forward an impact analysis, which is to say: What is the impact on the consumer? What is the outcome on the economy? How would it impact on trade and industry? Without that, all the arguments would be just arbitrary. It is a feeling, a sentiment, and a sentiment is as good as any other sentiment.

So, these are the three points: impact analysis and also categorization of fees if it can be done. I am sure the Administration already is poised to give the category of information.

I see both sides of the argument and I value the voice of this Council. I particularly admire, although I do not necessarily agree with, the literary voice of the Financial Secretary in comparing this to the sirens' call in Greek mythology. I think it is something which is of literary merit, but it is not something I would entirely agree in this Council.

With these remarks, Mr President, as I treasure my own vote very much, I shall abstain from voting.

MR CHAN WING-CHAN (in Cantonese): Mr President, I want to talk about the privatization issue. The Government has informed this Council that it is now inviting tenders for the privatization of the operation of the Public Cargo Working Areas (PCWA) and the related work is expected to commence next year. Can the Government guarantee or monitor the situation to ensure that after the privatization of the PCWA, the profit-making-oriented private companies will not increase the fees anytime they like? We are very worried about that. I also object to the current proposal by the Government to increase the PCWA fees by 20%.

I support Mr Ronald ARCULLI's motion. Thank you, Mr President.

MR JAMES TIEN (in Cantonese): Mr President, the Government needs to levy taxes and numerous charges. But should all charges be set at cost recovery level? And over how many years should the cost be recovered? These questions call for our concerns. It will be acceptable to us if the costs to be recovered by the Government are spread over 10 or 20 years so that the annual increase is only slightly higher than the inflation rate. But in recent years, the Government's adoption of the "full-cost recovery" concept, coupled with ever rising inflation, have led to increased operational costs for the industrial and commercial sectors, making it hard for us to run our business. Let me cite the "export licence" as a convenient example. The licence fee has been raised from $65 in 1992 to the present $180. The Secretary for Trade and Industry has even indicated that the fee would be raised to $300 in the near future so as to recover all costs. Anyone in the industrial sector will know that a factory may need to use several thousand export licences every year. In that case, the licence charges alone would cause us much hardship in our operation. If we cannot expect to make a profit, how can we find the money to pay tax? I hope the Government will carefully reconsider this issue. What we ask of the Government today is the freezing of the increase in charges for the time being, rather than freezing to the extent of waiving the charges altogether.

On the other hand, it is a common feeling within the business sector that in view of our present relative lack of confidence in investing, many people will take a wait-and-see attitude. As July 1997 is only less than 20 months away, people wishing to invest will consider whether an investment at such time will reap any profit. If an investment at this time would be unprofitable, they might as well not make any move until after these 20 months. If everyone adopts such an attitude for the coming 20 months, would not it result in less employment opportunities for the job-seekers? Therefore, we recommend that the Government should consider freezing the charge increases for the time being. I believe Members will find it more acceptable if the Government, upon further consideration, decides that the increases will be set at a level lower than or closer to the inflation rate.

Mr President, I support the Honourable Ronald ARCULLI's motion.

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Mr President, I have no intention to repeat the explanation presented by the Secretary for Economic Services on the proposal of fees increases for cargo working areas earlier on. As a number of Members who spoke after him have put forward a variety of views on the charging policy for government services, I wish to respond to some of their views here.

Hong Kong's low tax system is the cornerstone of our success. As far as charging is concerned, the "user pays" principle is an integral part of our entire revenue structure and the foundation of our low tax system. If users do not pay the full cost of services, taxpayers in general will be required to pay instead. Such departure from the user-pays principle will mean subsidizing all people, including those who have no such needs. To the taxpayers in general who will have to foot the bill eventually, this is absolutely unfair.

However, we are not applying the user-pays principle blindly. Many services provided by the Government are completely free of charge or substantially subsidized by the Government. This is most obvious in the areas of education, social welfare, medical care and internal security. I agree with some Members' proposal that "what is taken from the people should be used for the benefit of the people", but this should be applied to tax concessions and be considered at the time when the annual Budget is being prepared, and not to be applied to individual charging items because the ultimate beneficiaries may not necessarily be those who are most in need.

Some Members are of the view that freezing government fees can tone down inflation. There are also some others who point out that the Government froze its fees and charges before because of high inflation. It is true that the Government did freeze charges for its services for nine months in 1991-92, but I must point out the decision of the Government to freeze fees and charges in that year was due to the fact that inflation was extremely high at that time. In April 1991, the Consumer Price Index (A) (CPI(A)) was as high as 13.9%, and there was widespread concern in the community that inflation would continue to rise. As a result, the then Financial Secretary proposed freezing the charges as one of the measures to combat inflation. As a matter of fact, the freeze was not entirely free from sequela, the simplest example being a subsequent expanded range in charges, which imposed enormous pressure on users of these services. At present, our inflation rate stands at 9% only. Apart from this, the annual adjustment of charges by the Government only has minimal impact on the CPI (A), which is less than 10% only. Therefore, we do not think there is a need to freeze government charges at present. I am grateful to the Honourable Eric LI for making an accurate and detailed analysis in this aspect just now.

Some Members think that in view of the prevailing high unemployment rate, the Government should freeze charges to stimulate the economy. I do appreciate Members' feelings and, as a matter of fact, the Government has already proceeded to solve the employment problem in various aspects. However, in tackling the problem, we should "prescribe the right medication", for example, by raising productivity, making extra efforts in retraining or vocational counselling and so on, instead of focusing on government charges which have no direct impact on the problem.

It is not true that the Government only seeks an automatic adjustment of service charges every year without using other means to enhance efficiency and to to reduce costs. I absolutely agree that the Government should make extra efforts in this area. As a matter of fact, all government departments are required to audit their costs every year, and a detailed audit has to be conducted at least once every four years in order to determine the level of charges. Moreover, the Government's Efficiency Unit and the Management Service Agency also conduct reviews on the working procedures of various government departments from time to time and provide advice to improve efficiency. The Public Accounts Committee of the Legislative Council and the Audit Department, which conducts the value-for-money assessment, also monitor the operations of government departments.

Quite a number of Members have proposed that the Government should draw on its fiscal reserves to subsidize those services. The function of fiscal reserves is to save up for rainy days. It is inappropriate indeed of us to draw on the fiscal reserves causally, particularly during the transition period when prudent financial management is of paramount importance in maintaining a stable and sound economy. Let me remind Members that we have a de facto deficit budget this year, so we cannot say that we do not need to draw on the reserves.

Hong Kong's prudent financial management policy has been regarded highly by other countries, regions and international organizations including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. This is also one of the major reasons why overseas investors are willing to invest in Hong Kong.

The Financial Secretary has begun consulting Members on the tax proposals for the next Budget. We hope Members can make use of those meetings to express their views, give their support to the Government's proposed fees adjustment based on the user-pays principle, including the cargo working area's charging proposal which we are discussing today, and to vote against today's motion. Thank you.

MR RONALD ARCULLI: Mr President, I really wish to be very brief. We have heard a lot of arguments on both sides on this particular motion. Some Members have actually pointed out that we must act on principle. Others have pointed out that freezing the increase or freeze in charges does not help inflation. A third has pointed out the issue of privatization. I hasten to add that our friends from the Government have completely ignored the comments on privatization of this particular service.

What I really wish to say to Member is: Principle is fine, but is it a principle that we need to die for in Hong Kong today? The principle worked for the Government when they froze fees and charges in 1991. Why cannot it work for Members of this Council today? Are we playing double standards? The Government has maintained that in 1991 when inflation was at 13.9%, fees were frozen for nine months and that it did have an impact, but it does not have an impact when inflation is only at 9%.

I think we owe it to the community to be logical, rational and consistent, and on that basis, I would ask Members to support the motion.

Thank you, Mr President.

Question on the motion put.

Voice vote taken.

THE PRESIDENT said he thought the "Ayes" had it.

MRS MIRIAM LAU: I claim a division.

PRESIDENT: Council shall proceed to a division.

PRESIDENT: Will Members please register their presence by pressing the top button and then cast their votes by pressing one of the three buttons below.

PRESIDENT: Before I declare the result, Members may wish to check their votes.

PRESIDENT: Are there any queries? The result will now be displayed.

Mr Allen LEE, Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr Martin LEE, Dr David LI, Mr NGAI Shiu-kit, Mr SZETO Wah, Mr LAU Wong-fat, Mr Edward HO, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mrs Miriam LAU, Dr LEONG Che-hung, Mr Albert CHAN, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong, Mr Frederick FUNG, Mr Michael HO, Dr HUANG Chen-ya, Miss Emily LAU, Mr LEE Wing-tat, Mr Fred LI, Mr Henry TANG, Mr James TO, Dr YEUNG Sum, Mr Howard YOUNG, Mr WONG Wai-yin, Miss Christine LOH, Mr James TIEN, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr Andrew CHENG, Mr CHENG Yiu-tong, Mr CHEUNG Bing-leung, Mr CHEUNG Hon-chung, Mr CHOY Kan-pui, Mr HO Chun-yan, Mr IP Kwok-him, Mr LAU Hon-chuen, Dr LAW Cheung-kwok, Mr LAW Chi-kwong, Mr LEE Kai-ming, Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung, Mr LIU Sing-lee, Mr LO Suk-ching, Mr MOK Ying-fan, Mr NGAN Kam-chuen, Mr SIN Chung-kai, Dr John TSE and Mr YUM Sin-ling voted for the motion.

Mr CHIM Pui-chung, Mr Eric LI, Dr Samuel WONG, Dr Philip WONG, Mr David CHU and Miss Margaret NG voted against the motion.

Mrs Elizabeth WONG abstained.

THE PRESIDENT announced that there were 49 votes in favour of the motion and six votes against it. He therefore declared that the motion was carried.


DR LEONG CHE-HUNG to move the following motion:

"That this Council thanks the Governor for his address."

DR LEONG CHE-HUNG: Mr President, I rise to move a Motion of Thanks on behalf of the House on the Governor's policy address 1995.

In moving this motion, I am in particular grateful to him for using the title "Hong Kong: Our Work Together" as the theme on his state of the policy direction, for working together must be the prerogative of any democratic government. In Hong Kong, now more than ever, working together is more than vital and is not particularly easy, having to consider the policies of the current sovereign, taking into account of our future sovereign and being answerable to the needs of a newly founded democratized public.

Let us hope that the "working togetherness" will not be just a lip service to the people of Hong Kong. Let us hope that working together with our future sovereign and their tiers of representatives will not be, nor seen to be, shedding the governing responsibility to those future powers and that the Hong Kong Government will still be at the helm of the next 20-odd months to come.

This much the Government owes its people for the 600-odd days that follow and more.

Lip service in working together with the Legislative Council

Yet, Mr President, with regret, deeds do not seem to tally with the promises. In 1993, when it was obvious to all that the relationship between the Legislative Council and Administration was hitting the rock, a motion was moved by this Council to seek ways to have this relationship improved. Direct questions were addressed to the Governor. The Administration was well aware of it and the Governor expressed his aim to "do something" after the 1995 elections.

Disappointedly, this policy address carried very little to thaw the ice. Repeatedly, the Governor harps on his old tune of the Government-Legislative Council committee realizing that it would not gain this Council's support and throwing all the responsibilities onto the lap of the Chief Secretary.

To pour oil on fire, the Governor then knowingly or otherwise pointed his accusing finger towards the Legislative Council, demanding "do this or else ......" by saying in the context of Private Members' Bills that "I would not shrink from doing so (that is, not assenting to Bills passed) if it were my honest view that the course of action would be in the best interests of Hong Kong people". Mr President, Private Members' Bills are of course the tools for legislators to reflect the view of the public when the Government is non-compliant. The question of course is who represents the views of the public more? Elected legislators or an appointee from Britain?

Partnership between the Government and this Council is nowhere enhanced when violent knee jerk response projected from the Government to the suggestion that this Council will freeze certain increase in fees and charges on a temporary basis in the light of the psychological effect these fee rises would have during these periods of economic downturn. I am in no way suggesting that there are no fallacies in the decisions of this Council. Yet, the way to a true co-operation is by discussion, by reasoning and not by threatening to cut down on money for welfare affecting thereby the needy, to impose an overall increase in tax and by implying as one senior government official did that it would be better for officials to stuff their ears with wax than to listen to the demands of legislators. Such head-on collision, Mr President, results in a stalemate which leaves a lot to be desired.

Mr President, as Chairman of this House, I am on the other hand delighted at the willingness to co-operate that different Members from different political factions in this Council have shown. Although it may still be the honeymooning period, I look forward to even more consensus arising from this Council, for working together must be in the full benefit for the people we serve.

Working together or receiving command of governance from the north?

Mr President, few would disagree on working together with China and her appointed tiers of representatives in Hong Kong. A close working relationship with the Preparatory Committee and the Chief Executive (Designate) is thus a welcomed move. Yet, what is meant by working together in this incidence ¢w information sharing? Consultation? Approval? or perhaps receiving directions from these bodies? The purpose and functions of the proposed Liaison Office must be clearly defined at once. Unfortunately, when confronted by Members of this Council in a policy briefing, the proposed work of this Office was repeatedly and purposely evaded by the relevant Secretaries concerned. It is inconceivable that the function of this Office vis-a-vis, the centre of working together, is still unknown and has to await the setting up of, and the definition of the terms of office, of the Preparatory Committee.

China's advisors have not made life easy for Hong Kong either when, at the drop of the hat, the legal subgroup of the Preliminary Working Committee recommended repealing sections relating to the Bill of Rights and even the minor issue of the Legislative Council Commission after 1997. Regrettably, this Government is not willing to even confront the Chinese side to express Hong Kong people's concern, nor request confirmation from China that the suggestion is just a stand of the working group and not that of the Chinese Government. The Head of the JLG from the British side played down the issue by saying "I do not think you want to get too excited." Even the British Foreign Secretary only appealed for China's sensitivity to the issue. Who then, Mr President, governs Hong Kong from now to 30 June 1997?

Twilight governance without foresight for Hong Kong people

Mr President, many have commented that the policy address has lost its usual vigour, instead there is a sense of withdrawal, tackling matters that concern with transfer of power only. Whilst there is nothing wrong with organizing a smooth transfer, any good government should ensure that its subject would be given the direction and assurance of what is installed for them after sovereignty withdrawal. Disappointedly, this is lacking in this address.

No policy nor directions for health care and health financing

To wit, in the usual flamboyant state, the policy address has indicated that in health care, for example, there will be more public hospital beds, more specialist service, and so on. In his usual jubilation, the Governor took pride in announcing that there will be a 5% increase in in-patient and 24% increase in out-patient service of the government medical service this year. All these are laudable and no one should dispute the principle of improving public health care services. Yet, until and unless the Government promises unlimited financial support, these services could only be maintained at the expense of increasing staff working hours, and longer waiting queue for treatment ¢w contrary to the pledges made by the Hospital Authority.

With no health policy, with no health financing policy to guide us, with the existing issue of a limited public fund to cater for unlimited services, we will soon be moving down the failure route of the problem-laden National Health Service of the United Kingdom.

For years, the public, the medical profession, and the political parties have yearned for the Government to come up with a political policy decision. Promises have been made but unfortunately are never materialized!

Negligence in maintaining oral health for all

Mr President, this week, Hong Kong plays host to some 5 000 dentists from some 70 countries round the world at the Federation of Dental International Annual World Dental Congress. This is an important milestone for Hong Kong dentistry as it has found a place in the world map of dentistry. Rightly so, the deputy to the Governor officiated the opening ceremony to give this meeting its due importance and to symbolize the Government's commitment to oral health needs and development of the profession. Rightly so, too, the Acting Governor took pride on the dental progress so far in Hong Kong especially after fluoridation of our water.

But ironically, in the same opening ceremony, the President of this international organization had this to say: "in the developed countries where dental caries have shown a decline but have now levelled off, there is a tendency and a risk that oral health is considered by the health authorities to be a non-issue and so is ignored in any health policy of strategy". Mr President, is Hong Kong heading in this same direction, or is Hong Kong already there before we begin? Has Hong Kong a proper dental policy anyway?

Government departments will no doubt come to the defence that there is an on-going policy which is to promote oral health education and awareness. Repeatedly the Government has denied access to public funded dental care by the public on the grounds of the gigantic costs. Recently, the Department of Health went to the extent of quoting that only 10% of a surveyed population adults had not visited private dentists because they are unable to pay! In short, there is no need to provide public dental treatment services. Yet, having a general check is one thing, but the cost for having your teeth done up is another which many could not afford. Even the 10% together with those receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance form a formidable population who need oral health care which is wanting.

The Government has always claimed that "no one will be deprived of sufficient health care due to lack of means". Yet, when it comes to oral health, an important element of one's total health, it is obviously another story.

The Government will boast that there are 58 government dental clinics and 211 dental officers, an 17% increase increase since 1992. But do not forget, the service is to cater for a contractual obligation the Government has made with its civil servants. Even then there is a need to have performance pledges, for many, even our civil servants in the Chambers today, seek private dental service on their own, being unable to stand the long queue.

It is utmost that oral health care must be given the importance that it deserves; be taken as an essential integral part of total health care and should in no way be taken as a poor second after medical service.

A proper dental policy must therefore be developed. It must work out concrete plans to materalize the oral health goals for different age bands of Hong Kong by the year 2010 set by the Dental Sub-committee, the Government's own advisory body.

How much would the Government consider oral health as a welfare and how much would the Government provide as a service for a fee? It is only with answers to these that a proper dental manpower for this population could be worked out, and a workable ratio between private and public dental services could be identified to provide a well balanced service that we need so much.

For years, the Government has pledged to provide dental care for groups with special needs ¢w the disabled, people with special medical conditions and so on. It is high time these should get going and it is high time that the needy elderlies should be taken also onto the wings.

Concern over transition in livelihood issues

Mr President, while the transfer of sovereignty has everything to do with "land", the six million people of Hong Kong still have to face the problems of education, housing, welfare, transport, and health care irrespective of before or after 1997.

It is good news that governments across the border have discussed to allow children in China, who have right of abode in Hong Kong, to enter the territory systematically in a bid to ease the likely pressure by 1997. It is also a right direction for the Administration to, at least, ponder measures encountering the impact of migrants from China on education and housing, though still far from satisfaction. Yet, how about the impact on welfare, health care and other social infrastructure? These areas are commonly forgotten to address.


Instead of blowing its own trumpet, being contended in the short-term achievements in terms of superficial figures, now more than ever, we need long-term policies in various livelihood areas. We need directives with vision to guide us into the next decade, lest the Special Administrative Region will be left a potato too hot to handle.

One may argue that the virtue of a sunset government should be to keep the status quo. Yet, beyond the calendar day of 30 June 1997, it would still be the vast Hong Kong public who would have to keep living here, breathing here, facing the livelihood problems irrespective of whether it is under the Union Jack or the Red Flag with Five Stars. Any responsible government must ensure good governance with policy directions planned ahead for its subjects. Mr President, our Government at least owe us that!

Mr President, time will not allow me to go through all the issues covered by the address. I am sure other Members would amply reflect their views. With those words, I do so move.

Question on the motion proposed.

DR DAVID LI: Mr President, two weeks ago, like a class of new students at the start of term, 59 Legislative Councillors gathered in this Chamber. We eagerly anticipated a fresh start, a clean slate, with new lessons to be learnt, new goals to be achieved, but what we got was more of the same from last term.

This policy address is no vision. It is a revision. True, the Administration gets top marks for addressing what are, for our community, life or death issues: housing, slope stability, health care, safety in the workplace. However, the Administration failed to say anything substantive about a less tangible but more fundamental subject: our competitiveness.

Imagine Mr HO-Ho-Sin-Sang sitting at his desk on Monday morning. Mr HO is an entrepreneur, the boss of a small trading company that employs five people. Mr HO is reading the Morning Post. "Ah," he thinks to himself, "Hong Kong has been named one of the most competitive economies in the world." He is proud of Hong Kong, proud of his hard work which makes a difference not only to his family, but to his five employees and to his community. Mr HO turns the page. He sighs. Inflation has fallen to just 9%. He shakes his head wondering if Government Economists ever buy food. If they pay for their own transport, how do they come up with all these statistics? He folds the paper away and turns to his mail. Mr HO opens the top letter and shudders. His landlord wanted to raise his office rent by 25%. Everywhere costs is going up and up. He thinks to himself, no wonder orders are falling. People in Hong Kong cannot afford to go shopping. He has a good relationship with the retailers he supplies. Over the years he has become friends with many of them. Mr HO frowns himself. He knows that, like him, they are struggling. Then there is a knock at Mr HO's door. Mr HO's face brightens. It is his favourite employee, the hardworking Mr DAI-Ho-Ching-Nin. Mr DAI sits down and begins to talk to Mr HO. He wants a raise. He is trying to save money to buy a flat but everywhere is so expensive. Mr HO says he understands. He tells Mr DAI that he will do what he can and Mr DAI leaves the office. Mr HO looks back at the newspaper headline. "One of the most competitive economies in the world." He wonders briefly who decides these things and how. He wonders what it really means, but mostly he wonders how he will make ends meet.

Think of all the good the Administration hopes to do. Think of all the money the Administration has spent and is committing Hong Kong to spend. This expenditure is made possible by just one factor: Hong Kong's economic competitiveness. Only competitiveness can create opportunity for people like Mr HO and his employees. Only competitiveness can generate jobs for the unemployed. Only competitiveness can ensure funds are available for public housing and for social services. Only competitiveness delivers prosperity. But did we hear anything constructive about our endangered competitiveness in the policy address? Sadly, no.

Instead, we were told the social services are one of the rewards of our economic success. This is a dangerous fallacy, an out-moded attitude that must be rooted out as if it were some deadly disease. Expanding social services are not a reward. They are the restitution made because an economy no longer offers each and every citizen the opportunity to earn a decent living. If we lose our competitiveness we could become like Britain: a welfare state, it is people living off yesterday's capital and surviving on tomorrow's debt service. Is this a fate we want for our people? Is this what they deserve? A scientific survey may rank Hong Kong among the world's most competitive economies. Does that help the thousands who are unemployed? Does that matter to the multinationals who are voting with their wallets and moving their offices and their jobs out of Hong Kong. The bottom line is this. The competitiveness of Hong Kong's economy is threatened. The pillars of our success are being weakened by insidious inflation, by a disabling lack of skills, by crippling land prices and rental, by infrastructure bottlenecks, yet the Administration offers no real remedies for these ills.

The Administration needs to recognize that competitiveness must be declared. It is a priority, job Number One. It should establish a competitiveness committee ¢w a high-level panel mandated to conduct a comprehensive annual audit of our competitiveness. It would examine everything from human and physical infrastructive to regulations and taxation. It would measure Hong Kong against our would-be rivals. It would assess what we are against and what we want to be. Then it would publish its findings. Based on its report, the committee could advise the Administration on solutions. Using this audit, the Administration would set competitiveness commitments. The audit would become a vital diagnostic tool as the Financial Secretary prepares the Budget each year. We would not need to waste time or money on misguided effort because we would know what initiatives were needed. Our priorities would be clear. Do we need to adjust our tax policies? Do we need to release more land, or are our infrastructure links to the New Territories and the state of our environment more pressing priorities? Whatever we may need, an audit would help us present a strong case as we seek China's advice and support.

Of course, in some areas, we do not need to wait for an audit. Sadly some shortcomings have required attention for far too long. The Administration should make a firm commitment to more effective worker retraining. We have heard a lot of the Thai welfare measures, but we need to make every effort to expand the existing skills of our unemployed. The Administration could take a constructive approach to identifying, nurturing and packaging the skills of the displaced workers. Where training is needed, it must be geared to real job vacancies. Only then will we be able to redress the skill mismatch. Only then will those who have considerable wealth of expertise be enabled to make a productive contribution to our society.

We must improve primary and secondary education. What is the point of funding more and more tertiary places if our students are not qualified to benefit from them? How can we build skills if we do not get the basics right? Take English. Year after year, standards fall. Someone I know recently returned to Hong Kong after an absence of 10 years. He was shocked to find that the standard of English he remembered was gone with the wind, blasted into non-existence in practical terms. Is illiteracy in English to be the lasting legacy of the British colonial rule? If we are to remain an international business centre, obviously we must speak, read and write the language of international business. If we are to serve international businesses, we must offer world-class standards.

We urgently need to strengthen our capacity to fight intellectual property crime. Estimates suggest that 60% of the money spent locally on software is pocketed by pirates. A science park is a great idea. The development of a high-tech sector is a marvellous initiative. Those who profit from stealing ideas must be delighted. If we cannot guarantee intellectual property rights within the territory, our energy will be wasted.

For my constituency, the Administration could increase competitiveness with one stroke of its administrative pen. It could simply bring tax relief or bad debt provisions in line with our would-be rivals. To prevent capital outflow, the Administration could also consider lowering estate duty. I ask the Administration, can we afford to drive this away? Do we need to stack the odds against ourselves?

Our future prosperity lies with China. How can Hong Kong be a gateway if our people do not hold a basic key? How many of our young people will be able to speak the official language of the new sovereign power? Why has the Administration waited so long to make substantial investment in the teaching of Putonghua? Putonghua will not be taught in all schools until at least 1998, partly because we do not have the qualified teachers. This would seem to be an ideal area in which consultation and co-operation with China could be elevated. Last year, considerable progress has been made in improving administrative relations with China. The Administration should continue to strengthen direct links with the authorities in Beijing and in Guangdong. As a Member of both this Council and the Preliminary Preparatory Committee of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, I look forward to closer co-operation.

Finally, this Council must work with the Administration. We must contribute constructive criticism at every sitting. We must demonstrate our firm commitment to an economy that remains free of intervention and interference. Two weeks ago, the Governor reported on the Administration's five-year plan. The Administration is to be congratulated for raising expectations. High aspirations have always driven Hong Kong to success. Just as the Governor has challenged the Members of this Council, the Administration has challenged the people of Hong Kong. Given a competitive economic environment, I believe that they are more than equal to this challenge. I urge Members of this Council to remember that our duty is to answer that challenge by vigorously serving the people of Hong Kong.

The Governor is right: all of us must work together. With this reservation, Mr President, I support the motion.

MR ALLEN LEE (in Cantonese): Mr President, the policy address entitled "Hong Kong: Our Work Together" given by Mr Chris PATTEN, the Governor, is undoubtedly a themeless and perfunctory document. It fully reveals to the Hong Kong people the mentality of a sunset government. This is both regrettable and worrying.

As everyone knows, the growth of the Hong Kong economy has begun to slow down. However, in his Policy Address, the Governor only reports the good news and not the bad news. He changes the focus on economic issues to all sorts of high-ratings Hong Kong receives from foreign institutions and he does not mention anything about what effective measures the Government will work out to improve the currently slackened economy. This attitude of "waiting until the time is up" towards governing Hong Kong is extremely short-sighted and irresponsible.

In his policy address, the Governor points out that Hong Kong has had a 5.9% growth in real terms in the first quarter in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but the growth will then slow down. It is expected that there will only be a 5% growth in real terms in GDP in 1995, instead of 5.5% as previously forecast. I think that the Government has not revealed the overall economic situation to the people. If GDP growth in the first quarter is 5.9%, but is later to slacken to 5% in the whole year, the GDP growth in the fourth quarter will be lowered to 4.5% or even less. This reveals that the economic situation of Hong Kong has attained a worrying state. For many years in the past, the economic situation of Hong Kong has never been in such an alarmingly slackened state. This shows that Hong Kong will have a weakening economy. This could be a crisis: the consuming power of the people will be weakened with far-reaching impacts on employment. These successive socio-economic chain reactions should absolutely merit more than a fleeting reference in the policy address at a time when Hong Kong is in the latter part of the transition period.

The Liberal Party deeply regrets that the Governor has not put forward any measures to improve the economic situation. When I questioned the Governor closely about this matter in a television programme, to my surprise, he said that as the Financial Secretary would make some announcements on the matter when he announces the Budget, hence he would not take over the work of the Financial Secretary and talk too much about the matter. As regards the Governor's statement, I find that there are two fallacious arguments. First, as the Government knows beforehand that the Hong Kong economy will be headed for a fast downturn, why does it have to wait for more than four months until March 1996 for the Financial Secretary to announce the relevant countermeasures? Second, by announcing improvements in welfare benefits, such as the increase in the amounts of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payment, the Governor has obviously taken over the work of the Financial Secretary. Why does he refuse to have anything more to do with stimulating the economy?

We do not know whether the Financial Secretary would formulate very effective measures directed at our economy more than four months from now. But we are sure that it is absolutely incomprehensible and irresponsible for the Government to procrastinate for four months without making timely preparations when it knows beforehand where the problem lies. I doubt whether the Government has put the interests of more than six million Hong Kong people in the first place in regard to administration.

We, the Liberal Party, are of the view that the Government should understand that what it is doing will eventually have negative effects on the economic development and the unemployment situation in Hong Kong and even on the atmosphere of society The Governor does not intend to touch upon the economic issues in the course of administration in the coming year; no matter whether it is because he feels helpless or because of some other reasons, we believe this is a totally wrong policy for administering Hong Kong.

As regards the economic issues of Hong Kong, I still have two main points to make. The first point is about the Governor's Business Council (the Council) established in 1992. When the Governor established the Council at that time, the Governor meant to maximize the potential of Hong Kong's economic position, to keep Hong Kong's status as the most business-friendly location in Asia, and to promote Hong Kong's trade and industry. Since its establishment three years ago, what original suggestions have the Council, under the leadership of the Governor, actually made to keep Hong Kong's economy going? Therefore, I hope the Governor can give us a clear account of the work of the Council again.

Second, as the above issues are extremely important to the economic development of Hong Kong, now that the Government has only established a working group to look into the service industry and it has not considered setting up a council for economic development with powers and responsibilities to conduct a comprehensive and in-depth study of the matter and put forward effective proposals, this would inevitably give people the impression that, in the latter part of the transition period, the Government tends to choose the easier way and adopt short-term policies for administering Hong Kong. In his Policy Address, the Governor has pointed out six times that the Government will not intervene in the economy and the market. If the Government wants to intervene, it intervenes; if it does not want to intervene, it does not intervene. Such slogan is now out-dated. Hong Kong people would not be deceived by the Government's slogan again. I can point out sharply: Is the Government not intervening in property prices now?

The Liberal Party firmly believes that the Government has both the administrative and financial ability to implement a series of effective measures to revive our economy. That is why earlier on the Liberal Party has put forward to the Governor "10 major proposals to improve our economy". These proposals are intended not only to revive the Hong Kong economy but also to stimulate local and overseas investment, boost the confidence of Hong Kong people during the latter part of the transition period and effectively improve the livelihood of the people. During the current session, the Liberal Party will, on the basis of these 10 proposals, be dedicated to urging and pressing the Administration to implement the relevant policies without delay, in order to improve the economic situation of Hong Kong, achieve full employment again and improve the people's living. We hope that the people will support our proposals, to make the Government become aware of what we are asking for, so that the Government will not stop taking actions and pay no attention to the economic crisis Hong Kong is facing. Now, the Government is disoriented. When I watched television recently, I found that when the Government Economist, Mr K. Y. TANG, was asked by the media about matters relating to inflation and the economic situation next year, he simply could not give a reply. It was because he could not tell indeed. I think this is because the Government has not adopted any measures to improve the economy. As a result, even the most senior economist of Hong Kong could not give a reply to a question Hong Kong people are most concerned about. The Liberal Party will not be slack in its work, and, in this session, it is determined to continue urging the Government to formulate economic policies to revive our economy.

Mr President, it is a welcome fact that, in his policy address, the Governor expresses the intention of the Hong Kong and British governments to fully co-operate with the Chinese Government. However I find it necessary for the Government to pay attention to two points. First, we hope that in the coming 600 days or so, the Chinese and British sides can conscientiously implement the agreements they have reached. They should do what they have promised and make more practical arrangements for the transition of Hong Kong. The two sides should not talk about vague and general things respectively. While one side takes "an honourable retreat" into consideration, the other takes "face-saving hand-over and assumption of sovereignty" into consideration. These are all superficial formalities. Second, we request that the Government announce to the public at an early date the functions and powers, and the criteria for work of the Liaison Office established between the Government and the Preparatory Committee of the Special Administrative Region. This can set the minds of the public and civil servants at ease.

Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to clarify the unfair comments made by the Governor in respect of Vietnamese migrants and directed at Mrs Selina CHOW and I. We should not put the blame on those who were Executive Council Members in 1988 if the various centres for Vietnamese migrants cannot be closed as scheduled by the end of this year. This is only the result of what the British Government did in making Hong Kong a port of first asylum a number of years ago. Although the Executive Council has a duty to keep things confidential and not to disclose the contents of the Executive Council meetings, this does not mean that the Governor who was not a Member of the Executive Council in 1988 may unfairly put the blame for the problem on those who were Members of the Executive Council at that time. I believe the Governor knows this very well. However, being a politician, he engages in sophistry, thinking that he can thus stay out of this sorry saga. Since the Government is going to fail to keep the promise of closing all Vietnamese migrant centres by the end of this year, Mrs Selina CHOW will later be proposing a motion debate on the issue in this Council to put an end to the status of Hong Kong as a port of first asylum. In fact, Hong Kong has assumed more international duties than what it should have in dealing with the problem of Vietnamese migrants. Everyone should know that since the first boat carrying Vietnamese migrants arrived in Hong Kong in 1979, we have been dealing with the problem in a humanitarian manner. It has been 16 years since then. If this situation is allowed to last, and if we still do not take any actions, I do not know how the present Hong Kong Government or the British Government is going to solve this problem for Hong Kong. I think it is high time not only this Council but also Hong Kong people took actions.

Lastly, Mr President, Members of the Legislative Council from the Liberal Party will express their views on matters in the areas they are concerned about. All in all, we are very disappointed with this year's policy address.

Mr President, these are my remarks.

MR MARTIN LEE (in Cantonese): Mr President, the last election of the Legislative Council before the sovereignty transfer of Hong Kong has just concluded. Looking back on the last 11 years since the signing of the Joint Declaration in 1984, what do we see?

The undertakings provided in the Joint Declaration have been brushed aside to the verge of total nullification. The high degree of autonomy promised to Hong Kong is now under serious threat, as China continues to tighten its control over Hong Kong and Britain chooses to give way in order to secure more China trade contracts.

The Chinese Government's distrust of the Hong Kong people has led to the emergence of various Beijing-appointed groups and bodies: Hong Kong Affairs Advisers, District Advisers, and the Preliminary Work Committee (PWC). The Chinese side has also declared its intention to set up a provisional legislature, much to the concern and worry of the Hong Kong people. Actual events in the past have shown that people appointed to such bodies would only curry favour with the Chinese Government. A vivid example of this is the shocking proposal made by the legal sub-group of the PWC last week, which seeks to emasculate the Bill of Rights and to resurrect those ordinances which this Council has repealed or amended in view of their violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.

When we look at the present day society of Hong Kong, we can see increasingly rampant corruption in the police force; low morale in the civil service; unprecedented threats looming over human rights and the rule of law in the territory; and continual flow of emigrants who have lost confidence in the future. The time of reunion with China, which should be a day for rejoicing, seems to have become the doomsday of Hong Kong. Other Asian countries, Singapore in particular, are keeping a wary eye on Hong Kong, waiting to see its decline.

Mr President, it was against this grim background that Hong Kong held its Legislative Council election on 17 September. Since Beijing hopes to gain an early control of the Legislative Council, the New China News Agency went down the line for those candidates who "love China and love Hong Kong", so to speak. Our people were faced with two choices at that time: either to vote for those with no sense of right and wrong who blindly encourage Beijing's control over Hong Kong, or to vote for those who have a good track record of upholding the interests of Hong Kong. Voters took their sides most clearly with their votes. They chose those willing to speak for the people of Hong Kong. The election results put across a crystal clear message that our people cherish their freedom and do not want Beijing to control Hong Kong.

In fact, Beijing also has two options: either to win the confidence of the Hong Kong people, or to impose control on them with an iron-fist. The people of Hong Kong obviously regard the iron-fist unacceptable; and I hope China so regards too.

Mr President, when I look around at my colleagues sitting in this Council, I can see that they are all newly elected by the people of Hong Kong as the representatives of their interests. For the first time in the history of this colony, every member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council is given the people's mandate which enables them to speak for the people of Hong Kong.

It is a duty of the Legislative Council to paint fresh silver linings for the dark clouds over our gloomy future because no one can achieve this task. Only our endeavours and persistence can give confidence to the Hong Kong people. We must accomplish this mission, or Hong Kong will have no future.

We need to salvage the wrecked Joint Declaration. Whenever the British and Chinese Governments stray from the undertakings made in 1984, we must bring them back to the right track.

In order to complete this mission, Legislative Councillors must stand on the same front. Of course, we may not concur on each and every issue. However, all political parties and individual Members do have an identical and common bottom line, and that is "one country, two systems" and "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy". In short, we must be the master of our own future. The public also look to every one of us in this Council to protect their freedom and the rule of law Although it is "easier said than done", as the saying goes, I firmly believe that so long as we put in our best effort, we will certainly succeed.

A good example is the unanimous decision reached two weeks ago in the House Committee to send a delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Committee Hearing held in Geneva on the human rights situation in Hong Kong.

Just now when Mr Ronald ARCULLI moved a motion to freeze increases in fees, the political parties were again able to reach a consensus view. In the past, who could have imagined that the various political parties in this Council could reach this sort of consensus on such issues? But indeed, we made it.

We made it because the majority did not seek to impose their views on the minority, while the minority believed that their participation had significant meaning.

In the future, even if we may not be able to reach a consensus on a particular issue, we can certainly maintain our mutual respect and seek common grounds while accepting the differences, thereby reducing misunderstandings and disputes. The consensus reached on the issue of the Human Rights Committee Hearing is a very good start. I am confident that we can serve the public in more and better ways as long as we have the will to do so. I also hope that the Legislative Council can contribute to the safeguarding of Hong Kong's systems, not just now but also after 1997.

Mr President, we welcome the Governor's overture of co-operation with this Council in his recent policy address. But we ask him not to engage in empty talks only. As the Governor is holding an olive branch in one hand, posing a friendly gesture and expressing his wish to co-operate with the Legislative Council, he is wielding a club in his other hand, threatening the Legislative Council with the exercise of his constitutional powers of veto on the pretext of protecting "the interests of Hong Kong".

We are fully aware of the constitutional powers of a colonial Governor. But let us think about this: an appointed Governor is telling the people that he understand public opinions better than the elected representatives they voted for last month, and so he should be the one to determine what is "in the best interest of Hong Kong". Do our colleagues think that this is right?

The Governor and senior officials must remember that first, they do not have the people's mandate; second, because of their failure to safeguard the Joint Declaration over the past 11 years, they have already let the people of Hong Kong down. In such circumstances, they must, as soon as the new term of the Legislative Council begins, co-operate with this Council to salvage the wrecked Joint Declaration and safeguard our way of life.

Government officials have repeatedly laid stress on an "executive-led" administration as a means of justifying their rejection of the motions and bills passed by the Legislative Council. However, I hope the Governor and government officials can realize that their refusal to co-operate with the trusted representatives of the people may lead to serious consequences, resulting in constant conflicts between the Administration and the fully elected legislature in future. The public may hence think that democracy is not suitable for Hong Kong and this would also provide Beijing with a plausible excuse to replace the existing elected Legislative Council with such a rubber-stamp as the provisional legislature. In the end, there will be no "executive-led" government. Instead, a "Beijing-led" government with no public accountability will emerge, thus turning the "lame duck" into a "Peking duck". It is certain that such a government will not have public acceptance and support, but will only bring about political instability. This will be a tragedy for Hong Kong!

The Preparatory Committee will be established early next year and "advisory bodies" for the Chinese side have emerged one after another. Under such a situation, the only way for the Hong Kong Government to acquire its legitimacy to govern is to co-operate sincerely with this Council to implement the concept of "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong".

Mr President, the Government is obviously worried about the proliferation of Private Member's Bills in this session. Such bills are, however, only used as a last resort by Legislative Council Members, who should not be held responsible for the situation. As early as 1993, we already pointed out that this would be the consequence of Government's neglect of Members' views and motions. It is feared that the situation will not be much improved in the foreseeable future.

Actions speak louder than words. If the Governor is genuinely sincere in co-operating with this Council, to implementing the motions passed by this Council will be a good start. This will indirectly result in a reduction of Private Member's Bills.

Mr President, the Governor's decision not to appoint Members of this Council to the Executive Council has led to the absence of any mechansim with which the Executive Council and the Legislative Council can achieve genuine co-operation.

We are of the view that the working relationship between the Administration and the Legislative Council must be institutionalized. For this reason, the Democratic Party has suggested the adoption of a new panel system to strengthen the co-operation between the two sides and the legislature.

This system will enable government officials to work with the various panels, consult them and incorporate their views before finalizing such policies, thus ensuring that bills and funding proposals required for implementing such policies can obtain the support of this Council and thus, of greater importance, the support of all the people of Hong Kong.

This system will enhance the efficiency of this Council. I call on Members to support the suggestion as a show of the co-operative spirit in the Legislative Council.

Mr President, the Democratic Party is more than willing to co-operate with the Preparatory Committee due to be established. Yet, a pre-condition for such co-operation is that we will not have to abandon our principles or curry favour with anybody.

Partnership should be built on the basis of mutual benefits. We will work with the Chinese Government, bearing the interests of Hong Kong in mind, to see that Hong Kong will continue to proper. This is also in the interest of China.

I would like to draw the attention of the Hong Kong people and Legislative Councillors to the Preparatory Committee, terms of reference. When first brought up for discussion in the Basic Law Drafting Committee, the idea of a Preparatory Committee was strongly opposed by its Hong Kong members for fear that such a committee would become a second centre of authority. Chinese officials explained at the time that the Preparatory Committee was just a body set up to prepare for the ceremony of sovereignty transfer. Even by virtue of the decision of the National People's Congress annexed to the Basic Law, the powers of the Preparatory Committee are confined to prepare for the establishment of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) and the first term of the SAR Government. But if we look at the PWC today, we will see that its very formation and subsequent work are in total violation of the Joint Declaration. Allegedly set up to prepare for the establishment of the Preparatory Committee, the PWC interferes with the internal operation of Hong Kong, meddling in matters ranging from the preparation of the Budget to the Green Island reclamation. We do not want to see the Preparatory Committee following further along this wrong direction.

We urge the forthcoming SAR Preparatory Committee to co-operate with the existing legislature, which is returned by elections. I hope that in the course of such co-operation, the Chinese Government will realize that it can gauge public opinion in Hong Kong without having to set up so many bodies, such as the PWC, the Hong Kong Affairs Advisers and the provisional legislature.

The Legislative Council is already the most open and transparent representative body of public opinions in existence. For any proposals from the Chinese Government, the support of this Council is tantamount to that of the people of Hong Kong. It is also true the other way round. A Beijing proposal opposed by this Council will mean that it cannot gain popular support in Hong Kong.

I hope that members of the future Preparatory Committee can make a serious effort to understand the operation of the Legislative Council, familiarize with the process and essence in the formulation of government policies, rather than act like the PWC which only knows how to confound right and wrong and arbitrarily overturn existing policies.

Mr President, perhaps the most significant effect of this election is the bringing together of different parties and independent Members, instead of splitting them up. I can see that all parties and Members have the will to co-operate with one another, and I know perfectly well that the community of Hong Kong will like to see a closer co-operation among us, in order to bring about better co-operation:

    - among the various political parties;

    - between the Government and the Legislative Council; and

    - between Hong Kong and China

However, co-operation must be based on mutual respect. Dominance of one side over the other is not acceptable, be it the Governor dominating the Legislative Council, or China dominating Hong Kong. Moreover, co-operation is a two-way process. Hence, the Democratic Party is prepared to take the lead in practising the principle of mutual respect in the Legislative Council by making an overture of friendship to all, regardless of political differences.

As elected Members, we have the responsibility to reflect the views of all walks of life in the community, including the industrial and commercial sector, pressure groups and various interest bodies. It is also incumbent upon us to formulate policies to solve the problems posed by the present economic sluggishness and unemployment, as well as other problems that we encounter in the run-up to 1997.

In spite of the parties' differences in political convictions or past political stands, I believe that every party wish Hong Kong to be successful. When we can create a favourable atmosphere in the Legislative Council in which Members can feel that they are able to make meaningful contributions to the community of Hong Kong, we are making a headstart towards success. Our obligations toward the people of Hong Kong are grave. Through such mutual co-operation, we are to safeguard the systems of Hong Kong, to maintain its rule of law, freedom, human rights and a clean civil service.

I am convinced that we all share the same conviction regarding the future of Hong Kong: that is to truly realize the principle of "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" by means of a democratic, accountable and responsible legislature, and to see that this co-operatively working legislature can straddle 1997.

In order to implement the notion of "one country, two systems" promised in the Joint Declaration by China's leader, Mr DENG Xiao-ping, we need someone with enough courage to defend our systems, to defend this tiny yet free and diversified society of Hong Kong, so that it can continue to survive. There is also the need to make China truly realize the key to Hong Kong's success. Such are the responsibilities we cannot shirk.

Mr President, now is the opportune time for us to demonstrate that democracy in an effective and suitable system for Hong Kong. The Legislative Council as a whole must not disappoint the Hong Kong people by giving them the impression that it is but a forum for constant arguments and debates. The people of Hong Kong expect us to honour the undertakings that we have given in the election.

Not only should we honour our undertakings, but it is of greater importance that we should give the people of Hong Kong a better and more promising future.

Mr President, these are my remarks.

MR LAU WONG-FAT (in Cantonese): Mr President, the Governor's policy address this year has gone to great lengths to discuss issues on the quality of life and the economy. It has also asserted that full co-operation with China would be sought. However, the impression one gathers from the entire policy address is that emphasis was put on boasting accomplishments whereas obvious fallacies were not touched or just casually mentioned. It reported only the bright side but not the dark. Therefore, my feeling is that what this Council heard two weeks ago could only be described as a well presented speech, but not a good policy address.

Problems have arisen in many areas in present-day Hong Kong. Nonetheless, the Governor still expressed his gratification over the progress of the five-year programme formulated in 1992. This shows that the Government seems to have lost touch with reality; it is also an indication that the so-called "agenda of improvements in every area of Hong Kong life" has really overlooked not a few problems and should be supplemented and amended urgently.

What puzzles me most is that in spite of the many terrifying floods that occurred over a vast area of the New Territories this year which sent residents running for their lives in panic (the most recent one that occurred only a month ago was calamitous and still leaps up vividly before our eyes), the policy address has turned a blind eye to these disastrous situations and not a word was mentioned of them at all. What is the reason for this? Is it because floods have occurred so frequently that the Government has got used to them and become insensitive? Or is it because the Government is at its wit's end in containing the floods, so it simply avoids the issue? In any case, this is definitely not the proper act of a responsible government that cares about its people's hardships.

The Government is duty-bound to protect the people's lives and property, and to ensure they will not live in fear. However, after so many years there are still a great number of people in Hong Kong who are in a constant state of anxiety during the rainy season. Would the Administration feel ashamed for this?

Mr President, the Government must bear the blame for the frequent occurrence of floods, which was mainly caused by its failure to take preventive measures. It has allowed large-scale development projects to proceed in the New Territories before any proper flood prevention planning was done. The same is true of the cause for serious traffic problems in some new towns in the New Territories.

We have to say that it is a dereliction of duty by the Government in view of its lack of foresight and a sense of crisis which has brought about problems that affect the livelihood of the people. It is regrettable that the authorities concerned have not assumed their due responsibilities but merely played down the issue and attributed the cause of flooding to the land owners' having made changes in the usage of their land. It might well be that the changes made in land usage is one of the causes, but why is it that the relevant government department has not fulfilled its monitoring duty and issued guidelines and rules for flood prevention in good time so that land owners could have something to refer to and comply with?

As it is, it will not be of much help for us to quibble over who was right or wrong. Most importantly, we need to complete the flood prevention project as soon as possible to help people get out of the abyss of suffering. Although the problem of flooding has already come to a head, the Administration estimated that the flood prevention project cannot be completed until after a few years. This is really a worrying situation. Work should be done in order of importance and urgency. In any case, the Administration must accord top priority to matters that involve the lives and property of the people. I hope the Government can review the progress of the project and put in more resources to complete the project at an earlier date.

Mr President, if the Government had thoroughly implemented the Rural Planning and Improvement Strategy which was introduced in 1989, I think the flooding problem would have been greatly alleviated. At first, the project really raised much expectations. The Government announced at the time that it would spend $4.4 billion in 10 years to improve the rural environment, including the improvement of sewerage works and the provision of more social facilities to narrow the gap between the urban and rural areas. Unfortunately, much has been said but little done. Six years have passed, but the Administration has only spent a few hundred million dollars, and the progress of the project has been snail-paced. Although the Heung Yee Kuk has made numerous appeals for more action, little has been achieved and one cannot help doubting the sincerity of the Administration in carrying out the project. The Government attributes the problem to a hitch in the resumption of land, but this is merely a way in which it tries to shirk its responsibilities. Actually the problem lies mainly in the Administration's lack of a positive mind and enthusiasm, as well as an absence of co-ordination in carrying out the project. As the Government placed the project under the co-ordination of the Home Affairs Department last year, I hope the Administration can really implement the project in future, and do so at full speed to make up for lost ground. As to the question of land resumption, the Government can in fact take an early initiative to negotiate with land owners over the purchase of their land. If, given all these, the implementation of the project is still half-hearted the Government will find it hard to account for this to the public.

Mr President, the Administration sealed off Tuen Mun Road in August and September, causing much hardship to the residents in North West New Territories. However, the policy address has only dealt with the incidents briefly. The long-time suffering of local residents brought about by outbound traffic congestion are too numerous to exhaust in writing. Should anybody want to write a dissertation on contemporary misgovernance, I would highly recommend the development of North West New Territories as a suitable topic. Being a typical Tuen Mun resident, I am not only one of the victims but also a popular target to which residents air their grievances. Some complained that they had been cheated by the beautiful lies of the Government portraying new towns as self-sufficient; some said that living in Tuen Mun is just like being exiled, as if there was no way out of the place once you moved in. But it was most distressing to hear that some people find it embarrassing to tell others that they live in Tuen Mun. As far as I know, a lot of people hold back their Tuen Mun residential addresses when they apply for jobs, providing instead the addresses of their relatives who live in other areas, for fear that employers would reject their application on account of their probable late arrival for work because of the traffic jam. It is really sad that Tuen Mun residents are being treated as uncivilized people and discriminated against.

The cause of this predicament, as I said earlier on, was the Administration's lack of proper planning and foresight in its development projects, coupled with its insensitivity to the occurrence of events. As a result, the problem has worsened until it is beyond control. It is common knowledge that the use of the Tuen Mun Road has long reached saturation point, but due to the Government's procrastination, the work for Route 3 (Country Park Section) was started only recently, and it would take three years to complete. As for the Railway Development Strategy which is a long-term solution for the traffic problem, preliminary studies have only just begun, so there is no telling on which date it can be realized. The Administration had no foresight in the first place, and was sluggish in response later on, so what else can this be if it is not dereliction of duty? In my opinion, the Administration should apologize to the residents in North West New Territories. Of course, the best way to remedy the situation is to construct as soon as possible a railway network that Tuen Mun Town Centre with other areas in North West New Territories and West Kowloon. Now, as the Administration is planning to seal off the Tuen Mun Road for two months for works to be carried out there, the relevant department must draw a lesson from the last stumble and make proper contingency arrangements for residents' inward and outward journeys. If this cannot be done, I trust that both the Tuen Mun and Yuen Long District Boards will sternly oppose such a move.

Mr President, the Government's large-scale land reclamation is another worrying issue. A lot of experts and people from various sectors have expressed their views on the impacts of reclaiming land in the Victoria Harbour on water currents, navigation passage and the environment, and I do not wish to repeat them. What I want to say is that as reclamation is to create land, I think the Tolo Harbour is a more suitable location for the purpose because if reclamation is carried out there, the unfavourable impacts I mentioned above can be reduced or avoided. Similarly, instead of dumping mud into the waters of Green Island, why not have it carried out in the Tolo Harbour? I would like to ask why the Government does not consider other options but insists on having its own way.

Finally, I would like to talk about the transition of Hong Kong. The Governor has promised to co-operate fully with China on matters related to the transition of Hong Kong. This is worthy of our welcome and support. A prerequisite for co-operation is sincerity on both sides, but the creation of a harmonious atmosphere beforehand is also very important. In this respect, I hope the Government can take a further step and clear up any possible hindrances for co-operation. For example, the Government's move of giving advance notice to the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office on the policy address and the Budget, without informing the New China News Agency (NCNA) at the same time, is I think, really unnecessary and will not help create an atmosphere of co-operation at all. Why cannot the Government be more gracious? Would the authority of the Government be undermined if it shows some goodwill to the NCNA? As the saying goes "ignore trivial matters in the achievement of high goals". If the Government cannot be flexible even on matters like these, I wonder how it can ensure the realization of the co-operation it has promised.

The Preliminary Working Committee (PWC) due to be established next year is an organization responsible for the preparatory work for forming the Hong Kong Special Administration Region. The Government's co-operation with and provision of necessary assistance to the PWC will be an important element of its co-operation with China. In this respect, the Government should show more flexibility and remove any unnecessary barriers, thus playing its part in the concerted efforts to ensure Hong Kong's smooth transition. In the Governor's policy address, there are these words: "A Government should be judged on its record not on its rhetoric." I cannot agree with this more.

Mr President, I so submit.

MR IP KWOK-HIM (in Cantonese): Mr President, shortly after his arrival at Hong Kong to assume the governorship three years ago, Governor Chris PATTEN ambitiously delivered his first policy address entitled "Our Next Five Years: The Agenda for Hong Kong", in which he made more than 100 commitments. In the past two years, he continued to add new commitments to the list. This year, the Chief Secretary said proudly and confidently in the Progress Report that "the Government is well on target to meeting 442 of these commitments or 94% of the total." However, most Hong Kong people can see that the conditions in society are not as favourable as the Government has depicted. Though Sino-British co-operation over the issue of Hong Kong has experienced an upturn in recent days, the base of mutual trust is still flimsy. The unemployment rate continues to rise. The inflation rate remains high. Our Gini coefficient, which reflects the gap between the rich and the poor, is close to 0.5. All these figures show that the Government's efforts at upgrading our society have fallen far short of the stated targets. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) holds that the crux of the problem is the Government's lack of long-term and comprehensive planning in the formulation of its policy strategies. This has resulted in a series of "mismatches" which could have been avoided.

Inspite of the aforementioned problems, the DAB does not intend to write off at one stroke the Governor's policy address this year. We can see in retrospect that over the past three years, the Government of Hong Kong has devoted all its energy to sell the political reform package initiated by Governor Chris PATTEN. However, has the Government ever given any careful deliberation to the links among the major components of our political system? The political reform package of the Governor has already been implemented. However, we can see at the same time that a proper balance has yet to be struck regarding the co-ordination and division of responsibilities between the Executive Council and the Legislative Council. The issue of how to ensure that the two Councils can work in harmony remains unresolved, and government officials have failed to come up with any workable solutions.

That being the case, the Governor simply threatened Legislative Councillors by "advising" them in the policy address that "he would not shrink from" exercising his constitutional powers to "refuse assent to legislations", in order to maintain the authority of his executive-led government. However, in what seemed like an earnest attempt, the Governor also prepared a separate Legislative Programme, hoping that an alternation of intimidation and coaxing could make Members follow the Government's legislative schedule in their handling of public issues.

I must make it clear that the DAB will not thus give up its responsibility of monitoring the Government. Whenever we find that the Government commits policy errors or that the Government is reluctant to implement some correct and necessary policies, the DAB will not shrink from introducing Members' Bills.

As to the people's livelihood, the Governor can of course quote a huge array of figures and assert emphatically that Hong Kong's economy is buoyant. However, I am sure that there must be a considerable discrepancy between the public's assessment and the Government's self-appraisal. The Government seems to have a keen interest in "quantifying" its work and likes to indulge itself in the subsequent contentment derived from a feeling of "I feel everything O.K". However, the ordinary man and woman in the street will just ask a simple and direct question: "Are there any aspects of my life which have been improved?" If most people answer in the negative or if most people cannot give definite answers to this question, the work of the Government can only be regarded as barely satisfactory or even fruitless.

The unemployment rate in Hong Kong continues to rise. Even if we calculate on the basis of government statistics, more than 110 000 people are out of work. However, the Governor says that Hong Kong's economy is sound and our GDP continues to enjoy an annual growth of 5%. Then, what has gone wrong? Where has the wealth created by the people of Hong Kong gone? The answer is crystal clear: our wealth has not been reasonably distributed. Government policies have not been targetted at helping the poor who have become increasingly worse off, nor have these policies done anything to narrow the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

In fact, overall economic growth is not a panacea for all social problems. The South China Morning Post has recently conducted a survey which shows that in regard to economic prospects, the confidence index of the people of Hong Kong has dropped to 73 points, a record low in 10 years. One-third of the respondents feared that they might lose their jobs, in which case they did not think that they could get other jobs within three months after going out of work. Government survey statistics show that the median family income averages $15,000 a month. However, the Oxfam Hong Kong conducted a survey two months ago and it was estimated that about 230 000 families in Hong Kong were earning a monthly income of less than $4,000. According to government statistics for the first quarter of this year on the income levels of employees engaged in various trades, in comparison with the first quarter last year, the rate of income rise for non-professionals was lower than the inflation rate. However, the rate of income rise for professional was two times the inflation rate. This clearly shows that not only are the ordinary people unable to share the prosperity pie, they have also found life becoming increasingly difficult.

The DAB believes that non-skilled workers have become the major victims in the new round of economic re-structuring largely because of the fact that for some time in the past when the local economy was still booming, the Government failed to take advantage of China's policy of opening up and reform to establish closer links with the mainland. The Government did not consider the possibility of setting up a bilateral economic commission with the mainland to deal with economic co-operation issues of mutual concern, such as how best Hong Kong could tie in with China's economic planning, and what strategies Hong Kong industries should adopt with respect to the mainland market. Besides, the Government has not offered any effective assistance to the local manufacturing industry by providing funds for technological research and land grants.

Regarding the issue of "mismatches", I would like to quote a living example. Tin Shui Wai is a recently developed new town, where blocks and blocks of magnificent buildings rise from where they stand, with tens of thousands of people moving into modern and comfortable public rental flats, Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats and private buildings. Unfortunately, however, local job opportunities, traffic network and community facilities have all failed to tie in with the development of the new town. So, before long, the sweet dreams of the residents all become nightmares. Most residents have to spend two to three hours on commuting to work or school in the urban area. After a whole day's hard work, a tiring journey of two to three hours still awaits them before they can go back home. They have to leave home early in the morning but can return only very late in the evening. Being kept constantly on the run, how can they still spare any energy and time to teach their children with patience? How can couples get better mutual understanding? As a result, various family and social problems occur. Besides, the inadequacy of police presence and the under-provision of welfare facilities also cause further problems in the community in addition to posing threats to law and order. This makes us worry that the painful experience of Tuen Mun New Town development 20 years ago may repeat itself itself in Tin Shui Wai, forcing residents to suffer the bitter consequences of erroneous planning.

Mr President, I earnestly hope that the Government can properly address the mismatches of polices and identify positive remedies with a view to minimizing the adverse consequences at least.

Mr President, the other five DAB members will each speak on a separate issue regarding the Policy Address. Mr CHAN Kam-lam will speak on the economy and housing. Mr CHEUNG Hon-chung will speak on security and transport matters. Mr NGAN Kam-chuen will speak on New Territories developments and polices affecting people's livelihood. Miss CHAN Yuen-han will speak on welfare and medical policies. Mr CHAN Wing-chan will discuss issues concerning industrial safety and labour. My speech will focus on education and environmental protection.

Let us start with education. Over the past few years, the Governor has emphasized the importance of quality education in his policy addresses. The Government is also willing to earmark a significant amount of public funds for that purpose. However, much as a high building must be built on a solid foundation, quality education too must rest itself on a sound foundation of elementary education. Regrettably, however, the Government has all along failed to attach due importance to this. Let us take pre-school education as an example. Government funding for this sector of education is far from adequate. The Kindergarten Direct Subsidy Scheme, recently launched at the start of this academic year, is also plagued with problems, such as inadequate subsidy, limitation of eligibility to non-profit-making kindergartens, and the determining of school fees at too low a level, to name just a few. Last year, only 240 schools, or 60% of all eligible schools, accepted subsidy under the Scheme. This speaks for itself how unattractive the Scheme is. The DAB urges the Government to take prompt actions to improve this Scheme.

On the issue of environmental protection, the Government has offered to grant tax concessions as a means of encouraging light vehicle owners to change the type of fuel they use from diesel to petrol, which is less polluting. The DAB welcomes this proposal in principle, believing that this can upgrade our air quality. However, before the Government makes any decision, it should first find out how some actual technical problems can be solved. For example, how can a petrol-powered taxi run on the road for a continuous period of 20 hours without any mechanical disorders? It should also consider the problem of operating costs, for fear that vehicle owners, faced with rising costs, may shift the burden to the travelling public.

With regard to the Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme (SSDS), the policy address this year makes no mention of how China's agreement and co-operation can be obtained. Instead, the Government simply asserts that the major sewerage items under the SSDS will be finished by the beginning of 1997. This unilateral approach to works commencements really makes us worry that the huge public funds spent may simply go down the drain.

Mr President, I understand that the days of the existing government are numbered. The Governor may have already been sapped of the lofty ambition and aspirations he had when he took office. That is why he says in his policy address this year that his next policy address will focus on "how he is handing over Hong Kong in good order". However, even a caretaker government cannot sit back with folded arms, doing nothing. There is a popular colloquialism in Hong Kong: "Better to have a good ending than a good start". The DAB hopes that the Governor can make the best use of the remaining 600 days or so, instead of evading the responsibility he should shoulder. He should satisfactorily tackle the problems he has neglected so far, and must not leave them to the future Special Administrative Region Government.

Mr President, I so submit.

DR PHILIP WONG (in Cantonese): Mr President, Dr the Honourable LEONG Che-hung moves that this Council thanks the Governor for the policy address. I believe that the motion will gain Members' support because there are indeed a lot of things that the Hong Kong people should thank him for!

Firstly, his package of political reforms, renowned for its "contravention in three perspectives", has dismantled the "through train". As a result, the executive-led system which has been operating effectively for more than a century can be restored after 1997.

Secondly, he has greatly increased public expenditure, especially expenditure on social welfare. Hence for the first time, Hong Kong people feel the menace of budget deficit. This has become a matter of concern in the community. Hopefully, this problem can be solved after 1997.

Thirdly, he introduced the Trading Fund and put into practice his philosophy of management, that is, the "user pays" principle. As a result, water charges multiplied and thousands of restaurants and factories went bust. Tens of thousands of Hong Kong people lost their jobs. Besides, conflicts between employers and employees were also created, causing damage to their long-established co-operative relations. Since the problem is obvious, there naturally will be a solution. That might be a good thing after all.

There are still a lot of examples which, however, I am not going to mention here.

Frankly speaking, in the policy address, there are a lot of words pleasant to the ears. While both the Chinese and the British Governments are trying hard to improve their relations, the Governor has made careful considersation and tried to avoid sensitive and shocking remarks. For instance, instead of saying that the present Legislative Council could straddle 1997, he said that it was his wish that the President and Honourable Members could be allowed to do their job for the full term for which they were elected. Mr President, I watched your facial expression closely at that time. The Governor deliberately misled Hong Kong people before us and insulted our intelligence. You could of course respond to his remarks. However, you only courteously gave a smile in return. Your demeanour is indeed admirable!

Mr President, do you still remember that the Governor mentioned in a deep tone that if, in the course of administration, he judged that the interests of Hong Kong people was in jeopardy, he would not shrink from exercising his power of veto? This remark has really caught all my colleagues and myself by surprise. It seemed that it was another Governor standing there delivering his speech. Will it be possible for the so-called "well-represented" Legislative Council formed under the electoral system of his own creation, which he has decently described as "open, fair and just", to bring him any trouble in regard to his administration? The Governor is indeed a very far-sighted person. He believes that if he can endure for 20 months, he will then be able to bring perpetual troubles to the future Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government. Moreover, he also has an imperial sword. In case he finds anything wrong, he will not hesitate to use it. Is it frightening enough? Of course, I believe that Members of this Council will not want to go so far as to irritate him so badly. As regards myself, the only hope that I have of the Governor is that when he is driven beyond the limits of forbearance and has to exercise his power of veto, he can by all means refer to my voting record.

Mr President, after paying tribute to the Governor, I would like to turn to my two points of view in regard to the budget.

Firstly, it usually takes three to five years or even longer for the budget formulated by the Government according to the policy address to demonstrate its effect, whether positive or negative. Sir Hamish MACLEOD, the former Financial Secretary, once said that the usual practice of the Government was to have the Medium Range Forcast in the budget "cover the current financial year, the budget year, and three subsequent years". However, former Governors and Financial Secretaries had never conducted, in a serious and responsible manner, any review or summing-up of the positive and negative effects of the previous administrative policies and principles of fiscal management on the economy of Hong Kong and the livelihood of the people. The most recent example is the measure adopted by the Government to depress property prices which has led to a dampening of people's desire to invest and spend money. The process of economic restructuring is also in chaos as a result. In the end, Hong Kong people have to suffer from poor employment condition and traffic congestion and to face difficulties in findings domestic accommodation. All these unfavourable outcomes are obviously related to the last three policy addresses which only concentrated on politics and confrontation and had ignored the well-being of Hong Kong people as well as long-term planning in economic development. Although it is typical of colonial governments not to admit their faults under any circumstances, the general opinion is that it is the Governor who should be held responsible for the socio-economic problems which emerged in recent years. Those people who have aired their views are not perfectionists as referred to by the Governor. Also, they are not necessarily Marxists. They are merely Hong Kong people who were born here, brought up here and are working here. They have deep affection for this place and the people living in it. Another thing that I would like to talk about is that the passage of the Sewage Services (Sewage Charges) Regulation not long ago has left many restaurant and factory owners in dire straits. Some restaurants and factories even closed down. The unemployment rate went up as a result and tourism as well as other industries were also adversely affected. Although this legislation is not the only factor which has caused so many restaurants and factories to close down, implementation of the same has definitely increased the operation cost of related industries drastically. I hope the Administration can really care about the hardships of the people and fully consult and listen carefully to the opinions of the various sectors of society and the Chinese Government. It should also review thoroughly its past experiences and learn the lessons. In addition, in view of the present sluggish economy, the Administration should put forward radical measures to curb inflation, lower the unemployment rate and stimulate investment and consumption so that the confidence of both Hong Kong people as well as investors can be strengthened. It is true that Hong Kong people will not have much expectation of the "sunset Government" which only has 20 more months to go before the end of its term. However, they will still expect that the budget of the late transition period will be better prepared and will be conducive to the prosperity and stability of the community as well as to the smooth transfer of sovereign power.

Secondly, the principle of prudent fiscal management, that is, "keeping expenditure within the limits of revenues", as prescribed by the Basic Law should be, in my opinion, reiterated and upheld through actions. It is because whether the budget of the late transition period can dovetail with the Basic Law, whether it is keeping expenditure within the limits of revenues, and whether it has taken into account past experiences and possible future situations, are closely related to the long-term interests of Hong Kong people. As regards the politico-economic strategies and the corresponding fiscal measures such as the new airport project, reclamation projects, port development plans, sewage plans and so on being implemented prior to the retreat of the British Government from Hong Kong, there should be better supervision to prevent "exploitation". Members of this Council as well as members of the public are also duty-bound to ensure that the well-being of our future generations will not be undermined and that the future SAR Government will not be faced with heavy burden.

Mr President, I so submit.

MR CHENG YIU-TONG (in Cantonese): Mr President, the policy address delivered by the Governor earlier on bears a striking resemblance to his performance in the past few years: gesture more than action, much said but little done.

Firstly, in regard to the unemployment problem which is the foremost matter of public concern, the Governor has failed to propose concrete solutions to stimulate our economy and to enhance employment opportunities. Instead, he only suggested intensified prosecution of illegal workers and more retraining programmes. There is nothing new in these measures which have already been implemented for some time during which the unemployment rate continued to soar and the livelihood of the unemployed workers further deteriorated. In face of the unemployment problem, the Government of Hong Kong is just like "a rat trying to drag a tortoise", with no idea where to start with.

Is the Government really so helpless despite its determination to help, not able to come up with appropriate solutions to the unemployment problem, or is it actually not incapable but only unwilling to do anything about it? The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) met the Governor as early as June this year and raised 10 proposals to tackle the unemployment problem in the short, medium and long-term. They included the immediate suspension of the foreign labour importation scheme, the enactment of legislation stipulating job priority for local workers, the enhancement of local workers' ability to switch jobs, and the offering of assistance to industries for their transformation to technology-intensive operations.

The Government has all along been denying the severity of the unemployment problem as well as the grim fact that the importation of labour would lead to local unemployment. It was only after the exertion of pressure through repeated action by the labour sector, the recent occurrence of quite a few tragic cases of suicide by unemployed workers, and the registering of the highest unemployment rate in the manufacturing and the construction industries which employed the largest number of imported workers, that the Government had to changed its past misconception in the face of such facts, and started to recognize the severity of the unemployment problem and the fact that the importation of labour had aggravated local unemployment. I do hope that this about-turn is the first sign of the Government's determination in solving the unemployment problem. But I am afraid that the Government is just repeating its usual perfunctory tactics ¢w as it declared the termination of the General Labour Importation Scheme, it announced concurrently that a Supplementary Labour Scheme would be introduced. In fact, the so-called Supplementary Labour Scheme is not much different from the existing General Labour Importation Scheme, except that the quota was reduced from 25 000 to 5 000; and the so-called more stringent vetting procedures only serve to plug the numerous loopholes that have so far emerged. Nevertheless, the recent industrial dispute involving the Thai workers on the Route 3 Project has illustrated that we can never put an end to the abuse and exploitation of foreign workers by their employers.

It is virtually impossible to plug the loopholes of the foreign labour policy because the main reason for the importation of foreign labour by the employers is not a real lack of local workers possessing the relevant skill or experience in Hong Kong. The true reason is that the employers prefer to import some low-waged and easily controlled foreign labour, which went contrary to the objectives of the foreign labour policy. The employers will, of course, try every means to take advantage of the loopholes and to dodge the relevant requirements. The Government is not totally ignorant of the situation but merely turning a blind eye to it. Whenever the labour sector voices strong dissatisfaction, the Government will step up prosecution. But when the discontentment subsides a little, the Government will adopt a passive approach of waiting for a case to come up. In view of this, no matter how much more manpower is deployed, there can be no assurance of an effective control. The only way to plug the loopholes is to put an immediate and complete end to the General Labour Importation Scheme.

The Supplementary Labour Scheme proposed by the Government is only the General Labour Importation Scheme in its reduced form. But why is the ceiling of the quota set at 5 000 instead of 1 000 or 500? The Government has conceded that the ceiling of 5 000 was not set on a scientific basis. This is already sufficient to prove that the demand for foreign labour and the standard for the setting of quotas are not objective at all. Apparently, this "reincarnated" Supplementary Labour Scheme has no obvious impact on the labour market. Many people wrongly believe that the impact will only be one fifth of the present size of the problem if the quota is to be reduced from 25 000 to 5 000. However, the real impact is in fact much stronger than one would perceive in such a simplistic manner. As it will take two years for all the workers imported under the existing General Labour Importation Scheme to leave Hong Kong, the total number of imported workers for the year 1996 will reach as high as 15 357 if we take the number of imported labour under the new scheme into account. This figure is more than the existing quota of 15 344. Even by 1997, the figure will stay as high as 8 060. Therefore, the impact caused by foreign labour within the next year will actually intensify rather than diminish; in two years' time, the intensity of the impact will still be half of its present size. After realizing the real impact of the Supplementary Labour Scheme, many of the workers express their strong opposition and regard the Scheme as a hoax.

If the aim of the Government's proposed importation of 5 000 workers under the Supplementary Labour Scheme is to pacify the industrial and commercial sectors, I would suggest that it will be more practical for the Government to formulate policies favourable to the development of these sectors and which can help enhance the competitiveness of our local production.

Ignoring the high unemployment rate and the plight of the workers, the Government once again insists on taking the wrong course of implementing the Supplementary Labour Scheme. My colleagues from the FTU and I will thus definitely oppose the implementation of this scheme.

As regards the policy on domestic helpers and its enforcement, we strongly request that a review be conducted by the Government to prevent the domestic helpers from being abused and exploited. To achieve deterrent effects, the Government must amend the existing Immigration Ordinance to raise the penalty. In addition, we will introduce or support a Member's Bill aimed at putting an immediate halt to the importation of general labour and labour for the Airport Core Project.

Economically speaking, Hong Kong is in the doldrums, encountering high unemployment and skyrocketing inflation; politically, it is facing the challenge brought about by the 1997 transition. In response to such circumstances, the Governor should draw up far-sighted and long-term government policies, such as long-term objectives and directions for the labour policy so as to allow more time and space for the interests of different strata to be co-ordinated. It is regrettable that the policy address this year is no more than a running account, scoring no points in this particular area. Maybe we cannot expect too much from a "caretaker" government. But we, the common workers, should not confine ourselves to the passive seeking of our own future. In a more positive way, we should strive to change the unfair and unreasonable policies imposed upon us so as to establish a more equitable society.

After we become Members of the Legislative Council, the representatives of the FTU and I will definitely stand up for the interests of the common workers. To relieve the plight of the working class, we would endeavour to accomplish the following 10 labour issues during our limited tenure as legislators. These 10 issues include: (1) the immediate termination of the importation of foreign labour; (2) the enactment of legislation to accord job priority to local workers; (3) the establishment of emergency unemployment assistance; (4) the introduction of an Ordinance to provide for dismissal compensation; (5) the amendment of legislation to clearly define the term "wages"; (6) the establishment of a sound retirement protection system; (7) the enactment of legislation against unfair dismissal; (8) the prohibition of age and sex discrimination; (9) the amendment of legislation to improve sick-leave allowances and leave allowances for work-related injuries; and (10) the enactment of legislation to safeguard collective bargaining.

Mr President, I so submit.

DR YEUNG SUM (in Cantonese): Mr President, after the Governor's policy address has been published, there have been more criticisms than praises from the public. On the question of economic transformation throughout the entire report, the Governor has merely adopted the established rules laid down by his predecessor, adhering steadfastly to the policy of positive non-intervention. Such rigidity borders on superstition. Leaving the problems of economic transformation to market adjustment has almost become an excuse for the Government not to adopt any measures to alleviate the pains and social problems brought about by economic transformation.

The Governor believes that our unemployment rate of 3.5% is only a storm in a tea cup. Naturally, the Governor, who came from Britain where the unemployment rate is high, would not find it surprising that more than 100 000 people of Hong Kong are unemployed. However, the unemployment rate of 3.5%, already the highest in the recent 10 years, is expected to rise even further. With the lack of unemployment support in Hong Kong, unemployment is not only a very painful experience for the 100 000-odd workers, but also a time bomb to the whole society.

Mr President, the Government should immediately terminate the importation of general foreign labour and foreign labour for the airport projects, and combat illegal labour. Colleagues with different political views should work together to protect the job opportunities of our local workers.

Surprisingly, as far as assistance to workers is concerned, not a single word has been mentioned in the Governor's policy address. The Government should raise the upper limit of the value of disposable assets possessed by the applicants. At present, if a single person has $20,000 or so in a bank, he will be ineligible to apply for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA). I think the Government should raise the limit of the value of the disposable assets possessed by a single person to $96,000 (multiplying the median of $8,000 by 12 (months)) to enable the unemployed to stand a better chance of obtaining the CSSA to meet their urgent needs. The recent cases of suicide committed by the unemployed were really distressing. As the saying goes, poor couples are bound to suffer all kinds of pains. How can those senior government officials who earn good salaries and enjoy high positions be able to understand this?

Mr President, Mrs Katherine FOK, Secretary for Health and Welfare, said according to government statistics the basic benefit of some $1,000 per month is more than what an elderly person who obtains CSSA actually spends. Hence, government officials are indicating that the Government is not prepared to increase CSSA benefits for the elderly who are single. Mr President, the so-called basic benefits actually have to pay for the expenses of having three meals a day, clothing, daily necessities and transport. According to the present living index, it is really a hard life for the elderly who receive the CSSA amounting to some $1,000 only. It is really a pity that besides failing to make any adjustments to the basic CSSA benefits, government officials have even made some unreasonable remarks.

Mr President, I have absolutely no intention to criticize the speech made by Mrs FOK. I only wish to point out that the fact that the elderly who receive CSSA have some money left does not mean that the benefits are more than they can spend. It only means that the elderly dare not use up all the money received in a causal manner because they have no other means of support. In my opinion, the Government should peg the CSSA benefits to 30% of the median income to enable the elderly to live with more dignity. Even when the Government proposed the Old Age Pension Scheme, it said that the elderly could receive $2,300 each month, which was about 30% of the median income. If such decision is reached, it will not be necessary for us to have any further argument.

The calculation of CSSA benefits made by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) was based on the comparison of expenditures of 5% of the lowest income households. This comparison shows that expenditures of the elderly receiving the CSSA are even higher than those of the low-income elderly. Hence, the SWD is not prepared to increase the CSSA benefits.

Mr President, it is worrying that the SWD made use of this survey to reject an increase in CSSA benefits for the single elderly persons. Expenditures of the low-income elderly can in no way reflect the daily needs of the elderly. What is reflected is only how they strive to live within their means. The Government should make use of more professional studies to decide on the amount needed by the elderly to maintain a basic living and in turn determine the CSSA benefit. Using statistics of household expenditures to avoid increasing CSSA benefits to the single elderly persons is just liking plugging one's ears while stealing a bell, which would only provoke resentment.

Mr President, as the Democratic Party's spokesman on constitutional matters, I wish to express some opinions with regard to the constitution.

First, concerning the relationship between the executive and the legislature, it is wrong for the Governor to insist on separating the executive and the legislature. Such separation would only make it more convenient for him to exercise administrative control without shouldering any political responsibilities. In the absence of elected Members, the Executive Council lacks both representativeness and acceptability. The Governor has even applied the concepts of confidentiality and collective responsibility under the Cabinet system to the Executive Council without justification. In fact, the Executive Council has absolutely nothing to do with the Cabinet ministers who are elected. They are virtually entirely different. By way of stealthy substitution, the Governor has separated the two Councils and risked disjointing the executive and the legislature.

It was thought by the Governor that by asking branch secretaries to have meals with members of political parties, it could enhance the relationship between the executive and the legislature and make it more convenient for the Government to obtain the Legislative Council's support for its policies. Such tactic of fostering public relations is akin to naivety. All Legislative Councillors who were elected have to face their voters and be accountable and responsible to them. This is evident from the recent decision made by the House Committee of this Council to appoint a delegation to Geneva and to freeze 12 charge increases proposed by the Government.

From now on, branch secretaries will certainly have to make strenuous efforts in lobbying Members. Those branch secretaries who unilaterally adhere to the "executive-led" or "executive-dictated" policy and those who think that they have greater political wisdom than others will certainly have to fight battles to the bitter end in future. Their attitude will only deepen antagonism and intensify the tension between the executive and the legislature.

Finally, Mr President, recently the legal sub-group of the Preliminary Working Committee has proposed that certain provisions of the Bill of Rights be repealed and certain legislation be restored to its original unamended form. As signatories of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the Chinese and British Governments have the responsibility to ensure that reports on human rights will still be submitted for the United Nations' scrutiny. Of course, Mr President, the protection of human rights, the rule of law, the pursuit of democracy and freedom are the responsibilities of the Hong Kong people, and particularly the elected Legislative Councillors who are sitting here. I hope that the Chinese and British Governments would fully implement the Joint Declaration. Looking on with folded arms would only lead to regret. Hong Kong people can only save themselves by standing up to fight for democracy, improvement of livelihood, maintenance of the rule of law and protection of human rights. As the saying goes, those who strive for blessings would be blessed even more.

Mr President, these are my remarks.

MRS SELINA CHOW (in Cantonese): Mr President, Mr PATTEN was given a nice name "Whirlwind" when he took office as Governor four years ago for he had brought us some fresh air, making us believe that his political style will get rid of the bureaucratic practice of the Government. However, today, his fourth policy address reveals to us that "The Taming of the Shrew", the famous Shakespearean play, was performed inside the Hong Kong Government, and this strong politician has been tamed by the bureaucratic system. The policy address has been reduced to a mere administrative report. No wonder so many colleagues in this Council have been driven to sleep and numerous criticisms from the public have been invited.

As a representative of the wholesale and retail functional constituency in this Council, I would like to comment on the section of the policy address relating to the above-mentioned trade. Afterwards, I will discuss the problems of security and housing.

I believe everybody agrees that people's consumption aspiration is not as great as it was before. An internal analysis made by the Hong Kong Retail Management Association has pointed out that the increasing unemployment rate, sluggish real estate market, volatile stock market as well as the weakening greenback are factors dampening the consumers' confidence.

It is stated in the policy address that it is necessary to strengthen our competitiveness. The so-called "hardware" and "software" as mentioned in the policy address had already been implemented by the Government during the last few years when our economy was booming. Now, the Government is still doing the same thing when we are facing an economic downturn. Is this disappointing?

Most obviously, some government charges such as the expensive sewage charges imposed on the industrial and commercial sector which I have mentioned time and again, rates, licence fees and business registration fees which are increased from time to time are the controllable factors which have attributed to the rising operational costs today. Given a huge financial surplus and a depressed market, the Government should freeze these charges for the time being in order to help relieve the operational difficulty faced by the industrial and commercial sector and to tide the employers over their difficulties. This can avoid an even more serious wave of unemployment being caused.

It is disappointing that the policy address has not only failed to put forward any measures to revive market confidence, but has also entirely failed to put forth any recommendations to support the development of the wholesale and retail trade. The Governor has undoubtedly made some high sounding statements in regard to the wholesale and retail trade which is vital to the Hong Kong economy and have 270 000 employees (this is an official estimation); in regard to other service trades such as catering, hotels and import and export trade, and in regard to the industrial and commercial sector's call for the Government's commitment to stimulate the economy. But he has actually not done anything substantive and he has not made any substantial suggestions.

The conspicuous labour shortage in the trade is a problem which disturbs me more than anything else. Even though the Labour Department organized the "Job Bazaar", the unemployed people are not quite interested in jobs in the retail trade. But in a review document concerning the General Labour Importation Scheme, the Government made a forecast based on the trades which the unemployed people had belonged to and concluded that job-seekers in the retail trade outnumbered the available jobs by more than 3 700. I wonder why the Government did not ask the unemployed people directly which trade they would like to join when conducting the review. Does the Government want to create a false impression that there is a shortage of jobs in the retail trade in an attempt to scrap the labour importation scheme? Has the Government considered that the situation where vacancies in the trade are still left unfilled would be aggravated by the proposed new measure and that this would make the businessmen consider cutting costs, moving their businesses elsewhere or even winding them up? As a result, this will strike a further blow at the investors' confidence which will in turn lead to the aggravation of unemployment.

The Governor has totally failed to face up to the problem of mismatched supply and demand. Obviously, this reflects that the Governor has submitted to political pressure and lacks the sincerity of really tackling the problem.

It is stated in the policy address that bureaucratic controls and over-regulation, which would deter investment, should be avoided. Although the statement is correctly oriented, I do not know what substantive work in this direction will the Government take up.

I would like to point out that the current situation is that law enforcement is disjointed from law making. Some wholesalers have complained to me that in some existing legislation, only the British safety standard is adopted as the safety standard of some commodities. Other European safety standards, despite their high standards, are totally ignored. The Customs and Excise Department will even first confiscate those commodities which have not gone through all the formalities to comply with the British safety standard before sending the commodities overseas for checking and testing which may take several months. What is more inconceivable is that after the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance has come into effect, nobody knows what safety standard is being adopted for certain commodities such as cosmetics. Neither the Trade and Industry Branch nor the Customs and Excise Department, nor the Consumer Council can inform the agencies as to how these products will be controlled and everyone is at a loss as to what to do.

It is absolutely a good thing for there to be legislation protecting the safety of consumers. However, if there is a lack of sufficient facilities or planning to coordinate the inspection work, and there is a lack of publicity and education on what the legislation regulates, it will be extremely unfair to the manufacturers, the importers, the retailers, the hawkers and even the general public. I urge that the Government should adopt a comprehensive set of matching schemes whenever it regulates. It should not improvise solutions or overcorrect something wrong as a result of some isolated accidents or incidents. I hope the Government can strike a balance between the interests of all sectors when dealing with such kind of problems.

Another serious problem that this trade is facing is syndicated shop theft. I believe Members would all remember that only deluxe wines and spirits were locked up in cabinet in self-service shops in the past. But now one will find that the variety of commodities that are locked up have been increased tremendously. For instance, even the Coltalin cold tablets, which only costs less than twenty dollars a pack, has only its wrapper displayed on the shelf. This is due to the existence of a group of professional shop-lifters in supermarkets who carry out their "orders" and steal these commodities from the supermarkets and then sell them to some black-market suppliers, who will then re-sell these goods to some pharmacies or other shops. The scale of their operation is quite big.

I suggest that, in addition to prosecuting those who have committed shop-lifting, the Governor should exercise the powers given under the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance to combat these dealers and handlers of stolen goods. It should also strengthen public education and encourage people to report to the police once they find people selling stolen goods. Our society will absolutely not connive at these law-breakers and let them act wilfully.

The law-abiding operators in the wholesale and retail trade have to face various other kinds of problems such as pick-pocketing, pinching, competing unlicensed hawkers, and the demand for protection money made by the triads. The Government should implement appropriate measures to protect the law-abiding operators.

In regard to security, the only innovative idea we can find in the policy address is the Government's explicit statement of its intention to seek funding to establish a Beat Drugs Fund. This suggestion was put forward by Dr LAM Kui-chun from the Liberal Party, who was a Member of this Council during the last session, in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee on Drug Abuse of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, at the drug prevention summit. The Liberal Party surely welcomes the Governor's acceptance of this suggestion.

However, the policy address has not touched upon the recent public concerns such as the conduct and discipline of the police force. This really gives us an impression that only the good news and not the bad is reported.

The Government has time and again covered up the seriousness of the wastage problem among high ranking police officers but it has not taken any substantial remedial actions. As a result, the middle or lower rank police officers may lack devotion to their work and a sense of belonging and, this may foreshadow the worsening morale and discipline of the police force. The Government should earnestly deal with the various problems faced by the police force at once.

The work of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is also of concern to the public. According to an opinion poll conducted by ICAC in 1995, this is already the second year in a row in which most people hope that ICAC can increase its operational transparency and be subject to control and check and balance. This Council will focus on this issue when the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (Amendment) Bill is scrutinized.

Faced with the fact that people want to make "quick money" in the run-up to 1997, ICAC must continue to have appropriate powers in order to effectively check the spreading of corruption. But the highly secretive operational method in the past, which is obviously not accepted by the public, must be ameliorated.

I cannot help mentioning the problem of Vietnamese boat people. The Governor's attitude is simply intolerable. The objective as set out in last year's policy address was that all boat people camps would be closed by the end of this year. Later, the deadline was postponed to early next year. Now, in this year's policy commitments, it is stated that this objective may probably not be achieved by early next year. Yet, when the Governor delivers his policy address, he has just totally ignored this problem. I do not know whether the Government avoids mentioning this because it cannot solve the problem or because the Government dares not talk about this for its performance has not been satisfactory. In a nutshell, the Government is irresponsible.

I request that the Governor should propose a contingency measure to solve the problem of Vietnamese boat people in order to ensure that Hong Kong people will not be left to deal with this burden.

Mr Allen LEE has just mentioned that there is going to be a motion debate. Members can express their views on this issue. I believe what Hong Kong people want is a solution to the problem, and they are very discontented with the fact that the issue has been handled sloppily by the Hong Kong Government and the British Government. Hong Kong people will not allow them to shirk their responsibilities.

Mr President, because of time constraint, I am going to raise two main points on the issue of housing and I hope that I can follow these issues up on other occasions. I believe detailed discussions will surely be held in the various panels. Firstly, the Government must have the determination to increase the proportion of home ownership flats, including increasing the number of Home Ownership Scheme flats as far as possible and redesigning a feasible scheme for the sale of public housing flats. Secondly, the Governor should thoroughly improve and standardize public housing management, including delegating management powers to individual estates and getting rid of the existing situation where some areas come within nobody's jurisdiction ¢w a state of affairs brought about by bureaucracy.

Mr President, I so submit.

MR LAU CHIN-SHEK (in Cantonese): Mr President, right after the Legislative Council election, there were already clamours that the Legislative Council would be led by the "Free Lunch Clique" which would generously hand out "free lunches" to the people at the grassroots level and to the "wage earners". There was even a categorization of Legislative Councillors to pinpoint those Members regarded as the "Free Lunch Clique". I believe that there is bound to be more appearance of this label in future debates both within and outside this Council.

It seems the Governor is also worried that the "Free Lunch Clique" might gain ground, so a special point was made in this year's policy address that read: "I believe this Council could make its own positive contribution to business confidence and provide a significant incentive to new investment by removing all uncertainty about your own convictions", "the most convincing way to do so would be for this Council to endorse the economic policies which have been the foundation of Hong Kong's success over the last four decades," and "a statement of this sort would demonstrate to the doubters that our first fully elected Legislative Council intends to operate on the same broad consensus as its predecessors". The Governor's appeal is not so much a call for the co-operation of Legislative Councillors for fear of the "Free Lunch Clique" gaining ground as a hope to take pre-emptive measures to label those opposing the Government's "economic-oriented" policies as "wreckers of prosperity and stability", and to ask the Legislative Council to take account of the overall situation and refrain from rash actions.

In fact, the Governor keeps emphasizing that the Government's past policies have been the key to Hong Kong's success. It seems that the inculcation tactic has been quite effective. Today, even the Democrats are saying that profits tax should be lowered to stimulate the economy.

Nevertheless, it is worth asking: on what grounds did the Government and the commercial and industrial sectors label people randomly as belonging to the "Free Lunch Clique"? Who are the people actually enjoying free lunch?

To be frank, those who are having free lunch in Hong Kong are definitely not the labouring people or the "wage earners". The wage earners at the grassroots level can never receive a reward that commensurates with the efforts they have made. They have never enjoyed free lunch and do not want to have such. All they want is to have a fair share of the due reward for their labour.

In that case, who are really enjoying free lunch? Who really belong to the "Free Lunch Clique"?

Those really enjoying free lunch are the prominent businessmen and industrial tycoons. The profits tax of Hong Kong is only levied after profits have been made and the tax rate is deplorably low. But the commercial and industrial sectors still demand a cut in profits tax. Is this not a wish to have free lunch?

Those really enjoying free lunch are major public utilities operators. Their monopolized franchise service reap huge profits and raise charges every year, but they still ask for guaranteed profits. Are they not having free lunch?

Those really enjoying free lunch are property developers. With the recent slight fall in property prices, they are already directly and indirectly exerting great political pressure to make the Government help push up property prices again. When the property prices rise, the consumers have to pay and the property developers can line their pockets. Are they not having free lunch?

Those really enjoying free lunch are the bankers. All along, they have used their political power to suck up the hard-earned money of the public. Deposits in the savings (red passbook) account only get 2% to 3% interest but bank loans charge an interest rate of over 10%. Are the bankers not having free lunch?

Who are having free lunch? Who are paying the price? The facts are crystal clear. Regrettably, our Government and the commercial and industrial sectors have all along been using the free market as an excuse to cover up the real picture of their gorging on free lunch. They even reverse the situation by saying the actions of people at the grassroots level in fighting for their reasonable rights are disrupting the economy, and label them as the "Free Lunch Clique" in order to maintain these unreasonable policies. If people at the grassroots level are asking for "free lunch" when they fight for a little bit of their reasonable rights, then the big financial groups in the commercial and industrial sectors who have long been depending on the colonial government for the protection of their profits are undoubtedly having "free dinner", which is by far much more sumptuous than any free lunch!

Today, when there are more Members who stand up for the strata of the labouring people and the "wage earners", the "Free Dinner Clique" is losing no time in raising the alarm and clamouring, thus putting the Governor to the trouble of appealing to Members in his policy address to defend the Government's long standing policy of "robbing the poor to help the rich". The Free Dinner Clique" has finally shown its colours stark clear for the pubic to see!

This year, the Governor devoted a large portion of his policy address to sum up the Government's performance in recent years. But having made the many pledges, the Governor has never told, nor would he dare to tell, the people whether the government policies would bring about a fairer distribution of wealth, whether there would be adequate protection for the wage earners' right to work, and whether the wage level of our working class was reasonable. Even when the Governor spoke on the GDP and trading figures of Hong Kong, he never dared mention the real situation of the disparity between the rich and poor in Hong Kong, let alone talking straightforwardly of today's high unemployment problem. This showed up the Government's lack of long-term economic planning and manpower training policies in the past. The industrial and commercial consortia have been allowed to reap huge profits by any means, and long-term development was sacrificed for short-term gains.

An essential element of decolonization is the people's right to choose their government. Unfortunately, whether before or after 1997, the general public of Hong Kong will not have the right to choose the Chief Executive or change the government. The only monitoring means of the people is to change unreasonable government policies by means of Members' Bills introduced by Legislative Councillors. Now, the Governor warns that even this one and only power of the Legislative Council may be taken away. That is to say, the Legislative Council can only act as a rubber stamp! The public hearing, question times and performance pledges actively promoted by the Governor in recent years have only increased the transparency of the Government's policies to a certain extent. But when even the Legislative Councillors' power of introducing Members' Bills is to be weakened, the transparency of the policies will only be a showpiece and the colonial policy of "robbing the poor to help the rich" will remain unchanged. The big financial groups will continue to enjoy "free dinner", and the ridiculous arguments of people at the grassroots level wanting to have "free lunch" will continue to be fabricated. This is a peculiar phenomenon of our city! I want to make it clear that the "wage earners" in Hong Kong do not wish to have free lunch; they only wish to live their lives by fair means. The Book of Isaiah in Chapter 65 of the Bible contained the following words: "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days ...... And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them." I want to look for a way to that place, and to make this city follow such a way.

Mr President, these are my remarks. Thank you.

MR NGAI SHIU-KIT (in Cantonese): Mr President, though only 615 days are left before Hong Kong reverts to China, the Government still has much to do in improving the economy and people's livelihood if our society is to maintain its prosperity and stability. Regrettably, one can easily find from the Governor's policy address this year the sluggish mentality of a last governor waiting to make an honourable pull-out. Naturally, the policy address represents the report of a "twilight government", which only seeks to muddle along. Without ambitious and innovative plans, how can the well-being of the six million Hong Kong people be safeguarded? Consequently, the long-term interests of Hong Kong is causally brushed aside.

Mr President, as a governor at this historical moment of the late transition period, Mr Chris PATTEN bears a great responsibility. If he can do as the title of his policy address suggests, "work together" with the people of Hong Kong, to overcome all difficulties and obstacles, achieve a smooth transition, and lead Hong Kong people towards a well prepared transition in 1997, history may give him a positive appraisal. On the contrary, if he only cares about his own honour or disgrace by putting Britain's glorious pull-out on top of the overall interests of Hong Kong people, therefore fails to do his best to face up to the present difficulties, improve the circumstances for business and industrial operations, alleviate people's handship, revive the economy, enhance employment opportunities and ensure a smooth transition, he will certainly attract a chorus of criticisms for which he would have only himself to blame.

Mr President, let us make an objective review of the Governor's official performance over the past three-odd years. According to the report given by the Governor, 94% of government policy objectives are being realized as planned. At a glance, the performance is really good. But I do not feel the satisfaction and encouragement as the Governor has described, for an objective and unbiased person would not be taken in by figures: he would also look at the actual administrative achievements.

During the past three years of the Governor's office, inflation in Hong Kong remained at a high level; unemployment rate has risen to a new peak not seen in 11 years; the circumstances have become increasingly difficult for industries and business to operate; issues concerning people's livelihood are fraught with problems; transport and housing situations are in a mess; the quality of life of the masses has not seen any noticeable improvement. In addition, the constitutional reform package engineered by the Governor himself has brought about a period of uncertainty for the Sino-British relationship. If Mr Chris PATTEN is also an objective and unbiased person, how can he fail to see these undesirable consequences!

Hong Kong owes its present success to the fact that it has been operating on an economy-led basis. However, through all these past years, the colonial government has no determination to formulate a set of economic development strategies with clear and specific objectives. The Hong Kong Government has all along been emphasizing its laissez-faire policy of using only low tax rates and the provision of excellent infrastructure and communication facilities to attract overseas investors. In the past, such a strategy can be said to be very effective. But faced with today's changing environment, the Government still has not thought of playing a more active role in certain areas to bring Hong Kong's presently restructuring economy away from the cross-roads. The real situation is that both the manufacturing and service industries are facing increasing difficulties. Take the manufacturing industry for example, many medium and small scale enterprises are put under the heavy burden of increasing wages, high inflation, exorbitant rents brought about by steep land prices, and ever rising government fees and charges, a best example of which is the sewage charges. On the other hand, our industrial technology ranks last among the "Four Dragons" in Asia. With a low technological level in our workforce, Hong Kong is fast losing the industrial edge it boasted in the past. Likewise, the service industry is facing a similar situation. In recent years, a number of transnational enterprises have moved their regional headquarters from Hong Kong to other Asian cities, an indication that Hong Kong is losing its attractiveness to international investors. Has the Government considered any strategies to cope with the situation?

It seems, however, that the Governor has not attached any importance to these long and short term concerns. Neither has he considered what negative effects such problems can produce on our future. The estimated real increase in our Gross Domestic Product this year has gone down from 5.5% to 5%, yet the Governor seems also to have not faced up to the problem or tried to find out the cause. Even the 3.5% unemployment rate has been described by the Governor as an extremely low figure. Ignoring the substantial changes taking place in our economy, he is only eager to boast triumphantly the so-called democratization progress achieved through his constitutional reform. The Governor cannot possibly be ignorant of the fact that Hong Kong is an economic cosmopolis. To accord second priority to economic advancement is definitely against the interests of Hong Kong people.

In his latest policy address, the Governor emphasized time and again the need to enhance the efficiency, flexibility and competitiveness of our economy. However, while the objectives were set, no specific strategies were mapped out. We see only the usual empty chanting of the clinched slogans ¢w "improve our infrastructure, promote technological development and nurture qualified technical personnel" ¢w as a perfunctory discharge of his obligations.

Mr President, the Government's amendment of its indifferent attitude to industrial development was not thorough, though it has taken a small step forward in providing support to industrial technology. The items currently in progress include an industrial support programme, the Applied R and D Project, the Hong Kong Industrial Technology Centre Corporation and the Applied Research Council. Though commendable, these programmes are still inadequate in boosting the advanced development of our industry. The immediate task for the Government is to formulate specific strategies for industrial development, co-ordinate the compatibility of the various projects, and conduct a study to set the direction for long-term development.

Mr President, the Secretary for Trade and Industry maintained that Hong Kong's industry was not adequately prepared for hi-tech research. He even indicated that if the Government was to undertake such research, the income tax and profits tax rates would have to be raised to around 20% to 30%. I cannot share his views. Let me take the belated science park plan mentioned in the policy address as an example. According to the consultancy report, it is estimated that the total cost will amount to $2.3 billion for the 15-year development period, but the economic return over the same period will top $6.5 billion. Obviously, the economic benefit of industrial technology research is considerable. Apart from helping to advance industrial research in Hong Kong, the science park has a more important effect of attracting a large number of qualified personnel in technology research to Hong Kong. These valuable human resources are exactly what we need most. I hope the Government can consult the Chinese side regarding this plan to formulate a programme for the promotion of Sino-Hong Kong co-operation in scientific research so that the plan can get the go-ahead.

In reviewing the General Labour Importation Scheme, the Government has overlooked a most important point. In the second quarter of this year, we had 90 600 unemployed workers, but in the same period, there were 52 000 job vacancies. Why did such an imbalance of "supply and demand incompatibility" arise? How could such imbalance be adjusted? Actually, the problem was caused by the Government's rash slashing of the original plan without first conducting a comprehensive study to find out the characteristics of the unemployed and to work out the solutions. I believe the Government can hardly find a more reasonable explanation than "political submission". The question is: after the Government recklessly made the political compromise, who would become the winner at the end of the day? I dare say that nobody wins anything since the unemployment problem cannot be resolved completely whether by abolishing or reducing labour importation. The Government has simply staked Hong Kong's economic development on this rash move. Moreover, the Government has turned a deaf ear to the worries reflected by many of manufacturers that production might be affected if they could not find suitable local workers to fill the vacancies left by the foreign workers when they would leave at the expiration of their contracts. Should this situation arise, the local economy would suffer huge losses and the unemployment problem would get worse.

Mr President, as we are steadily getting closer to the day of transition in 1997, we cannot afford further delay in the hand-over of many government-related work. Last year, the Governor suggested that he would fully co-operate with the Preparatory Committee for the Special Administration Region and the prospective first Chief Executive. This year, the Governor again indicated that he would most gladly offer his hand to the Chief Executive (Designate). But how will the co-operation take place? The Governor only reiterated the four agreements reached by the Chinese Foreign Minister and the British Foreign Secretary, without any reference to specific preparatory work or relevant procedures. Nevertheless, the Governor seems unable to get over his constitutional reform package. In his policy address, he once again promoted his idea of a trackless "through train". Is this the way to show his sincerity in fostering friendly co-operation? Will it be beneficial to the currently improving Sino-British relationship?

I earnestly hope that in the coming 600-odd days, the Governor can carry through the discharge of his duties as governor of Hong Kong in its transition by strengthening and promoting Sino-British co-operation, properly managing the local economy, enhancing employment opportunities, improving the livelihood of the masses, and ensuring a smooth transition so that Hong Kong people can turn over a new page for better lives after 1997.

Mr President, I so submit.

MR FREDERICK FUNG (in Cantonese): Mr President, during the last session of the Legislative Council, there was only one Member from the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL). As there was only a single voice, the ADPL's political activities in the Council, its influence and the pressure it could exert on the Government were limited. I remember that during the last session, there was only one occasion where the one vote of the ADPL could obviously make the Government give in. I am referring to the application for funding in relation to the airport platform. Besides, as the relevant amendments or motions moved and the speeches delivered by me had to be done by myself, I was conferred the "gracious title" of "Mr Amendment". During the last session, since the political influence and the capacity of the ADPL to organize activities were limited, many social policies proposed by us had not been recognized and supported by our colleagues in this Council and the Government and, as a result, they were frequently not accepted.

During this session of the Legislative Council, the number of Members from the ADPL has grown four times. As there are now four Members, the number of voices has also grown four times and so the pressure it can exert on the Government and its capacity to organize political activities has correspondingly increased. However, the ADPL is still a minor political group in the Council, we do not take pride in the fact that four of our members are Legislative Councilors and we do not believe and are not excited at the views expressed by some newspapers that the four votes to be cast by the ADPL may have a decisive effect on material matters. Some newspapers report that when the votes are evenly matched in battles between the two major parties in the Council, theoretically, the votes to be cast by the ADPL will be decisive. However, politics is ever changing. The election of the chairmen of the committees held these few days has proven that such reports are incorrect.

The ADPL has always been a political group which was formed in the hope that we can represent the interests of the lower middle class to fight for democracy and to attain results in protecting their interests. These two positions have formed the basis of our discussions and arguments. Besides, the ADPL will utilize its available power and channels to the fullest extent to persuade colleagues in this Council to exert pressure on the Government and to propose and fight for the improvement of social policies. During this session, the ADPL will take advantage of its four Legislative Councilors to muster as much leverage as it can. The ADPL and our constituents have raised their expectations of us and this has also given us more pressure. I will now undertake on behalf of the four Legislative Councillors from the ADPL that we will be steadfast in our work and we will try our best to achieve the goals of "improving the people's livelihood and promoting democracy".

The four Legislative Councillors from the ADPL will speak on different parts of the Governor's policy address. I will first give some general comments and express our views on housing and on the relationships between Hong Kong and China and between the Legislative and the Executive Councils. Later, Mr MOK Ying-fan will be responsible for speaking on the medical and health policies and on the environmental policies. Mr Bruce LIU will speak on the development of welfare and human rights and on the question of security. Finally, Dr LAW Cheung-kwok will express the views of the ADPL on the policies in three area, namely, economic, labour and transport.

I have two special feelings about this policy address in general. First, the sense of "leaving", that is, the sense of "going away", is very strong. Second, the frame of mind of "do not look down on me" is evident. There is a strong sense of "leaving" because most of the plans in the policy address are formulated by taking 1992 as the basis and 1997 as the terminal point. There are neither forecast nor plans beyond 1997, and a blank space lies beyond 1997. But in fact, a lot of work and construction projects beyond 1997 require planning and forecast to be made now. The Governor has also said that, unlike this year, there would not be an itemized account in next year's policy address. I think the way he said it conveyed a strong sense of "I have to go", and a complete clear-out into the bargain. This worries us. What will be the direction of our social policies after 1997? Do we have to wait until the Government of the Special Administrative Region comes into existence before we can make our proposals? However, if we do not build houses, schools nor provide hospital beds, and if we do not do anything now, we will not have these facilities after 1997. Hence, I think we still need the present kind of policy address, we will also need the same next year.

In the Governor's policy address, the contents of the section "Working with China" are different from those of other sections, the "I" has continuously been emphasized. In this section, I find that there are at least five instances where the power of "I", the Governor, is emphasized. For example, in paragraph 133, "I gave a specific commitment to provide assistance to the Preparatory Committee and the Chief Executive (Designate) once they are in place" and " Later in July, I wrote to Director LU Ping ......" In another paragraph, the Governor said, "The Liaison Office ...... will report directly to the Chief Secretary and to me". Unlike other sections, this section puts emphasis on "I", the Governor. Does this reflect the mental state of the Governor? Is he afraid that people may not recognize his presence, or does he want to show his authority? No matter what his mental state is, I think this shows an unhealthy attitude towards handling the political affairs of Hong Kong and the relationship between Hong Kong and China.

As regards the relationship between Hong Kong and China, the ADPL welcomes the proposals and plans mentioned in the Governor's policy address for implementing the four points of consensus recently reached by the Chinese Government and the British Government. The ADPL hopes that the relationship between the Chinese Government and the British Government can develop towards "full cooperation". Of course, full cooperation does not mean kowtowing, it only means reaching some reasonable consensus in regard to dealing with issues concerning the future of Hong Kong in a fair manner. The government officials of Hong Kong must strengthen communication and co-operation with members of the Preparatory Committee to avoid any misunderstanding and confrontation when carrying out the work relating to the change in sovereignty.

Full cooperation between the Chinese and the British Government is something Hong Kong people would like to see. I believe all of us remember that the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Construction of the New Airport provides that Chinese and British officials should meet at least once a year to discuss transitional matters. However, since the end of 1992 till now, the Governor has not met with Mr LU Ping, Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office. The ADPL hopes that both sides will observe the provisions of the Memorandum and meet regularly to create a more cooperative atmosphere for the benefit of Hong Kong, for our transition in the future and for the future well-being of Hong Kong.

In respect of the relationship between the executive branch of government and the legislature, the ADPL is disappointed at the proposals made in the Governor's policy address to improve the relationship between the executive authorities and the legislature. At present, when scrutinizing government policies, the Executive Council often holds different views from those of the public and the Executive Council does not often comply with the demands of the public. Legislative Councillors have not been able to exert influence on government policies through Members of the Executive Council. The ADPL thinks that the Government should establish formal channels to enhance the communication and understanding between Members of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council so that government policies can better reflect public opinion.

I think there should be some representatives of Legislative Councillors in the Executive Council to formally strengthen mutual communication between the two Councils. Article 55 of the Basic Law clearly provides that "Members of the Executive Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be appointed by the Chief Executive from among the principal officials of the executive authorities, members of the Legislative Council and public figures". In other words, Members of the Legislative Council shall become Members of the Executive Council after 1997. I hope the proposed arrangement can be implemented on a trial basis in the next legislative year. I also propose that in 1996, when the term of office of any Executive Councillor expires, the Governor can appoint a Legislative Councillor to be an Executive Council Member so that the arrangement for 1997 can be implemented and tested earlier.

The ADPL also agrees to the proposal to strengthen the communication between the Legislative Council and the government departments through the committee system. This system is not only beneficial to the monitoring of policies and the scrutiny of bills in that policy secretaries can specifically explain government policies to Members, it will also enable Members to carry out division of labour and specialization. However, the ADPL thinks that in implementing this system, the requirements for individual Members to take part in the scrutiny of bills should be relaxed so that even if they are not members of a particular committee, they will still be able to scrutinize bills to allow a greater degree of freedom and flexibility.

As regards the tabling of Member's Bills, the Governor has indicated that he may exercise his constitutional powers and refuse to give his assent to bills in the interests of Hong Kong. The ADPL thinks that it is a pity that the Governor should have said this and that this is a warning meant to threaten. The Legislative Council of this session is fully elected, the ADPL does not think that the Governor is more representative than Legislative Council Members and represents the interests of the people of Hong Kong better. The Governor has committed a serious mistake in making such a statement in a democratic society.

Now, let us turn to the question of housing.

This time, there is obviously nothing new in the section on housing of the policy address and the policy commitments which bring pleasant surprises. The Governor has not proposed any substantive policies to tackle the present housing problem. All the new commitments involve making only "slight" improvements on the present basis. The general direction of the policies is still to increase the supply of home ownership flats. However, in terms of the overall resource allocation, the portion allocated to rental public housing is continuously shrinking.

On the surface, it appears that the Government is still making considerable commitments in respect of rental public housing, but in fact, rental public housing is like a "hot potato " which the Government cannot let go and get rid of. Hence, it can only adopt measures such as reducing the number of units built, increasing rents, reducing subsidies and introducing privatization of management in the hope of reducing the financial burden and lessening its burden of giving assistance to the needy in our society. However, I can show Members some figures which will prove that the Government is actually proceeding towards the direction of the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS), that is, towards a money-oriented direction.

Since 1989, the production ratio of HOS flats as a constituent component of public sector housing has been increasing. Information on hand shows that from 1980 to 1987, the ratio of rental public housing to HOS flats was 3:1. However, from 1988 to 1995 after the long-term housing strategy has been implemented, the ratio has dropped to 1.9:1. From 1996 to 2001, the ratio will drop even further to 1.2:1. It is evident from the Governor's policy address that numerous HOS flats still have to be built in the future. We are worried about the further reduction in the ratio of rental public housing which will affect the chances of those on the Waiting List.

Although it was mentioned in the policy address that the average waiting time of those on the Waiting List will be reduced from seven years to five years, however, when the ratio of rental public housing under the housing policy becomes increasingly small and when only one third of the available rental public housing units will be allocated each year to people belonging to this category, we are afraid that this is only hasty commitment incapable of fulfillment.

This year's policy address does not touch upon the increase in the land allocated to the Housing Authority. Instead, there is a commitment to allocate 40 hectares of land to build private residential housing. We are very disappointed at this. At present, there are 150 000 households on the Waiting List. I believe the Government is well aware of the urgent needs of the people for public housing. The Governor has promised in the policy commitments to build 141 000 rented public housing units from 1995 to 2001. However, I hope he will not forget that, basically, some of the 141 000 units have to be used for the resettlement of 97 000 residents of the old public housing estates which have to be redeveloped. In fact, there will not be many units left to meet other kinds of needs, including the needs of those on the Waiting List and those affected by the clearance of squatters and so on. Therefore, we are very disappointed at the fact that the Government is still unwilling to allocate more land to deal with the problem. According to the information and the proposed plans of the Housing Authority, by 2001, there will still be 31 000 households awaiting the allocation of flats and rehousing. The Government will still have to allocate 44 hectares of land to the Housing Authority and, together with the 58 hectares promised last year to be allocated to the Housing Authority, there should be a total of 102 hectares, which does not include the 15 hectares of land reserve demanded by the Housing Authority. Therefore, the allocation of 90 hectares of land, as the ADPL has all along proposed, is actually the minimum requirement.

Under the plan to privatize the management of public housing estates, the Housing Authority is prepared to hand over the management of all housing estates to private companies. I am worried about the possibility that this will not only deprive the residents of the power of management but also lead to an increase in the management fees. I hope that when the Housing Authority and the Government study this issue, they can seriously reconsider the matter and that they will not award these contracts hastily. Now, even if the residents are dissatisfied with the performance of the management company, they will eventually lose the right to take part in the future management of the estates because they will not have the power to decide. Therefore, we object to the privatization of the management of housing estates and we hope that the Government will not approve and award the contracts so soon.

It is evident from this policy address that the Government has exercised great restraint in increasing the supply of rental public housing. Besides, the Government has further introduced the concept of privatization of the management of housing estates in order to alleviate its financial burden. Onthe .

other hand, there are many passages in the policy address which continue to reinforce the concept of home ownership, including the building of a large number of HOS units and the continual increase in the number of completed private housing units. These messages can all be seen in this policy address and the policy commitments. Therefore, in what direction will the new long-term housing strategy be leading our housing policy? Has the Government made a final decision yet? Will the Government only tell us that it will conduct a review in November and then consult our views after it has actually reached a decision? The policy address has clearly told us that rental public housing is no longer the main direction of the development of public sector housing. We find it regrettable that the Government has made this policy change without consulting the public.

These are my remarks.

MR CHIM PUI-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Mr President, up till today, it has been 1 212 days since Mr Chris PATTEN assumed the office of Governor on 9 July 1992. Of course he has made many overseas visits during this period. Today, I would like to appropriately review on the things he has done in the past three years in Hong Kong in the following aspects, including, first, politics; secondly, economy and finances; and thirdly, people's livelihood, and then I will make a personal comment on his policy address.

First, the most major task for Mr PATTEN in coming to Hong Kong is how to ensure that Britain will make an honourable retreat on 30 June 1997. He certainly follows Britain's policy faithfully on affairs vis-a-vis China. Regrettably, as a politician, he has placed a heavy bet on his own political future, by failing to reach mutual understanding with the Chinese Government, and in certain respects he even confronts China. I do not regard China as a giant, but we must understand that it is a sacred mission for China to take back Hong Kong which is the actual situation in Hong Kong. Given the difference in opinions, the Chinese Government is not bound by any promise to take back Hong Kong people with different political views.

Mr PATTEN introduced a political reform package at the very beginning which was adopted by this Council on 29 June 1994. He considered this as a masterpiece in his political life, and hoped that this would become his principal for political development in other European countries after he will have left Hong Kong in future. In fact, according to the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration, both countries have the responsibility and obligation to facilitate the adoption of the "through train" package. Regrettably, many Members expressed their suspicions on the "through train" issue under the Basic Law when it was debated in this Council. Some people even said it was a poison for Hong Kong people and that it was a red prisoners' van and so on. Those who had said these should still remember, and if they have forgotten, how can they be qualified to take part in politics? Now that the political reform package has already been adopted, it is tantamount to imposing an unnecessary fact on China if we now keep on asking for the "through train".

As Chinese, we have to understand that had the Chinese Government been such a coward as to accept the "through train", just like the acceptance of the unequal treaty more than 100 years ago, it will not be worthwhile for us to continue living in Hong Kong under the rule of such a government, because it is so feeble, and is even worse than the Qing Government. Consequently, the Chinese Government has had her own policies. Why then do we have to criticize and find fault with her? Even the American and Australian Governments expressed concern on this issue. To cite an example, when a company is going to be handed over to another company, how is it possible for it to hand over its staff and force the other party to accept?

It is insignificant whether or not we can continue to be Members of this Council, but I consider that as a participant in politics, one should clearly let the public understand this point and present the actual situation, and must not mislead the public. I have said in the very beginning that there is no prospect to get involved in politics in Hong Kong because we, having no real power, are not qualified to rule; if we do not have real power, nothing else can be done. Therefore, why should we have to be Members and sitting here to tell lies? I do not feel there is no need for us to do so. Mr President, I have to let the public understand that the setting up of the Provisional Legislative Council definitely meets the actual circumstances. The reason is very simple, because we all opposed to the "through train" at that time, and so there is no "through train" at present. However, a legitimate and integral government must have a Legislative Council in 1997. How can the Legislative Council be set up? Are we going to hold another election in Hong Kong or in Shenzhen before 1997? Of course, these are not at all possible. Therefore, we definitely have to accept the setting up of the Provisional Legislative Council. I am not selling for China neither am I defending her, but the actual situation is just like that.

Concerning the political system, the Governor had been making mistakes in his every move during the past three years and more. He was wrong in thinking that the nine new functional constituencies can replace everything, but the reality has to a large extent already overturned this point. As a statesman (he is at least a politician with his qualifications), he should be more sincere and trustworthy, more convincing and more representative when he works in his own commitments other places of the world in future. However, the fact is definitely not to his advantage. This fact is a good proof that he has failed badly in politics, in constitutional matters for China and Britain, and the "through train" issue. In the past, when China and Britain were in mutual comprehension and understanding, many issues were negotiable, but now nothing is negotiable under him. He stressed once again in the policy address future contacts with China, however, not much result can be achieved even if he turns back.

Mr President, in respect of the economy, 46 years have passed since the Chinese Communist Party liberated China, and during this period, the Hong Kong economy experienced minor changes every five years and major ones every 10 years. In recent years, the manufacturing industry, which was once the best developed in Hong Kong, has no further chance for growth and is forced to move to China. The Governor's policy address mentioned that whilst 460 000 jobs had been lost, they were replaced by 800 000 new jobs. The question is it is real that 400 000 employment opportunities are lost, but how can those 800 000 jobs be gained? Mr President, in fact, the whole Hong Kong economy has undergone a structural change without our realizing it. We can take comfort in that the Financial Secretary has already set up a committee to review how Hong Kong can be changed into a consumer city or centre, to find more opportunities and to improve everything in future. This will depend on our Members to give their valuable advice and on consulting the public and various sectors overseas for their views. For Hong Kong to become a consumer centre, what advantages do we have? At present, rents keep on rising, which may still be attractive if the average is taken, but in fact, the idea of the shopping centre is already not so attractive. Consequently, we have to consider that as a consumer city, apart from shopping, what else is there in Hong Kong which makes it a place worthy for other people to spend their money in? We have to carry out a comprehensive review to look for direct and indirect solutions in this respect.

Mr President, we have to understand that it is now the trend of the times that many Members of this Council have closer relationship with people at the grassroot level. If the whole industrial and commercial sectors stand for direct election, I have the suspicion that the success rate would be even lower. This is not anybody's fault, but the fault of the institution and our society. In such circumstances, we hope those Members who have direct contact with the grassroot level would not create employer-employee conflicts or divide the uniting force of employers and employees. We must understand that many manufacturing processes have already been moved to China in the last 10 years or so. Many people have made a fortune out of this. We have to conduct a study into this phenomenon. For example, I personally hold an unbiased view on ending the importation of labour scheme and I am not opposed to this idea. However, those who propose this should provide actual figures to prove that if we stop importing so many workers, we can be assured that there will be the same number of job vacancies. Anyone who proposes this should have to resign from his post as a Legislative Council Member and be willing to queue up for those jobs. If this is the case, I would think that his proposal is right. Therefore, actual evidence must be given to support this point. If this is only an empty talk to win other people's consensus, I think Members who have a direct relationship with the grassroot labour sector should ponder over this deeply.

As all of us are also aware, there was a slogan in China during the Cultural Revolution, "Whatever our enemy oppose, we support." Some Members now really think likewise; they intend to degrade the quality of Hong Kong and this is very dangerous indeed. We hope that all workers will be employed, and even hope their pay will keep on rising more and more, instead of having everybody denouncing the capitalists. My remarks are not targeted at any particular Member, but we should think in this way before our society can progress. I therefore hope that the Government will put forward questions in this respect so that we can make a thorough study. For example, how are we going to handle the 10 airport core projects after putting an end to the importation of labour scheme? As Legislative Council Members, we should review this issue calmly. As far as discussions on issues relating to labour go, the ratio among Legislative Council Members will be about 40:20. 40 Members will have already made up the majority with power in their hands. These Members would have assumed the airs of a ruling party, but how will they deal with problems? If they fail to deal with the problems properly, the future of Hong Kong will be jeopardized. Therefore, I hope all Members in this Council will cherish this opportunity. Now, you have the power in your hands, please do not abuse them, and you have to be responsible and accountable for all the consequences. I, of course, would stand on the side of the minority which has 20 votes, and can only express my views.

Mr President, I would like to talk about financial matters. As we all know, Mr PATTEN has not made enough efforts in handling financial matters. I have just mentioned that Hong Kong cannot expect to have any political future after 1997. Hong Kong and China are closely related economically. We cannot hope that Hong Kong would succeed while China fails. Please bear in mind that in future, Sino-American relationship will become close beyond belief, because many American corporations need a large market like China to support their reform. In addition, the living standard of most American citizens, some of whom are Mexicans, and some are blacks, is dropping gradually. All the products they can afford to use and wear are Chinese products, all "Made in China" ones. Therefore, the future Sino-American relationship will be as close as that between China and Hong Kong. It is futile for us to sow discord amongst them.

After 1997, financing will be a key point of development, so what can the Government do in this respect? The Hong Kong stock market ranks the eighth in the world now. Concerning the stock market, there are two schools of thoughts in the Legislative Council. I am in favour of the positive non-intervention policy, whilst some Members advocate tighter supervision. I think we understand the secret of Hong Kong's success. I moved a motion last year to oppose the introduction of the stock futures. I can now tell you that there had been very few transactions on stock futures in the past six months, which is a good proof that I was right. My approach is therefore to monitor the Government and point out its shortcomings. I have been very co-operative with other government departments, but as for the Securities and Futures Commission, I have always maintained the attitude of monitoring its operation. However, the Commission does not welcome my monitoring, and conflicts between us resulted. I hope other government departments would understand and appreciate that my so-called monitoring means that I hope that they will not have powers as excessive as to stifle free development.

The employees in the financial sector in Hong Kong account for 5 to 6% of the total employment rate, which means such an extent of job opportunities has been created. We hope that we can do even better in future and create more job opportunities. Moreover, how can Hong Kong motivate the financial sector of China to face the world after 1997? The Chinese Government is now a bit too fast in opening up the financial market for the sake of the 301 Resolution, because it does not have the experience and qualified personnel to meet global development. Hong Kong can therefore play a very important role in this area. All along, Members of the democratic faction have made relatively less dedication to the study of this problem, I hope that, in the future, Dr the Honourable LAW Cheung-kwok can motivate other Members to conduct in-depth understanding and study on this problem.

Mr President, I do not doubt that the Governor, as a politician, can fulfil the task of making an honourable British retreat from Hong Kong, because the British Government is absolutely representative and is experienced in politics. Regrettably, since Mrs Margaret THATCHER had sought the truth in Beijing in 1982, she had evaded her responsibilities and she did not acquire an understanding of the actual situation when she came to Hong Kong. For many years, she had not told Hong Kong people that Hong Kong was not independent and that Hong Kong people should try their best to behave. I think that if we do not have confidence in the feasibility of one country, two systems, in the Basic Law and the Chinese leadership, we should follow the foot steps of Britain. If Britain does not take us along, then she has failed in her duty. I personally have a strong conviction that Hong Kong people should become more resolute themselves, because everything will turn out very well at the end and there will not be any problems in politics.

Mr President, these are my remarks.

MISS EMILY LAU (in Cantonese): Mr President, like many Hong Kong people perhaps, the Members who have just spoken may have already started their countdown to 1997. A moment ago, Mr NGAI Shiu-kit said that there was still 615 days left. This is indeed a very short period of time. Recently, one of my friends from the business sector told me that 600 days or so might not even be enough to take over a large-scale company. If so, what about taking over a colony? When only 600 days or so is left, what can we expect of a government whose "remaining life-span is so short". Therefore, when many people criticize that the Policy Address lacks any substance, and that some of its undertakings may not be implemented at all, I am not surpised at all.

Mr Frederick FUNG mentioned just now that "the Government has failed to do many things, and it does not even mention anything about 1997." Do you want the Government to court trouble? We know only too well that whatever the Government says will be blatantly attacked and rejected by China on the ground of sovereignty! Having said that, I believe that many people, Mr Frederick FUNG and I included, will think: "Well, this concerns our future. But, we have no say and no input." Mr President, during the United Nations Human Rights Committee meeting held in Geneva last week, some members pointed out that the Hong Kong people did not have any right to determine their own future. The British Government did not mention even a word about Article I of the International Covenant concerning people's right of self-determination. Many Hong Kong people, including me, really have to denounce the Chinese and British Governments very strongly for their way of handling the Hong Kong issue. Why cannot we, the respectable people of Hong Kong, be allowed to determine our own future?

Mr President, such an empty policy address cannot in anyway tell this Council and the 6 million people in Hong Kong what our future will be like. Why have I painted such a blurred picture of our future? Do the Branch Secretaries in attendance today know whether they can still continue their service after 1997? I believe that the only one who knows the answer is the Attonery General, because it is already certain that he will not be allowed to continue his service. (laughter) Except some who may have been informed by the Chinese Government that they can keep their positions, most of the Members seated here today, including the President, do not know whether they can maintain their positions. That being the case, what will the Hong Kong people think? Who will be in charge of the government about 600 days later? What kind of Legislative Council will there be? No one really knows. Even the Chinese Government may not know because no one knows when Mr DENG Xiao-ping will "breathe his last" and even after he has "breathed his last", no one knows when his death will be announced. Therefore, Mr President, we are deeply worried. When we are so worried, how can we still have the mood to discuss this completely hollow policy address, which contains nothing worth talking about at all. Having said that, Mr President ...... well, please do not think that I am speaking just for the sake of speaking, let me still say something about the policy address.

I want to praise the Government for one thing. Every time Governor PATTEN presents his policy address, he issues a separate Policy Commitments and a separate Progress Report. He once remarked in this Council (probably after someone had warned him against such a practice) that the Policy Commitments and the Progress Report might well become the only two political texts in history that represented political suicide. But I think that the situation is not that serious. To set out policy commitments is a good practice. We hope that the future government can continue this practice regardless of who is in charge. This is because policy commitments are the targets of work set down by the Government, indicating how much it has done and how much it expects to do in the future. I hope that Members can closely follow the Policy Commitments in the coming year to see whether the Government can meet the stated targets. This is commendable. However, whether the commitments can be fulfilled is quite another matter.

Mr President, I want to commend the Governor for yet another thing, namely, his fight for British Nationality for the Hong Kong people. Right now in Britain, he is still continuing his work in that respect. However, the policy address makes no mention of this issue, perhaps because it became something he had to fight for only after he had talked about it during a British Broadcasting Corporation interview on 22 September 1995. Anyway, whatever the case may be, it is my opinion that although some Hong Kong people say that they do not want British Nationality, no one in Hong Kong has the right to criticize other Hong Kong people for possessing it. We should continue our fight for British Nationality. I think that in the remaining 600 days or so, this is the only meaningful thing which the British Government can really do for us. This is also an area in which the British Government can take actions of its own without having to obtain Chinese consent (while almost all other matters and plans have to obtain the consent of the Chinese Government). Therefore, I believe that many people in the community do sincerely hope that the Governor and the Hong Kong Government can continue to fight for British Nationality for us.

Mr President, during the election period, many candidates said that their prime concern was the people's livelihood. I was no exception. I believe that as elected Members, all of us feel the importance of the people's livelihood. However, since time is running very short in the transition period, I think that transition arrangements should be attached more importance than the people's livelihood. The Preparatory Committee will be formed very soon. A line-up of key office-bearers in the future government will soon emerge, and even nominations to the Provisional Legislature may soon be made. Will this usurp the roles of the Hong Kong Government and the Legislative Council? We can see that a lot of people are now shamelessly and openly vying for positions. Even some "prominent" figures in the existing establishment resort to various means at the expense of their dignity to canvass the support of Hong Kong Affairs Advisors and PWC members, in the hope of obtaining support in the race for the position of Chief Executive in the future. I believe that when the Hong Kong people notice this phenomenon, they will also find this kind of people extremely brazen.

In my view, it does not matter who can become the Chief Executive. What is most important is that the choice should be made by us. However, this view has almost disappeared from our media now, and no one dares say or advocate that the Hong Kong people should have the right to choose their Chief Executive and their own government. My election platform in 1991 and this year included this view, which, I believe, is shared by the general public. This is because they believe that only a government elected by them will be accountable to them. And, if such a government fails to do its job well, we can always replace it by means of the polling box, without any bloodshed or even firing a single shot. Such a political system has never been found in Hong Kong before, nor has it been found in China throughout its history of 4 000 to 5 000 years. We hope that the day will come very soon when Hong Kong can succeed in its struggle for such a political system. When that day comes, all those who can command popular support will be able to take part in the government of Hong Kong and do their best for the public, whether they belong to the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, the Liberal Party or the Democratic Party.

Nevertheless, in the policy address, we fail to see any developments toward this direction. We can only hear the Preliminary Working Committee's voices which scare the Hong Kong people. As a matter of fact, some Hong Kong people do not care too much about politics. But, why does the Committee want to abolish the Bill of Rights without any good reasons? Does the Committee totally disregard the rule of law? What kind of safeguards can we have in the future in regard to our human rights and freedom? We have discussed a lot of issues and passed a lot of bills in this Council. But what is the use? We have come to realize that the Legislative Council's efforts over the years can be negated by just a handful of rich people who have met and exchanged a few words behind closed doors in Beijing. Sometimes, when I reflect on our work as Legislative Council Members, and look at things from the angle of the several million Hong Kong people, I cannot help asking this question: Are the ordinary people no better than mole crickets and ants? Our voices and aspirations have been totally ignored. But, for a handful of people, who have the money and connections, they can always access Beijing, please the leaders there and make them listen to what they say. Hence, they are allowed to speak publicly, and plunge Hong Kong into a state of lawlessness and legal vacuum by asserting that the Bill of Rights supported by the Hong Kong people and many amended ordinances should all be abolished. Mr President, these things make me extremely furious.

So much for the opinions of the Preliminary Working Committee. I do not want to dwell on them any more because there may well be a motion debate on this later. However, in regard to the Preparatory Committee, I hope that some genuine representatives of the Hong Kong people can be selected to take part. Some Members have asked whether we should aim at putting all the 60 Legislative Council Members on the Committee. Proposals of that sort clearly abound. The point is that we are not trying to scramble for positions in the Preparatory Committee. Instead, we just hope that when preparing for the setting up of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government, the Chinese Government can really allow the full participation of the Hong Kong people, so as to ensure that the SAR Government thus formed can command the support of all in Hong Kong. It is not advisable to exclude a small or specific group of people, because this will make the community feel that while people who speak favourably for China are allowed to participate, those who do not will be ousted forever. In the remaining 600 days or so, if the Chinese Government continues to impart such a message to Hong Kong and the whole world, I believe that the Chinese take-over of Hong Kong will hardly be a glorious one. At present, the Hong Kong people already feel extremely powerless and helpless. Then, when the take-over really comes, what will they think and feel? Mr President, I am sure that they will definitely have very mixed feelings. On the one hand, since we are all Chinese, the resumption of sovereignty should be a cause for rejoicing, and after all, what is wrong with bringing an end to colonial rule and handing back Hong Kong to China? On the other hand, however, when China resumes its sovereignty over Hong Kong, who is going to administer the territory? Can our free ways of life and rule of law be safeguarded? These questions have no answers at all. During the United Nations meeting in Geneva last Sunday, such questions were raised repeatedly, but no one could really answer them.

Mr President, allow me to tell a joke in order to prevent the debate today from becoming too serious. Once a British official was asked what solutions his Government had in hand to tackle the extremely thorny issue of 1997. The official simply replied, "That's easy. The solution is 1998".

Mr President, to British officials, and to those who want to leave Hong Kong, the answer is of course 1998. However, with respect to the several million Hong Kong people, who either lack the means or the will to leave, we must ensure that 1997 does not become the end of the world for them. We still have to continue our living after 1997. But what is even more important is that we must be able to master our own future. We cannot entrust our future to those people who work behind closed doors. That will give us a sense of being betrayed. Therefore, while I hope that in the days ahead, our people can live in a society without too much instability and lead a life which is not too difficult, I also hope that the Hong Kong Government can really stand up for the Hong Kong people, to assist them, to give them a ray of hope, and to make them feel that the future is still in their own hands.

Now that the British Government has already given approval for Hong Kong Government officials to talk to the Chinese Government and the Preparatory Committee, I believe that many people are very interested in knowing how Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Mr Nicholas NG is going to set up the channel required, what he will report to the Legislative Council or the public later, and whether his report can make the Hong Kong people feel that they can master their own future (albeit insignificantly, perhaps) by participating in the process of preparation to prevent the preparatory work for the Hong Kong SAR Government from becoming a repetition of the Sino-British negotiations behind closed doors. I hope that the Government can understand this point. Furthermore, I hope that in their replies next week, Government officials, whether the Chief Secretary or other Policy Secretaries, can tell us more about what is going on. I hope that the Government can trust the Hong Kong people and stop regarding then as mole crickets or ants. It should not look at them with suspicion and supervise them from high above, like parents. The age of paternalism is already gone . As pointed out by the Governor in the Policy Address, we have to "work together". It is not that we do not want to do this. But the problem is that the Government does not trust us even for such a small matter. It does not tell us anything, does not consult our opinions, but decides our future behind closed doors. Under such circumstances, how can we possibly work together with the Chief Secretary? I hope that the Chief Secretary can tell the Governor that our request is very humble, but extremely clear. I hope that the Government can understand.

Mr President, in the one and only Question Time for the policy address this year, the Governor was asked what advice he could give to the future Chief Executive. The Governor replied by pointing out three important issues for the future SAR, namely, housing, the infrastructure and education. Mr President, the Governor should know that these issues are just as important to Hong Kong now, and in fact, they have been important all along over the years. By replying in this way, does the Governor mean that the Government has failed to solve these problems after all these years and must leave them to the future SAR Government?

As early as the 1960s and 1970s when Sir Murray MacLEHOSE was the Governor of Hong Kong, he already said that the housing problem had to be tackled, and he introduced the 10-year Housing Development Programme. In 1995, after many years of work, 150 000 families are still on the Waiting List, and these families cannot be allocated any public housing units until 2001. Our economy is prosperous, and we have won acclaim as one of the 10 most affluent places in the world. But, why have we performed so poorly in the area of housing? This also happens to the infrastructure. While a new airport should have been built 20 years ago, the job has to be left to others. In regard to education, it is useless to emphasize "quantity" alone. It will not help much if "quality" is not good enough. Do the above reflect our Government's myopia and disregard for the Hong Kong people over the years? Therefore, finally, Mr President, let me point out that although the principle of maintaining public expenditure at or below 20% of our GDP is regarded as a golden rule by the Government, I may not necessarily agree to that. At present, our reserves of more than $150 billion is six times the $25 billion asked for by the Chinese Government earlier on. I believe that many Hong Kong people do not think that the Government should behave like a miser, hoarding up money without spending any of it. I hope that the Government can think about how best to use our reserves. We are very worried that our reserves may flow out of Hong Kong in the future. We want to use the reserves for the benefit of the Hong Kong people, and I think that $25 billion of reserves is already quite enough.

I hope that in its reply next week, the Government can fulfill its responsibility of informing the Hong Kong people that the Hong Kong Government trusts them. We have to share our opinions with the Government over many issues and we want to seek solutions with its co-operation, because we are in the same boat. After 600 days or so, we will still be living in Hong Kong. We want not only a stable and prosperous Hong Kong, but also a free and democratic Hong Kong.

These are my remarks.

MR EDWARD HO (in Cantonese): Mr President, many have said that the Governor's policy address this year is like a student's report card. As the report card is prepared by the Governor himself, not surprisingly, it shows overwhelmingly good scores. I feel that Hong Kong has achieved many successes in the past 10 odd years or several decades and the Government has done a great deal. I am glad that the Chief Secretary is here today and she will hear this very clearly. I mentioned it last year and I will say it again this year: our dedicated and professional civil service are praiseworthy and we should fully acknowledge their contributions. But of course, Hong Kong's success is also attributed to the contributions made by Hong Kong people.

I wholeheartedly endorse the Governor's two "Bedrock Principles". The Administration, Members and our politician friends should be constantly reminded of these two principles. The first of these principles is of particular importance in the present democratic development because we must first create wealth before spending public funds on improving our public services. We all know that it is so much easier to gain popularity by giving money away, without having to worry about how to create wealth to sustain public expenditure.

Despite the forecast that Hong Kong will still achieve a 5% GDP growth this year, we still have worries. We can see that the catering and retail business has declined drastically and unemployment has climbed to 3.5%. Though Hong Kong's economy is still enviable by world standards, we cannot deny the fact that our economy is, at least temporarily, on a downward trend. This trend, coupled with the 1997 issue, has given rise to the "feel bad" factor that made all businesses worse than the actual economic downturn does.

Undoubtedly, the unemployment figures have made our friends in the labour sector extremely worried. They keep calling for a stop to all importation of foreign workers, which they consider to be the main cause of rising unemployment. However, recent studies have shown that this is not the case as imported workers have in fact accounted for only 6.4% of the total workforce.

A number of Members will speak on the importation of foreign labour during these two days, or perhaps even the next couple of months. The call to stop labour importation is an effective political slogan for some, but will it check the rising unemployment? Will it help those who believe in it? The fact is it will only aggravate the problems. Such calls will only blind us to the real cause of the rise in unemployment and even prevent us from finding the solutions to root out the problems.

It is well-known that Hong Kong's economy has undergone a structural transformation over the past decade or so. Many industrial undertakings have moved across the border to mainland China and to other neighbouring countries, such as Thailand, Vietnam and even Burma. As long as Hong Kong continues to practise the policy of a free and open economy, we cannot blame the industrialists for moving their undertakings to places where cheap labour and infrastructure facilities are in abundant supply. We have to bear in mind that the telecommunication technologies are advancing daily and we cannot ignore the fact that many service industries are beginning to move out of Hong Kong as supporting services are also available in other places.

Therefore, the problem confronting us is we should seriously consider how to retain and increase job opportunities. This can only be achieved by maintaining Hong Kong's competitiveness in the international market.

I do not agree that the Government should not lend a helping hand in enhancing Hong Kong's competitiveness. The Governor expressed to Members of this Council as well as in a luncheon meeting with the business community that he did not want to see a "managed economy" in Hong Kong. I have to emphasize that no one is asking the Government to manage the economy. But the business community is worried and frustrated as to why the Government has not shown any determination to tackle inflation year after year.

Let us discard our illusion about it. Business costs in Hong Kong have been higher than those in many other places. I am not suggesting the Government should intervene in the economy of the market. However, as the largest employer and user, the Government should take the lead in fighting inflation. So far, we have not seen the Government take any action. Instead, we feel that the Government is fuelling inflation as it fails to curb its costs to bring inflation down. In our opinion, the Government should set a target for a lower cost or inflation rate and strive to lower it year by year. For instance, the target may be set at, say, 8% next year.


MR EDWARD HO (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, the service industry will become the future mainstay of our economy. As I mentioned earlier, with the advent of efficient telecommunication technologies, it is natural for the industry to face a crisis as the manufacturing industry does. The moving of the service industry out of Hong Kong will certainly affect our job opportunities.

The Financial Secretary mentioned in his Budget speech last year that the Government would look at ways to promote Hong Kong's service industry overseas. I welcomed that heartily at that time, but what action has the Government taken in the past year? Not a word regarding this is mentioned in the Governor's policy address.

Mr Deputy, I am a representative of an important sector of the service industry. Our professionals have not seen any efforts from the Government to promote professional services in Hong Kong. On the contrary, we feel that the Government is totally ignorant of our professions. Furthermore, many of its recent policies are very likely to erode our professionalism.

Members who were here in this Council in the last session should have heard my repeated objections to the "design-build" form of tender for building contracts as these contracts would place the architect's professional role under the contractor. The architect's creativity will be thwarted by working for the contractor whose only concern is to minimize his costs and maximize his profit. This kind of contracts will force the client, in this case the Government, to abdicate its authority on design in favour of the contractor in order to get the lowest cost at a price it thought to be a guaranteed one. However, if the tender is invited prior to the completion of the design and drawings, it will be strictly impossible to guarantee the costs and difficult to assure the quality of the final product. In this respect, I urge the Government to withhold any further use of "design-build" contracts until some of these construction works are completed and their result reviewed. Of course, for highly technical civil engineering works such as bridge-building, this type of contracts can be used and such practice is very common too. What I refer to, of course, are ordinary construction contracts.

Construction safety has been another issue of concern to us. I agree with the Governor that our construction safety record has been unacceptable. All of the relevant professionals, such as architects, surveyors and engineers, share the same view that we have to look for new ways to pool the efforts of the employers and workers to make the working environment safer. In attempts to improve safety by legislative means, however, it is vitally important for the Government to identify the proper responsibilities of each and every party involved. The Buildings (Amendments) (No. 3) Bill recently introduced to this Council for First and Second Reading represents a jumble of inequitable, draconian "shot gun" legislative approaches. Like firing a shot gun with a large number of pellets inside, one can kill many birds without aiming at a specific target. The objective of this Bill is to have any contractor or anyone of whatever professional sector, arrested or even sent to jail if he makes a mistake during the construction process, regardless of how the mistake comes about. Since this Bill will be discussed by my colleagues in this Council, I will not present a detailed analysis today but I hope Members will examine this Bill in an objective and equitable manner. As the largest client in the building industry, the Government has the responsibility to provide leadership and impetus to the whole industry by taking measures to improve the safety and cleanliness in construction sites. A few years ago, I already proposed the use of mechanized construction system and I do not wish to talk about it here again.

Lastly, Mr Deputy, some people have described this year's policy address as the product of a "sunset government". As there will be a transfer of sovereignty in 20 months' time, it is not exaggerated at all to describe the Government as a "sunset government". But this did not have to be so. It was only the unfortunate twist of events a few years ago that has resulted in this "sunset and sunrise" phenomenon. The Hong Kong Government should be able to undergo the transformation like a through train, expcet that there will be a lowering of one flag and the raising of another.

At this juncture I want to talk about the Governor's theme for this year's policy address ¢w "Hong Kong: Our Work Together". It reminds me of my own campaign slogan for the recent election ¢w "Building Prosperity Together". Both are very similar indeed. Whatever sectors we are from, whatever political beliefs we have, whatever side of the fence we are on, it is my wish that all of us will work together to build Hong Kong. I hope that Hong Kong will have a brighter tomorrow. Thank you.

MR ALBERT CHAN (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, insofar as the implementation of policy is concerned, having "a strong Governor and a weak Administration" is not only a thankless task, but also a tragedy in history. During the remaining days leading up to 1997, it is the Chinese and the British Governments who write and direct the tragedy for us, but the protagonists in the tragedy are the 6 million people of Hong Kong.

The theme for the 1995 policy address is Our Work Together. However, it is unclear in regard to with whom the Government will work together, in what way the work is to be done and what the objective is. Perhaps this is an inexorable manifestation of "a strong Governor and a weak Administration". Loaded with fancy phrases, this year's policy address is the longest and at the same time the most studiously contrived one since the Governor took office. There is a lack of both leadership and macroscopic perspectives in the entire address. This is clearly not the original intention of the writer but an inevitable outcome of the political reality.

Over the past few years, the Governor has introduced new elements to the political arena of Hong Kong and put the best of democratic politics into practice. This is praise-worthy. For example, the Governor's question session was introduced to allow the public to put questions to the Governor directly. Senior government officials (including branch secretaries) also emerged from their ivory tower to accept public criticisms. All these concepts of the policy administrators being accountable to the public have been manifested through their acceptance of the public's questions and their accountability to the people during the course of the Governor's implementation of democratic politics. As I said just now, the Governor's policy address this year contains nothing that is praise-worthy. In the following, I will give an account of the views of the Democratic Party in respect of public works, town planning and land.

About land supply

The Governor has made no mention at all of the question of land supply in the policy address. Neither has he mentioned how land can be made available. Although this issue has been mentioned in the Policy Commitments, it is regrettable that such an important paper or document as the Governor's policy address has made no reference to this matter.

About public works

The percentage of underspending on capital works has been reduced from 36% in 1991-92 to 11% in 1994-95, which is clearly an improvement when compared to the past. But the fly in the ointment is that the projects in connection with flood prevention, the widening of Castle Peak Road, slope investigation, the widening of Tuen Mun Highway and so on evidently demonstrate the Government's shortcoming in adopting stopgap measures.

As far as flood prevention is concerned, the Government said over $1.1 billion will be provided for flood prevention projects in 1995-96. However, it was also pointed out that the flooding problem which has caused enormous nuisance to residents of the North district cannot be redressed within a short period of time. This is disappointing indeed. In view of the fact that in recent years, the North District has been ravaged by flooding whenever there is torrential downpour, it is indeed imperative for the Government to formulate some effective short-term measures as soon as possible to solve the immediate problems, instead of waiting for the completion of the whole flood prevention project.

In respect of the widening of Castle Peak Road, the Government said that by early 1999 Castle Peak Road will be widened in the section between Siu Lam and So Kwun Wat at a cost of $250 million and there are also plans to widen the remaining section between Tsuen Wan and Ka Loon Tsuen at a cost of $2 billion. The Democratic Party is dissatisfied that, according to the Government's plan, the widening of the whole Castle Peak Road will only be completed by 2001. This is because this project has been included in the budget proposals submitted by the Democratic Party to the Government over the past few years in a row. It is only this year that the Government decides to implement this project and, what is more, the project will only be completed by 2001. At present, the capacity of the road has reached saturation and the congestion problem is very serious. It is indeed necessary for the Government to expedite the widening of Castle Peak Road. Apart from this, in order to avoid aggravating the road capacity, particularly before the completion of the road-widening project, the Government must freeze the development of new housing estates along Castle Peak Road. Completion of large-scale housing estates before completion of the road-widening project will definitely increase the traffic flow and subsequently result in congestion.

In respect of remedial works and investigation of slopes, the Government said $1.3 billion will be spent on improving potentially hazardous slopes and priority will be accorded to newly-registered roadside slopes which are above 3m. Given that there are hundreds of thousands of natural slopes in Hong Kong, and judging from the rate at which investigations are conducted at present, I believe that it is highly probable that the investigation of all natural slopes cannot be completed even by 2047. It is the Democratic Party's view that the Government must re-examine the rate at which slopes are investigated, with particular attention paid to the problem of natural slopes. By speeding up the process of handling the problem of natural and man-made slopes in the vicinity of highways and residential areas, we can help safeguard human lives and prevent slopes from collapsing in heavy rain, which may otherwise cause deaths and injuries.

Emphasizing only cost-effectiveness, the Government has, in the past, ignored the needs of society in such aspects as roads, slope stability, flood prevention and so on. It is only when the problem has reached such a critical stage and the situation has become so desperate that the Government embarks on the projects reluctantly. The Tuen Mun Highway is one distinctive example. I sincerely hope that after learning a lesson from the past, the Government can take concrete action to formulate policies and measures which will enable the people to live and work in peace and contentment, thereby benefitting the general public.

About town planning

The long-awaited Town Planning (Amendment) Bill will finally be tabled at the Legislative Council in this session. The Democratic Party welcomes this. But it is a pity that the Bill has not revealed the full picture to us, with part of it still shrouded in secrecy. This will, inevitably, give cause for anxieties. As the Bill is to increase the opportunities for the public to participate in town planning in the hope that this will facilitate future development, the progress of the vetting process for land uses will slow down. To a certain extent, this will have an impact on the major developers, particularly posing additional obstacles to their land development projects. In this regard, I believe that developers and even the Preliminary Working Committee will raise objection and, as a result, the British Hong Kong Government may not have the courage to put forward reformatory proposals. I must warn that if the Town Planning (Amendment) Bill to be tabled by the Government shortly afterward fails to address the shortcomings in the existing Ordinance and propose drastic reforms, the Democratic Party will definitely propose consequential amendments as it has been generally recognized that the existing Town Planning Ordinance is plagued with numerous problems.

About urban renewal

The most regrettable thing in the policy address is that the Governor has made no mention of urban renewal, showing that the highest echelon of the government hierarchy is still oblivious to the seriousness to the urban renewal problem. I find this very disappointing. In fact, over the past four years, Members from the Democratic Party and the former United Democrats of Hong Kong have repeatedly proposed motion debates on urban renewal. But regrettably, the problem remains unsolved so far. Being the financial centre of the Asian-Pacific region, Hong Kong is a prosperous metropolis and yet many dilapidated buildings still stand in the old urban areas, and residents there are facing appalling living conditions everyday. Neither prosperity nor affluence of society has anything to do with them at all. Is it really the case that the Government is unable to lend a helping hand to these lower-class people? Given the huge reserves we have at present, I cannot see why the Government should be unable to solve the problem of urban renewal as early as possible. Financially speaking, the Government is absolutely capable of coping with and handling this problem! I sincerely hope that it can formulate policies on urban renewal as soon as possible and stop using stalling tactics so that residents living in the old urban areas can be benefited with the improvement of their living environment.

We may well say that today's political deadlock is characterized by the ascendancy of "unscrupulous" people. As the authority of the Hong Kong Government has repeatedly come under attack, some people may have lost heart. Nevertheless, I still hope that the Government can stand firmly by human rights and the rule of law by taking care of the needs of Hong Kong people, particularly the poor, the sick, the elderly and the underprivileged, who need additional care from the Government. This will help turn Hong Kong into a warmer society and enable this highly capitalistic and utilitarian city to manifest more of its humanity, thus preventing it from turning into a cruel and unscrupulous society.

Mr Deputy, the theme for today's motion debate is to thank the Governor for his policy address. However, I notice that the Governor is not in town these few days and yet the theme for today is to thank him for his address. I find it deeply regrettable that the prime target for our motion debate today is not in Hong Kong to listen to Members' views. Perhaps that is precisely the reason for so many people, including those in the mass media, to call him an "offshore Governor". I asked Mr Nicholas NG Wing-fui earlier whether there was any such case in the history of Hong Kong that the Governor was not in Hong Kong while the Legislative Council was debating the policy address and expressing thanks to him. Mr NG was not able to answer my question. I hope that when responding to the motion of thanks next week, the branch secretaries can kindly check the colonial history of Hong Kong for the past century or so to see if there was ever any such case that the Governor was nowhere to be found while the policy address was being debated in the Legislative Council.

These are my remarks. How I will cast my vote next week will depend on how the Government replies.

MR HENRY TANG (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, I think the policy address of this year can be described as one which attempts an ineffective solution. It fully reflects the state of mind of the Hong Kong Government as a "housekeeper" in the latter part of the transition period. At a time when the market is weak, the economy is sluggish, the unemployment rate is constantly rising and so on, this year's policy address particularly shows that the Government's "ability is not equal to its ambition."

Cutting down the quota for imported labour without being supported by good reasons will obviously only ease temporarily the pressure brought to bear by the angered masses of unemployed people. But as to some essential unemployment problems such as how we can improve our existing difficult financial position, it seems that Mr PATTEN has "willing spirit but weak flesh". To attribute the weak economy to inflation is clearly an oversimplified view; as to the Policy Address'semphasis on economic competitiveness, training for our human capital, development of our human capital resources as well as the development of a technology-based economy in the future, these are wonderful subjects chosen, but it seems that these are just empty titles given without making in-depth studies.

Over the years, the industrial sector has been asking the Government to provide support to the promotion of high technology research, as we can only find new solutions to the various problems brought about by economic transformation by doing so. Unfortunately, the Government is only contented with a few hundred million dollars allocated over the last three years as research subsidies. It is so naive that it even thinks that "someone who has been underfed, undernourished and is a skeleton of a few tens of pounds could turn into a husky and beefy fellow tomorrow after having a few chunks of chicken today!" I believe we cannot solve today's problems in this way.

As regards the promotion of industrial development, I hope that the Government can implement the project of the establishment of a science park as soon as possible. In Taiwan, such a project had already started as early as 1977 and had begun operation in 1980, almost 20 years ahead of Hong Kong; in respect of the development of high industrial technology and skills, Hong Kong can only take a back seat, not to mention solving the various problems brought about by economic transformation by this means.

As a matter of fact, the establishment of a science park will not only be favourable to the promotion of high technology industries, but also conducive to the links and communication between China and Hong Kong in regard to research in this respect. For example, many Chinese scientists wish to come back to a Chinese community for their career development after having furthered their studies overseas; the social environment of Hong Kong is relatively excellent; with the establishment of the science park, the objective conditions of Hong Kong will be even more favourable, which will be attractive enough to a great number of these experts for them to come to Hong Kong for career development. This will be very beneficial both to our economic development and the links between China and Hong Kong.

In the Hong Kong Science Park Study Stage 2, someone doubts whether there are sufficient human resources of high quality in the field of technology to develop such kind of projects. Being aware of such apprehension, we should question ourselves even more whether education in Hong Kong has been keeping abreast of the times to meet the needs of our community. There is no doubt that, in terms of quantity, the Government's policy for tertiary education is very successful, as 18% school age students are able to attend university courses. However, in terms of the quality of basic education, there is still a long way to go to reach our ideal. We must realize that manpower is Hong Kong's sole resources. In order to maintain Hong Kong's strong international competitiveness, it is our immediate task to improve the students' quality.

The training of human resources must match the changes in our social environment. When the economic structure has already changed, technical subjects must not be restricted to teaching wood drilling or garments tailoring; Hong Kong has become an international metropolis, and students must not divorce themselves from the reality any more without knowing well the world around them. Although the policy address has made a number of sound recommendations in respect of civic education and strengthening the teaching of Putonghua, I am still hoping that the Government will introduce more reforms that are in keeping with the times in order to improve the students' quality.

Finally, on the question of special education, the Governor has not mentioned anything about this in the policy address. I have thoroughly read the policy address twice, but I have not even found one word about special education or about how special education should be carried out. I am very much disappointed at this. I hope the Government can recall the motion carried by this Council last year and help those children who are badly in need without delay.

Internationally, the Government should be enterprising in order to improve our competitiveness in the world; domestically, it should help the poor and the weak so as to set the people's mind at ease. These are the duties the Hong Kong Government must carry out. Whether or not the date for handing over sovereignty is drawing near, these are responsibilities it cannot shirk. Therefore, whilst the British Government has been governing Hong Kong rather steadily for 55 845 days and it has done so fairly well, I hope that throughout the 615 days during the latter part of the transition period, although the Hong Kong Government is just like a setting sun, it still believes that "the setting sun has an incomparable brilliance". Thank you, Mr President.

THE PRESIDENT resumed the Chair.

MR CHEUNG HON-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Mr President, I shall pass my comments on the policy address in respect of the problems of traffic, drug addiction of youngsters and the anti-corruption task undertaken by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Traffic congestion in Hong Kong has long come under fire from the public. Apart from "increasing fares", the Government has failed to come up with any effective, long-term plans to overcome the congestion problem. What is more, the Government has more often than not neglected the overall co-ordination of traffic facilities in the development of new towns, thereby generating a number of social problems.

I believe any New Territories (NT) resident who had experienced the dire consequences of the Tuen Mun Road closure in September will be disappointed by the Government's inability to ease their plight. Admitting that the transport system in the Northwest New Territories has reached its saturated capacity, the Governor said we could only pin our hopes on Route 3 (Country Park Section) which would be open to traffic in 1998. He also envisaged that the pressure on the traffic network could only be relieved when the Northwest New Territories (NWNT) Railway would come into operation by 2001. As far as short-term measures are concerned, the Government can only continue with the implementation of the bus-only lanes, the traffic-surveillance system and the road-widening programme for increasing the capacity for vehicular transport. How can these answers be regarded as satisfactory?

I am all the more worried that a number of these short-term measures may even mean bad news to Tuen Mun residents because they may have to suffer from road closure again as a result of the road widening work along the Tuen Mun Road. Even though the Policy Commitments stated that the capacity of ferries plying between Tuen Mun and the urban area would be increased by 10% in the coming 12 months, the 10% increase is a mere drop in the bucket given Tuen Mun residents' huge demand for transport services. It is indeed difficult to solve the problem substantially.

Back in July 1993, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) had already urged the Hong Kong Government to advance the construction of the NWNT Railway and discuss with the Chinese side at an early date to solve the traffic problems. In so doing, it would not only ease the traffic in Northwest New Territories, but also strengthen the transport facilities across the China -Hong Kong border. However, I have not heard of any decision by the Government to commence work of the NWNT Railway project so far. The Beijing-Kowloon Railway will be open to traffic by the end of this year, and the volume of passenger and freight traffic from places along the railway line to Shenzhen will soar tremendously. That just being the case, it is expected that the Tolo Highway and the Tuen Mun Road in Hong Kong will be even more congested.

I believe all residents in Northwest New Territories hope that the NWNT Railway could be extended to Tuen Mun Town Centre. Although the project will certainly encounter land resumption difficulties, I expect the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation can come up with proper solutions to solve the problem as soon as possible. The DAB reiterates here that the Hong Kong Government should revise its transport policies and take up the responsibility of providing co-ordinated transport facilities and constructing an associated mass transit system when developing new towns.

On solving traffic congestion, the Governor reminded private car owners in particular that they should be prepared to pay a price for the problem, and hinted in his speech that it was certain for the Electronic Road Pricing Scheme to be implemented. The DAB is of the view that the Government should consider the pros and cons of the Scheme carefully. As it is anticipated that the Scheme will involve massive investment with far-reaching implications, the Government should, after the report is completed, conduct extensive public consultation before deciding on whether or not the Scheme should be implemented.

Besides the quality of public transport services, the public is also concerned with the reasonableness of the fare level. However, not a single word regarding this was mentioned in the policy address. I regret very much that among the numerous modes of public transport, the three railways, which are wholly-funded by the Government, have the full power to decide on fare increases. Although over the years there have been many voices requesting the Government to rectify the situation with a view to preventing other public transport operators from abusing the fare increase mechanism, the Government still turns a deaf ear to the requests. I really hope that the Government of Hong Kong can take up a little bit more responsibilities on the transport issue.

Mr President, the drug problem among youngsters is also a perplexing issue. There is a lot of evidence that supports our doubt about the effect of the Government's "anti-drug" policy. Is the Government intentionally conniving with the undesirable elements which erode the growth of our youngsters? In recent years, the problem of drug addiction among youngsters has the tendency to to aggravate. At present, among the 40 000-plus drug addicts in the territory, almost 20% are youngsters. The number of cases involving first-time drug addicts has even shown a rising trend. In 1994, at least 2 748 youngsters aged 21 or below became drug addicts, representing an increase of 22% over 1993. From 1989 to 1993, the number of young drug addicts even shot up by 1.5 times. And since 1993, the number of drug abusers has increased drastically to 4 000. Obviously, the figures released by the Government represent only the tip of the iceberg because they only include the number of prosecuted people and help-seeking cases.

In a Governor's Summit Meeting on Drugs convened in March this year, it was announced that an additional $30 million would be earmarked to pursue a comprehensive and innovative anti-drug strategy which would include the raising of penalty for drug trafficking, the setting up of drug education resource centres, and the promotion of preventive education in schools and so on. However, it seems that the series of measures taken by the Government during the past six months has failed to achieve any concrete result. At the same time, there is a tendency for the lowering of the age of young drug addicts, with the youngest drug abuser aged six only. What worries me more is that drug abuse has been extended to substance abuse. Daily commodities such as glue, thinner, circuit boards and lighters have become substances and substitutes for abuse among the youth.

Confronted with such an adverse situation, the DAB urges the Government to continue with its bold anti-drug initiatives resolutely so as to protect our youngsters from drugs. Although the law has now provided that the identity card numbers of the purchasers of Part I poisons will have to be registered by pharmacies which sell the drugs, but we all realize that the effectiveness of such measure is very limited. In this respect, the DAB urges that the Government should:

  1. co-ordinate with the Medical Council in a positive manner with a view to tightening up the Code of Practice for Medical Practitioners and enact legislation to control the quantities of dangerous drugs stored in clinics and drug stores to prevent abusive sale of soft drugs by medical practitioners;
  2. continue to send additional law enforcement officers to inspect pharmacies, drug stores and clinics; and
  3. compile a set of appropriate and effective promotional and educational teaching kits and strengthen counselling work for youngsters.

In this session, the DAB will move a motion debate on the tendency of younger people committing suicide.

I now call on the Government to adopt resolute measures to clamp down on the proliferation of drug addiction.

As far as security is concerned, we believe corruption problems will arise constantly as 1997 is drawing near.

Mr President, the Government has spared no effort to publicize the fight against corruption. However, the reality is far from what is described in the publicity. At present and in the few coming years, will our corruption problem just be the same as what is described in the policy address ¢w "corrupt practices have been driven to the margins of our public and commercial life"? I doubt it very much.

Recently, whether our clean practices can be maintained has become a common concern to the commercial sector and our society at large. The Commissioner Against Corruption (CAC) said in mid-May this year that corrupt practices in the police were worrying, particularly the junior officers operate in a way quite similar to that in the 1970s. Of the 600-odd cases received in 1994, almost 10% were referred by the police. In addition, 30 corruption cases were related to police officers. On the other hand, with increasing economic activities between Hong Kong and China, opportunities for cross-border corruption will unavoidably increase, which indirectly affect Hong Kong's commercial reputation. In the past two years, the number of corruption reports involving Mainland residents or the Mainland has tended to rise. If we compare Hong Kong with other countries, the overall corruption situation in Hong Kong is far from being reassuring. According to a corruption survey on 41 countries, Hong Kong ranked seventeenth and our situation was only described as fair. On top of that, the ICAC is now facing manpower wastage problems. I am really worried whether the policy address may have been over-optimistic.

It is beyond doubt that fighting corruption is very important, but we have to bear in mind that when conferring on the ICAC adequate powers to execute their duties, we also have to explore the channels by which the ICAC can be effectively monitored. The DAB has all along been making three requests:

  1. The provision of Section 33 of the Telecommunication Ordinance which reads, "Whenever he considers that the public interest so requires, the Governor, or any public officer authorized in that behalf by the Governor, ..... may order that any message ..... brought for transmission by telecommunication ..... shall be intercepted ....." should be amended. We hope that the meaning of "public interest" can be clearly confined as soon as possible to the prevention of or investigation of serious crimes, or to areas which involve the safety of Hong Kong only, thereby safeguarding the privacy of the general public from being unreasonably infringed.
  2. The discretionary powers enjoyed by the CAC should be restricted, so that the ICAC will have to give sufficient grounds to the court to substantiate the necessity of its action before it makes preparation to investigate non-suspects. Moreover, the ICAC can only exercise such power after approval has been obtained from the court so as to protect the privacy enjoyed by the public and prevent the CAC from having excessive powers which may otherwise lead to abuses of such powers.
  3. The existing Advisory Committee on Corruption should be substantially improved and its accountability and monitoring function be enhanced to ensure all corruption cases and complaints against ICAC staff are fairly dealt with.

On the recreational and cultural front, I would like to touch on the issue of Internet. Mr President, Hong Kong is an international communications centre. Apart from protecting the public's right of free access to information, the Administration should take up the monitoring responsibility by preventing the Internet from disseminating undesirable information which corrupts our minds.

With the increasing popularity of Internet in Hong Kong, the public is very much concerned with the impact that Internet will have on us and the monitoring of the dissemination of undesirable information on the network has become a particular concern. It is really a pity that this problem has received no attention in the policy address. Members were even told by officials of the Recreation and Culture Branch at a briefing that pornographic information disseminated on the network only accounted for a small proportion and therefore it was undesirable to impose legislative restrictions. We cannot agree with the officials indeed. I consider that even at present only a minority of Hong Kong people are Internet users and the volume of undesirable information accounts for only a small proportion against the massive volume of information on the network, however, with increasing convenience, friendliness and popularity of personal computers and with the growing number of youngsters going on-line, there are bound to be more opportunities for the undesirable information to make its impact. It is therefore necessary to take preventive measures as early as possible.

Instead of drifting off with the state of affairs, the Government should positively study various legislative and technical measures to intercept the dissemination of undesirable information involving and pornography. I urge the Government to strengthen its monitoring role.

Mr President, in the policy address this year, the Governor only touched on the problem of flood control lightly. As far as I remember, it was mentioned in the policy address last year that the Government would proceed with 12 flood control projects in Northwest New Territories. But so far only one project has commenced smoothly. Coming back to the same old tune now, we really want to know whether the Government has taken specific measures to ensure that the above project items can proceed as scheduled. According to the explanation given by Government officials recently, the delay of flood control projects in Northwest New Territories is attributed to the obstruction presented by the villagers on the ground of fung shui. However, this is not true. At a North District Board meeting, officials from the Drainage Service Department clarified that the project delay was mainly due to the fact that the Lands Department was experiencing manpower shortage which subsequently procrastinated the progress of land resumption, thereby delaying the projects concerned. In fact, in recent years, examples of projects being delayed on fung shui grounds have become extremely rare. The Government will be unfair and irresponsible if it seeks to pass the responsibility onto the villagers. The Government should immediately increase the manpower and embark on the projects to ensure that the projects can proceed on schedule.

Apart from this, the farmers in North New Territories and Northwest New Territories have suffered from crop loss whenever flooding occurred. Very often, flooding came soon after they sowed the seeds, and after flooding the seeds had to be sown once more and the cycle repeated itself again and again. The Government should really do something to help compensate the economic losses the farmers had suffered and take care of their actual needs. As regards the residents living in flood-prone areas, we also feel that there is a need to adopt some short-term measures to protect their dwelling places if their houses are under threat of flooding.

Mr President, we should of course be concerned with overall social issues, but we should not ignore people's livelihood at district level either. My colleagues in the DAB will later speak on other areas. These are my comments.

MR MICHAEL HO (in Cantonese): Mr President, my speech will be centred on health and manpower policies. Like other policies, these policies are not given any long-term planning in the policy address. If such trend is allowed to continue, obviously, disastrous effects are going to be produced after 1997.

As regards the section on medical and health services, it can be said that there is nothing new in this year's policy address. This section is almost duplicating the proposals made in the past, good enough just to get by. Indeed, for a number of years, the section of the Government's policy address on medical services has not included policy issues but only work items. I would call this "microscopic administration", characterized by too much bluffing about items to be done, and ignoring matters that are important, macroscopic and long-term. From the publication of the Medical White Paper in 1974 till now, the Government has not produced a further white paper. It is very difficult to imagine how policies made 21 years ago can still be applied to Hong Kong today. The policy address has omitted some very important items such as medical financing and charges, the relationship between medical services provided by the public sector and those provided by the private sector, primary health care, hospital services and so on. In view of the numerous important issues being left out, I cannot help wondering whether the sunset government wants to procrastinate things until after 1997 so that it does not have to bother about these long-term issues.

As regards medical financing, there is only a fleeting reference in the Policy Commitments that the Government expects to finalize proposals for a "co-ordinated voluntary insurance scheme". The consultation document "Towards Better Health" has been put aside since 1993 when consultation was completed and no further consultation has been held since then. Before the Legislative Council can figure out what "co-ordinated" voluntary insurance is, the Gvernment suddenly says that it will finalize the matter next year. This is something like child's play.

There can only be two reasons why the Government made such decision: either no one in the Government has looked into the issue of medical financing or the decision was made hastily. I think it is because of both these reasons: there is only one official at Deputy Secretary level, as well as one to two Administrative Officers, Staff Grade C, in the Health and Welfare Branch. Obviously in the department under our "Health Minister", these is no manpower to conduct long-term studies. On the other hand, the Medical Development Advisory Committee recently proposed, without making any comprehensive studies, that the Government should freeze medical expenses at the present level. It is reported that fees will be charged for admission to hospitals to cover the expenses incurred in granting subsidies to former subvented hospitals upon cancellation of itemized charges. All these are indeed good examples of hasty actions.

There is no intention in the policy address of dealing with the relationship between medical services provided by the public sector and those provided by the private sector. The reality is: the market share of the Hospital Authority keeps on increasing, while private hospitals have been complaining about insufficient patronage. If things are allowed to go on like this, improved medical services provided by the public sector would attract even more patronage, resulting in an increase in the demand for such services until medical services provided by the public sector totally displaces those provided by the private sector. Do we really want to see this happen? If we do not face the matter squarely now, and let things go on, what would happen to the medical services in Hong Kong. Indeed, we need clear policies on public medical services to unequivocally define the direction of their development, the pace and magnitude of their development, and the resources available. Things should not be left alone to go on like this any more.

In respect of the promotion of primary health care, this year's Policy Commitments contained a commitment to open two more health centres for the elderly and a second woman health centre. However, the policy address has never mentioned anything about what our policy objectives are. It only mentions how many cases can be dealt with. How can we decide how many centres for the elderly and woman health centres are needed if we are not clear about our policy objectives, the size of our population, and the kind of services to be provided. Are we acting arbitrarily for ornamental purposes? I feel that what the Government is doing shows it is not earnestly and sincerely promoting primary health.

The policy address has not mentioned policies for hospital services in the future either. The whole thing can be likened to the drawing of cakes to allay hunger. In the future, we may have "something to see but nothing to eat". Year after year, it is said that the number of beds has to be increased and hospitals built. We say we need to build the Tai Po Nethersole Hospital, the North District Hospital and the Tseung Kwan O Hospital, which were due to be completed one after another in 1997 and 1998. If the Government does not face up to the difficulties in recruiting nurses, given the limited manpower we have now, are we going to find that these hospitals which have been completed with immense investments are not serviceable? In fact, the Government is well aware of the fact that a shortage of nurses is the reason why the Tuen Mun Hospital and the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital have not been fully serviceable. How will the situation be dealt with when the said hospitals are completed in 1997?

In addition, we have to supervise more closely the way resources are utilized by the Hospital Authority. Recently, we find that the Hospital Authority can branch out to provide some primary health services, which is basically an encouraging phenomenon. But at a time when many hospital services have to be improved, if the Housing Authority has to utilize some resources on non-hospital services should such utilization be given lower priority? In fact, our hospitals have insufficient resources. Now, the hospitals actually do not have adequate resources but some hospitals still use their resources on activities such as "weight-losing classes for children" which should not have been provided by these hospitals. Mr President, I think that the Government should be mindful in exercising supervision in this respect.

As regards the issue of labour, I will discuss employment and labour importation. Later, Dr HUANG Chen-ya will speak on the retraining scheme.

In recent months, many opinion polls have indicated that the public's confidence in the economy has become substantially less. Many people felt the pressures of rising unemployment rate and a diminished rate of wage increase.

After the Legislative Council election, the Governor and government officials hoped that we can wait patiently and hoped that the Governor's policy address can put forward proposals to solve problems such as unemployment and so on. Unfortunately, in the Governor's Policy Address, there are only two pages which contain discussions about employment and foreign labour. It seems that the media's criticisms of the Governor for his lack of suitable policies on livelihood matters are pretty true.

In the Policy Address, a misleading subheading, "The Right to Work", has been used for the section on employment. Paragraph 25 even says: " ...... The Government has always accepted a responsibility to do everything possible to maintain full employment." This is certainly untrue! The fact is that the Government has been shirking its duty and it has been unwilling to take positive steps to create job opportunities.

What causes the rise in the unemployment rate? Which social stratum do most unemployed people come from? What are the greatest problems faced by the unemployed? There has not been any clear analysis of these questions in the Policy Address. The Governor has simply been perfunctory.

In the 1980s, Hong Kong once experienced an unemployment rate of more than 3%. At that time, unemployment was rather evenly distributed among various trades. However, the unemployment which occurred recently has centred on trades such as manufacturing, retail and construction. Among these trades, the unemployment rate is actually as high as 5% to 6%. The Government still judge the current unemployment on the basis of an average of 4.5% and claim that there is total employment; it is merely trying to deceive itself and the public. Under the circumstances of unemployment, middle-aged and unskilled labourers with low income form the group of workers who are hit hardest by unemployment.

There is not any measures proposed in the Policy Address for immediately creating more job opportunities in Hong Kong; indeed, paragraph 31 clearly states: " ...... all too often, well-intention job-creation schemes prove in practice to be disastrous job-destruction scheme". The Governor has begun by talking a lot about the Governor's duty to ensure full-employment but he has concluded by saying "doing nothing is the best course of action". Do these paradoxical statements show some sort of schizophrenic behaviour?

On the question of imported labour, the Governor's proposals make people even more indignant. When discussing the issue, the Governor begins by quoting the results contained in a report on the review of the General Labour Importation Scheme. He is of the view that "imported labour had made a valuable contribution to our economy." However, in a review report released by the Government afterwards, nothing has been said about how imported labour affects our economy. How can the Governor come to such conclusion?

According to the review report released by the Government, it is clearly shown that many job categories in which there is an excess of local workers are similar to those grouped under the General Labour Importation Scheme. This alone shows evidently that imported workers have indeed seized jobs from local workers.

While the policy address proposes to put an end to the General Labour Importation Scheme, it also puts forward a Supplementary Labour Scheme with a quota of 5 000. Although the Supplementary Labour Scheme can be further improved in regard to implementation, it is still labour importation which has changed in form but not in essence. The number of imported workers will remain at 15 000 at the beginning of next year, which is basically the same as what we have at present. Moreover, the Governor's proposals have not touched upon the scheme for the importation of labour for the new airport.

Since the Governor is basically not sincere at all in regard to abolishing the policy for the importation of labour, the Democratic Party still intends to use the power conferred on Members to put forward a Private Member's Bill to put an end to the General Labour Importation Scheme and the labour importation scheme for the importation of workers for the new airport.

At this point, I would like to say something in response to the question raised just now by Mr CHIM Pui-chung as to why we want to put an end to labour importation. If the Government can give some good reasons to convince the Legislative Council, the media and all Hong Kong people that we are badly in need of imported labour, then the Legislative Council will be unreasonable if it does not support labour importation. But I do not believe that the Legislative Council is being unreasonable. Mr Edward HO has said that although we have been saying we want to put an end to labour importation, we have failed to learn the major causes of labour importation. We agree that labour importation is not a major factor but it is indeed an important factor. Therefore, while we want to put an end to labour importation, we request that the Government should create more job opportunities.

Finally, I would like to draw the Governor's attention to a most ironical situation which has arisen under his leadership: while the construction works of the world-class Chek Lap Kok airport are in progress, it is strange enough that our construction workers can be unemployed. This is absolutely unthinkable!

Mr President, I so submit.

MRS MIRIAM LAU (in Cantonese): Mr President, as representative of the Transport and Communications Functional Constituency, I am duty-bound to put forward in the policy address debate issues of major concern to people who are engaged in the operations in this sector. I shall respond in respect of four areas and point out where government policies have failed to address them properly, these include transport, communications, tourism and container terminals:


  1. The problem of traffic congestion

    People engaged in the transport industry find traffic congestion the biggest headache of all. Unfortunately, the Government has merely mentioned it causally by attributing the problem to Hong Kong's economic growth and the increase in the number of vehicles. It has utterly refused to admit errors in planning and a lack of vision in regard to the overall transport system. Clearly, the Government has not invested adequate resources to improve the road system. As a result, over the years, road improvement work lagged far behind demands arising from economic growth, and has been unable to match regional developments.

    In the entire policy address, still I cannot see that the Government is determined to list communications and transportation construction projects as a priority item in regional development where land use and planning are concerned. What I see is still the Government's stereotype which puts community building in the first place, with transport facilities following suit. In doing so, down-trodden track on the Tuen Mun Road would be easily repeated.

    I hope that the Government will not become a quack who only knows how to "attend to the patient's symptoms but not treating the disease". I hope that the Government can become a good doctor who will effect radical cure of the patient. I think unless the Government is thoroughly aware of the fact that good transport facilities must start with planning and land use, combined with a sound road network and a mass transit system, otherwise, the congestion problem can never be overcome. Here I shall discuss in depth the problem of traffic congestion.

    1. Electronic road pricing

      The Government should not rashly assume that members of the public would agree to and support this measure merely because of the simple concept, which is of a principle nature, of "user pays", without considering that corresponding measures must be applied before the adoption of the electronic road pricing system, for example, providing sufficient parking facilities and public transport, as well as alternative traffic routes for the public to choose. Besides, electronic road pricing is meant to encourage the public to take public transport instead of using private vehicles. Therefore, public transport including buses, taxis and public light buses should be exempted from road pricing.

    2. Railway development

      Exactly because of the limited land and dense population in Hong Kong, railway development must be comprehensive in order to relieve traffic congestion on roads. Of the railway projects which have been accorded priority by the Government, I think the Northwest Railway should be extended to Tuen Mun Town Centre, the railway from Ma On Shan to Tai Wai and to West Kowloon, and the Kowloon Railway to Tsim Sha Tsui and further to the Hong Kong Island. Only in this way can the long-term demand be met. As to the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Tseung Kwan O Extension, since land has already been reserved, work on the project should begin immediately so as to complete the project as soon as possible before 2001.

      As to other railway network, it is also necessary for the development to proceed as fast as possible, for example, the railway network should be extended to Hong Kong Island South and East Kowloon and so on. Moreover, the existing MTR Hong Kong Island line should also be extended to Sai Ying Pun in the west and Siu Sai Wan in the east so that Hong Kong will eventually have a railway network extending in all directions, which is sound and fast. This is of paramount importance solving the problem of traffic congestion.

      Of course, when we develop the railway network, we should at the same time bear in mind that we have to co-ordinate other transport facilities. For example, the promotion of the "park and ride" concept simultaneously when carparks are constructed. I understand that the Government has agreed to the "park and ride" concept, but it is strange that the Government makes no mention at all of the proposal in this respect.

      Moreover, it is understood that the Beijing-Kowloon Railway will start operations by the end of 1996. However, the Northwest Railway will not be completed until 2001; hence, questions will arise as to how the Beijing-Kowloon Railway can be connected to the Northwest Railway, and before they are connected, how can the railways in Hong Kong and China can form a complete system. The Hong Kong Government should discuss this with China as soon as possible so that proper arrangements can be made.

    3. Road digging

      Road digging is the main cause of traffic congestion. My view is that the Government must impose stringent restrictions on the commencement and completion dates of road digging, and severe punishments should be imposed on delays in such work. Moreover, the Government should carefully co-ordinate road digging to avoid carrying out road digging at the same location repeatedly.

    4. Ferry service

      Since we do not have sufficient roads for vehicular traffic, we should make an effort to develop sea transport by strengthening the ferry service, which includes increasing the frequency of ferries, improving the types of ferries, building additional piers and strengthening the connecting services of public transport such as buses, public light buses and so on from and to the piers.

      However, ferries operation have in fact not been favourable in recent years. Therefore, if the companies concerned are to make investments to improve the ferry service, the Government must give them adequate encouragement.

  2. Parking problem

    The shortage of parking spaces is a problem the transport industry is most concerned with. All along, there has been an acute shortage of parking spaces in Hong Kong. Of course owners of private cars suffer a lot, but it has the greatest impact on large goods vehicles and container trucks. People in the industry point out that everyday over 2 000 container trucks are forced to park at the roadside because there is no place to accommodate them, not to mention the numerous goods vehicles. As it is, it would naturally result in traffic congestion and cause great nuisance to residents in the vicinity.

    In spite of the fact that the Government has allocated large open areas in the New Territories for open air goods storage, it is learnt that less than 20% of such land has actually been used as parking spaces for container trucks because such land is all private land which requires the owners' consent before it can be rented or purchased for use as carparks for the benefit of container trucks. Hence, even though the Government claims that many areas for open air goods storage have been allocated and that there is sufficient land for parking of container trucks, it is actually a mere illusion and is not practical at all. The problem of a shortage of parking spaces for container trucks still remains to be very serious.

    Years ago, the Government has already promised to make a comprehensive review and study on the demand for parking spaces. This study should have been completed last year, but the Government has been putting it off again and again, even now it still says that the report of the study could only be released by the end of this year. The Government does not feel anxious at all in the face of a problem as urgent as this, and it even goes back on its words time and again, how can the Government maintain its credibility to the people in its governance?

    I think, in order to achieve a long-term and effective solution to the problem of parking, the Government must provide large quantities of land and should consider earmarking more land for parking of various kinds of vehicles when planning its reclamation projects.

  3. Operations of public light buses and taxis

    In recent years, operators of public light buses and taxis are faced with perplexity in various ways. On the one hand, the number of passengers is falling, which affects their income and on the other hand, people engaged in the business have to face more and more restricted areas being demarcated, and there is a shortage of stops, which makes their operations most difficult. I hope the Government should appreciate their difficulties and adopt maximum measures to facilitate smoother operations of this industry, including opening up again some of the restricted areas, providing more areas for passenger embarkation/alighting for the exclusive use of operating vehicles, and providing more public light bus and taxi stops for the convenience of passengers.

    Recently, a certain taxi drivers' organization applied for the collection of midnight surcharges. I can understand why they make such a request because the income of those in the taxi trade has recently been on decline in general and the business of night shift drivers is even poorer; as a matter of fact, in neighbouring countries such as China, Japan or Singapore, there is the practice of charging midnight surcharges. Therefore, I hope that members of the public will appreciate the hardship of taxi drivers in serving the public in the small hours of the day, and I also hope that the Government can have sympathy on the difficulties of people in the trade and consider their request carefully.

  4. Proposal to change from diesel to petrol vehicles

    The Government has put forward in the policy address a policy on the implementation of which seems certain before sufficient consultation and before the result of the consultation is published, which in my view is both unfair to the people in the trade and to the public, and is also inconsistent with an objective and scientific attitude of verifying the truth. I oppose the Government's hasty action in prohibiting the use of diesel vehicles as taxis, public light buses and nanny light buses on the following grounds:

    1. The Government unilaterally emphasizes that diesel vehicles cause air pollution, but it has not mentioned whether the air quality would really improve when all the public light buses, taxis and nanny light buses change from using diesel to petrol. In other words, would other kinds of exhaust be emitted and whether such exhaust is harmful to the health of the public after these operating vehicles have changed to petrol? The Government has not explained this. The day before yesterday, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University published a study which shows that changing to petrol is not necessarily more environmental friendly because petrol vehicles emit other kinds of exhaust, including carbon monoxide and carcinogenic benzene.
    2. The Government has not made any study and objective analysis on whether the efficiency of operating vehicles would be affected when they give up using diesel. Also, there has not been any prior consultation with people in the trade.
    3. My office has recently conducted a questionnaire survey on drivers of taxis, public light buses and nanny light buses for the purpose of obtaining their preliminary opinions on this proposal of the Government. The result shows that 100% of the interviewees in the trade oppose this proposal of the Government. Mr President, the Government must not turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to such strong opposition!

The policy address points out that the Government aims "to introduce effective and acceptable measures" to encourage owners of diesel vehicles to switch to petrol vehicles. Mr President, I hope that the Government will honour its own commitments and ensure that the relevant measures are "effective" and "acceptable" to the public (including those in the trade).


We certainly understand the principle that competition makes progress. Therefore, I basically support that competition should be introduced to the telecommunications industry, but the Government has the duty to ensure that competition proceeds under the principle of fairness, and that it must take note of excessive and unrestrained competition which may give rise to malicious struggles, which will eventually be unfavourable to the development of the whole industry.

In the wake of the opening of international channels, some paging companies may move their operation centres to China, which will seriously affect the employees in the industry. I think the Government should assist the industry to achieve continuous development so as to maintain job opportunities for people in the industry. Moreover, the Government should increase funding for technology and enhance technological research in Hong Kong in order to attract both local and overseas investment, which will ultimately create more jobs.

As the policy address mentions that the Government will review the Telecommunications Ordinance in order to improve the regulatory framework, I wish to remind and urge the Government that it must extensively consult the people in the industry for their views in the course of the review.


Many airline company employees are very much worried about the travel arrangements to and from the Chek Lap Kok Airport in future and that they may have to pay high transport fares. Staff who will work in the airport in future also have similar worries. Therefore, I hope that the Government will take early note of the travel arrangements for the staff of the New Airport when they travel to and from work as the Government plans transport facilities of the airport at this stage.

Moreover, the tourist industry has long been perplexed by the problem of finding parking spaces for their coaches. If tourism in Hong Kong were to develop any further, this problem has to be solved. The Government promises that it would ensure that Hong Kong will have the adequate infrastructure to meet the long-term demand of our tourist industry. It is my hope that such facilities will include adequate parking spaces for these coaches.

Container Terminals

I think, in order to improve the competitive edge of Hong Kong and maintain our advantages in the container industry, the Government must actively develop container terminals. Recently, as the Chinese and British Governments have reached a consensus to co-operate in the development of container terminals, the Government should make good use of the chance and put forward a proposal to construct Container Terminal No. 9 as soon as possible. As for the construction of Container Terminals Nos. 10 and 11, the Government should also go ahead without delay.

Mr President, these are my remarks.

MISS CHRISTINE LOH: Mr President, the Governor says that, "the Government will need the wisdom and the goodwill of this Council" in achieving the executive policy objectives in the months ahead. He also stressed that this Council is "more representative" than our predecessors "could hope to be".

Our predecessors were not more representative because decision-makers in London and in Hong Kong never made any serious attempts to give Hong Kong an authentic system of representative government. When faced with the transition to Chinese rule, colonial civil servants dreamt up the misbegotten functional constituencies, some of which are very small and easily manipulated. As to the Executive Council, where the most important government policy decisions are still made, none of its Members are elected. All are appointed by the Governor alone. As for this Council, only a third of its Members are elected by universal suffrage as Hong Kong transits to Chinese rule.

Hong Kong has been left with such an antiquated and colonial political structure because successive British Governments, and the colonial administration here, have lacked the political will, or the foresight, to make the necessary institutional changes. Regrettably, opportunities were ignored or passed up. Hong Kong will not be a fully democratic society when 1997 comes. The responsibility for this failure to democratize must be shared by policy-makers in London, Hong Kong and China.

Decolonization and "a high degree of autonomy"

When people talk about the transition to 1997, they tend to concentrate on the new sovereign. We forget that this should also be the end of the colonial era. The challenge in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law is to implement a high degree of autonomy. To do so successfully, Hong Kong must decolonize. The colonial experience has disempowered the people of Hong Kong because the decision-making power has been taken away from them and given to a paternalistic administration. That is no longer acceptable today. Decolonization must involve returning the decision-making power to the people. Only this way can Hong Kong be said to exercise "a high degree of autonomy". In short, Hong Kong people must be able to exercise political power.

Some people criticize the Governor's constitutional package for going too far, when they were in fact no more than minor reforms. Elected representatives still cannot make up the Government. Policy making still rests essentially with civil servants. To decolonize, we must re-balance this iniquity. This is especially important when the pace of further democratic change, provided for in the Basic Law, does not envisage a government made up of elected representatives. In time, we must also amend the Basic Law to allow for that eventuality.

In the meantime, the challenge of a high degree of autonomy for the Civil Service is that it must learn to share power, vested in it under a colonial system, with this Council. Members of this Council must, in turn, meet the challenge of autonomy by taking on the role of a government-in-waiting, proving to themselves, and to the public, that they are willing and able to take on the responsibility of governing. This process must run in parallel with pushing for more directly elected seats to this Council in the future.

Members' Bills

Instead of helping to break the out-dated, paternalistic, colonial decision-making structure, regrettably the Administration seems to be trying to perpetuate it. The Governor warns this Council to think twice before proposing any Private Members' Bills. He seems not to want to understand that Members do not undertake Private Members' Bills frivolously. Members only do so when they cannot get the Administration to focus on important policy areas.

Members' Bills are major commitments in terms of both time and resources. If a Member is able to propose policy, draft legislation, lobby successfully for this Council's and public support, then surely, it is the Administration which ought to re-examine its own priorities. The Governor should not rebuff Members for disturbing the Administration's own legislative programme. The Administration should see the use of Private Members' Bills in a more positive light. They can usefully complement the legislative process, and sometimes, correct administrative oversight.

Power to the people

The Governor claims that he wants to make our governing institution more open and accountable. I wish to praise his efforts in providing pledges, charters, Policy Commitments, Progress Reports and annual audits of the Government's performance. However, he is not prepared to decolonize the decision-making process itself and to return a greater measure of power to the people. I would like to offer him three ideas in this area.

Firstly, the Administration should make public bodies meet in public. It will increase transparency and accountability, and in turn, raise the respect for the various boards and committees which, after all, do quite important work. The Arts Development Council already has a set of standing orders governing open meetings. The Administration should actively adapt them to all public bodies. Better still, the Administration should pass an open meetings law to vest the right of attendance in the public.

Secondly, the Administration should publicly account for the reasons for appointments to public bodies, and members' attendance records should be published annually. Members who are unable to give adequate time to serve these bodies should not be re-appointed.

Thirdly, the Administration should now put the Code on Access to Information into law. It is not enough to say that the Code already allows the public to seek information from the Government. The Code can be changed or abandoned any day. It would be very much better to vest the right to seek information in the public, and correspondingly impose the obligation on the Government to provide information in law.

Economic and social progress

Let me say at this stage a few words about what some fear as the "free lunch" phenomenon in the evolving democratic process. Some people fear that Hong Kong's successful market capitalism will turn to welfare socialism with a wider suffrage.

I do not think we need have any fear, but we should recognize that capitalism no longer means the absolute power of capital, in other words, of the few. Economic power is now much more broadly spread. It is wielded by a larger number of people: managers, professionals, high- and medium-ranking officials and many others. Our economic success over the past few decades has created a substantial class of affluent people. But there are still many who are unable to escape poverty.

What we are seeing today is that there is a clash of interests between these groups. The affluent wants less taxes, less welfare, less government intervention. You could say that this is the culture of contentment. The affluent benefit from the market system and they want to be free from what they perceive as dead weight. The poor, however, want more medical care, public housing and financial assistance. We may have a culture of discontentment alongside the one of contentment.

In the past, the political process involved the affluent very much more than the poor. Those who made decisions had, and many still have, a paternalistic attitude towards formulating public policy. The current political process is beginning to give a voice to a wider section of the community. It has enriched public debate, but to some, the visible clash of interests is of concern. It is their mistake to see this public debate as a sign of social instability.

It is right that both sides of the divide must put their views forward, backed up by research and experience in an open forum. In this regard, I think we have a responsibility to continue to help those who are vulnerable. This is why the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) review is most important. The Secretary for Health and Welfare is already being taken to task about the inadequate assistance being given to elderly single people. I am interested to see the detailed analysis on what such a person would need to lead a reasonable, albeit frugal, life in Hong Kong in the l990's. I would also suggest to the Secretary that she should look at offering "outreach" and home-help services to the elderly. Such services are probably even much more useful to raising their quality of life than cash hand-outs. Without more thought on how to provide measurable improvements to their quality of life, what can the Secretary expect but continuous calls for greater financial assistance? Furthermore, without satisfying the modest needs of the poor elderly today, the Administration can expect further resistance to the implementation of the Mandatory Provident Fund. I urge the Administration to get the CSSA review right. I also urge Members of this Council to actively participate in that debate. In terms of payment to children on welfare, here too I would like to see the detailed data. I remind the Administration that the aim is not just to provide basic necessities. The aim is to make an investment in the young and an investment in our common future. If the Administration sees it as an investment then I suspect much higher payments can be justified.

Labour Importation Scheme

I would also like to say a few words about the Labour Importation Scheme. Arguments over the scheme have been ongoing for some time. This Council has been telling the Administration that the scheme needs major overhauling for well over a year. Only now are we seeing some more substantial action. I support the Governor's suggestion to ask the Labour Advisory Board (LAB) to monitor the new and hopefully very much tighter Supplementary Labour Scheme, because the LAB has government, labour and employer representatives who should work together to safeguard the community's interests. I am disturbed to read from newspapers that labour representatives might hesitate about participating. The community wants to see a tripartitite arrangement. I suggest that the LAB should meet in public so that the public can see that all three groups are working towards Hong Kong's best interests and not just plugging for their own sectorial interests.

To end, I would just like to say a few words about the Preparatory Committee. We have precious little information about its terms of reference. It appears that neither the Governor nor the Administration have very much more to say. This is a pity because the Preparatory Committee is supposed to be formed in just three months' time. The Governor says that this is the last policy address of the kind that he is going to make, so it is a watershed of some sort. Next year we are going to have the Preparatory Committee, we are going to have a Chief Executive (Designate) and god knows whether we are going to have a provisional legislature. We may have many centers of power. How is this Council going to react? I do not know whether amongst the individual labour parties and individual Members here whether they have thought whether they should have a China policy. I would like to suggest that, in the long run, for those of us who wish to stay in politics, we do give some consideration the formulation of a China policy. What is Hong Kong going to do if we did find that China, through it's mini-institutions, might interfere with Hong Kong after 1997? This is not going to be an easy task, but I suggest all of us should spend our time very well in the next few weeks to start thinking about a China policy.

The last word I just want to say, Mr President, is that the Governor talks about asking China to trust Hong Kong. I would like to see the current Administration also exercising trust in Hong Kong and in this Council. We do not do things frivolously. If we are to promote Private Members' Bills, it is only because we cannot catch the Administration's attention. We do have a different priority list, perhaps, but is only in perhaps 2% or 3% of the cases. I hope the Government will take a much more relaxed attitude about Private Members' Bills. It is virtually the only constitutional means we have to remind the Government they may have overlooked certain important areas.

I support the motion.

MR LEE KAI-MING (in Cantonese): Mr President, the Governor's policy address in 1995 entitled "Hong Kong: Our Work Together" still adhered to an erroneous policy which overlooked the people's livelihood and showed contempt for public opinion. It is a policy address which disappoints both the working class and the people at the grassroots level.

In 1989, the Government implemented a general labour importation scheme. The labour sector strongly opposed the scheme and pointed out that the policy was misdirected. However, the Government still took the view that it would not be harmful to the interests of workers if administrative means were used to interfere with the labour market which had all along been regulated by the market mechanism. Although substantial amendments to the general labour importation policy were contained in this year's policy address, putting an end to the present general labour importation scheme set with a quota of 25 000 foreign workers. The Government finally admitted that the importation of labour had definitely affected unemployment in Hong Kong. For many years, workers have faced threats against their jobs and livelihood, but the dark clouds of labour importation have not dissipated yet. A new supplementary labour importation scheme with a quota of 5 000 foreign workers is going to replace the interim scheme and become a regular and long-term policy, which will have an impact on our workers. It is really disappointing that the Government still failed to review the foreign labour issue pertaining to the core project of the new airport and sticked to its erroneous labour importation policy even when the number of unemployed workers has reached 110 000. It makes one sigh and lament to see the Government only playing with figures at such a time.

People at grassroots level can hardly share the fruits of prosperity

It is stated in the policy address that since 1985, there had been an average annual economic growth of 4.5% and the average annual growth in real wages had been more than 4%. The accuracy of these data is doubtful: even civil servants in general can hardly enjoy a 4% growth in real wages a year after taking inflation into account. Under the influence of the labour importation policy, the wages of workers have been severely held down, fully achieving the Government's aim of oppressing workers through checking the growth in wages. Since 1989, the rate of growth in real wages has been 1.48%. According to government statistics, in the first quarter of 1995, the real wages of many trades have shown negative growth as compared with that for the same period last year. It is obvious that the growth in wages has been severely checked, and the workers at the grassroots level have fallen victim to the labour importation policy. As the resources of our society have been unevenly distributed, disparity between the rich and the poor is becoming wider with time. The Gini coefficient has risen from 0.43 in 1971 to 0.45 in 1981, then to 0.48 in 1991, and still continues to worsen. The people at the grassroots level can hardly enjoy the fruits of prosperity. The Governor is obviously playing with figures again in his policy address, projecting a prosperous image and painting a false picture of stability, yet all these can hardly cover up the hardship suffered by our workers.

Not long ago, some Members expressed the view that the importation of labour should not be objected to. However, they failed to realize that some workers faced with unemployment are contemplating suicide while some are getting close to live in poverty. Have these Members ever put themselves in the difficult position of these workers?

Outdated poverty concept, unfair welfare assistance

It is stressed in the policy address that only basic assistance would be given to the helpless. The level of basic assistance under this so-called "safety net" has all along been out of line with our economic development and has been a subject of general disapproval. However, the Government reviews the level of payment under Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) by comparing the current level of CSSA benefits with the actual spending pattern of families in the lowest 5% income group. I wonder why the lowest 5% has been adopted as the criterion of review, instead of the median wage. This is indeed dubious. Although the policy address admitted that the safety net had not been adequate, it nevertheless emphasized that an effective safety net had been provided. The reasoning of the Government was that the welfare system should not offer a generous alternative to finding a job, so only the most basic assistance was given. However, this is obviously unfair for those who are involuntarily unemployed. We should bear in mind that they are involuntarily unemployed, unlike people who refuse to take up jobs offered, so it is extremely unfair for them. The workforce is the main pillar supporting the economic prosperity of Hong Kong, yet the Government still ignores the people's livelihood when the unemployed accounts for over 3.5% of the workforce. People who are involuntarily unemployed can only apply for relief payments, and the standard amount of CSSA payment they can receive will only be increased from $1,210 to $1,490 or from $1,045 to $1,325. The recipients will only have less than $50 a day for their daily necessities and living expenses. This is a disgrace to our highly prosperous society.

Ignoring public opinion by juggling with the so-called occupational safety and health safeguard policy

It is stated in paragraph 52 of the policy address that the Policy Commitments had incorporated suggestions from our extensive structure of Advisory Committees and from professional bodies and pressure groups. However, now that the consultation period following the publication of the Consultation Document on the Review of Industrial Safety in Hong Kong has come to an end, many social groups and individuals have requested the Government to note the reality of a continual growth in the number of non-industrial employees as a result of the restructuring of our economy, so there is a need to introduce legislation to protect them. However, the Policy Commitments are extremely inadequate, particularly in the issue of occupational health regarding industrial employees and non-industrial employees, as only industrial injuries and death were dealt with and no mention was made of occupational health. This shows that the Government does not respect public opinion and it has no intention of making any determined effort to improve occupational health.

Social problems involving adolescents not touched on

Not long ago, a Member has raised this issue. Recent surveys conducted by government and non-governmental organizations showed that the problems of drug abuse and suicide among adolescents had become increasingly serious. However, these grave social problems have been ignored in the policy address, let alone making up the right prescription for the disease to heal the sick and save their lives.

Finally, I hope that the Government would not be affected by the approach of dusk, a reference to the time of transition. It should do its work properly in improving the people's livelihood and the employment prospect of workers. There is a famous saying which goes " so long as there is a magnificent sunset, no one needs fear the approach of dusk". Thank you, Mr President.

DR HUANG CHEN-YA (in Cantonese): Mr President, the Governor expresses in his policy address that he is optimistic about the prospect of the economy of Hong Kong. However, according to a survey carried out early this month, the index of the public's confidence in the economy has fallen to a record low in this decade. That is not because the public is not aware of the verbal assertions made by government officials that the economic growth of Hong Kong is still satisfactory. The public is pessimistic because they are worried about the future. They hope that the unemployment rate will not increase any further and workers will not have to worry about their "rice bowl". They hope that our economy will regain strength and will not go through downward adjustment. They hope that inflation will not continue to worsen and the value of money will not continue to depreciate. Unfortunately, the Policy Address has shown completely the parting mood of a government which is about to finish its term of office: complacent about achievements made in the past, being perfunctory towards present and future crises and totally lacks a sense of direction, the ambition for future development or detailed plans.

This does not mean that we want a dominant government which upholds a planned economy and intervenes in everything. However, we believe that a market economy should not become an excuse for being unconcerned and being reluctant to bother. We are living in a highly competitive world. We are ahead of other cities in China and the gap between Hong Kong and the developed countries is gradually disappearing. Our inflation rate now ranks highest among the Four Little Dragons and our economic growth is lagging far behind that of Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, China, Brazil and Argentina and is even only slightly better than that of India and the Philippines. We cannot afford to be complacent any more and we can no longer afford to lag behind others. A responsible government should not only be prepared for danger in time of peace, but also be prepared for danger in dangerous times; it should try its best to strengthen the economy and make the public fully employed.

A government which is really friendly to economic growth should not only have the three measures of training qualified personal, undertaking appropriate regulation and adopting financial policies. First, the Government should fix the position of the economy of Hong Kong and orientate it accordingly and should not give itself up as hopeless and regard Hong Kong as an adjunct to the economy of China which can only accommodate its activities to the economic development of China and rise and fall with China. Hong Kong definitely has to make use of its comparative advantages and strive to become, not only a leading city in Asia, but also in the world. Hong Kong must have its agenda and strategies for development.

This does not mean that the Government has to formulate the Hong Kong equivalent of the ninth five-year plan but that the Government must give financial and supporting aid to the market forces, to help develop an export-oriented economy which has its base in China but the whole world in view.

Second, the huge Mainland market can only be regarded as a backup force. However, low technology industries which rely on low wages and low land costs will encounter more and more competition from China and abroad. Therefore, there is a good prospect for the manufacturing industry of Hong Kong because the industry has comparative advantages in terms of speedy delivery of goods and turning new technology into commercially available products. Therefore, Hong Kong has to continue to strengthen its aviation and port facilities and logistics services. It should also introduce and develop new manufacturing capacities through science park, technology centers and so on. Unfortunately, at present, the investment in technological research in Hong Kong is insignificant, amounting to only 0.05% of the GDP, which is 5% to 3.33% of the other two little dragons. We are not suggesting that the Government should make it a challenge for itself to establish first-ranking and deliberately develop such industries, it is because this very often does more harm than good. However, it should encourage practical technological research and assist these industries to develop original products. Given the large amount of funds the Government has at present, the Government should actually not have any excuse not to increase the subsidies given to technological research. I strongly believe that the manufacturing industry of Hong Kong does not have to disappear and that it should not disappear. However, the Government must stop adopting the unconcerned attitude it adopted in the past and actively assist the manufacturing industries, so that they can transform into new manufacturing industries.

Third, besides developing new industries, we should also strengthen our service industries. We welcome the review of the service industries which the Government has now begun to conduct. However, the report will only be available a year later and that is obviously too slow. To be honest, we all know that it is worrying whether the Budget for 1997 will constitute a motivating force for new plans. Therefore, the Government should speed up its review and make proposals on policies and resource allocation as soon as possible. The Government should also consider the possibility of reconstituting the three policy branches related to economics so that the development and coordination of the major service industries can be dealt with by one policy secretary.

Fourth, the various service industries should be reviewed in turn and in detail in order to formulate appropriate policies to meet the needs of the market. Besides formulating production strategies on a macroscopic scale, we should also help the medium or small trades on a microscopic scale because most companies in Hong Kong are medium or small in size. Since the medium or small companies have limited capital, it is hard for them to survive the stormy sea of recession. However, medium or small companies are like seedlings which may germinate and grow into big companies and only those medium or small companies which are healthy can grow into strong enterprises in the future. Unfortunately, for many years, the Government has only been concerned with the interests of the big enterprises and has rarely paid attention to the interests of the medium or small companies, and it has let them run their own course. However, at the initial stage of the development of the medium or small companies, when they have little capital and experience and when their management is unsound, it is very important for the Government to give them a helping hand.

We think that the Government should review the problem of medium or small companies and formulate policies without delay so that these companies can grow up more successfully and that we can create more job opportunities in Hong Kong.

The policy address recognized the importance of training qualified personnel to employment and the economy. Unfortunately, the Government is still adopting the method of "sticking a plaster to kill the pain" and it absolutely does not have any long-term manpower schemes to cope with economic transformation. The Secretary for Education and Manpower has pointed out that, in 1994, a new subject on "Travel and Tourism" will be introduced in 31 schools on a trial basis and there are plans to introduce a new Advanced Supplementary Level subject on "Electronics" in the sixth form by 1997. But why is it necessary to add these subjects instead of adding subjects like finance and communication? For example, at present, have we paid sufficient attention to inter-personal relationship and communication through language which are important to the service industry? Is our computer knowledge sufficient? Are our schools able to train up people who can acquire new technological skills and knowledge quickly? We should stop mending and patching. The Government should formulate long-term and detailed human resources policies to coordinate its strategies of economic development. Therefore, the Government should conduct a comprehensive review on the curricula of basic education and of prevocational schools.

Besides, the Democratic Party is very dissatisfied about the fact that the Government has not promised to directly subsidize the Employees Retraining Board. At present, the number of unemployed and first-time job-seekers exceeds 100 000 and there are almost 70 000 workers who are under-unemployed. The Government can only provide retraining for some 40 000 people and the courses offered only last for a few weeks. Even if these workers can get another job, they will only be able to get a job in the service industry which requires a low level of skills. In the long run, they may not be able to avert the misfortune of being eliminated once again.

Besides helping workers to find another job, the Government should not neglect the new immigrants. Almost 20 000 new immigrants come to Hong Kong each year and they constitute a new source of workers for the labour market. After they have received suitable training, they should be able to make important contributions to our economy. However, if they are left to swim with the tide on their own and are not given any training on skills, the number of unemployed which is already great will only increase further and it will be even more difficult for us to solve the unemployment problem.

In fact, the moving of the labour-intensive manufacturing and service industries to the north has made many workers switch to another job or unemployed. With the improvements in technological skills and productivity in China, production industries which have a higher level of skills may even be snatched away from us. The difference between the salaries for the remaining industries which require a low level of skills and those which require a high level of skills will naturally become greater and the problem of disparity between the rich and the poor will become even more serious. Therefore, no matter whether we want to push the great wheel of our economy forward or to maintain our employment level, the people of Hong Kong must keep on learning as long as they live in order to sustain their vocational adaptability and to keep on upgrading their level of skills. Otherwise, they will have to face the problems of salary reduction or even unemployment.

Therefore, the Government should adopt measures like investment in education and preferential tax treatment to encourage those at work to continue to receive training and to encourage companies to offer training to their employees. Only in this way can the problem of employment be really solved.

Finally, I would like to talk about the financial problems of providing medical services.

As regards the provision of medical services, it has always been our belief that a medical system which emphasizes prevention is more economical. If our preventive work can be done satisfactorily, we can reduce the incidence of contracting illnesses and detect illnesses earlier so that the need for medical services and the costs of treating illnesses can be reduced. On the other hand, a medical system which emphasizes treatment but neglects the importance of prevention will only lead to an increase in the number of patients and in the types of illnesses which will bring about a continuous increase in medical costs.

This policy address has sufficiently exposed the Government's negligent attitude towards preventive work and that it regards prevention as only a dispensable measure. Take, for example, the health centres for the elderly and for women. This mode of service can provide health education and detect insidious diseases and this should be a major preventive work. However, the scheme has been developing slowly. By 1997, there will only be five health centres for the elderly to provide services to 9 000 people. To the 500 000 old people in Hong Kong, this is an utterly inadequate measure. By 1997, there will only be three health centres for women which will serve 7 200 people. Having a few health centres can only have nominal significance. After the proposals have been made, the Government still insists on proceeding in its own way despite criticisms from all sides. It is not willing to commit itself to providing preventive medical services to three million women and 500 000 old people in Hong Kong.

The Government has given the excuse of having to review the rate of utilization of these centres and, therefore, progress has to be made gradually. In fact, the rate of utilization is related to the contents of the services provided, the extent to which they have been promoted and the choice of centre sites. The Government should first determine the number of people it intends to serve and then decide in which manner should the services be provided. As to those centres whose rate of utilization is far from satisfactory, the promotion strategies should be changed and the choice of sites should be reconsidered in order to increase the rate of utilization. The Government should definitely not put the cart before the horse and let the rate of utilization determine its policies nor decide that it will operate a fewer number of centres if few people use them.

There is an even more shocking incident. In March this year when the Legislative Council approved the Budget, a Health Care and Promotion Fund was granted to the Department of Health to enhance health education, preventive care and related research. For six months till now, this fund of $80 million has still been left unused. People cannot help asking whether the officials of the Health Department are actually not willing to develop preventive medical services.

The most urgent task for the Government now is to make clear pledges to provide the elderly and the women in Hong Kong with preventive medical services. The next task is to set down general goals and goals to be achieved at various stages and work out progress schedules, to facilitate the arrangement of funding. Only then can we be sure that the Government is determined to conduct preventive work. Large scale preventive work is especially needed to be done to fight against the three major killers ( cancer, stroke and heart disease). This is the only way in which the work on the prevention of disease can be carried out satisfactorily and the health of the public be assured. This is also the only way to reduce the continuous increase in medical costs and to make medical expenditure more cost-effective.

Mr President, these are my remarks.

MR CHOY KAN-PUI (in Cantonese): Mr President, in response to the Governor's policy address, I have several points to make. In connection with Member's Bills, the Governor has stated right at the beginning of his policy address that this Legislative Council is the first fully-elected legislature in Hong Kong's history. However, in delivering the policy address to such a legislature for the first time, the Governor warned this Council not to abuse the power conferred by the constitution by putting forward Member's Bills. He even threatened that he would not hesitate to disallow the passage of a Bill into law on grounds of Hong Kong people's interests as interpreted by him.

Indeed, since representative government first started to develop in 1982, the current term Legislative Council is the one best supported by public opinion in Hong Kong's history. It is shocking that the Governor should have issued such warning to Councillors the first day they took office. When there is a divergence in interpretation between this Council and the Governor on certain matters relating to public opinion and Hong Kong's interests, which party should have more right to say? Which party can better safeguard the interests of Hong Kong people? Should it be a legislature entirely elected by Hong Kong people or a British official appointed by a colonial sovereign state to govern the territory? As far as the interpretation of Hong Kong's interests and public opinion is concerned, the Governor has always had his own set of standards. In pushing through his constitutional package and scrapping the Old Age Pension Scheme, the Governor has adopted two extremes of attitude. One just cannot help wondering whether he is acting in the interests of Hong Kong or the United Kingdom.

Central Consultative Framework

Although the Governor relentlessly stresses the importance of promoting democratization and respecting people's opinion, the consultative framework has all along been ignoring the representativeness of public opinion and public participation in matters involving central policies. I propose that more District Board Members be appointed to join various central consultative committees so that people's wishes can be fully considered during the central decision-making process.


The Government is absolutely helpless with regard to how to resolve the serious congestion problem in Hong Kong. The serious problems we are facing today have been caused by the lack of far-sighted government policies, measures and corresponding investment over the past few years. Although the Government did put forward a number of packages, we are now back to square one again. So far, the Government has not made any substantial commitment to provide comprehensive town-planning and construct roads, mass transit networks and so on to eradicate the problems. Finally, what it focuses on are only short-sighted and stop-gap solutions such as targetting only the means to curb the increase in the number of private cars and discourage drivers from using the roads. To revive the electronic road pricing system proposed more than 10 years ago as a miraculous cure for the congestion problem is a fantasy indeed.

For the residents living in the New Territories in particular, it is especially imperative that the Railway Development Strategy be implemented at full speed. I hope those plans such as the Western Corridor Railway and the Mass Transit Railway Tseung Kwan O Extension, which we heard of frequently, are not just castles in the air.

Building just one new railway to connect Ma On Shan with Tai Wai is not going to solve the traffic problem in Northeast New Territories (NENT). The important thing is how to break the deadlock between NENT and the urban area. A radical solution reached by the Sha Tin District Board after a number of discussions is that an extension from Tai Wai to Diamond Hill and another from Tai Wai to Cheung Sha Wan should be built simultaneously. In doing so, the area will be linked up with Kowloon East and Kowloon West, as well as the New Airport Railway.


Housing provided by the Government for low-income residents is grossly inadequate, reflecting the serious mistakes the Government has made regarding its housing policy over the past few years. The ambitious plans put forward by the Governor soon after he took office have resulted in an even greater disappointment among residents. The housing needs of new immigrants, people living in crowded conditions, and those affected by squatter clearance have all been underestimated. A more serious problem is that the number of public rental housing units continues to drop in recent years. In 1995-96, only 15 000 public rental housing units are scheduled to be built. However, according to the Housing Authority's Long Term Housing Strategy promulgated in 1987, at least 43 000 public housing units need to be built before 1997 each year if it is to meet the basic needs for public rental units of those on the waiting list before 1997. At present, there are 150 000 families on the General Waiting List I suggest that before the basic housing needs of the lower class are satisfied, the Government's main housing development strategy should continue to focus on the provision of public rental housing. In this respect, the Government should allocate more land to build public housing.

Owing to the past mistakes the Government made regarding housing policies, we are left with no choice but to agree to support the retention of some of the Temporary Housing Areas (THAs) to accommodate new immigrants from China and people affected by squatter clearance. However, many of these THAs, which are now used as temporary dwelling places, have been used for more than 10 years. Their appalling conditions are not hard to imagine. We must seek to completely improve the living environment of these THAs.

Furthermore, I would definitely not wish to see the Government using the availability of THAs for rehousing as an excuse to slow down the construction of public housing.

Small House Policy

It is deeply regretted that the Policy Commitments has not shown its concern for the Small House Policy in the New Territories. According to the information released by the Government, up to end-September 1994, a backlog of 12 790 applications is still awaiting scrutiny. Although an average of 2 000 applications are being scrutinized annually, only about 500 small house applications are approved each year according to the Government announcement. At this rate, it will take more than 25 years for all the backlog to be cleared. The Government is actually adopting an ostrich policy for it has absolutely no positive measures or intention to speed up the clearance of this ever-increasing backlog.

It is my view that the Small House Policy should be considered alongside the territory's overall housing policy. The Government should take active measures accordingly to solve the housing problems of indigenous New Territories residents.

Flood Prevention

During the rainy season, the personal safety of residents living in flood-prone areas in the New Territories are at serious risks. In addition, it often results in huge economic losses. This is really a supreme irony for a modern international city like Hong Kong. Regrettably, the Government has all along been ignoring the flood-prevention works in the New Territories. The progress of the improvement works is slow. According to the progress stated in the Policy Commitments, it will take three years for a 5.4 kilometre-stormwater channel and two other flood prevention projects to be completed. It will also take three years for a study on the new initiatives of some Drainage Collection Master Plans to be finalized. Phase one of the Shenzhen River Regulation Project has been progressing at a slow pace, while the submission of the phase two assessment report delayed. In addition, no date has been fixed for the commencement of phase three. All these fully illustrated that the Government put flood prevention in an extremely secondary position. According to the present progress, the New Territories residents still need to put up with flooding every year until at least the turn of the century. This is intolerable indeed.


Up to the present, the Government is still using a method that has been used for the past 20-odd years to determine the standard and payments for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA), that is, the calculation is made on the basis of the expenditure level of people belonging to the lowest 5% of the income group. Such method of calculation is seriously out of line with international social welfare standards. We should follow international conventions by fixing standard CSSA payments at one third of the territory's median wages. In other words, at least $2,500 per month should be given out.

For those workers who have fallen into dire straits months ago as a result of being unemployed, there is nothing in the policy address that can really solve their immediate problems. The Government has failed to provide sufficient income support to the unemployed who have currently reached 100 000 in number. I suggest that the standard CSSA payments be fixed at one third of the territory's median wages. At the same time, the examination of disposable assets should be relaxed and scrutiny procedures be simplified to benefit more unemployed people and facilitate social stability.


In recent years, corruption reports made to the ICAC has been constantly on the increase. Syndicated corruption that exists in the police, the discipline forces and government departments is reviving. This is worrying. Although the Governor has briefly mentioned the issue of corruption in the policy address, he has failed to impress us that the Government is taking the problem seriously. In particular, not a single word about discipline and ethics was mentioned in the address. To ensure a smooth transition, we must not underestimate the corruption problem.

Mr President, I so submit.

MR WONG WAI-YIN (in Cantonese): Mr President, "though sunset is magnificent, it signifies the approach of dusk". These words can well describe the feeling of quite a number of colleagues in this Council towards the sunset government under the Hong Kong - British rule. Why do they have such a feeling? Why is it that the popularity of the Governor among the people is steadily declining? Obviously, it is largely related to the fact that the Governor has not done enough to improve people’s livelihood. I believe that the Governor as well as the Government should do some self-questioning. Mr President, when speaking on the Governor’s policy address, I will focus on problems relating to transportation, flooding and the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance(CSSA) for the elderly.

  1. The Story Starts With the Boulder

    First of all, I would like to speak on the transportation problem. To start with, we may talk about the "boulder". A disastrous traffic congestion was staged after the sudden tumbling of a 10 tonne boulder onto the Tai Lam section of the Tuen Mun Road on 18 August this year, causing two deaths and the blockade of all lanes on the Kowloon-bound Tuen Mun Road for 15 hours. The emergence of this boulder has completely exposed the serious inadequacy of transport facilities in Yuen Long and Tuen Mun. For those residents in these districts who have to commute to the urban area for work or school, it was just the beginning of a nightmare. On 24 and 31 August, the authorities decided to block the Kowloon-bound lanes of the Tuen Mun Road again for fear that more rocks would fall down under the lashing of stormy wind and rain. The latest blockade of the Tuen Mun Road was to last for two weeks in order to carry out emergency repairs. With the onset of these events, residents in Yuen Long and Tuen Mun had to set off for work or school before dawn in the hope of avoiding the misfortune of being caught in the serious traffic jam. Unfortunately, all their efforts were to no avail, as even the combined capacity of the Castle Peak Road and the Tolo Highway could by no means cope with the outward bound traffic flow of the Northwest New Territories. On the first day of the blockade, traffic in the New Territories was completely paralysed. Although temporary ferry service was run between Tuen Mun and Tsuen Wan and the ferry service between Tuen Mun and Central operated extra runs, the large number of passengers still resulted in queues of up to 2 000 to 3 000 people at the pier. They had to wait for more than an hour before they could get on the ferry. How can the residents in Yuen Long and Tuen Mun tolerate such a way of life?

    In fact, it is common knowledge that the Government has slipped up in the planning for the Yuen Long and Tuen Mun districts by underestimating the demand of the districts for outward bound traffic. But regrettably our Government is too stubborn to admit its fault and refuses to allocate more resources for remedial measures so as to ease traffic congestion in the area as soon as possible. On the contrary, it adopted a stalling attitude towards the various suggestions put forth by relevant district board members. As a result, traffic problem in the district was further aggravated. The blockade of the Tuen Mun Road fully exposed the seriousness of the problem and the Government could no longer shirk its responsibilities. Officials at the directorate level of all the relevant departments, such as the Roads Department, the Transport Department and the Geotechnical Engineering Office, as well as the Secretary for Works have no escape from censuring by the public and the Councillors. Knowing that he could no longer evade the issue, our Governor, Mr PATTEN put up a compassionate face with "crocodile tears" and said that serious consideration would be given to the feasibility of extending the Northwest NT Railway to Tuen Mun Town Centre. He also decided to proceed with a series of projects including improvement of the Sheung Shui-bound cycle track along the section of the circular road between Au Tau and Sha Po in Yuen Long for use by private cars; removal of the roundabout at Sha Po to straighten the lanes; completing the widening of the circular road in three days by having workers work round the clock so as to provide an additional lane from Sha Po to Lok Ma Chau. Recently, he even promised to construct a temporary flyover at Au Tau in eight months’ time in order to relieve traffic congestion in the district. Actually, we have been fighting for the construction of a flyover at Au Tau for years. However, the Government has all along maintained that it was not necessary and has refused to allocate funds for its construction. Now the Government suddenly changed its tune and set itself to construct the temporary flyover within the shortest possible time at a mere cost of $15 million. Why did the Government slap itself in the face? It has just opposed the construction of the temporary flyover at a meeting of the Yuen Long District Board held a month or so ago. But now it said that there was a need to construct the flyover and that it would only take eight months to complete. If we want to laugh away the self-contradiction, we may thank the fallen boulder. As for the accident caused by the boulder, the Democratic Party once again urges the Governor to set up an independent commission to conduct a comprehensive investigation so as to grasp a true picture of the incident.

    Besides, I would like to emphasize that traffic congestion in the Northwest New Territories is entirely a result of the slip of the Government in the planning of the area, while the worsening of the problem is due to insufficient government funding and the failure on the part of the Government to actively seek a solution. The Government has long been ignoring public demand for transport facilities in the district. As a result, residents have to suffer a great deal and have endless grievances. However, the government officials concerned failed to correct their mistakes and refused to listen to the advice of the public and the district board members. The Government should be held fully responsible for the present situation it has caused. Therefore, I think the government officials concerned as well as the Governor should openly apologize to the 700 000-plus residents in Yuen Long and Tuen Mun.

    Mr President, in the section relating to transportation in his policy address, the Governor, Mr PATTEN accorded priority to the improvement of traffic in the Northwest New Territories. I really hope that the Government will actively carry out its pledges in a pragmatic manner rather than just paying lip service to the public. Since people living in the Northwest New Territories have been suffering from traffic congestion for years, actions to tackle the problem should not be delayed anymore. The Democratic Party has initiated several signature campaigns and petitions urging for the extension of the Northwest NT Railway to Tuen Mun Town Centre. They were widely supported by the public. We hope the Government can fix the date for the commencement of the construction of the Northwest NT Railway as soon as possible, and extend the railway to have the terminus located at Tuen Mun Town Centre. Furthermore, I request the Government to allocate more resources so that road widening work for the section of the Castle Peak Road between Tuen Mun and Tsuen Wan can be carried out immediately. As for ferry services, I hope the Hongkong and Yaumati Ferry Company Limited will purchase some new and more speedy ferries so as to increase the frequency of ferry services between Tuen Mun and other urban areas. I also hope that ferry service between Tuen Mun and Tsuen Wan can become permanent to help ease traffic congestion in the district.

    As regards traffic congestion in the urban areas, the policy address revealed that the Government still laid stress on solving the problem by financial measures where necessary, meaning the growth in the number of private cars would be curbed to ease congestion on the roads. The Democratic Party has been opposing the adoption of such measures because they are not regarded as effective means to solve the problem. We reiterate that traffic congestion in the urban areas should be solved by the improvement and expansion of our transport and road networks. We urge the Government to construct Route 7 from Kennedy Town to Aberdeen and the Mass Transit Railway(MTR) extension to Kennedy Town as soon as possible. The Government should also consider extending the existing MTR to Hung Hom and the future Kai Tak development site. In addition, we would like to put forward the following suggestions again:

    1. introduction of the "park and ride" facilities by building car parks at terminals of mass transit systems in order to encourage private car owners to continue their journey by public transport;
    2. formulation of a long term ferry policy and review of the function and quality of ferry services as soon as possible;
    3. provision of bus interchanges at the entrances of all newly constructed and existing tunnels;
    4. publication of the report relating to the territory-wide study of parking spaces in Hong Kong as soon as possible, provision of adequate parking spaces and strengthening of prosecution work relating to illegal parking;
    5. establishment of a traffic information system centre for the purpose of collecting and broadcasting information relating to road traffic condition so that drivers will be informed of the traffic condition and avoid using congested roads.
  2. The Spectacle of Boats Sailing on Land

    Having finished the story of the "boulder", let us turn to the story about "boats sailing on land". Serious flooding in Yuen Long and the Northern New Territories in recent years has awaken Hong Kong people to the fact that in such a highly developed city as Hong Kong, people living in the rural areas in Yuen Long and the Northern New Territories have to live under the threat of floods during the summer rainy season. Flooding has become part of their life. Not only are furniture and other household items damaged during flooding, but most of the farms and fish ponds are also inundated and the economic loss so caused is incalculable. The so-called compensation payments or subsidies offered by the Government are so meagre that they can hardly do any good. Moreover, whenever flooding occurs, the Government has to deploy manpower from the Royal Hong Kong Regiment, the Fire Services Department, the Civil Aid Services and the Special Duties Unit of the Police Force to join in the rescue operation. Villagers stranded by flood waters can only be rescued by turns in rubber dinghies or the villagers' self-made rafts, giving us a vivid spectacle of boats sailing on land. This can well reflect the seriousness of the disaster.

    In fact, flooding is also the result of a slip in planning by the Government resulting in its failure to carry out proper river training and flood prevention. In as far back as 1990, Lord Wilson, our former Governor, allocated $4 billion to the Territory Development Department (TDD) for the improvement of the rural areas in the New Territories to be completed by the year 2000. Of this sum, $2.4 billion was intended for major improvement works while the remaining $1.6 billion would be used for smaller scale improvement works. However, due to a shortage of manpower, the TDD was unable to deal with the smaller scale improvement works in the rural areas. The sum of money was later transferred to the Home Affairs Department. Regrettably, although five years have elapsed, only some $100 million were spent. I hope the Home Affairs Department can strengthen its manpower and make use of this sum of money to expedite the various rural improvement works so as to mitigate the flooding problem.

    Although the training works for the Shan Pei River and the Kam Tin River in Yuen Long have commenced, the Democratic Party hopes that the Government will actively follow up these works and monitor the relevant projects to ensure that more serious flooding will not occur and that the projects will not be delayed. The first phase of the Shenzhen River Regulation Project commenced in May this year. The Democratic Party urges the Government to appropriate more financial resources with a view to expedite the improvement work of the Shenzhen River so that the project can be completed at an earlier date and the flooding problem in the rural areas of the New Territories can sooner be solved.

    The Democratic Party also recommends that the Government should reserve an appropriation in this year’s budget for expediting the cleansing and repairing of stormwater drains and other drainages. It should also invoke the newly passed Land Drainage Ordinance as soon as possible to reduce silt in our waterways. Staffing level in the Planning Department should be increased in order to enforce the relevant legislation and ensure that rural farm land will not be misused. The standard of design for flood control drains should also be upgraded to the planning criterion of one occasion in every 200 years instead of one occasion in every 50 years.

    I hope the Administration can have the courage to bear the responsibilities for its past mistakes and seek solutions in a positive manner. It should not neglect the threat of flooding suffered by residents in the rural areas of the New Territories any longer. Rather, it should accept our recommendations and provide more funding and manpower so that river training and flood control works can be completed as soon as possible.

  3. A Life Without Dignity

    Mr President, being the Vice-Chairman of the Association for the Rights of the Elderly, I must talk about the issue relating to CSSA for the elderly. We are greatly discontented with the part of this year's policy address relating to CSSA for the elderly, which stated that an elderly single person could get $2,710 each month on the average and so should not be the group leading the hardest life in our community. It seems to imply that the Government has provided sufficient financial assistance to the elderly single people. I must point out that the amount of $2,710 as mentioned by the Governor is really misleading. Actually, this sum of money includes rental allowance and other special needs allowances such as expenditures for home removal and the purchase of spectacles. The amount of money they can spend on food, clothing, water and electricity, transport and other household needs is only $1,810 which is the basic allowance. In other words, the basic monthly expenditure for each elderly is only $1,810. You can well imagine what a life one can lead with just $1,810 a month given today’s cost of living. I just cannot subscribe to the view of the Governor that the present level of CSSA payment for the elderly is already adequate. In fact, according to the research undertaken last year by Dr MacPHERSON of the City University, an elderly will need $2,300 each month to meet his basic expenditures in order to lead a life with dignity. Moreover, $2,300 was also taken as the basic rate for the Old Age Pension Scheme put forward by the Government not long ago. Why does the Government now think that it is sufficient to give the elderly single people $1,810 a month? I hope the Government will no longer neglect the financial needs of these old people and increase the amount of basic allowance for the elderly single people to not less than $2,700 so that they can at least live with dignity a life that is in line with the standard of living in Hong Kong.

    Furthermore, as we do not have an authoritative central body to organize elderly services and co-ordinate the work of the various government departments concerned, relevant services and programs are very often delayed or held up. Therefore, the Democratic Party takes this chance to once again call for the establishment of a central committee directly responsible to the Governor for co-ordinating all services for the elderly. Apart form official from the relevant government departments, members of this committee should also include representatives from elderly service groups or institutions, as well as representatives of the old people. This committee should have the authority to formulate policies and have sufficient financial resources to implement the relevant programs, as it should will not be affected by any lack of resources or the inadequacy of co-ordination among different government departments.

    Mr President, if the Governor and the Government can act in this opportune time when our economy is thriving and make good use of our substantial reserves to do more in improving people’s livelihood, then even though it is a "sunset government", surely it can still gain wide support from the public. The situation can appropriately be described as: " if only we have a magnificent sunset, why be depressed with the approach of dusk?"

    Mr President, I so submit.

MR NGAN KAM-CHUEN (in Cantonese): Mr President, I will speak for the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) on the Governor's policy address in the areas of public finance, slope stabilization, as well as flood prevention and home affairs policies in the New Territories.

The DAB maintains that our public finance should be managed in accordance with the principle of "spending within one's income", and that our simple and low tax system should be kept as intact as possible. At the same time, government departments should take positive steps to put expenditure under strict control in order to prevent overspending.

The reformatory measures mentioned in the Progress Report aimed at better control and management of public finance, such as the introduction of Departmental Resource Accounts, may well enhance the awareness of civil servants concerning the cost-effectiveness of public expenditure so that government departments would exercise more care in their use of resources. But in reality, the feasibility and effectiveness of such accounting practice in a public sector context still need to be closely observed. The reason is that, even in the case of overspending or disproportionate rates of returns, the salaries, allowances and promotion prospects of civil servants will not be determined on the basis of the estimated returns. Therefore, the DAB is of the view that the Government should adopt the zero-based budgeting approach at the same time, which means that a new expenditure estimate for each government department should be drawn up every year, instead of blindly making automatic adjustments on the previous annual budget by calculating with a certain percentage. Only in this way can expenditure be effectively controlled.

Besides, the policy address has not offered any explanation to the public regarding government fees and charges. The community is concerned that if all government departments are to operate in the form of trading funds under the system of financial responsibility, they will need to raise their fees and charges in the event of a deficit in order to maintain a balance in their accounts. In such case, the public will be worse off with a heavier burden.

Mr President, as far as urban renewal is concerned, the DAB hopes that the Hong Kong Government can take up a more active role. The DAB calls on the Government to speed up the pace of urban renewal by injecting more resources into the Land Development Corporation, making full use of the land resources acquired from reclamation, and fully implementing the policy of " exchanging a flat for a flat, a shop for a shop". The policy address has proposed a new urban renewal policy and the establishment of a multi-disciplinary urban renewal team responsible for developing an integrated urban renewal strategy and facilitating land resumption, compensation and clearance. The DAB considers these proposals acceptable but has reservations about some of the details involved. There is concern that since the team as proposed by the Government would be made up entirely of government officials, public opinions may not have a role to play in the future operation of the team.

As regards slope stabilization, the Governor admitted in the policy address that the Government had not done enough in this area, adding that $1.3 billion would be allocated for the purpose of completing the inspection and stabilization of potentially hazardous slopes by the end of 2000. It was also mentioned that various improvement measures would be adopted. However, apart from the issue of accountability for slope safety, the measures proposed by the Government are nothing new because they are basically the same as those recommended by geotechnical and engineering expert Professor Norbert MORGENSTERN after the Kwun Lung Lau tragedy. Moreover, the Governor has only stated that those responsible for the safety of man-made slopes would be identified. There was no mention of how the system of accountability for slope safety would be put in place, nor the specific details of its implementation.

The DAB thinks that the Hong Kong Government should have accurate knowledge of the basic geotechnical details of all slopes in Hong Kong to ensure that preventive work will not be hindered by a lack of information. And, since the identification of possible changes to the geotechnical structures of slopes is a crucial part of preventive work, the Hong Kong Government should positively consider the introduction of advanced technology which should be applied during preliminary investigation in order to detect hidden problems at an early stage. Besides, the Government should provide sufficient resources, and the Geotechnical Engineering Office should also concentrate its resources on the work of slope safety. There is also an urgent need for the Administration to revise the risk assessment standards by taking the probability of accidents as a major assessment criterion so that the community can have a real understanding of the true state of the slopes.

Mr President, as we all know, residents of the Northwest New Territories have long been tortured by traffic congestion and floods. However, over the years, the Government has failed to properly address these two major issues that seriously affect people's living. My colleague, the Honourable CHEUNG Hon-chung of the DAB, has already spoken earlier on the traffic conditions in Tuen Mun. So, I am going to talk about the problem of flooding in the area.

The DAB has always been deeply concerned about the problems of flooding and flood prevention works in West and North New Territories over the years. The serious floodings in the New Territories in recent years are in fact related to the delays in the Shenzhen River Regulation Project. At present, phase one of the regulation project is already in full swing, and the environmental assessment report for the second phase was also completed in the middle of this year. The DAB thinks that the Shenzhen River regulation plan should not be delayed any further. Therefore, we urge both the Hong Kong and Shenzhen authorities to speedily finalize the blueprint for phase two and commence work as soon as possible, without having to wait for the completion of phase one, to ensure that residents of the New Territories and the North District can be relieved from the threat of floods at an early date.

In the 1994 Policy Commitments, the Government promised to spend approximately $200 million in the following three years on flood prevention schemes for 12 villages considered to be particularly vulnerable. However, only one such scheme has been launched so far. Meanwhile, several serious floodings have occurred in the New Territories during the past year. Yet, in this year's policy address, the Government just repeated the above schemes, and attempted to gloss over the issue by simply saying "we will continue to implement our flood control strategy". The DAB hopes that the Government of Hong Kong can take speedy action to expedite the progress of its river training work so that residents of West and North New Territories can be relieved from the threat of flooding.

Mr President, while the policy address has not put forward any suggestions or measures concerning land reclamation, the Policy Commitments did list the benefits that reclamation could bring to Hong Kong, such as: an increase in land reserve, the facilitation of urban renewal and the provision of plentiful open spaces for public use. The DAB thinks that the Government's land reclamation policy only laid emphasis on the economic benefits brought about by reclamation, without serious thinking on the impacts of reclamation on port development, marine safety, the environment and the property market.

In January this year, the DAB brought to the attention of the Planning Department and the Marine Department that subsequent to the narrowing of the harbour, the water flow rate had increased. We also told them that the increased flow rate, together with the frequency of high-powered vessels navigating in the harbour which often came into direct contact with the big waves bouncing back from the shore, had put workers working in the harbour at risk and led to greater chances of accidents involving small vessels. However, the Policy Commitments just stated briefly that reclamation would not cause any significant impact on waterborne activities, giving people the impression that the Hong Kong Government was not serious in ensuring marine safety. This is inconsistent with the emphasis on safety at work found in this year's policy address. Does this mean that the Government is concerned only about the safety of workers on land?

Mr President, the DAB has all along been calling on the Government to further enhance equal opportunities through the introduction of legislation and policies to eradicate discrimination on the grounds of age, sex, mental ability, and physical ability. Although the Sex Discrimination Ordinance was enacted in the middle of this year to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sex, marital status and pregnancy, the Government has refused to accept the community's call that the Ordinance should include provisions to prohibit age discrimination. The Policy Commitments only stated that the Government would conduct a study on discrimination problems relating only to family status and sexual preference, while the issue of age discrimination was still dodged. This is indeed very disappointing. It is equally disappointing that even in regard to discrimination on the grounds of family status or sexual preference, the Administration has not drawn up a definite legislative timetable.

Furthermore, despite the passage of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, the Government has indicated that the Ordinance would not come into effect until the establishment of the Equal Opportunities Commission in mid-1996 to monitor the implementation of the Ordinance. The DAB is very dissatisfied with this arrangement. The DAB maintains that the Administration should expedite the establishment of the Commission to enable the Ordinance to come into effect on or before 1 January 1996. Regarding discrimination on the grounds of mental ability and physical ability, although the Disability Discrimination Ordinance was passed in the last session of this Council, the Government still needs to make use of various means, including policy back-up, in order to give full effect to the spirit of the Ordinance.

Mr President, finally, I would like to speak on the small house policy in Hong Kong. Insofar as housing is concerned, the policy address has only made some undertakings in respect of public and private housing, while the housing problem of indigenous residents in the New Territories was obviously overlooked. The small house policy, which can be traced back to the 1950s or 1960s, was first formulated by the Government to solve the housing problem of indigenous residents in the New Territories. The problems involved have just been raised by other Members earlier on. These problems show that the existing small house policy has clearly failed to achieve its original purpose of enabling indigenous New Territories residents to build their own houses. Therefore, the DAB urges the Government to review its small house policy as soon as possible and expedite the vetting process. Should there be a genuine need to make any policy changes, they should be considered in conjunction with the overall public housing policy in Hong Kong.

Mr President, with these remarks, I support the motion.

PRESIDENT: 27 Members have spoken including Dr LEONG Che-hung. Before I suspend the sitting, I shall call on one more Member to speak.

MR MOK YING-FAN (in Cantonese): Mr President, I would like to air my views in regard to the medical and the environmental protection policies contained in the policy address.

When I unfolded the Governor's written policy address, I expected that the Hong Kong Government would have worked out something to resolve the problems of rising medical costs and itemized charging. But I was very disappointed. In last year's policy address, the Government already undertook to review the fee structure of the public hospitals and clinics and to contain medical costs. But disappointingly, the public hospitals and clinics still raised their fees last year. The Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL) is extremely dissatisfied with the policy address as it has failed to propose any solution to reduce the medical costs.

As the medical financing problem has not yet been resolved properly, some hospitals, due to financial problems, have been privately imposing different forms of charges on the patients in recent years with a view to recovering the costs for providing certain expensive medical equipment and materials. The ADPL and a large number of community groups have all along been expressing strong opposition to this "itemized charging" policy. However, the Governor has failed to mention in the policy address as regards how to stop this practice of itemized charging in the medical sector. The ADPL once again expresses our deepest disappointment about this.

As far as we understand it, annual medical expenditure only accounts for 9% to 10% of total government expenditure. According to the 1995-96 budget, the real growth of expenditure on medical and health care stands at 7.7% only. The ADPL questions why, under such a healthy financial situation, the Government would have failed to allocate more resources for medical expenditure to alleviate the burden of the masses. When compared with other economically developed countries, we can see Hong Kong's medical expenditure is in fact on the low side. For example, according to the data provided by the Coalition for Monitoring Medical Services, public medical expenditure in Hong Kong only accounts for 1.1% of our gross domestic product. But the figure is 5.2% for Britain, 5.6% for the United States and 4.8% for Japan. It is therefore the ADPL's view that the Hong Kong Government should seriously consider increasing its expenditure on medical and health care.

Regarding the increase in medical costs, the ADPL suggests that the Government should set up a task force immediately to study the reasons for the increase and to consider the problems of cost control and financing in a comprehensive manner.

Apart from the problems of rising medical costs and itemized charging which need to be tackled, the enactment of legislation on patients' rights is also an item which various community organizations and political groups have long been striving for. The ADPL has requested that the Government should further safeguard patients' rights through legislation, enacting a drug labelling law and monitoring the charging of fees by private practitioners. However, the Government is totally oblivious to the public's demand and only indicates in the policy address that the "Patients' Charter" will be announced. The ADPL really doubts the sincerity of the Government in protecting patients' rights.

On the other hand, I also have some opinions about the Student Health Service. As Members all know, the Government already introduced a new Student Health Service in September this year to replace the School Medical Scheme which had run for 30 years. It is ADPL's view that the School Medical Scheme used to be an important medical service for the students. In view of the exorbitant medical fees charged by private practitioners nowadays, if parents have to shoulder their children's medical expreses, this will surely add to their burden of earning a living. The ADPL thinks that the Government should abolish the old scheme and, immediately after the implementation of the new service in 1995-96, review the operation of the service, further consult the participating parents, and restore the former School Medical Scheme according to the demand in 1996-97.

Finally, as far as the scope of medical care is concerned, I would like to talk about something relating to my own profession ¢w the future of "Chinese medicine". In the Governor's policy address, not even a word has been mentioned about Chinese medicine. This may be due to the fact that the Governor is a foreigner who knows nothing about Chinese medicine. In this respect, I will not blame him. I only hope that he will listen to the views of our traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners with political broad-mindedness.

Chinese medicine is part of the fine Chinese culture, and is also a unique form of medical science. It is based on a set of systematic and integrated medical theories as well as abundant practical experiences.

As part of the medical science, Chinese medicine should enjoy a professional status. But ironically, the TCM practitioners in Hong Kong can only be called "herbal vendors", with their practicing venues called herbalist shops (instead of being called "clinics"). There is one thing that Members may not know if I do not tell them. Even the clinical thermometers, which one can find in every household, are not allowed to be used in herbalist shops according to the existing policy. Is it a bitter irony? What role do the TCM practitioners play in the eyes of the Hong Kong Government?

Here I hope that the Governor and the Health and Welfare Branch will, with a pragmatic attitude, expedite the process of recognizing the professional status of TCM practitioners, and have them registered. Most importantly, the Government should recognize TCM as one of the components of medical and health care in Hong Kong, instead of regarding Western medicine as superior to Chinese medicine and restricting the development of Chinese medicine.

Now let me turn to the Government's environmental protection policy.

In order to stay healthy, the public need the provision of medical services by the Government. But more importantly, they need a refreshing and comfortable living environment. Confronted with the worsening air pollution problem, the Government surprisingly allocates huge resources to set up the so-called Air Pollution Index. Nevertheless, the Index has done nothing to help improve air quality. I even believe that the Index is withholding some facts, but I am not going to elaborate this point here. I remember that in last year's policy address, the Government made a number of commitments to improve air quality, inter alia, to consider increasing the penalties for smoky vehicles, to study ways of reducing air pollution at transport interchanges and tunnels, and to consider how to reduce indoor air pollution. But the Progress Report shows that all such work proceeds at a snail's pace and is still in the "scrutiny stage". The ADPL is extremely disappointed with the efficiency of the Government. In this year's policy address, the Hong Kong Government has yet to work out a specific schedule for the above undertakings. The ADPL feels that this reflects the lack of sincerity on the part of the Government. In this connection, it is requested that the Government:

  1. Immediately increase the penalties for smoky vehicles, including suspending their licenses;
  2. Work out measures by October 1996 to reduce air pollution at transport interchanges and tunnels; and
  3. Work out measures by October 1996 to reduce the concentration of indoor polluted air.

If the Hong Kong Government does not face up to the seriousness of the air pollution problem and try to deceive itself as well as the public by thinking that the air quality in Hong Kong remains satisfactory, the health condition of the public as a whole will worsen accordingly. For example, there will be more people contracting respiratory illness. It will then become a headache to the Hong Kong Government to determine whether our medical system can bear the burden. Please do not think what I said is pure exaggeration. Our health condition is indeed closely related to the quality of the air we breathe in every minute.

In regard to the environmental protection problem that needs urgent attention, the ADPL thinks that apart from improving air quality, the Hong Kong Government should also as soon as possible map out a long-term waste disposal programme together with the direction in which to implement it. The disposal of the ever-increasing solid waste in Hong Kong is also a problem that needs to be resolved without delay. Reducing the production of waste and recycling the resources are the best measures by way of radical remedy. If the resources can be recycled, there will be comparatively less solid waste. In regard to the policy on recycling the resources, the ADPL has all along been suggesting the Waste Segregation Scheme be implemented as soon as possible. However, in the policy address, the Governor has failed to put the Waste Segregation Scheme into practice. In this respect, the ADPL requests that the Government implement this scheme throughout the territory as soon as possible, to enhance waste recycling and lessen the burden of the landfills. This will be in line with what the Governor says in the policy address: we could not leave the problems to future generations.

With the commercial society constantly developing and the population constantly expanding, the preservation of forests and wetland has become an unshirkable responsibility for the Government as well as the Hong Kong people. Among the numerous agenda items on environmental protection, protection of wetland is another item that has always been neglected. However, the Government has not made any concrete commitment to protect the wetland in this policy address. As a matter of fact, the Government should have reconsidered whether its policy of protecting wetland was appropriate in the wake of the earlier Nam San Wai incident. The ADPL has earlier suggested that the Government should allocate more resources to protect the existing wetland, including considering the purchase of the private fish-ponds in the neighbouring areas. Apart from this, the Government should further protect the environment and make use of the resources to manage the deserted fish-ponds and land. In this policy address, the Government has virtually turned a blind eye to the requests from the environmental protection groups and from us. The ADPL is deeply disappointed indeed. Although the Government intends to impress us that it has tried its best to protect the environment by arguing that 40% of the land in Hong Kong will definitely be developed into country parks, the question is whether the remaining area can be neglected. The existing wetland in Hong Kong as well as the areas around Deep Bay are the places where numerous kinds of migratory birds and even rare species of birds can take rest and "refuel". Once the environment is polluted, the lives of a large number of birds will be threatened. This will definitely damage the reputation of Hong Kong. Hence, the ADPL requests the Governor again that more resources be allocated to protect the wetland.

These are my remarks.


PRESIDENT: In accordance with Standing Orders, I now suspend the sitting until 2.30 pm tomorrow afternoon.

Suspended accordingly at seven minutes past Nine o'clock.

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