Thursday, 26 October 1995
The Council met at half-past Two o'clock











Resumption of debate on motion which was moved on 25 October 1995

PRESIDENT: Council will now resume. Before we resume the debate on the Motion of Thanks, I would like to remind Members of the provision of Standing Order 27(1) which says that a Member shall address his observations to the President or Chairman of the whole Council. This means that Members should not direct their remarks to one another, but to the President or to the Member presiding. The Council will now continue with the Motion of Thanks.

DR SAMUEL WONG (in Cantonese): Mr President, the Governor's policy address paid close attention to the unemployment problem, but coverage on the Employees Retraining Scheme was scant. As the outgoing Chairman of the Employees Retraining Board (ERB), although I will be stepping down from chairmanship in three or four days, I would still like to outline to Members the progress of this Scheme during the past three years.

The success of Hong Kong in providing retraining is highly valued by other countries. The major reason lies in the swift, flexible and innovative development of the Scheme while its unit cost remains low and it is highly effective. Our achievements are even more favourable than those of most European and American countries.

The guiding principles of the ERB can be summarized into three points:

Firstly, it is market-oriented;

Secondly, it is tailor-made to the aspirations of the users; and

Thirdly, it exercises vigorous control over cost effectiveness.

During the past three years (actually, it has only been operating for two and a half years), the number of retrainees was almost 100 000 and the success rate for active job-seekers was well over 70%. The unit cost accounted for only about 20% of that in 1992. The amount of resources thus saved was to the tune of several hundred million dollars.

The ERB cannot solve the problem of unemployment with its own efforts, but it can offer some assistance to the unemployed who are most in need of help, so that they can secure employment as soon as possible. At the Governor's first Summit Meeting on Employment held on 6 June this year, the ERB undertook that it would secure jobs for no fewer than 10 000 retrainees within the coming 12 months. I believe that we can achieve far more than what we targeted at.

The ERB has no intention to take up the role played by the Vocational Training Council (VTC) in providing training on job skills. Those unemployed who are eager to find jobs need targeted training so that they can secure jobs as early as possible. The ERB has recently endeavoured to do something new, it has restructured some of the courses and streamlined the day-time courses, complemented these by evening continuation courses which will last for longer durations. In such a way, we can provide targeted training for retrainees in the light of the job skills they need after they have secured employment. As the incoming Chairman of the VTC, I would strive to strengthen our co-operation with the ERB so as to meet the demands of the retrainees in respect of training on job skills.

The ERB will establish closer links with the Labour Department, so that we can provide a safety net for the unemployed who need to seek help, boost the self-confidence of the job-seekers who suffered setbacks, provide counselling services for those who cannot attune themselves to market changes and provide orientation for the job-seekers who are in a hopeless muddle. The retraining courses are targeted at enhancing the retrainees' understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, so as to allow them to overlook their shortcomings and make much of their merits. In such a way, they can receive targeted training on the basis of their own strengths. We may also encourage and subsidize them to receive training after work after securing employment.

The ERB is very keen on enhancing the co-ordination and co-operation with the employers so that we can provide to each other accurate market information and improve the use of manpower resources.

I hope that more and more unemployed people will become aware of the safety net provided by the ERB, in particular the five-day "Core Course on Job Search Skills". This requires the community to make objective assessment of and recommend the Employees Retraining Scheme. Some biased and unsubstantiated criticisms can always attract a lot of attention from the media because the criticisms are always "extraordinary", but the erroneous information thus disseminated would discourage the unemployed, who are most in need of assistance, from attending the retraining courses. If they do not know how to make use of this safety net and find no way out, their long-drawn-out unemployment problem will never be solved and they may even go to the extreme of committing suicide as a result of the unrelieved pressures.

As to the financing of the Scheme, the income of the Employees Retraining Fund comes solely from the levy charged on employers employing foreign workers under the labour importation scheme. New levy sources may have to be identified in the future or the Scheme may have to be funded from General Revenue.

Stepping into the 21st century, the ERB will have an important role to play in such aspects as offering assistance to the unemployed and to the employers who have recruitment difficulties, making better use of marginal manpower resources, enhancing the continual development of our economy and stabilizing our society. All of us in the ERB have been working very hard in the past three years, thereby laying a firm foundation for our future development.

I am very glad that the ERB has been able to find a very suitable candidate to assume chairmanship for the next term ¢w our ex-colleague Mr TAM Yiu-chung has promised to take up the position as the Chairman of the ERB. Our colleague, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan, has also agreed to join the Board as a member, though he finds this a difficult job. I believe that under their leadership, the ERB will enter a new era and will make new endeavours in order to serve the unemployed in Hong Kong. Thank you, Mr President.

MR SZETO WAH (in Cantonese): Mr President, Hong Kong has entered the final stage of the transition period.

The first stage began in 1982 with the commencement of Sino-British negotiation and was concluded in 1984 with the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The policy of China towards Hong Kong was that it emphasized "one country, two systems" and " a high degree of autonomy" on the surface, while in substance, it was actually the "one core, two pivots" policy in disguised form. The core was to bring benefits to China's economy. One of the two pivots was to maintain the capitalist operation of the economy while the other pivot was to strengthen political control and combat democracy. One of the major strategies at this stage was to "set the mind of the investors at ease". Therefore, the outcome of the Sino-British negotiation ¢w the "Sino-British Joint Declaration" ¢w was welcome.

The second stage started after the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and lasted until the promulgation of the Basic Law in 1990. During this period, China proved to the investors that opening up their economy and introducing economic reforms had become something which could not be reversed; so the investors should set their mind at ease. Therefore, China retrogressed from the Sino-British Joint Declaration and enacted provisions in the Basic Law to facilitate political control, for example, the election methods for the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive, the power of finally vetoing legislation, the application of national laws and the provisions relating to the state of emergency, subversion and so on.

The third stage was the period between the promulgation of the Basic Law and the 17 September election held this year. During this period, the reinforcement of political control was put into effect and several big steps backward from the Basic Law were taken. For example, the dismantling of the through train, the establishment of the Preliminary Working Committee (PWC) and the provisional legislature, the reaching of the "Agreement on the question of the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong" which diverged from the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, as well as the exertion of pressure on senior civil servants and so on.

The final stage is in fact the last episode of the third stage wherein the reinforcement of political control will be even more vigorous and conspicuous. Recently, the PWC has proposed to emasculate the Bill of Rights Ordinance and to tailor-make a set of new electoral laws which would ensure that the least number of seats will be taken up by the democrats. The Preparatory Committee, the provisional legislature and the Chief Executive (Designate) will appear on the stage one by one. Even more disgusting farces will gradually be presented. Just wait and then you will see the even more shocking retrogressions.

The entire transition period is full of retrogressions which are continuous, step by step and are becoming more and more severe. What will Hong Kong become after 1997?

The future of Hong Kong hinges on whether China makes progress, in particular, on her political progress. What China wants is progress and what Hong Kong wants is that retrogression will not take place. If China progresses fast, Hong Kong can refrain from retrogressing or retrogressing too fast. So long as Hong Kong can withstand retrogression, it would also be conducive to the progress of China.

History tells us that China will certainly have political progress but her progress will not be very fast. Moreover, even if China makes progress, the impacts will only be reflected in Hong Kong after a certain lapse of time. Therefore, what Hong Kong has to strive for is that it should not retrogress, or should not retrogress significantly, or should not retrogress so fast, so that China's progress can catch up with our progress and then we can move forward together.

Judging from the current situation, what retrogression will post-1997 Hong Kong have to go through?

Firstly, democratic forces within the power establishment will be restricted, weakened and finally eliminated. Through the setting up of a provisional legislature, new electoral laws will be enacted. Appointment of District Board Members and Municipal Councillors will be resumed to exercise check and balance on the elected Members. In the Legislative Council, some candidates will no longer be qualified to stand for election. The system of direct election will be turned into the system of proportional representation or "multi-seat, single vote" or even "double-seat, single vote". The nine new functional constituencies (FC) will be abolished and a system similar to the existing 21 FCs whose seats are mostly returned uncontested will be adopted. The 10 seats returned by the Election Committee will then be returned by a mode similar to that of the Selection Committee for the formation of the provisional legislature. In this way, democrats could at most take 10 seats in the Legislative Council. In the many Advisory Boards and Committees, democrats will either be excluded or take an insignificant part.

Secondly, press freedom will be suppressed. Through the acquisition of shares or equity stakes, pressure is exerted upon the newspaper bosses who have business interests in the mainland ¢w banning their advertisements, bribing their senior executives, sending personnel to infiltrate into their institutions, intimidating front-line reporters (such as the XI Yang case) and so on. Gradually, the community will hear only the strongest voice broadcast by one loudspeaker. The fourth type of check and balance on top of the separation of the three powers¢w that is to say, press freedom ¢w will be suppressed. After that, various freedoms will gradually be blatantly trampled on.

Thirdly, it will be hard for the independence and impartiality of the judicial system to be maintained. Leninism has all along been regarding the judicial system as a tool with which one class suppressed another class, which has nothing to do with either independence or impartiality. Therefore, the "Agreement on the Question of the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong" concluded by Britain and China has so flagrantly contravened the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. Initially, the courts will take a crack at political incidents and human rights issues but, eventually, when money is being linked up with power, economic cases will be the next to succumb to manipulation.

Fourthly, corruption. In China, corrupt practices are rampant and the linking up of money with power is widespread. It is quite impossible that Hong Kong can be immune from this after 1997. Without a check and balance in the form of a highly democratic autonomous system in Hong Kong, the resistance of Hong Kong to such practice will not be very strong. Corruption will not only create more and more injustice in society, but also corrode the entire civil service, thereby weakening the fair competition in a free economy and undermining the healthy development of the economy.

Fifthly, various human rights and freedoms will be gradually restricted. Even personal persecution will possibly take place.

Lastly, the law and order in Hong Kong will also be at stake.

Can Hong Kong withstand such retrogression, such big and dramatic retrogression? If China does progress, or if we can mobilize all the positive anti-retrogressive factors that can be mobilized as well as unite all anti-retrogressive forces that can be united, we are still not in a desperate situation.

The current Legislative Council has started for no more than two weeks. Yet, after going through the democratic baptism at the 17 September election, the healthy force in our society has become stronger and this has already been reflected in this Council. First of all, the House Committee has unanimously decided to send an all-party delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Committee hearing in Geneva. This was vetoed during the last session. Secondly, we have a grand opening of this Session where there was only one vote for the first motion. I believe this record will never be broken because I am afraid that there will never be any motion which is going to be voted against by the person who moved the motion himself. Thirdly, the motion to freeze government charges was carried by an overwhelming majority yesterday.

After the release of the policy address, many commentaries carried the word "sunset". Although the verdict has been passed that this Council will have a lifespan of only 20 months, I do not find any "sunset" atmosphere in this Council. On the contrary, I find that the Council is quite vibrant which is something gratifying. This reminds me of the poem written by Mr ZHU Zi-qing, a modern academic-cum-writer, which reads "With the setting sun in a resplendent blaze, why mourn that it is nearing dusk!" Even though there are only 20 months to go, I hold that we can still contribute much to the future of Hong Kong.

Mr President, these are my remarks.

MR JAMES TIEN: Mr President, just over 20 months are left before the change of sovereignty. At such a sensitive time, investors must weigh their future. Some are hedging their bets. This is only cautious human nature at work. We are pleased that China and Britain have largely resolved their differences. Peace between them gives us hope as we concentrate on fixing our troubled economy which has to be our main concern.

Most of us in the business and industrial sectors are pragmatists before we are optimists. We are worried because the once vibrant private sector is now hurting. Our gross domestic product grew by 5.9% in the first quarter of l995. This cheery prediction was revised to 5.5%, and most recently by the Governor, to 5%. Since statistics always reflect the past, the downward spiral is perhaps worse than what the already bleak figures suggest.

Some certainly feel that the territory is in for a slump after a decade of dazzling, uninterrupted GDP performance during which unemployment never exceeded 2.5%. A side-effect of the 1985-1995 boom has been high inflation. Another is a somewhat spoiled, choosy, expensive and demanding labour force.

Investors worry that the economy is running out of steam at a most volatile period. We fear that a prolonged recession, coinciding with the last phase of the transition, may give the world a false impression that we, the business community, lack confidence, that we are being eclipsed by our regional rivals, and that we are preoccupied with politics.

Many factors together stifle growth in a territory dependent on trade, credit and foreign interest rates. The roots of our present difficulties may be complex, but the timing was precise. We sensed the start of the slowdown at around March of last year. That was when the Government intervened in the property market, forced banks to limit mortgage lending to 70% and told buyers to wait. The result was sudden and dramatic. The good news is that the speculators have been chased out as demand slackens and the cost of a typical home slashed by up to a third. The bad news is self-evident.

What the Government did not foresee, but the business sector did, was the chain-reaction. As the property market sagged, developers, real estate agents, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, lenders and all those whose livelihood depend on this type of business suffered. With earnings cut, jobs insecure and with property owners feeling the pinch, people started to save, rather than spend.

The dire consequence has been a rash of shop closures, merchandise sold at low or no profit, investments curbed, clerks fired and small entrepreneurs themselves joining the unemployment queue. Desperate companies now go on fire sales, driving larger firms to do the same. Just a walk around town these days or a talk with shop keepers should convince even the unionists that the economy ¢w 60% of which is driven by consumer spending ¢w is not well.

Mr President, who is partly to blame for the widespread hardship? Most of us have to point our finger at the Government which basked in the private sector's glory of the past 10 years, collected the riches, and never considered a coherent economic strategy. The past two decades of neglect, often described as "positive non-intervention", which is another way of saying "Do nothing", have caused Hong Kong to lag behind other Asian tigers ¢w Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea in industrial development. They, unlike ours, are not apologetic about government in close partnership with the business sector. Each of them has followed the Japanese example in which the powerful Ministry of International Trade and Investment (MITI) has coached some companies for excellence, even dominance, in certain specialties to the country's benefit.

Not one of our neighbours has complacently allowed, let alone encouraged, manufacturers to migrate. They know that the hollowing out of industry and exclusive reliance on one field, say, finance and service, may be fatal. Let us take a look at Singapore, a city state that mirrors us in some ways, a city that is determined to keep its economy diversified, dynamic, and technologically fuelled.

Today, Singapore has attracted a lion's share of blue chip corporations and lured talents from abroad, including those from Hong Kong. ¡@Many advanced companies now manufacture their most sophisticated equipment there. That country recruits as many guest workers ¢w now around 100 000 ¢w as are needed to keep the factories humming.

Though roughly on a par with Hong Kong in per capita GDP, Singapore's manufacturing industry accounts for 27% of its economy compared to 11% in Hong Kong today. More sobering still, the Singapore GDP growth rate in 1995 will double that of ours, while its inflation will be half ours.

The Government, in its effort to improve the environment, did not appreciate the burden it could impose on the commercial and industrial sectors. For example, administrators seriously miscalculated the impact of the sewage surcharge on the catering industry. Officials estimated that the extra levy would add 10% to operating costs when in fact it is more than twice as high. This, coupled with weakened consumer confidence and reduced spending, has devastated the business. Some 600 restaurants folded in the first six months of the year. That was only the beginning. By the end of the year, up to 800 of these premises ¢w roughly 10% of the whole sector ¢w would close.

What is more, our Government has spent a lot of time and energy towards politics and towards meeting the demands of activists. Businessmen now ask: What is our priority, more bread or more ballots?

The Government also boasts how we enrol more than twice as many university students as we did a decade ago. For sure we should be proud. But have we ever wondered how we are going to place our ambitious university graduates? Do we expect them to be contented with menial and dead-end jobs? Just as society has nurtured their minds, it has to provide them with careers that have bright prospects. If we do not gear our economy to meet their abilities, we will have failed them ¢w as well as failing ourselves.

Mr President, we applaud the Administration's pledge to build a Science Park. But the promise was made a decade ago and progress has been painfully slow. Singapore and Taiwan are well on their way to replicating Silicon Valley. Even the Pudong district is poised to do the same. Here in Hong Kong, famous for its bold efficiency, the Government procrastinates. We cannot afford to lag further behind. Let the best and brightest of our younger generation compete on a level playing field.

Mr President, public enemy number one today is not unemployment, but job and skill mismatching. We have jobs without people to do them and people without jobs. Such an anomaly is the symptom and not the disease. We need an economic stimulation package. Other governments perk their economy with initiatives. Our Administration ¢w which has been rightly prudent and I praise them for doing so, ¢w can ease the self-imposed constraints without deviating from the principle of long-term fiscal discipline. A cut of 1.5% in both corporate and personal salary rates and a freeze in other levies would be the perfect tonic. The Government, with its $150 billion reserves and $400 billion in the Exchange Fund, can afford to leave more money in the private sector where it can do the most good.

Mr President, we in the commercial and industrial sectors object to the now scaled down labour import scheme with a ceiling set at 5 000. The Administration should not tamper with the existing programme the maximum quota of which is 25 000. The Labour Department knows that the current scheme is slimming down on its own. Today, only around 15 000 are employed in that programme which will continue to shrink. If the economy continues to be stagnant, and unemployment rate continues to rise, employers will automatically employ less imported workers.

Let us not mince words. Local union leaders and several parties have turned guest workers into scapegoats. This is politically motivated. Even if we were to fire all the foreign employees, we could not substitute them with local workers.

Let us look at the employment figures objectively. We have 110 000 unemployed in a working population of three million. Those 15 000 foreign workers constitute only 0.5% of the labour force. Sacking all labour import scheme employees would not affect the 3.5% jobless rate that much. Some of the companies which stripped off their foreign workers would move the rest of their operation elsewhere or go out of business, creating even more unemployment. The Labour Department has registered 60 000 job vacancies. Let us allow the Government to match jobs with the jobless. Let us not incite the people to hysteria.

Mr President, we have here some workers pampered by success over these last 10 years in which wages rose faster than productivity, in which job hopping was a common past-time. We employers have watched our staff desert us. Some of them switch employers shortly after their training and before they are even productive. We also hear constant demands for more money, longer holidays, more benefits, better conditions but fewer obligations and responsibilities. We do our best to meet the requests but sometimes we simply cannot cope. We are losing our competitiveness. Are we exaggerating? Consider this: a recent television documentary featured a carpenter who claimed to be unemployed for months. He said he would do any job rather than accept Comprehensive Social Security Assistance. He later went for an interview and was hired. But he turned down the offer because the boss would only pay him $450 a day when he was used to earning $600.

We employers often do not have that option. We take what business we can get. We are being squeezed by customers overseas who would source their supplies elsewhere unless we sell our goods cheaper. We assume risks and liabilities. Perhaps some workers are beginning to see the world from our perspective too. Employers do not regard employees as enemies. We are on this boat together and let us keep it afloat.

Mr President, sometimes the common question is: What makes a good boss? Is he someone who indulges his staff, swamps them with fringe benefits, bonuses and budget bursting wages only to fold his company, leaving his employees to fend for themselves? Or is he someone who is fair but not lavish, and who makes a profit so that his company will last and his workers can have security and long-term prospects?

We urge legislators to think of the whole economy and to empathize with employers. We are now facing more additional benefits and payments than we care to recall. The Mandatory Provident Fund, the Old Age Pension Scheme, more severance and long service payments, extended maternity leave, gender equality in employment and promotion, calls for unemployment relief fund and so forth.

No doubt the unionists and their political allies in this Council mean well for the workers. We the employers share the same objective of prospering Hong Kong, even if we differ on the tactics for achieving this. We hope that employers and workers' representatives can arrive at an understanding and mutual co-operation.

The 1997 uncertainty and a struggling economy are forcing some investors to wait and see. The Legislative Council could not assure them either, if it insists on turning the people against each other based on class.

For sure ask for more, but please do not forget that, if the economy wilts, jobs will vanish. When that happens, all will mean nothing. No one can legislate jobs into being. Only business can create employment and ensure a decent future for all of us. We have a common interest: a stable Hong Kong friendly to business, devoted to growth, committed to the rule of law and, ultimately, for a better standard of living for everyone. Thank you. Mr President.

MR LEE CHEUK-YAN (in Cantonese): Thank you, Mr President. Today I will concentrate my comments on the policy address with particular reference to the part on economy and employment. While listening to my speech, Members may have the feeling that part of my speech is the Chinese translation of the speech the Honourable James TIEN made earlier because I found that my speech is very similar, and even identical, to his in respect of the economic policy. Besides, for the beginning part on unemployment and the importation of labour, Members can simply replace the word "agree" in his speech with "oppose" and the word "oppose" with "agree", which will be my speech today. Now let me get down to business.

In the 1990s when the policy address was bragging about the high praises Hong Kong had received from the world on our economic achievements, in Hong Kong a middle-aged coolie who had long been unemployed was arrested by the police for cutting open a rice bag with a knife to steal the rice therein to fill his stomach because he could no longer bear the hunger and had no rice to cook; a manufacturing worker in his middle age committed suicide collectively with his wife and daughter because he could not endure the sufferings of unemployment and indebtedness any more. Unemployment has escalated to a social problem which arouses public concern.

Yet, the policy address as a whole can be described in a phrase as "perfunctory betokening gross irregularities with serious myopic views." The Confederation of Trade Unions thinks that the whole policy address has failed by any standard in such a major subject to provide a solution to unemployment, a resit is therefore required and a strategy has to be formulated afresh.

Now when everybody from top to bottom in Hong Kong are worrying about their "rice bowls", when our society is undergoing a period of recession and when members of the public are "tightening their belts", the Governor conversely remarked that the economic growth of Hong Kong is robust, portraying Hong Kong as if it is free of any problems and nothing has to be done. Does the Governor want to be branded "perfunctory"? This is nothing more than an ostrich policy. To act like an ostrich may be an inexorable behavior of a sunset government. It may also be the result of bureaucrats in the Hong Kong Government burying their heads in the sand dunes of economic statistics and losing sight of the plights the public face in reality and in particular, losing sight of the desperation and helplessness of the lowest stratum of society who are caught helpless in unemployment. It is not an exaggeration to say that the pressure of living has already driven some of them crazy.

I hereby solemnly warn the Hong Kong Government that the restructuring of the economy of Hong Kong has brought about the crises of unemployment and the huge gap between the rich and the poor in Hong Kong. These crises are the result of the Government's failure to formulate a complete manpower policy throughout the whole course of restructuring, thus letting workers fend for themselves; and its failure to draw up a policy to redistribute income in order to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. It is even more worrying that the restructuring of the economy is continuing in the direction of complete reliance on trade between China and Hong Kong, thus pushing the economy of Hong Kong to a crisis. Complete reliance on China-Hong Kong trade places the economy of Hong Kong in a very passive position and any changes in the economy of China will certainly have a serious impact on Hong Kong. Furthermore, as China develops her own ports, trade services and financial market, the importance of Hong Kong to China will gradually diminish. Added to these are high land price, rent and operational cost in Hong Kong are eroding our competitive edge, and the economy of Hong Kong has no room for complacency.

In order to prevent Hong Kong from sliding into the abyss of unemployment and economic crisis, far-sighted economic policies must be formulated. Therefore, the Confederation of Trade Unions thinks that the Government should conduct an across-the-board review of the ever-changing economic structure of Hong Kong and to work out proposals which will create more employment opportunities. First, the way ahead for the economy is to develop a manufacturing sector and a service sector which feature advanced technology and high productivity. When I referred to the specific paths which South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Germany have taken to develop their economies, we found that Hong Kong has to follow their examples if we want to create more employment opportunities. We should adjust upward the weight of the manufacturing sector in our economic structure and work towards a technologically advanced, capital-intensive and high value-added mode of production. Although in recent years the Hong Kong Government has invested to the tune of several hundreds of millions of dollars to fund scientific and technological research and subsidize technological development in the industrial sector, the investment is negligible compared with the whole scale of the economy and the pace of development of Hong Kong. As the Hong Kong Government is advocating an economic structure with the service sector playing the lead, a huge fault has appeared in technological development. In terms of development of technology, Hong Kong has started too late when compared with the other three little dragons in Asia. It is indeed a thousand pities that the funds allocated by the Hong Kong Government in 1995-96 for scientific and technological research accounted for as little as less than 0.1% of the gross domestic product. This percentage is lagging far behind the 2.33% in South Korea, 1.79% in Taiwan and 0.2% in Thailand. We should quicken our pace so that the target expenditure on scientific and technological research will gradually increase to 0.5% of the gross domestic product. The Confederation of Trade Unions is of the view that the Science Park to be established in the future should not only emphasize on the transfer of production technology, but should also take into account basic research, and training of technicians of the middle and lower ranks and management staff to link up with the policy of adult education.

Secondly, the Task Force under the Financial Secretary should expeditiously complete a comprehensive review on the future of the service sector in the territory. This should not be limited to amending ordinances, such as the Companies Ordinance, and other business legislation and so on. Guidance should be provided for the service sector in respect of the direction of development, for example, the direction of the development of international accounting, finance, banking, education, industrial design and tourism. The capabilities of employees in the service sector, in particular their language proficiency, practical commercial knowledge and basic skills should also be improved accordingly. Only in so doing can high value-added jobs be reserved for Hong Kong people, thereby reducing the danger of the northward relocation of the service sector. In the meantime, the burden of rent also needs redressing. The implementation of these economic policies is not meant to control the market and manipulate the economy. Operation of a free market is not equivalent to letting it grow naturally or run its own course. After an economy has prospered, we can then formulate policies on manpower and employment to ensure that they tie in with each other. However, the existing policies on manpower and employment are disoriented and lack long-term direction. What is more dissatisfactory is that the Hong Kong Government has attached undue importance to the industrial and commercial sector and consequently formulated the importation of labour policy.

The surge in the unemployment rate this year is of course due to a variety of causes. Yet, there is no denying of the fact that the importation of labour policy aggravates the unemployment problem, like throwing stones on workers in a well who fail to find jobs, and it is also the chief culprit in suppressing wages. Just imagine how the unemployed workers would feel about the importation of labour policy. Would they not feel angry when they see positions which they can fill being taken up by foreign workers instead? The crux of the importation of labour policy as a whole is just this substitution effect. If substitution effect had not resulted from foreign workers coming to work in Hong Kong, workers in Hong Kong, I believe, would not be as angry as they are now. Yet, this is not the reality. Foreign workers are only taking up jobs which our people in general can, will and want to do. It is merely a pack of lies to say that the importation of labour is necessary because Hong Kong people are unwilling to work in industries of an obnoxious nature. Hong Kong people will not abhor any trade. What Hong Kong workers abhor is just the level of wages which is inhuman, not the work itself. The Supplementary Labour Scheme the Government has now proposed involves a complicated procedure, but it does not mean that it will not produce the substitution effect. Since statistics on employment show that apart from professionals, there is a problem of excessive supply of workers in various job categories, why then does the Hong Kong Government still insist on the importation of labour, maintaining the number of foreign workers in Hong Kong at the level of 15 000? With the number of foreign workers imported for the airport project reaching 25 000, could it be that the Hong Kong Government genuinely believes that the unemployment problem would not be aggravated as a result? Mr James TIEN said earlier that in times of economic depression, the industrial and commercial sector would naturally employ less foreign workers, but I do not believe this. I believe that in times of economic depression, they would only take on less local workers because foreign workers are obedient and hard working and less expensive. Although they may not be quite as efficient, they are, at least, cheap. Therefore, in such circumstances, we consider it necessary for the Governor to review the whole importation of labour policy. In stressing the importance of the new Supplementary Labour Scheme in his policy address, the Governor seeks to retain the option of employing foreign workers to alleviate any future short supply in the local labour market. We have to note that the word he used is "future". Since it is a "future" problem, why is it already stated now that workers have to be imported? Is there no other alternative to solve this "future" problem? For instance, employers can begin to improve productivity now; and another feasible alternative is to improve the training policy of the Hong Kong Government so that employers do not have to take on foreign workers at all. Now, as employers are told that they can import foreign workers, they will simply not pay any attention to improving productivity and training. This will be detrimental to the long-term interest of Hong Kong.

The combat against illegal employment and the retraining scheme are also mentioned in the policy address to demonstrate that the Hong Kong Government has taken actions to respond to the unemployment problem positively. However, effects of these two measures are very limited.

Insofar as the problem of illegal workers is concerned, even though the Secretary for Security has remarked that heavier penalties would be imposed, the biggest problem is the low conviction rate. Only some 90 out of the 900-plus employers were convicted in 1994. How can this have any deterrent effect? If the Government does not proceed in the direction of producing a deterrent effect on employers, we believe that we could never put an end to the problem of illegal workers.

As for the retraining scheme, the biggest problem is that the existing retraining scheme is too eager to reap quick results, thus mistakenly attaching undue importance to quantity at the expense of quality. From a scheme aiming at the training of skills, it has turned into another employment service scheme, creating an illusion of tackling unemployment simply by job-referrals. I would like to remind the Government that a short-sighted retraining scheme will only produce long-term unemployment. If we fail to raise the level of skills of workers today, these workers will remain unemployed tomorrow. Therefore, it is now the duty of the Government to raise the level of skills of the whole community. In order to fulfill this role, not only is it necessary to make long-term investment in the retraining scheme, but it is also necessary to readjust the government policy on adult education and training. While the policy address tried to use figures to show that the Government has attached much importance to training, the Government has only emphasized on further education at the tertiary level and has lost sight of the need for further education of "small working men" with middle and lower level of education. In this regard, the Government has only invested in the Vocational Training Council and retraining. Such investment, in comparison with the needs of society, can only be said as a drop in the ocean. I suggest that the Government evaluate afresh the needs for adult education and link adult education with the economic policy to ensure that the supply of skilled personnel will tie in with the economic development strategy. This only is the long-term solution to the unemployment problem.

In addition to an overall adjustment to the manpower and employment policy, the Government should also introduce an income redistribution policy, On hearing the mention of income redistribution policy, the Financial Secretary may say that I am trying to mislead the public with heresies again. All along, the Hong Kong Government has only emphasized economic growth and ignored distribution and this will only lead to anxieties in Hong Kong. Only when all our people are living and working in peace and contentment will there be a stable environment for economic development. Income redistribution policy is precisely an effective means to stabilize society. We cannot tolerate prolonged impoverishment of society; unemployment, problems of the elderly, high property prices, high rent and high inflation rate are condemning the lower classes of Hong Kong to even more abject poverty. With the implementation of an income redistribution policy, it is hoped that a more equitable and a more humane society will emerge. Specific ways to achieve this end include a more progressive tax system, the Old Age Pension Scheme, measures to curb property prices and inflation, improvements to labour legislation and so on. Speaking of improvements to labour legislation, the Confederation of Trade Unions will put forward the result of a comprehensive review and our demands next week when I hope the Government will accept them.

All in all, the Confederation of Trade Unions is dissatisfied with the policy of "doing things sluggishly" which the Hong Kong Government has long adopted. We call on the Hong Kong Government to set up a tripartite "Economic Development Committee" comprising workers, employers and government officials with a view to formulating the economic development strategy of Hong Kong and define the role that our economy is going to play in the next century. Under this new development strategy, matched with a vigorous manpower training policy, retraining and education schemes for all our people should be implemented. In the short term, the General Labour Importation Scheme and the importation of labour scheme for the airport should be brought to a complete halt and an unemployment assistance system should be instituted so that members of the public can breathe a sigh of relief and regain their confidence in the future in the face of a high unemployment rate.

MR ERIC LI (in Cantonese): Mr President,

1. Phantom of the Opera

The successful performance of a play hinges on the cast and the backstage crew "working together". The policy address, produced by the Governor himself, resembles a fabulous play but it depends on the co-operation of the entire crew as to whether the play can be conducted at a tempo which rightly presents the story to its audience.

The play that the Governor produced is a historical classic. Many Hong Kong people believe that the Governor already prepared the script as early as when he came all the way to Hong Kong to assume office. This play, which lasts for about five years, is a play the Governor wrote, directed and performed by himself based on his observation of the circumstances by using the supreme powers of a colonial governor and his distinguished political skills. It is, of course, hoped that in the end the British Government will be able to take a curtain call and return home amidst the applause of the Hong Kong people.

Now, act four of this play is showing on the political stage of Hong Kong but both praises and abuses have been received. Very often the problem lies in the local supporting actors or actresses not acting according to the script. It is also a common occurrence that actors or actresses are "playing to the gallery" or "stealing the show".

The role that the Governor plays is somewhat similar to that of the protagonist of the famous play, "Phantom of the Opera". Although the Phantom sang beautifully and was incomparably intelligent, he had to condescend to live in the cellar due to environmental constraints. He was heard rather than seen most of the time but this did not prevent him from manipulating the whole opera behind the scene. From time to time, he refused to resign himself to loneliness and he wore a mask and made his presence felt on stage by making awe-inspiring moves. And this adds excitement to the story.

According to his part in the play, the Governor should now retreat to the backstage gradually to make plans to co-ordinate the performance of Hong Kong people on stage. But is this something that is actually going on? First, although the Governor knows perfectly well that it must be "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" in the end, he still persists in arrogating to himself all the executive powers and holds firmly on to the notion of separating the Executive Council and the Legislative Council, downgrading Members of this Council to the "supporting actors or actresses" in ruling Hong Kong and making them "sing in chorus" for him. What is more, the Governor keeps on abbreviating the script. From "Our Next Five Years" in 1992, "Tomorrow's Challenges" in 1993 to "A Thousand Days" in 1994 to this year's "Our Work Together", which cares only about the present. Besides, it is stated in the conclusion that an important duty in the coming year is simply to "focus on how we are handing over Hong Kong in good order, with its stability intact and its prosperity secure." It is no longer necessary for us to make speculations about how the last Governor interprets his historical mission.

This kind of role which has no tomorrow is obviously not one which Members of this Council would like to perform. No wonder Members prepare their own alternative scripts in the form of different kinds of Members' Bills, motion debates and so on, waiting for their turn to be performed on stage. Regrettably, regardless of how well the actors or actresses play, so long as the masked protagonist wields the "imperial sword" of the Royal Instructions, the power and status with which he is vested to manipulate behind the scene is instantly manifested.

The Phantom singer in another version of the play staged by the Chinese side is the Preliminary Work Committee (PWC) which conducts previews of "one country, two systems" and "a high degree of autonomy". Although the duty of the PWC is to give a public demonstration of the drafted script, stressing that there is room for amendment, the previews still have significant consequences, particularly if Hong Kong people generally consider that the drafted script presented by the PWC through its announcements and actions merely represents a play betokening "one country, one system" and "manipulation behind the scene", which is contrary to what "one country, two systems" and "a high degree of autonomy" imply. This will do irreparable damage to the confidence of Hong Kong people in a smooth transition and, what is more, other first-class actors or actresses who are well qualified to play a role in the future provisional legislature may even flinch at the very sight of it to preserve a modicum of justice and dignity.

The political arena in Hong Kong has always been characterized by a variety of opinions. It seems unimportant as to whether everyone is required to go by the same version of a script, play a designated role either on stage or backstage, and accept the overall manipulation of the director to "work together" in the performance. So long as the actors or actresses are not wearing masks and sincerely make efforts to perform their role, the performance will command admiration from the audience. The stage, in the first place, belongs to everyone and applause can be shared by all. Yet, the play can only be ended in one way and that is "reunion in 1997 and a smooth transition". No matter how much time is left, we must strive to participate in the preparation of the script and foster the spirit of co-operation to fathom the plot in order to attain a happy ending. This is the major task that the Chinese and British Governments, Members of this Council, members of political parties and members of the PWC should carry out together now.

2. To regain the confidence of the business sector

In the speech I made in this Council yesterday, I said that the Government should take the lead to economize on public sector expenditure in the face of an economic downturn and then make plans to spend the limited social resources so spared on persons and industrial, commercial and financial projects in Hong Kong having the potential for development so that they can lead Hong Kong out of a stagnant economy and create employment opportunities.

In fact, projects which possess potential and are worthy of investment can be found everywhere in Hong Kong. As long as the Government adopts an open attitude and flexibly co-ordinates its politics for this purpose, the industrial and commercial sector would certainly take the initiative to strengthen communication with the high ranking government officials and Members of this Council and make viable suggestions to work out the right prescription for dealing with the economic downturn. The Governor's Business Council should take the lead to create the atmosphere and the message of "working together" and then put them across to all sectors in the community.

As far as I know, the hotel industry which is experiencing a tight supply of rooms will be very attractive to investors if the Government can slightly relax the restrictions imposed under its land grant policy and the depreciation rates for tax purposes. The development of the hotel industry, in conjunction with the construction of the new airport in Hong Kong, can further develop the immense potential of the tourist industry in the territory over the medium and long term.

The financial sector in Hong Kong also has ample capital and is forging ahead in its development. While the industry itself has very favourable conditions, we still have to pay attention to the need to dress the industry up and conduct well-planned overseas promotions to preserve the market and even develop it further. Hong Kong has a great many advantages. To name a few, there is no capital gains tax; no dividend withholding tax; we have a currency which is freely convertible and has a stable exchange rate; we have technologically advanced communication facilities; a credible network of international connection; an abundant supply of expertise-intensive professionals; a bilingual labour market and so on. Due to the absence of appropriate institutions to conduct international promotions on Hong Kong, these advantages have not been widely recognized abroad.

I hope that, during this time of economic hardships, the Trade Development Council will make prompt decisions to cope with the restructuring of the economy and expeditiously extend its terms of reference, make full use of the available manpower, experience, network and framework to facilitate the development of the financial industry in Hong Kong. The Society of Accountants is now working on a series of proposals on taxation and other areas to increase the competitiveness of the financial service sector in Hong Kong. It is expected that these proposals will be made public early next month. A review can also be conducted to see whether the transaction cost of stocks, futures and so on in Hong Kong can be reduced. An appropriate number of strategic preferential treatments in conjunction with vigorous promotional campaigns is an effective measure that the Government is absolutely capable of implementing.

Insofar as the property market is concerned, as a result of man-made regulatory measures there has been a fair measure of property price adjustments which are rather marked. It is reckoned that there has been a fair number of genuine home buyers who are waiting to acquire properties. As for real estate developers, it is learned that they have been deprived of a very important source of capital raising owing to the prohibition of pre-completion transaction of premises and so they must raise enough money during the course of the whole development project and settle first the enormous premium and construction fees. This prohibition of pre-completion transaction of premises has had a side effect and small developers have to reduce their investment significantly due to a shortage of cash to meet their needs, whereas big developers have to put huge capital on hold over a long period of time and refrain from making other investments. As it is estimated that the activities of the real estate sector directly or indirectly account for a quarter of the gross domestic product, if the cash flow within the real estate sector is in such a state, the pace of our overall economic growth will be directly affected. I hope that the Government can make an in- depth study on this phenomenon and find out whether it is really in such a state. If so, can the Government consider relaxing the control over the transaction of property as early as possible, including the control on the pre-completion transaction of premises which exists in name only? This will favour home buyers (not speculators). And the affected developers who are forced to put on hold a considerable amount of capital can be free to plough their capital back to the market to create new wealth and employment opportunities.

3. Take the easy path and give up the difficult one; and accord top priority to the livelihood of the people

Before the policy address is delivered, politicians unanimously looked to the Government to care more about people's livelihood. The Governor seems to have conformed to the wish of the people by talking at length about setting short-term targets for services which aim at improving the livelihood of the people. Many of these proposals are new. For example, making improvements on Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) payments for some people, taking measures to combat the problem of drug abuse by youngsters and so on. Yet, while such a plain and direct narration in the form of a "policy brief " is prepared in an excessively discreet manner, it will certainly be difficult for it to satisfy this Legislative Council which has high expectations. However, we should admit that the Policy Commitments have given a very detailed explanation in this respect regardless of whether this Council assents to the proposals initiated by the Government. I believe that there will still be plenty of chances for this Council to conduct in-depth discussions. Today, I only want to bring up the need to improve the CSSA. Since we have confirmed that there is a group of people whose living standard is below a level considered to be the most basic, why do we have to wait until 1 April to improve their livelihood? Even if improvements are made to their living environment immediately, the Government will only have to pay a very small amount of money and, in doing so, a message will be explicitly conveyed that this prompt response to the review is different from the other general responses to an overall review. In making this speech today, I seek to put forward the political and economic issues the Governor has evaded most in his policy address. It is my hope that the Government will give us a positive response with regard to these two aspects.

With these remarks, I support the motion.

MR CHEUNG MAN-KWONG (in Cantonese): Mr President, this year's policy address is probably the last one that Governor Chris PATTEN can freely compose in his term of office. Next year, after the appointment of the Chief Executive (Designate) and his/her key officers, the Hong Kong Government will be reduced to a caretaker government waiting to be taken over. By then, I am afraid the Governor's policy address may become a report on the glorious retreat of the British Empire.

The British colonial administration in Hong Kong can be aptly compared to the setting sun. This should be welcomed by all Chinese people with patriotic feelings. However, as 1997 approaches, most Hong Kong people just cannot feel the joy of reunion. Instead, faced with a Chinese Government that has been stifling political dissent in Hong Kong since "June 4" under a leftist policy, and faced with a group of political upstarts whose words and deeds have outraged even some pro-China people with integrity, most Hong Kong people are filled with sadness at the loss of freedom. Recently, the Preliminary Working Committee (PWC) has proposed the establishment of a Selection Committee of only 400 people, which is to be responsible for setting up the provisional legislature in a wholly exclusive manner. The PWC has also proposed to amend the Bill of Rights, reinstate the six ordinances related to the freedom of association, assembly and the press. This is a blatant attempt at depriving the Hong Kong people of their right to vote and of their human rights, showing that freedom is indeed getting increasingly limited in the late transition period and after 1997.

Under such circumstances, Mr Chris PATTEN's room for manoeuvre has no doubt been greatly reduced, when compared with what was available to him four years ago. Today, when even "dumping earth into the sea" requires the approval of the China-backed PWC, can major reforms connected with our society and livelihood be excepted? Therefore, if we just criticize the sunset government for having no initiatives without at the same time criticizing HOU Yi, the archer who shoots repeatedly at the setting sun, our criticisms will be far from exhaustive, or we would simply be helping a tyrant to oppress his powerless subjects. To the Hong Kong people, the year 1997 simply should not become an artificial barrier which hinders progress and reforms relating to our society, livelihood and the law.

Mr President, like our living, development of education should not stop because of 1997. However, the education sector has been given virtually nothing in this year's policy address. For the four significant issues of education today, namely, the use of our mother-tongue as the medium of teaching, special education, kindergarten subsidy and graduate teachers in primary schools, the Government has failed to give any treatment, or if there is any, the progress is too slow and inadequate. This shows the Governor and the Education Department are ill-prepared to tackle the problems and are not sensitive to the aspirations of those working in the field of basic education. This greatly disappoints the education sector.

In his policy address, the Governor puts forward the ideal of quality education. Quality education can no doubt provide the right kind of remedy for the drastic decline in present academic standards. What we want, however, is not just a beautiful ideal. We want measures and means to realize the ideal as well. At present, government investments in basic education are extremely meagre. Thus, our basic education is very much like a lady hampered by foot-binding who can only stagger slowly around due to abnormal foot development since her childhood. At a time when we have a total reserve which is as high as $150 billion, our basic education still needs to endure all the pains of foot-binding. How ridiculous and backward!

To pursue quality, we must make sure that our basic education does not continue to exist amidst diseased conditions. Just look at such diseased conditions of our basic education: overcrowded school premises; tight time-tables that make teaching in depth difficult; over-sized classes that preclude individual attention; monotonous and out-dated curriculums; over-worked teachers; and appalling student behaviour and suicide rates. We now provide nine years of free education. Ironically, however, just how many young souls have we lost or frustrated? And, just how much have we worn away the enthusiasm and morale of many an education worker?

To pursue quality, investments in basic education should be increased drastically with enterprise and courage. We should then build an adequate number of secondary and primary school premises with individual features that can suit a wide variety of purposes. We should also abolish the system of floating classes in secondary schools and introduce whole-day schooling for our primary students, so as to make teaching easier in terms of accommodation and time and to enable teachers to spend more time with their students. The number of school social workers, counselling teachers, clerical staff and school manual workers should be increased so that students can get sufficient guidance in their studies and behaviour. In the face of economic restructuring, knowledge and training that are out-dated and no longer required by society should be discarded. Courses on modern technology, commerce and the service industry should be enhanced so that students can be equipped with the practical skills required to keep abreast of the times and economic restructuring.

Mr President, education characterized by foot-binding is an indictment of the community of Hong Kong and is also an infringement upon humankind in general and school children in particular. School children brought up under a system of education characterized by foot-binding will not be able to sustain the efforts of creating economic prosperity or a better tomorrow. And tomorrow starts with quality education.

Mr President, Hong Kong is facing the worst unemployment situation in recent years. Even if we look at the most conservative figures, that is, those released by the Government, there are still nearly 200 000 people who are either unemployed or underemployed. This is a bomb related to the people's livelihood that poses the greatest potential danger in the transition period. In his policy address, however, the Governor adopts a self-contradictory approach to the problem, under which a new scheme for 5 000 imported worker is to be launched before the 10 000 existing imported workers leave. So, the alternation of the old and new schemes, or their combination, will certainly make it more difficult for local workers to earn a living. The Governor's indecisiveness on the question of labour importation shows that he lacks the enterprise and courage necessary for handling the unemployment crisis. This is the biggest flaw of the policy address.

Decisiveness is required for crisis management. Although halting labour importation may not provide an immediate solution to the unemployment problem, it is still a starting point from where we can work to alleviate the problem. It can also impart a clear message to the community that the Government is determined to regain the workers' confidence in it by stopping the deterioration of unemployment. So far this year, quite a number of workers have committed suicide because of unemployment. But, do we know what more lie behind these cases of suicide? Do we know how many families are languishing, struggling and sobbing due to unemployment? Do we know how many workers have resorted to violence, outburst of anger and resistance because of unemployment? Tears and anger, when taken together, will in time cause social unrest and turmoil, which would in turn undermine the very foundation of stability.

What is so worrying is that while the Government shows a lack of sufficient awareness concerning the political implications of the unemployment crisis, it has displayed a high degree of vigilance toward the intention of political parties and unions to put forward a Member's Bill to halt labour importation, showing that it will strangle this attempt at all costs. In the policy address, the Governor said that he would fall back on those colonial constitutional powers conferred on him and refuse assent to legislation if he judges that the interests of the people of Hong Kong are in jeopardy. Mr President, this is intimidation, an attempt to brandish the "Sword of Imperial Sanction" in the Legislative Council. What disappoints us most is that Mr Chris PATTEN has been insincere all along. When a fully-elected Legislative Council really comes into being and is about to exercise its legislative powers as a means of reflecting public opinions, he vows to uphold the authority of his executive-led government by using the prerogative which only he himself can exercise to override the wish of nearly 1 million voters as represented in this Council. Mr President, the maintenance of an executive-led government is not an unchangeable law of some kind, and neither is this supposed to be a refuge for government bureaucrats who have committed policy errors. In fact, when the people concerned keep talking about an "executive-led" system or a legislature-led system, they are all attaching too much self-importance to themselves because, in the final analysis, a democratic society should be "people-led". The wishes of the people should prevail over those of the executive authorities and the legislature, and provide the directions of social stability, progress and reforms.

We will fully understand our position if we can look at the relationship between the executive authorities and the legislature from the perspective mentioned just now. Now, a fully-elected Legislative Council has come into being. The Government can never again, as it could in the past, manipulate this Council and implement its own predetermined policies by exploiting the conflicts and disagreements between elected Members and appointed Members. In future, all government policies and measures will inevitably be assessed and challenged by the Legislative Council on a beam balance of public opinions. The challenges from the Legislative Council should not be aimed at usurping power. Rather, they should serve as a channel of voicing public opinions. Legislative Council Members or parties found misusing or abusing their power will inevitably be criticized by the media or the public. This suffices to make Members and parties act cautiously because all are inside the grand cycle of checks and balances characteristic of a democratic society, where one checks others and is in turn checked. Therefore, the executive authorities should not resist the Legislative Council or adopt a hostile attitude toward it. Let good faith and reason form the basis of our co-operation to bring forth a win-win situation. Ultimately, the people will be the beneficiaries.

Mr President, in the late transition period, the civil service are confronted with new internal and external problems. The internal problem is the resurgence of corruption. In 1994, there were some 1 300 reports on corruption in government departments, with over half of them involving the police, and prosecution actions have been taken in regard to 23 cases of police corruption. This year, there are signs of increase. These figures may just be the tip of an iceberg, and more worrying still, some of the reported cases even involved corruption syndicates. Whatever the causes of corruption are ¢w desire to make "quick money" or gambling, the situation certainly warrants our full attention because we must beat corruption before it starts to spread and prevent our civil service from rotting away.

For the external problem, it is of course the likely emergence of two power centres run separately by China and Britain during the late transition period. The outgoing boss wants to maintain control until the last minute, but the incoming boss is already very overbearing. Civil servants caught in between, especially senior officers who need to have dealings with the Preparatory Committee, may find it difficult to serve two bosses, though this may not necessarily involve the question of double allegiance. The only solution is that both the British and Chinese Governments must adhere strictly to the Basic Law by limiting the Preparatory Committee's terms of reference to the formation of the first SAR Government and the legislature. The Preparatory Committee should not follow the path of the PWC, which, like a power-thirsty octopus, has extended its tentacles to practically all issues to seize as much power as it can, thereby turning Hong Kong upside down because of its pro-China stand.

Of course, it is pure wishful thinking to assume that the Chinese Government will give up its policy of seeking to control Hong Kong or that the PWC or Preparatory Committee will stop usurping power. However, as an institution representing public opinions in Hong Kong, the Legislative Council must not despair and lose confidence in itself at this historic moment. Instead, Members must protect the interests of Hong Kong bravely and resolutely by voicing the hopes and anxieties of the people in the late transition period. I am convinced that in this Council, in Hong Kong and even among our pro-China friends, we can always find people who are cool-headed, sensible, enlightened and pragmatic. If so, why is it impossible for us to co-operate? Why is it impossible for us to join hands in voicing the true feelings of the Hong Kong people, as a means of countering opinions of the extreme left? Time is running out. So, let us start now to give Hong Kong a chance, to restore success to the concept of "one country, two systems".

Mr President, I so submit.

MR PAUL CHENG: Mr President, a week after delivering his policy address to this Council, the Governor also spoke at a luncheon hosted by nine leading business associations, including my constituency, the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce.

Taking the two events together, the Governor spoke for over three hours. Each of us, however, has only 15 minutes to respond. I have therefore decided to focus my comments today on three broad issues, which I believe are critical to Hong Kong's immediate future. These are:

    - Competitiveness;

    - Confidence; and

    - Co-operation.

By way of introduction, let me first say that, with Hong Kong's enduring economic success, it is only right that the fruits of that success are increasingly passed on to the people of Hong Kong, and that we continue to work at improving the "quality of life" for our community at large.

We must continue to enhance health programmes so that quality health care is available to all.

We must provide people with decent homes and modern, efficient public transportation.

We must maintain the highest standards of law and order.

We must strive for a cleaner environment.

And we must remain at the cutting edge of progress in the field of education ¢w in order to help people develop to their best potential and to ensure that we continue to produce the talents and the leaders of tomorrow which Hong Kong needs.

All these areas are vitally important for the continuation of a stable, healthy and productive society ¢w and the business community certainly has a significant, vested interest in that.

We must, however, remind ourselves that our success has primarily been due to the combination of our hardworking population and the willingness of the business sector to invest. Decisions to invest, or not to invest, depend largely on the overall condition and atmosphere of the market place and the economy ¢w it now brings me to the three areas I would like to address today.


The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, in our own submission to the Governor before his policy address, highlighted several key issues of concern to the business community. These included soaring business costs and their effect on Hong Kong's competitiveness, in particular the impact on small and medium size companies; plus the Government's own contribution to inflation through escalation of its fees and charges.

We were disappointed that these issues received little or no mention, let alone recommendations for positive action. However, there was one area on which the Governor did speak at some length ¢w unemployment and imported labour, a subject which has become very politicized.

Unemployment is a highly emotional issue. To say Hong Kong's unemployment rate of 3.5% is still low by world standards; to say that, 10 years ago, we in Hong Kong would have considered 3.5% unemployment as "full employment", is all very well. However, it is not a great deal of comfort to the unemployed.

Workers and their trade union representatives are understandably concerned about this worrying trend. We all are. In such emotional situations, it is easy to give a knee-jerk reaction; to find a convenient culprit and take swift action in the hope of correcting the problem. But we must avoid the temptation for quick-fix solutions.

We need to step back, look at the bigger picture, and consider the long-term needs of Hong Kong. That does not mean we can take our time about it, though. We cannot afford such a luxury when people's livelihoods are at stake. Therefore, next month's employment summit is both important and very timely.

Much has been said about job-matching. The Government is putting a lot of effort into this, and has made some progress. However, despite the Government's best attempts, the simple fact of the matter is that there is likely to remain a significant mismatch in Hong Kong between the jobs available and the jobs local workers are able (or willing) to perform. Just look at yesterday's job fair organized by the Labour Department where only 10% of the 736 vacancies were filled. At the end of the day, you cannot force a square peg into a round hole; yet there are jobs no one in Hong Kong can fill (or wants to fill), and for that matter something still need to be done.

Therefore, Hong Kong must maintain a more flexible labour policy to ensure we have a labour force of the size, and with the skills required to keep the economy on track for robust growth. And that means having the freedom and flexibility to import labour for selected tasks, sometimes at short notice.

It is right to clamp down on foreign workers who are employed here illegally. It is right for the Government to strengthen its retraining and job-matching programmes.

However, abandoning the General Labour Importation Scheme with its quota of 25 000 and replacing it with the far more restrictive and onerous Supplementary Labour Scheme is totally cosmetic. It is simply playing with numbers in an attempt to appease all sides.

While agreeing with the Government that jobs should first be offered to local employees, I do not believe restrictive quotas on imported labour are the answer. And it certainly does not address the core issue of finding ways to create more jobs.

Many commentators and economists seem all too ready to sound the death knell for the manufacturing industry in Hong Kong, believing Hong Kong's future to be almost exclusively as a service centre to China and much of Asia. While this is an enormous task ¢w and one which Hong Kong is perhaps uniquely capable of performing ¢w we should not be putting all our eggs in one basket. This is a high-risk strategy we can ill afford. Instead, we should be striving for a more balanced economy.

Hong Kong has the opportunity to flourish as a centre of manufacturing excellence, a value-added technology entrepot between China and the rest of the world. The Government has begun to recognize this potential, and should not drag its feet in developing proposals to revitalize our manufacturing sector.

These proposals should include:

    - additional industrial estates, designated for value-added industries;

    - a more targeted, company-by-company approach to custom-tailor "incentive packages" to attract multinationals in the value-added, hi-tech sector;

    - improved grants for research and development projects;

    - further investment in technical training and retraining; and

    - closer co-ordination with China to ensure that our respective industrial development programmes are complementary and mutually beneficial.

Such policies will help attract more companies to Hong Kong, creating new manufacturing jobs and complementing the Government's investment in developing a more technology-oriented workforce.

The challenge then is to have a well-thought-out, long-term strategic plan for Hong Kong's future growth, rather than tinkering with labour importation schemes, the size of which are somewhat symbolic, with no great practical impact on the overall picture. We need to establish a strategic economic development committee, representing the Government, labour and employers to plan the way ahead to a more balanced economy. The Governor has so far seemed, at best, only lukewarm to this idea ¢w but, hopefully it will receive further support in the employment summit planned for next month.

The Governor's own comments on competitiveness in his policy address seemed to be aimed more at domestic competitiveness than Hong Kong's competitive position in the region and the world.

We can take comfort from the fact that recent international surveys rate Hong Kong as one of the most competitive of all world markets. However, these surveys, by their very nature, tend to reflect yesterday, not today, and certainly not tomorrow. In a dynamic, fast moving region like Asia, it does not take long to slip behind in the competitiveness stake.

The Government points to the fact that Hong Kong still enjoys a net gain in terms of companies setting up their operations here, and those uprooting and moving elsewhere. Again that is a measure of comfort, but we cannot be complacent. Preventive medicine is the best cure. By the time we see the numbers reversing, it will be too late. Decisions will have been made at headquarters in New York, Tokyo, London, and elsewhere to relocate from Hong Kong.

We need to aggressively promote Hong Kong, not simply as a service gateway to China, but also as a base for regional headquarters and a value-added manufacturing centre. For some time now, I have been calling for a more co-ordinated approach to promoting investment in the territory. At present, our efforts are too fragmented.

To us in Hong Kong, it may seem quite clear that the Hong Kong Trade Development Council promotes trade and export services, while our Industry Department promotes inward manufacturing investment. But for overseas audiences, this distinction is sometimes blurred. And who is promoting Hong Kong as a base for regional headquarters? Where does that fit in?

We need to give urgent consideration to establishing a single, powerful, and highly focused organization to promote investment in Hong Kong across the board, and to fight for Hong Kong's "market-share" in an increasingly competitive region and world.


In his speech to the nine business associations, the Governor said he had been surprised at the business community's reaction to his policy address. What surprised him were suggestions from some members of the business community that the Government should "kick start" the economy.

The Governor said he had difficulties with the "kick start philosophy" because of the risk of increased inflation. Also, he said, for the Government to attempt to direct or manage the economy would undermine the lassez faire principle that has been a mainstay of Hong Kong's success.

I agree with the Governor on this. Hong Kong's economy has not stalled. There are some short-term difficulties, but the fundamentals are still sound. The main problem dragging down consumer sentiment and affecting many sectors of the economy is purely confidence, or rather, the lack of it.

What we need is a confidence shot in the arm. Like our stock market and property markets, the Hong Kong Confidence Index is highly volatile and subject to dramatic mood swings. Unfortunately, of late, the mood has been depressed ¢w the main reason being the severe case of pre-1997 blues we are currently experiencing. Hong Kong is certainly in need of some good news on the 1997 transition issue.

Recently, however, no sooner do we see a positive sign emerging than someone somewhere says something which sends confidence crashing. No sooner do we seem to be getting back on our feet confidence-wise, then we are kicked back down again. Rather than appealing to the Government to "kick start" the economy, we would be appealing to all sides involved in the transition issue to stop kicking Hong Kong in the teeth with untimely and unhelpful outbursts.


A major factor affecting confidence is co-operation, or, in the last couple of years at least, the lack of co-operation. When it comes to co-operation in Hong Kong, there are two dimensions:

    - Co-operation between Britain and China and

    - Co-operation amongst ourselves.

I welcome the Governor's pledge for more co-operation in the next 600 days. But, what is beginning to concern me more is co-operation amongst ourselves and Hong Kong people ¢w whether it be in this Council or other bodies involved in the transition, including the Preliminary Working Committee (and the soon-to-be-established Preparatory Committee).

In the interests of Hong Kong, we all need to work together, not against each other, to promote confidence in Hong Kong at home and abroad. To over-politicize Hong Kong and Hong Kong issues will result in perceptions around the world of confrontation, conflict and instability in Hong Kong. This will lead investors, both local and international, to adopting a "wait-and-see attitude" ¢w which, in turn, will lead to slower growth, a further rise in unemployment, and the very real danger of being sucked into a downward spiral.

Mr President, that concludes my remarks.

MR ANDREW CHENG (in Cantonese): Mr President, I am the Democratic Party's spokesman on recreation and culture and a representative from the eighth functional constituency of Financing, Insurance, Real Estate and Business Services. So, Mr President, in my speech, I wish to discuss the policies mentioned in the policy address in regard to broadcasting, information and finance. First, I wish to talk about the broadcasting policy, which is closely related to economic development, freedom of speech and the development of a democratic society. Since a democratic society requires diversity of opinions and emphasizes the free dissemination of information, the development in its broadcasting should accordingly aim at "diversity".

The policy address emphasizes that there should be a "policy of diversity in broadcasting". However, the work in this respect is actually far from perfect. In the local broadcasting context, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) is supposed to act as an alternative to commercial broadcasters, producing education and informative programmes not normally provided by them. However, ever since the abortive plan of corporatization, no long-term development plans have been drawn up for RTHK. Moreover, resources allocated to RTHK are extremely meagre, with the ridiculous result that even the small number of 20 specials to be produced by RTHK has been classified as part of the "programme highlights" in this year's policy address. Earlier on, RTHK's attempt to set up an independent "public channel" in the Cable TV Network was ruled out by the Government and this will greatly hinder the future development of RTHK. None of us can tell what will become of RTHK in 1997 and afterward. Although RTHK is a government broadcaster, Mr President, I believe that it has already firmly established itself among the people of Hong Kong as a broadcaster serving the public. So, the direction of RTHK's development before 1997 and its prospects after 1997 should be accounted for in the policy address!

Free broadcasting is an important pillar of a democratic society. It is only under a broadcasting environment with diversity that different opinions and information can be widely disseminated. Only then can the people select the information they want in accordance with their own standards of what is right and wrong. Diversity is therefore precisely the objective that Hong Kong's broadcasting policy should seek to implement. As early as 1994, the Government promised in the policy address that the subscription television market would be opened up by mid-1996. But, as far as the required preparation work is concerned, it can be said that the Government has done virtually nothing. If the work concerned is to proceed at its present pace, the creation of a broadcasting environment with diversity will become mere empty talk.

Mr President, the broadcasting business can also promote and boost economic development, and is therefore conducive to Hong Kong's overall economic development. The various television broadcasters in Hong Kong have invested billions of dollars in the business. Let us take the example of the two terrestrial television broadcasters. Between 1989 and 1993, Asia Television Limited made a total capital investment of $350 million, employing approximately 1870 people; as at 1993, Television Broadcast Limited's total assets stood at $910 million. It is also estimated that Wharf Cable has made a total investment of over $3 billion. As for other satellite broadcasters having a presence in Hong Kong, such as Star TV, TVBS and China Entertainment Television Broadcast Limited, their investments range from several ten million dollars to several billion dollars. All such investments can play a positive role in boosting the local economy because they have not only promoted Hong Kong's economic development, but have also provided more job opportunities.

Since the development of the broadcasting business constitutes a form of economic benefits to Hong Kong, relevant "development objectives" should be drawn up. Regrettably, in the policy address, the Government has just repeated its old saying that it will seek to develop Hong Kong into a broadcasting centre in Asia by attracting foreign capital investments in the local broadcasting business. Nevertheless, it has failed to make any serious attempts to implement the objective of promoting the broadcasting industry. The promotion of the broadcasting business depends not only on a good legal framework, but also on the back-up and co-ordination of the required personnel, technological research, service promotion and ancillary industries. So, to promote the broadcasting business, co-ordinated efforts from the various parties concerned are required. The work should never be seen as the sole responsibility of any specific government departments!

Mr President, it can be seen from this year's policy address that the Government has failed to realise the economic contribution of the broadcasting business and that it has not put forward any long-term schemes to develop the business or to improve the broadcasting environment. Reviews of the local subscription television market and broadcasting policy are in fact the initiatives mentioned in last year's policy address. So, I think it is completely absurd for the Government to treat them as "new initiatives" this time. The prolonged delay in the enactment of a consolidated broadcasting ordinance has hindered the progress of improving the existing broadcasting laws. This has rendered Hong Kong's broadcasting laws outdated, thereby discouraging foreign investors from investing in the local broadcasting industry. Although the Government has again promised to submit the relevant legislation to the Legislative Council during the 1995-96 session, it has not been able to commit itself to an exact time of submission. And, will the legislation be ruled out, or shelved or delayed? I believe this is a test of the Government's integrity.

Developments in the broadcasting industry are no longer, and will not be, restricted to the production of television programmes. With digital technology, computer technology, telecommunication facilities and other technological advances, telecommunication and broadcasting are set to merge to form a new medium. Faced with this new trend, the Recreation and Culture Branch has just focused all its attention on monitoring the pornographic contents of programmes without coming up with any new plans to promote and develop the new medium. To promote the broadcasting industry, one needs to recognise that the merging of telecommunication and broadcasting will become a major impetus for economic development in the future. To keep abreast of this trend, the Government needs to make improvements to the relevant laws. It also needs to lay down long-term plans in conjunction with different departments in such areas as manpower training, technological research, promotion of services, preferential policies to encourage investment and technological development and even development strategies. These are all the means to promote development of broadcasting.

As a matter of fact, the public has put forward quite a number of opinions about the way ahead for the broadcasting industry. For example, there have been proposals to reform the Hong Kong Broadcasting Authority, formulate strategies to enhance development of broadcasting, and set up a public channel as well as a public access channel. Unfortunately, the Government has not accepted any of the public views submitted to the Recreation and Culture Branch in the past year. Instead, the Government has chosen to mark time by making repeated references to the commitments it made in the past couple of years. This approach of the Government's has greatly disappointed us, the Democratic Party.

In addition, the Democratic Party would like to say a few words about the treatment of press freedom in the policy address. The Government's progress of reviewing those laws that undermine the freedom of the press has been unsatisfactory. In particular, the Official Secrets Act, the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance and others, which are related to such sensitive issues as treason, incitement of riots and state secrets, must be amended without delay, and so must the Telecommunications Ordinance involving interception of radio communication, and Section 30 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, which undermines press freedom. In the briefing session for the policy address, the Government promised to submit some of these Ordinances to the Legislative Council during the current session. I hope the undertaking can be fulfilled at the time promised. As to those ordinances which have been given no review or in respect of which the Government has simply refused to conduct a review, such as Section 30 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, we hope the Government can change its mind and amend them as quickly as possible for the protection of the freedom of speech and the press in Hong Kong.

Mr President, let me now turn to my constituency. Although Mr CHIM Pui-chung is not in this Chamber, I hope he can still understand what I am going to say. Yesterday, he welcomed Dr LAW Cheung-kwok to this Council, and expressed his hope of having more experts in this Council who could contribute to the economic development of Hong Kong. I can still recall that when I first met Mr CHIM in this Chamber, he called me a "lad", and said, "Just follow my lead in your work." This could be due to the fact that I have some connections with the finance sector. Or this could be due to the fact that my native origin is Chaozhou. But I hope that in the future days when we work together in this Council, while paying attention to Hong Kong's economy and ways of consolidating its status as a financial centre, Mr CHIM would not lose sight of the 360 000 or so employees in the finance, insurance, real estate, and business service sectors, who have been working so hard for the prosperity of Hong Kong. So, we need to protect the work-related rights of commercial sector employees, which cover various areas such as over-time work, a five-day working week, and those oft-overlooked dangers faced by white-collar employees at work. Such dangers include airborne diseases and health problems caused by exposure to the computer, for which no occupational safety legislation or guidelines have been drawn up. So, Mr President, we hope this Council, or the Government, can pay more attention to the work-related rights of white-collar employees in the future.

Regarding the property market, the measures adopted by the Government to curb property prices have achieved some success. Property prices have gone down step by step. We agree that the Government should continue to maintain stable property prices to assist more genuine buyers to purchase their own flats. However, the Democratic Party maintains that, while curbing property prices, the Government should also assist genuine buyers as much as it can to ensure that each household with a genuine need for a flat can buy one. That is why at its meeting yesterday with Financial Secretary Donald TSANG, the Democratic Party proposed to introduce a "tax allowance for first-time home buyers" aimed at giving maximum relief to the sandwich-class burdened by mortgage loan repayments. Since the granting of the allowance is to be subject to an income ceiling , and only people and households who are genuine first-time home buyers can benefit, no speculation in the property market will result. At the same time, as the allowance is not a form of funding support to purchasers, and can thus offer very little help to those having problems with a down payment, it will not cause steep rises in property prices.

For financial and commercial services, it is indeed delightful to hear the Secretary for Financial Services say in his briefing session for the policy address that one of his major areas of work would be to encourage activities in the debt market. Unfortunately, we cannot see how the Government is going to implement the proposal. In the policy address, there is no mention of how resources will be put in. Nor is any timetable mentioned. Thus, one cannot help wondering whether the Government is just bluffing. I hope the Government can disclose a more detailed plan to this Council.

Lastly, what worries us most concerns how we can continue to maintain Hong Kong's status as a financial and commercial centre and how we are going to cope with the extremely challenging situation ahead. In the policy address, there is no blue-print for any long-term development. In the past, the Government adopted a policy of "non-intervention" and of "meeting the situation step by step". This has plunged Hong Kong industries into a difficult situation. We do not want the same thing to happen to the finance and service industries in Hong Kong. Suppose the Government had laid down policies for our industries and given support to technological research at an early stage, would Hong Kong's industries have shrunken as they have? I believe if the Government had taken our advice a couple of years ago on drawing up policies for the service industry (we emphasize they refer to "policies for commercial services") we would not have been taken so unprepared when the service industry started to move north, and the Government would not have to set up a working group for the service industry so hastily now to draw up an agenda for discussions concerning the long-term development of the service industry. In fact, in August this year, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority proposed the setting up of a working group. Would this working group join hands with the one recently established to work out the long-term development strategy for Hong Kong as a financial centre? We hope the working group on service industry will treat the financial sector as an integral part of the entire service industry and then consider the development of all the services in Hong Kong as a whole. The operation of the working group should also be made more transparent to facilitate public supervision and voicing of opinions.

Mr President, I so submit.

MR HOWARD YOUNG (in Cantonese): This year's policy address looks more like a summary of what have been done in the past three years than a proper policy address. It gives the impression of a running account that the British Government seems mentally prepared to withdraw from Hong Kong and not in any mood of making long-term plans for the remaining 600 days or so, not to mention building up Hong Kong. Before Hong Kong is returned to China, we still have to keep on building Hong Kong. I am disappointed with the Governor's policy address for there are more old policies than new ideas.

The first point I want to make is a pending issue. Paragraph 17 of the policy address touches upon travel documents and visa-free access and this issue is regarded as one of the unresolved matters. Indeed, this is one of the issues which most concerns me as a representative of the tourist industry. Not long ago, the Governor has mentioned in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong that he would call on the British Government to grant more than three million residents of Hong Kong the right of abode in Britain. It was reported in the last couple of days that the Governor had visited the Home Secretary, intending to propose to the British Government and to give support to the idea that Britain should give the holders of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports visa-free entry into the United Kingdom. I had experience of the stubborn attitude of the Home Secretary. It is nothing new to me. I still recall the lobbying I did two years ago together with the Honourable Miss Emily LAU, the Honourable Ronald ARCULLI, the Honourable James TO and Mr Simon IP on matters concerning passports and nationality. The Secretary refrained from committing himself to almost everything. However, we finally succeeded in getting one of the items we wanted, albeit it was the most trivial one on our list. So, this time, I hope that when the Governor meets the Secretary, either he will continue to make use of his charm at the higher level of the hierarchy or of his past political clout, that he may succeed in convincing the British Government to give all Hong Kong residents the right of visa-free entry into the United Kingdom ¢w a right which they should enjoy.

The long-awaited SAR passport made a formal debute last week. It is said to have first class anti-forgery features and will be officially issued by the SAR Government after 1997. Many people in the tourist industry share my view that rather than boasting of giving the right of abode to millions, I feel what we can more practically expect of the British Government and which the British Government can easily do is for it to take the lead and give all Hong Kong people, including the holders of Certificates of Identity and the future SAR passports, visa-free access into the United Kingdom. If the British Government will really protect the interests and human rights of Hong Kong people as purported internationally, it should not decline such a request (I wish to mention in passing that human rights include the freedom of travel), so that the freedom of travel which Hong Kong people have long been enjoying can be preserved and maintained.

It is the British Government's obligation to give all Hong Kong people visa-free access into the United Kingdom after 1997 for the purpose of doing business or travelling, and to take the lead and set a good example for other countries, such as the members of the British Commonwealth and the European Union. Mr President, Sino-British relationship appears to have improved recently. Both sides should take this opportunity to co-operate for the benefit of Hong Kong people, to promote to the international community the British National (Overseas) and SAR passports at the same time. I feel that results of mutual co-operation will always be better than unilateral lobbying by either government on its own. Since I note that the Secretary for Security has now returned, I want to mention once more the visa issue. Although what I am going to recommend is not related to the freedom of travel of Hong Kong people, I still find this is something I have to do and recommend. Yesterday, it was reported that the opening of the Macau Airport would probably affect the tourist industry of Hong Kong. Now Taiwan is one of the places from which most tourists come to Hong Kong. Many Taiwanese would go to China via Macau because the formalities for getting a visa to enter Hong Kong are complicated. Despite repeated demands made in the Security Panel over the last two years, the British Government still holds that it cannot let Taiwanese tourists enter Hong Kong visa-free as there is no diplomatic relationship between Britain and Taiwan. As a matter of fact, the authorities should be able to grant permissions to Chinese nationals who hold valid visas and air tickets travelling to a third place to stay here for seven days without visa. I think that if our Taiwanese compatriots holding the so-called travel document issued by mainland China really intend to go to mainland China, why can we not make it more convenient for them to stay in Hong Kong and spend more money here? This will only benefit Hong Kong.

The second issue I am going to speak is about imported labour. Paragraph 29 of the policy address proposes replacing the General Importation Scheme with a new Supplementary Labour Importation Scheme. I think this really does not do the hotel industry which I represent any good, because this will pose a threat to the quality of service of the hotel industry, and it can be said that the impact is fairly great. The original quota is greatly reduced to the new quota ceiling of 5 000 people. The Government has not explained clearly how this number of 5 000 people is computed. This decision, however, only appears to have shown that the Government is bowing to some vocal politicians and community leaders, at the expense of one component of the industrial and commercial sector, that is, the hotel trade included in the tourist industry.

The Honourable Eric LI mentioned just a moment ago that the hotel trade plays an extremely important part in the tourist industry of Hong Kong. About one third of the total tourist spending each year is spent on rents of hotel rooms. Despite its full support to the Labour Retraining Programme of the Labour Department, the hotel trade still constantly has more than 1 500 vacancies and the rate of turnover is also very high. Many who have completed the retraining programme are employed by hotels. Many of them have acquired the necessary skills of work but some of them still resign. It is not because they cannot meet the requirements of their jobs or hotels underpay them. In fact, most imported workers in hotels work in the housekeeping sections. Room attendants earn at least $7,000 a month, even up to $8,500 a month in some five-star hotels, plus other fringe benefits provided by the hotels, such as free lunch, free breakfast or subsidized breakfast, lunch or dinner, paid holidays, bonus, double pay, sports and recreational activities and staff parties and so on. Some benefits are very attractive and salaries are higher than those offered by other trades. What is the main cause for them to leave their jobs? Are they not willing to work there? It is because they find out that hotels provide service for 365 days in the year. Staff members, including the general manager, have to work shifts and on weekends and holidays.

The unemployment rate in Hong Kong is indeed higher than that in the past, but I do not think this is caused by the importation of labour. Many factories in Hong Kong have moved to mainland China. This does deprive many workers in the manufacturing industry of their jobs. Such workers may not have the necessary educational level to enable them to adapt to their new jobs. Hence they may find it difficult to change jobs. The hotel trade is however different from the manufacturing industry. Hotels have not benefited much from the General Labour Importation Scheme, nor have they encountered unemployment as a result of this Scheme. Last year, the Hong Kong Hotels Association made 2 100 applications for foreign labour, but only 160 to 170 applications were approved, which made up less than 1% of the total labour imported, and way below the actual labour demands of our hotels. Last month, only 93 imported workers were serving as room attendants in hotels, accounting for slightly more than half a percentage point of the 15 000 serving personnel.

The core of the economy of Hong Kong is shifting from the manufacturing industry to the service industry, and many posts in the manufacturing industry had been dropped. However, as usual, hotels need a lot of workers in order to maintain a high standard of service. When the number of local workers falls short of the demand or when hotels cannot recruit sufficient staff, they really have to import some workers to solve their problems. When there are insufficient workers, factories can move north but hotels cannot. So how should hotels tackle the problem? They can only reduce the service staff-to-room ratio. In this way, the quality of service in the tourist industry will drop, and the quality of service of Hong Kong, as a popular tourist spot, will be lowered as compared with those of other regions such as Bangkok or the Philippines. When this happens, tourists will be less willing to come to Hong Kong, and this will correspondingly have an adverse effect on the retail and transport industries. Therefore, I suggest that future Labour Retraining Programmes should, in addition to providing technical training, prepare the trainees psychologically. For example, they should know that although hotel jobs are more stable than jobs provided by many industries, staff at all levels have to work shifts.

I now wish to talk about the second runway of the New Airport.

The New Airport will operate around the clock when it comes into use. If 30 flights land or take off in an hour, then, theoretically, the New Airport can accommodate 180 additional flights a day.

The figure, however, is actually not accurate. Among all the visitors to Hong Kong, over half of them come from Japan, Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries. It takes only one to four hours for them to come here by air. Looking round the airports of these countries, we will find that they seldom operate around the clock. Therefore, an increase in the number of flights taking off and landing does not mean an increase in tourist flow, because most passengers do not want to leave Hong Kong or arrive at Hong Kong in the small hours or early morning, in particular passengers who come here for the first time may find this a strange place if they arrive at Hong Kong in the middle of the night. Therefore, these flights are not very welcome.

Indeed, why has the long-term plan for a second runway at the Chek Lap Kok airport not been mentioned in the policy address? In the Memorandum of Understanding between the British and Chinese Governments concerning the Construction of the New Airport (the Memorandum), 10 projects were mentioned, but the second runway was not included. Despite this, there was a provision in the Memorandum that the Chinese and British Government may discuss matters other than these 10 projects. I feel that if we were to set our sights further into the future beyond 1997, as is mentioned in the policy address, we should grasp the opportunity of an apparent easing of the Sino-British relationship (in particular, on matters about the airport) and take the initiative to propose this. In this way, the flow of tourists will be greatly increased when the New Airport is completed in 1997. This will not only benefit the tourist industry but also the citizens of Hong Kong as a whole ¢w the retail industry, the transport industry or other trades. More job opportunities will also be created in the service sector. If we do not do so, we would find that after the Chek Lap Kok airport is constructed, the condition of the airport will be just like that of the present Kai Tak, that it will be saturated on the day it commences operations.

Mr President, I see that the title of this year's policy address is "Hong Kong: Our Work Together". Frankly speaking, reading through the policy address, it appears to me that the mentality revealed in it may be better described as "Hong Kong: Wait Together for the Transition". I am rather disappointed at this. These are my remarks.

MRS ELIZABETH WONG (in Cantonese): Mr President, first of all, I would like to thank the Governor and the government officials who have worked conscientiously behind the scene to assist the Governor in the preparation of this year's policy address. This is not sarcasm nor flattery. This is to commend or criticize where appropriate.

We all know that over six million Hong Kong people will step into a new era. The road ahead of us is rugged and full of different kinds of hidden worries. At this moment in time, we have to be honest with ourselves and tell the truth. Even if we know perfectly well that other people may not like the things we say, we should still speak up for the various interests of Hong Kong people.

People of vision will hope to see Hong Kong continue to be a prosperous international metropolis which is harmonious and promises equal opportunities for all and is the melting pot of the essence of the East and the West. We welcome all kinds of new opportunities and new challenges. We want a smooth transition. We want the realization of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. We want a high degree of autonomy. We want our future to be safeguarded. Indeed, there are a great many things we want and they are all deemed highly necessary.

The question is whether the Governor's policy address this year can help us attain our objectives. I do not think it can.

There are many praiseworthy proposals in the Governor's policy address. These include caring more about people in need such as caring about single persons, improving the patient care services, building additional public housing and making efforts to make Hong Kong a place with a finer culture of service and which is also cleaner and greener.

The Government should speed up the works for stabilization of slopes and take vigorous measures to foster the spirit of preventing and fighting corruption so that Hong Kong can become a safer, cleaner and healthier city.

Yet, as I said just now, it is not healthy just to give praises because this will not be conducive to making the necessary improvements. For this reason, the following comments I am going to make are all negative ones.

I find it disappointing that the policy address has left out a great deal of things. Let me give some simple examples:

First, Hong Kong has a good Civil Service. It is fortunate for Hong Kong people to have such a Civil Service but it is not something we can take for granted. We should try our best to maintain the morale of civil servants and a Civil Service which is free of corruption. Otherwise, the situation would not become any better and the morale of the Civil Service as a whole will be undermined. Civil servants are in a fairly difficult position. They have to face political changes and, at the same time, they are under different kinds of work pressures.

We should listen carefully to the voices of civil servants. Any decisions related to them should not be made by means of "black box operation". Civil servants should not be kept in the dark about this or it would be very difficult for them to have a sense of belonging and identification. I am not trying to mollycoddle civil servants. I just understand and realize their position.

Secondly, as regards cultural development, in his first policy address in 1992, the Governor had high expectations of the Arts Development Council but there is hardly a mention in this year's policy address. Could it be that the Governor has lost interest in arts? Or that he is looking to the Arts Development Council to take up all the responsibilities? Or that he thinks Hong Kong has already done enough where the development of culture is concerned? Just as the saying goes, "All golden spears and charging steeds in the days of yore, now all sweetness and light, tete-a-tete and such a bore." In the whole policy address entitled "Our Work Together", I consider the Government's view on foreign workers to be most baffling. I think the introduction of the new Supplementary Labour Scheme gives us the impression that the scheme is "neither fish, flesh nor fowl". I am also not flattered by the new quota of 5 000. We all know that unemployment constitutes a very serious problem and we are very concerned about it. But have we found a possible way to straighten things out? I am afraid not. Mr President, we need a government which claims itself to be "executive-led" which has leadership. If the Government does not have any objectives and does things arbitrarily, it cannot solve any major problems. My view is that if we want to solve the unemployment problem, the proposals we put forward should give all Hong Kong people the right to work. In fact, the Governor has also mentioned this in his policy address. We want work, not welfare. We have to adopt quick and practical measures. We have to respond to the demands of the members of the community, provide the public with equal opportunities so that everyone will find a job and everyone will have a role to play. I hope to discuss the matter with the Secretary for Home Affairs at an earlier date. It is also my hope that the Government would not deter us from tabling the bill introduced by Ms Anna WU which seeks to prohibit discrimination across the board and I will certainly follow up this matter closely. Like many other Members in this Council, I hope that the Government will agree to the early establishment of the Economic Development Council in order to draw up plans for the direction and strategy of economic development over the long term, and make concerted efforts to create new employment opportunities for all.

I find it even more disappointing that all the welfare measures show no sympathy towards the needs of the elderly in Hong Kong. Since the end of the war, these elderly people had to put up with all kinds of hardships and live industriously and frugally to feed this generation of ours. In those days when their income was meagre and there was not any welfare services, how could they spare money to save up? Now that they are old and do not have money, we can imagine the plights they are in. Does it mean that the Government have to reconsider the introduction of the Old Age Pension Scheme, or increase the assistance provided for the elderly through the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme (CSSA)? What does the Government have in mind? I think the Government should give the public a clear explanation as early as possible.

I support the Mandatory Provident Fund Scheme; at the same time, I urge the Government to provide assistance to the elderly people in need as soon as possible and in a more generous way through the CSSA. This is the welfare to which the elderly are entitled to have and which we are duty-bound to provide.

With these remarks, I support the motion. Thank you, Mr President.

MISS CHAN YUEN-HAN (in Cantonese): Mr President, I would like to make a response in respect of a few perspectives pertaining to the Governor's policy address. One of them relates to the responsibility of the Government. Another relates to problems affecting the public like housing, medical treatment, vulnerable groups and so on. In regard to the issue of employment rights which I have been fighting for on behalf of workers, since it has already been covered by my colleague, the Honourable CHENG Yiu-tong, as well as other colleagues, I will not repeat what they have said here.

The policy address presented by the Governor is a very disappointing one. Although the Governor has already undertaken to improve some of the social welfare items, we cannot feel his sincerity in improving the situation of the grassroots. Neither do we think that he will promote social justice.

The above is not merely my personal feeling and opinions. During the past two weeks, I held a number of public consultation meetings in the Wong Tai Sin District in respect of the Governor's policy address. The residents in the district share my views on the policy address.

The Government's responsibilities

As a Member from the grassroots level, it is my opinion that while promoting economic development, the Government should also promote social justice and pursue equality so that everybody in society can live and work in peace and contentment while the livelihood of the vulnerable groups can be safeguarded. In other words, the responsibilities of the Government are to promote economic development and to rationalize social development.

Regrettably, the Governor has not taken care of the interests of the grassroots and he has also failed to discharge his due responsibilities. Let us look at the Governor's administrative policies. On page three of the policy address, some compliments from the foreign institutions are quoted to boast that Hong Kong is the freest economy in the world and that Hong Kong is also the third most competitive economy in the world. On page two, it says, "If we want better services, we must fund them by creating new wealth."

The former reflects that the Governor is flaunting the achievements by means of quoting some compliments from foreign institutions. However, the Governor fails to point out or actually does not recognize that the prosperity of Hong Kong is achieved through the government policies carried out at the expense of the interests of the lower middle class. As we all know, the competitiveness of Hong Kong is in fact based on the gross exploitation and repression of the interests of the lower middle class. Without the sacrifice of the grassroots, how can Hong Kong have the so-called competitiveness? How can we be so proud of such achievement? We, in fact, should feel ashamed. The latter is what the Governor called the bedrock principle in running Hong Kong. What does it reflect? It reflects that the Governor attaches importance only to the business sector. It reflects that the Government does not know how to make use of the public finance policies and social policies to promote a more reasonable distribution of social wealth. As a matter of fact, the Governor is making up a myth that "the boat goes up when the river rises". He is still deceiving the public. Nevertheless, the fact tells us that in Hong Kong where the social system is riddled with defects and pitfalls, when the river rises, the boat will only sink instead of going up. In other words, the cake has been enlarged, but the dollops of cake are being even more unequally distributed. If the boat really goes up when the river rises, may the Governor tell me: when Hong Kong is enjoying phenomenal economic growth, why is the gap between the rich and the poor getting wider and wider, and why is the distribution of social wealth getting more and more unequal?

Mr Governor, we, Hong Kong people, are waiting for your answer. If you cannot answer my question, please do not flaunt the so-called achievement of Hong Kong.

Mr Governor, you have sacrificed the interests of the lower middle class, disregarded our rights and aggravated social conflicts in Hong Kong. I am deeply sorry for what you have done. I hope that you can hear my remarks in the United Kingdom.

PRESIDENT: Miss CHAN, may I remind Members that all remarks and observations ought to be addressed to the President?

MISS CHAN YUEN-HAN (in Cantonese): It is mentioned in the policy address that the important issues relating to the transition should be managed as swiftly and effectively as possible. In my view, the most important issue concerning the transition is: to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, promote social justice and reduce social conflicts. The Government, therefore, should change its administrative policies.

What are reasonable administrative policies?

For the sake of social justice, and for the sake that the capitalistic system of Hong Kong meet humane requirements, I think that the following three principled changes should be made to the Government's administrative policies.

  1. "We must first create the wealth before spending a share of it on improving our public services " should be changed to read "We must improve social services to the effect that there is a more reasonable distribution of wealth before promoting the healthy development of our economy."
  2. "The share of public spending has remained firmly below 20% of GDP" should be changed to read "Depending on the needs of social development, the share of public spending can be higher than 20% of GDP."
  3. Some people may ask that if public spending is to be increased, where does the money come from? I suggest that the Hong Kong Government should reform the tax system and give full play to the device of taxation, so that social wealth can be more reasonably distributed and the gap between the rich and the poor can be narrowed.

My many years of experience in serving the grassroots tells me that if the capitalist society of Hong Kong is to develop healthily, the Government should actively redistribute social wealth. It has to change its administrative policies and also the specific social policies, in order to bring about healthy social development.

Apart from the Government's responsibilities, I also have the following views on the specific policies concerning people's livelihood:

Housing policy

Why are there still 150 000 families on the General Waiting List for public housing? Why should a family have to wait for seven years on average in order to be allocated a housing unit? Why should the Government make use of the Housing Subsidy Policy and the proposed asset vetting to force or to induce the public housing tenants to surrender their rental housing units? Why are the temporary housing areas not temporary at all? Why are those residents in over-age temporary housing being denied early allocation of public rental housing? Why are the prices of private properties far out of the reach of the general public? Why is there "a mismatch of accommodation and occupation"?

What are the answers to this series of questions? Under the long-term housing policy formulated by the Hong Kong Government, as not a few academics have already pointed out, the Government's housing policy is gradually moving from one which is public sector housing-led (including public rental housing and Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) housing) to one which is private sector housing-led. Superficially, this kind of policy can ensure the balanced development of public and private housing. But actually, it protects the monopoly interests of the private land developers; the Government is shirking its social responsibilities and it disregards the people's housing rights.

By restricting the number of public rental housing flats to be built, the public has to pay high rents, reluctantly stay in over-age temporary housing, stay in roof-top structures and wait for many more years on the General Waiting List. By restricting the number of HOS flats to be built, people in the sandwich class who want to purchase their own properties are forced to purchase expensive housing units in the private housing market. Unfortunately, they are always being caught in between, because the property prices far exceed their affordability. When the property prices soar, it is the property developers and the major speculators who benefit, the general public and the sandwich class are those who suffer.

In my opinion, in regard to the total housing supply, only when the Government gives an assurance that "public housing be the mainstream, HOS housing be secondary and private sector housing be supplementary" coupled with an increase in the supply of public rental housing and the HOS housing, can we really solve the key problem of housing development. Therefore, I absolutely welcome the Government's review on the long term housing strategy. I would even request that the Government should regard the ratio of public sector housing to total housing supply as the major item for review. In the short run, the Government should still take measures to control private housing so that the prices of private housing can be within the affordability of the general public.

Medical services

Medical services have a vital bearing on the physical well-being of the public throughout their entire life span and constitute an item which should not be taken lightly. However, with the establishment of the Hospital Authority (HA), it appears that the Government is indeed not taking these services seriously.

As far as I understand it, the HA was established for the purpose that resources could be used in a better way while the medical needs of the public could be satisfied in a more effective way. Nevertheless, what has the HA done for us? In regard to the positive achievements, it is not necessary for me to point these out here as those in charge of the HA and the Government will naturally give publicity to these on an extensive scale. I am going to talk about the negative aspects.

It is learnt that 86% (nearly nine tenths) of the HA's total expenditure is spent on the staff's salaries. It is said that the fringe benefits enjoyed by the staff in the HA are much better than those in the government departments, as the fringe benefits are adjusted yearly together with the salaries. It is also learnt that when the senior executives of the HA attain the so-called targets, they receive bonuses; the money for purchasing medicines and equipment in the various departments of the HA has been reduced; the various departments in the HA are competing for resources in order to create more posts for Senior Medical Officers or Principal Medical Officers instead of allocating the resources to the services; in the HA, the front-line staff such as nurses are facing tremendous pressure ......

The many doubts and criticisms concerning the HA make us think that the operation of the HA has to be made public and reviewed. This kind of criticism also reflects the adverse effects of the Government shirking its responsibilities in regard to medical services.

Frankly speaking, the emergence of itemized charging for medical services is precisely one of the adverse effects of the HA's self-financing policy and its mystical operation. I am strongly opposed to itemized charging for medical services, because I do not want to see people being deprived of proper medical services for financial reasons.

Confronted with the various kinds of problems concerning medical services, I request that the Government should conduct a comprehensive review on the operation of the HA, and strengthen the monitoring power of the Legislative Council over the HA. The accounts of the HA have to be made public. Same as all the government departments, the HA should be subject to the supervision of the public and the Legislative Council. Otherwise, the HA will become an independent kingdom.

Put social justice into practice and take care of the vulnerable groups

In Hong Kong, a society which advocates competition and upholds the market mechanism, the unequal social relationships are aggravating the plight of the vulnerable groups. I always believe that we should be kind to all our fellowmen, to every member of our society.

The poor

We should be sure that poverty is not a personal problem. Poverty is in fact a social problem. Poverty is not chosen by the poor either.

Our social welfare system has been too stringent in terms of its treatment of the poor. The existing Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) system is unable to make the poor lead a dignified life and is unable to encourage them to shake off poverty. Although the Government has adjusted some CSSA rates of payment this time, the rates are still far from the international standard. I, therefore, request that the standard CSSA payment to singletons should be increased to 30% of the median wage while the CSSA payment to families should be increased to 30% of the median family income.

The elderly

The elderly have contributed to society and thus we should respect and cherish them. First of all, we should set up a comprehensive retirement protection system as soon as possible. The integrated package for retirement protection first introduced by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions in 1992 is an appropriate system. This package has integrated the advantages of comprehensive retirement insurance and mandatory provident fund. The strong point is: it can immediately provide a respectable protection system to the retired, the elderly about to retire, housewives and the disabled; and it can, for the sake of preparing for a rainy day on behalf of today's young people, also provide a provident fund system for their future retirement. I solemnly recommend this package to the Government.

Besides, the Government should repeal the upper limit of 180 days during which CSSA recipients can leave Hong Kong, so that those elderly persons who are in need and those who have relatives in the Mainland can peacefully enjoy their twilight years. The Government should change the policy of offsetting the disability allowance against the old age allowance. The age requirement for the elderly to receive various kinds of social assistance should also be lowered from 65 to 60.

The unemployed

The unemployment rate in Hong Kong is getting higher and higher. Obviously, the workers are unemployed not because they are lazy in looking for jobs, but because they cannot really find any or they cannot find jobs which give them a sense of dignity and respectability.

In the long run, the Government will have to boost the industries and to enhance public works construction so as to create more employment opportunities. It should set up an employment committee to solve the unemployment problem. In the meantime, the Government should relax the restrictions for the unemployed to receive CSSA payments, and it should, at the same time, provide immediate unemployment relief to help the unemployed workers tide over the difficulties. Since I am going to move a motion on this topic, I will not discuss the details here.


The Government has been constantly boasting that the plight of women in Hong Kong seems to have improved quite a lot. But what, in fact, is the actual position? It appears that the fact bespeaks something to the contrary! At the present moment, quite a number of people over 30 years of age already have difficulties in getting jobs, especially in the case of women, and it is even worse if they are married. Why is this so? When not a few women encounter difficulties in finding jobs, how much help does the Government give them? But up till now, the Government is still stalling the Bill in relation to eliminating age discrimination and has not yet included it in the legislative agenda!

In my view, the Government should pay attention to the problems encountered by women.


If Hong Kong is to become a caring society, first of all, the Government has to add a more humane touch to its administrative policies, its public policies as well as its social policies in order that it can sincerely care about the public; secondly, the government officials should also care about the public and understand the grassroots.

May the Governor and all the government officials take the people's livelihood as their first concern and respect the people's right to dignified living.

Mr President, these are my remarks. Thank you.

MR LAW CHI-KWONG (in Cantonese): Mr President, this year we receive a "policy address" which very much matches its name. It is a "report" on the Government's administrative work done over the past few years. As a matter of fact, what the Hong Kong people wish to hear is an "Address by the Governor". Their wish is that the Governor can come up with an administrative direction and plans in respect of problems of Hong Kong people's concern.

Expectation of the policy address

As a newcomer to the Legislative Council, I would like to venture a suggestion: The Chief Secretary's "Progress Report" can be renamed as "Policy Progress Report", while the Governor's "policy address" as "Policy Proposal". The above suggestion reflects my expectation of the Governor's major speech each year. The development of Hong Kong will not stop on 1 July 1997, but will continue beyond 1997. The Government should formulate strategies with respect to our existing and future problems and work out blue-prints in regard to our future socio-economic development. Therefore, here I would like to call upon the Governor, basing on his four years' administrative experience in Hong Kong, to put forward a direction the administration should follow in next year's Policy Proposal, instead of focusing in his speech next year on how he will go about packing his stuff and be dismissed, as he has said numerous times before.

Development of social welfare

The policies on social welfare outlined in the policy address are most likely to go beyond 1997. Owing to various mistakes, a number of plans on welfare services have been delayed. As a result, the Government's plan on social welfare services is set to straddle 1997 "unintentionally".

There are two issues with which the social welfare sector is most concerned (I put forward these two issues which are not included in the policy address in the hope that the Government will give due consideration): resources for providing services as well as co-operation between the Government and non-governmental organizations.

Injection of $3 billion into the Lotteries Fund

In 1993, the Government injected $2.3 billion into the Lotteries Fund with a view to developing social welfare services. This sum of money will probably be used up by 1997. According to estimates, about $1.1 billion worth of resources for covering the general recurrent expenditure on social welfare services are expected to come from the Lotteries Fund for 1996-97. In other words, if the Government fails to allocate an additional $1.1 billion from the general revenue in the 1997-98 estimates, services worth $1.1 billion will have to be suspended in 1997. I hope the Government can seriously consider injecting $3 billion from its abundant reserves into the Lotteries Fund in 1996 for ensuring the continuity and stable development of social welfare services in the period between 1997 and 1999, and preventing social welfare services provided for the grassroots from being affected by uncertainties that may be brought about by politics.

"Separation" of accounts for social security and other social welfare services

As seen from the Government's Policy Commitments this year, various kinds of social welfare services have only shown negligible improvements, the reason being that symbolic improvements to the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme have already taken up $300 million or so. As a result, only very limited resources are left for improving other social welfare services. In this respect, I hope that the Government can consider "separating" the accounts for social security and other social welfare services. This would avoid the scenario where future increases in the provision of resources for social security would stifle the development of other social services deprived of additional resources.

Maintenance of partnership between the Government and non-governmental organizations

The second issue of concern to the social welfare sector is the review of the social welfare subvention system. Early this year, a consultant was commissioned by the Government to conduct a review and a first-stage report has been completed after several months of consultation. In the report, it is recommended that the existing "partnership" between the Government and non-governmental organizations should be changed to a funder/provider relationship. This proposal is definitely not acceptable to the social welfare sector as the upper strata of the Government's administrative structure is not returned by election, which is different from the modes of the Australian or other western societies on which the consultancy is based. Since the social welfare policies of Hong Kong are totally led by government officials, the partnership between the Government and non-governmental organizations is indispensable if the policies are to import a stronger element of accountability and conform to social needs. Although the Hong Kong Government always goes against such a "partnership" principle, it always boasts of such relationship and still accepts it in word. This can be regarded as one of the characteristics of our social welfare development. Altering the partnership between the Government and non-governmental organizations will gradually push the organizations' role in formulating social service policies to a more secondary position. I hope the Government can still underline this partnership in its future conduct of business. Of course, this will mean putting this so-called partnership into practice instead of paying lip service only.

Labour relations

It is mentioned in the Governor's policy address that the General Labour Importation Scheme will be abolished and replaced by a Supplementary Labour Scheme with a quota ceiling of 5 000. This scheme has drawn criticisms from a number of Members in this Council and I am not going to repeat their remarks here. I only wish to raise one question and hope both the employers and employees can give serious consideration to it.

The introduction of more voices from the lower strata to the Legislative Council in this session to reflect the aspirations and requests of the grassroots has attracted threat-like remarks from the business sector that the Legislative Council would be giving out free lunches lavishly and capital and investors would be leaving Hong Kong. Such attitude is what I hope to discuss here.

Many of those who are against making improvements to labour and social welfare would take the British welfare system as the so-called negative example. They are actually taking the side picture as the whole. Let us think about it: with a social welfare system better than that of Britain, Germany and other Scandinavian countries can still maintain their economic power. The crux lies in labour relations. Labour relations in these countries are obviously much better than those in Britain; and good labour relations is an important factor of economic development.

Regrettably, it is precisely the aforementioned reaction from the business sector of Hong Kong that has cast a shadow on our labour relations. I hope both the employers and employees can build up good relations, while those from the business sector can sincerely join hands with Hong Kong's labour force to improve labour's rights and protection, as well as the legal systems and policies which are leaving much to be desired.

Development of medical and health services

The Democratic Party is extremely concerned about the medical and health policies. However, little has been mentioned in respect of medical and health services in this year's policy address. This is indeed worrying. As my colleagues from the Democratic Party have already expressed not a few opinions in this respect, there is no need for me to repeat too many of their remarks here. I only wish to express my views on two issues.

Abolition of itemized charging

Although organizations on patients' rights have been striving for the abolition of itemized charging in recent years, the problem is getting increasingly worse instead of being improved. While there are people from the Hospital Authority getting a promotion and making a fortune, more and more patients are trying every possible means to raise money to pay for their operations. Not only does itemized charging affect the patients, it reflects the problems in regard to the existing operation of the medical infra-structure and public monitoring as well. Apart from abolishing itemized charging, the Government should also review the existing mechanism in respect of the monitoring of the Hospital Authority as well as the relations between public and private medical services.

Subvention to the Rehabilitation Self-help Organization and the Community Rehabilitation Network Centres

Regarding the promotion of the concept of self-help and mutual support among the chronically ill as mentioned in the policy address, I have a very deep feeling indeed. In spite of the fact that the Rehabilitation Self-help Organization has been fighting for Government's subvention to promote the concept of self-help and mutual support among people with a disability in recent years, it has failed to gain any support from the Government. Even the commitment made by the Government earlier on of subsidizing the establishment of three Community Rehabilitation Network Centres in 1996-97 has received no mention at all in the Policy Commitments. This is baffling indeed. It seems that the target to whom these two concepts should be promoted is not the chronically ill but the Government itself.

The women policies

Finally, I would like to talk about the issues concerning women's rights and policy outlined in the policy address. There are quite a number of sections in the address that touch upon policies closely related to women's rights. Involving the Education and Manpower Branch, the Health and Welfare Branch and the Home Affairs Branch, the policies cover such items as women's labour rights, medical and health services, nursery, comprehensive assistance and equal opportunities. However, most of the related administrative commitments still follow the direction laid down in the 1993 policy address. We fail to see any major reforms that are innovative and progressive. Moreover, the Government has failed to give any positive responses with regard to the woman health centres and woman comprehensive service centres the community organizations have strived for. This precisely reflects the consequence of lacking a co-ordinating unit to deal with an inter-departmental policy. I, therefore, call upon the Government once again to set up a woman policy unit to specifically study and attend to the problems encountered by the women in Hong Kong, as well as co-ordinating the formulation of women policies and implementation of women's services.

These are my remarks.

MR AMBROSE LAU (in Cantonese): Mr President, this year's policy address of the Governor is delivered against the backdrop of the British Foreign Secretary and Chinese Foreign Minister having reached a four-point consensus on co-operation. The public therefore is cherishing a higher expectation and the Governor, trying not to let the people down, also seems to have done his best. However, I wonder whether the public's aspiration is too high or the Governor is in fact having "a willing spirit" but "weak flesh" in achieving "our work together". I believe it is not a case where both the spirit and the flesh are weak. Overall, the policy address lacks ambition and this is what lets people down. The Governor has not proposed any effective measures for solving our problems, especially in respect of upgrading our industries and alleviating our unemployment problem. As far as Sino-British co-operation is concerned, the Governor still harps the same old tune and persists in his old way, which reflects that under his governance in the coming year we can continue to play our role in the political arena but nothing can be done to rescue our economy.

Turning to the issue of economic transformation, the Governor has only emphasized that "our economy has switched so efficiently from manufacturing to services", but he avoids mentioning another important aspect of economic transformation, that is, the upgrading of the manufacturing industry. In fact, a healthy and thorough economic transformation should include not only the full development of the services sector but also the upgrading of the manufacturing industry. Various economic problems are faced by Hong Kong now, such as declining economic growth, escalating unemployment rate and dampened consumption aspiration. These are all due to the trend of the hollowing out and uprooting of our manufacturing sector. This trend has also crippled our services sector. Actually, as the Government ignores the upgrading of our industries, this has resulted in an unbalanced structure of economic development which has in turn driven our economic transformation process into a predicament. The Governor said that our economy has switched so efficiently, but he has ignored the hidden worry besetting our economic transformation caused by the predicament of our manufacturing industry.

Mr President, it is the common wish of the business sector that while Hong Kong develops into a service centre, certain segments of the manufacturing industry which have high value-added capacity and high competitiveness can be maintained so as to stop the trend of the hollowing out of our manufacturing sector and making an economic bubble of it. Unfortunately, the Governor still emphasized "positive non-interventionism" in his policy address. Now that the manufacturing sector is being driven into a predicament because it has failed to upgrade itself, the Government must lend it its support.

In fact, "positive non-interventionism" is not an unalterable policy of the Government. For instance, in the 1960s, the Government fully supported small-scale industries in Hong Kong by providing loans to them and building industrial estates with a view to promoting the export of products. In the 1970s, it also helped upgrade our industries and developed industrial education in order to train up qualified personnel. At the same time, a large quantity of low-priced housing was built in order to stabilize the land price and curb the increase in costs. In the 1990s, the Government’s "positive non-interventionism", however, has become "negative non-interventionism" instead; the Government allows the inflation rate to stay high and becomes apathetic to the difficult position the manufacturing sector is in. Due to the Government’s neglect in formulating a long-term policy on manufacturing and human resources, Hong Kong has missed the good chance of undergoing a full economic transformation in the 1990s. As a result, we have lagged behind Singapore and Korea in terms of adaptability.

Mr President, with South China as its vast hinterland, Hong Kong's manufacturing industry could make use of the cheap labour and cheap land there in the early and mid 1980s and had tremendously reduced the production costs. However, this kind of vertical division of labour in manufacturing between two different regions had only led to the relocation of our labour-intensive industries to South China. What followed was the hollowing out of our manufacturing industry and the unemployment of our manufacturing workers.

After this large-scale relocation of the cost-conscious manufacturing industry in the 1990s, our manufacturing industry tended towards opening markets. It no longer relied on the advantage of low production cost because our neighouring countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines and India had also joined the competition by providing capital-exporters with cheap labour and cheap land. Under this trend, with the exception of those which could maintain their competitiveness on the basis of their low production costs, our factories which had relocated to South China had to face the pressure of being driven out of business if they failed to open new markets. However, our products' technological content and value-addedness must be upgraded in order to open new markets. Hong Kong's manufacturing industry has already reached the stage where it must establish its own brand names in order to upgrade itself.

According to the experience of some advanced countries such as Japan and the United States, their manufacturing industry had gone through a process where they had established their local brand names before they exported the vital parts and their technological support services to the rest of the world.

The establishment of famous brand name products is an important indication that the manufacturing industry has matured and is entering the world market. In my opinion, Hong Kong has to encourage the growth of a multitude of technology-based corporations which have the potential to specialize in the development of some high-technology products and high value-added products. These products must first establish their famous brand name in Hong Kong before they can export their vital parts and assembly services to China and the whole world. Not only can this restore the root of the manufacturing industry to Hong Kong but also maintain on a permanent basis a segment of the manufacturing industry which has international competitiveness, utilizing high technology and having high value-addedness.

Mr President, if we take a look at the products which dominate our market, we will find that many of them are imported from Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. These countries and regions have gradually established the brand names of their products. In our market, products are seldom really made in Hong Kong. In fact, Hong Kong is fully equipped to restore the glory of its manufacturing industry in the 1960s and 1970s. The Government should draw on the previous experience in upbringing Hong Kong's small-scale industries during that period. It should also encourage the growth of a multitude of technology-based corporations which have the potential of developing so that speed and efficiency, the features of our manufacturing industry in the past, can be kept up. Furthermore, the base of the manufacturing industry in Hong Kong can be preserved in the course of upgrading.

I have suggested that the Governor should set up a statutory organization, to be called the Economic Development Council, with the principal functions of advising the Government on important economic affairs. By means of establishing overseas offices, it can promote the products of Hong Kong and attract foreign capital to invest in our manufacturing industry. This statutory organization can play an active role in upholding the balanced structure of Hong Kong's manufacturing industries, ensuring the upgrading of our manufacturing industry, and maintaining the base of our industry here.

Mr President, the smooth transition and the continuous prosperity of Hong Kong in 1997 depend much on Sino-British co-operation, and we are glad that the Governor has committed in his policy address to achieve this. But the key point is how the friction and confrontation between the Chinese side and the British side can be reduced and how favourable conditions and a friendly atmosphere for smooth co-operation can be created. However, the policy address has only reiterated the four-point consensus on co-operation reached by the British Foreign Secretary and the Chinese Foreign Minister. Besides, neither effective nor practical measures have been proposed.

The Government is prepared to set up a Liaison Office to contact and communicate with the Preparatory Committee. This is a good idea. But any differences of opinion which arise in the future in regard to the co-operation of the Preparatory Committee and the Liaison Office should be resolved by the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group through negotiation instead of revealing the differences openly or entering into quarrels for the confidence of Hong Kong people will be greatly dampened. Xun Zi, an ancient Chinese philosopher, said, "Friendly words are as warm as clothes, malicious words will hurt as deeply as spears." The co-operation of the Liaison Office and the Preparatory Committee should be on friendly and trusting terms in order to effect true co-operation.

In regard to the contacts and communication between our senior government officials and the Chinese Government, it is the Governor's idea that heads of various branches and departments will lead their subordinates and meet with the Chinese government officials. In my opinion, this form of communication between the government officials of both sides is unilateral and monotonously routine. In fact, the form of communication should be varied. For instance, the Government can organize a tour to China for high ranking officials of various departments. Meanwhile, Chinese government officials can also be allowed to visit and see how various departments of the Hong Kong Government work. In doing so, the forms of contact between both sides can be more varied and the purpose of mutual communication and understanding can be achieved.

Besides, in regard to the handover of civil servants' personal particulars to China and the suggestion to consult China on the 1996-97 Budget, the Governor has not made any specific commitments. In my opinion, the Government should reach consensus with the Chinese side as soon as possible to enable the Chinese side to draw up a name list of principal officials of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) as soon as possible and to ensure the smooth dovetailing of the Budget of the future SAR.

Mr President, somebody asked me, "Hong Kong: Our work together" are words which look so familiar. Will the Governor especially echo the platform of the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance, which is, "Our work together for advancement and prosperity"? My answer is: I wish this would be the case, but I do not hold out too much hope.

Mr President, I so submit.

MR JAMES TO (in Cantonese): Mr President, on behalf of the Democratic Party, I would give some views on the security aspect of the policy address this year.

First, I am very disappointed that the policy address has not mentioned the problem of Vietnamese boat people for the third consecutive year. It must be realized that if nothing is mentioned, it must not necessarily be a good omen, and the main point is to find a solution to this problem.

Not even a single word was mentioned in this year's policy address on this problem. Does it mean this is not a problem any more? It has to be understood that the Government once pledged that it hoped to close all the Vietnamese boat people camps by the end of 1995 and it has already admitted frankly in the progress report that this goal has not been reached. Failure to achieve the goal does not mean that the problem has already been solved. Actually, when will this problem be solved? The Government all along used the excuses that the Vietnamese Government was not co-operative, or they were only prepared to take back a small number of migrants, or they were unwilling to give their approval because the procedure was very complicated to delay the pace of repatriation. However, after the conference held in Geneva a few months ago, it seems that Vietnam is now willing to accept a maximum of 1 800 people every month. However, the Hong Kong Government seems unable to attain this goal. If we can repatriate 1 800 people every month, then 18 000 people will be repatriated after 10 months. Therefore, we can expect that our goal will be achieved before 1997. Up till now, the Government has not furnished any explanation in this respect. Even the Secretary for Security declared recently that the present Orderly Repatriation Programme has increased the number of flights from one to two every month, the number of migrants involved are a few hundred only, which is far behind the target of 1 000-odd migrants a month. I hope the Government will be committed to tackle any problem with sincerity no matter how serious it may be. Otherwise, if we cannot complete the task that we can complete, how can we accuse some of the congressmen in the United States and their bills for intervening in our policy, thereby resulting in the reduction of the number of voluntary repatriation. This is not what a responsible government should do.

It is already very humane for us to have spent $7 billion in the past years and the United Nations still owes us $1 billion. If the task cannot be completed before 1997, the British Government has the responsibility to shoulder all the debts and accept all the migrants.

Recently there has been a series of corruption cases. The number of cases relating to the conduct of police officers, the number of cases in which they have been prosecuted and the rise in the number of cases which have been reported against them are really worrying. Even the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) admitted that there is clearly resurgence of corrupt practices in small groups. Recently, the result of a survey conducted by the ICAC has proved that the public is very concerned about this issue. We should not single out the disciplined services for criticisms when we talk about making "quick money" because of the uncertainty about 1997. It is not a problem faced only by the disciplined services, but also a problem of the person, a problem of the public and all the civil servants. Therefore, it is not right to target on the disciplined services alone.

However, why are people so worried? This is because power is vested in the disciplined services which will definitely affect the order of society. We therefore pay great attention to it. I hope the disciplined services should not have a wrong impression that Members, the community or leaders in society are prejudiced against them. However, I can see that the top officials of the Hong Kong Government, the disciplined services, or the ICAC, and even of the civilian grades are very concerned with this problem. I believe this issue has received due attention. It is mentioned in the policy address that the disciplined services have already established a Strategic Anti-Corruption Committee , and the ICAC has increased its frontline operational staff, and strengthened their co-operation with the law enforcement agencies and also their intelligence gathering. From this it can be seen that they are determined to combat corruption. However, there are also other factors which are outside our determination and that of the Hong Kong Government. For example, the need to strengthen our co-operation with China. Nevertheless, within our ability, we can take the following initiatives:

  1. I understand that recently the Government is considering to implement a system requiring civil servants, especially those of the disciplined services, to declare their investments both in the Mainland and overseas. This measure goes straight to the heart of the problem. From intelligence gathered by the ICAC, we learn that some members of the disciplined services accept bribes in the guise of joint-ownership of karaokes or entertainment establishments in China. When executing their daily duties they also made things easier for some people. I think the system under study is effective in this aspect. However, we have to carefully consider the problems of privacy and human rights, but I think this is certainly the right direction.
  2. We have to strengthen the prosecution and review the law. For example, we once amended the law on credit card frauds, so that when crimes which cause loss to the people of Hong Kong are committed overseas, they would still be subject to the jurisdiction of our law. Concerning corruption offenses, the ICAC has promised to carry out a review a year ago, but so far there has been no further news.
  3. The reporting on police officers by police officers in respect of corruption. In fact, the police has a faulty culture which has long existed, possibly for 20 or 30 years or even more, that is when a police officer reported on another officer for corruption, he would be considered as a "traitor" and all his colleagues would turn their backs on him. I think this long-standing misconception should be corrected. We are not encouraging mutual destruction within the Police Force, but every citizen should report on corruption, not to mention those who are policemen themselves. I would like to correct this kind of culture and idea as soon as possible. Actually, a police officer reporting another officer for corruption is an effective method.
  4. We should be determined to root out corruption. However, I am apprehensive, because both the present colonial government or the future Chinese Government will consider the police or other disciplined services as a very important stabilizing institution and we can neither deploy armed forces any time, nor field British troops or the People's Liberation Army. We definitely need a stabilizing institution, such as the police, which is the largest institution to maintain the stability of Hong Kong. The slightest action which will hurt the morale of the Police Force will make these two sovereign powers very worried. Therefore, in the last phase of the transitional period, determination to tackle corruption would be an acid test. I hope the Government, and especially the future Chinese Government, should not be reluctant to co-operate.

On the other hand, while the public is urging the ICAC to attack corruption, they are also worried about ICAC abusing its powers. Now we can see that in committees set up under the ICAC, none of them has a Legislative Council Member as member. It has been jokingly suggested that this may have something to do with Mr Alex TSUI's case and so the only member who was a Legislative Council Member had been kicked out of one of the committees. What does this situation mean? Ultimately, the public is also very worried whether the high-ranking Chinese cadres in Hong Kong will be bound by Hong Kong laws. Also, how will the so-called diplomatic immunity and so on operate? The Commissioner of the ICAC recently gave a revealing remark, " It is a matter of the sovereign state, therefore, it is hoped that the Chinese Government can co-operate and be positive on this problem." I am pleased that Mr WANG Fengchao, a Chinese official of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, had affirmed once again that the Hong Kong ICAC would continue to combat corruption as it does now when the Commissioner of the ICAC visited China. I hope we can live up to what is said in the advertisement, that Hong Kong is distinctive, because we have the ICAC.

A few years ago, I pointed out that I was worried that young people would be very insensitive to corruption because they had not gone through the evil consequences of corruption in the past years. Unfortunately, my worry becomes true. In a recent survey conducted by the ICAC, it was found out from an additional question that the awareness of corruption among young people was very low. I hope that the ICAC can strengthen the education in this regard.

On the other hand, juvenile delinquency and drug abuse have become the primary problems of law and order. I am speaking on this problem for the third year, however, it has not received the same concern as on corruption. In fact, the Central Fight Crime Committee had already realized the seriousness of this problem as early as the 1990s. After passing through many bureaucratic procedures, tenders and allocation of funds, a report entitled "Research on the Social Causes of Juvenile Crime" was published only in 1995. In fact, even without reading the report, the Government should have known the causes a few years ago. It is only a matter of determination. The Government has always been reluctant to inject resources, although it is indeed very expensive to employ counsellors, yet expending of these resources is indispensable. Stepping up publicity and education alone is not enough, we have to tackle this problem practically, comprehensively and continuously until we can see the result and until we can reverse the trend. Even the building of a few more practical secondary schools cannot solve the problem. It is more important that we can make parents come to the awakening.

Concerning juvenile delinquency and drug abuse, I have to quote some past figures. The figures in the first two quarters of 1995 are already three-fold of the figures in the year 1992. These figures have trebled in just three years, which means this problem should be treated as a crisis. We certainly welcome the Governor's decision to provide $350 million to set up a Beat Drugs Fund. It is the result of the awakening of the Fight Crime Committee, Action Committee Against Narcotics and members of the public on their past. However, the voluntary agencies have for a long time accused the Government of only providing limited support and subsidies. The Government still abides by its principle of not providing assistance to religious activities, but are these religious activities? Since there are objective and quantitative indices, and the number of rehabilitated drug addicts can also prove how the public funds are spent to achieve a satisfactory result, why do they still fail to obtain assistance? I hope the future Beat Drugs Fund can handle this problem flexibly on what is called subsidizing religious activities. In fact, many voluntary agencies have been widely accepted by the public, why do we still have to stick to this principle to obstruct the wide implementation of drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation services? Just building one or two more treatment centres for young people, as the Governor has light-heartedly suggested, cannot meet the demand for rehabilitation and treatment institutions. What we need is large numbers of them; however, the supply is far from adequate. The Government all along considers it a waste of money to invest in this area. The resources required to put a young person in the right and giving him drug treatment will be sufficient to educate a university student, and there is no guarantee that the young person will not repeat the mistake. It is therefore considered not worthwhile to invest in this work which only incur expenses but creates no wealth, or better keep to the bare minimum.

The Governor has held a Summit Meeting on Drugs several months ago. He only listed and summarized in the meeting the resources which he had promised in the past, and reported the amount of funds injected, which were in fact all pledges made before the previous summit meetings. Public opinions had been gathered after the Summit Meeting, however, he was not prepared to inject additional resources. I hope the Government would strengthen enforcement actions, and strike a heavy blow at those drug peddlers who sell drugs to youngsters or use them as drug pushers. In addition, more than six months have been spent to study the bill with a view to increasing the punishments, but the amendment bill is not yet ready until now.

Concerning other crimes, for example, organized crimes, I would like to praise the police for they have really "used their brains" on the problem. They have become more intelligent and flexible. They have used different methods, disguised themselves, acted as undercover agents and have been tipped off in advance in the fight against organized crimes. All those are wise and intelligent methods and I have to give them credit. The credit should especially go to the Organized Crime Bureau, which had really done a good job. However, we should not forget that the public is still living under the influence of the triads who are involved in many blackmail cases and monopolize many trades. Look at the valet parking services in Tsim Sha Tsui East and Mongkok. They are all controlled by triads. I hope the Government would not turn a blind eye on this. In the policy address, the Governor mentioned that the rates of serious crimes have dropped by so many percent, but the public still live in the shadow of the triads. The Governor has said that in the past years the Government did not have the kind of power to crack down on criminals because the Organized and Serious Crime Ordinance was not yet passed. It is now one year after the passing of the Ordinance, what are the results then? How long do we have to wait before we can see the police using their new power to neutralize these syndicates in a determined and responsible manner?

On the other hand, I would like the Government to place more emphasis on destroying the wealth of the triads and the organized syndicates. They indeed have too much money. With just one telephone call, scores of lawyers will march in to pay the bail. This is not a joke. Also, many professionals and accountants will assist them to avoid tax and set up many shell companies. The structure is so complicated that it is difficult for law enforcement agents to find out the origin of their wealth. I hope that the Government can strengthen its co-operation with overseas countries because money involved in international crimes can be transferred out of Hong Kong in just a second without a trace. I therefore hope that the Government should increase the manpower to investigate the wealth of the triads. Also, the triads are now moving north across the border, some of them have even become patriotic members through political donations. It should be understood that if the Communist Party decides to crack down on anyone, they will be very cruel and ruthless. I hope that the Government will pass this message to the Chinese Government to urge them to attack the triads with real determination. These are my remarks.

MR LO SUK-CHING (in Cantonese): Mr President, I am so glad to see the policy address entitled Hong Kong: Our Work Together. In the address, the Governor proposed that co-operation between Britain and China should be strengthened and reiterated the four items of consensus recently reached by the British and Chinese Foreign Ministers. Moreover, promises were made to the effect that the Administration would set up a Liaison Office, give active assistance to the Preparatory Committee of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) and make arrangements for policy secretaries to get in touch with the Chinese side. All these measures were meant to facilitate the handover of sovereignty, thereby minimizing the impact on society resulting from the failure of the three-tier boards and councils to straddle 1997.

Being the last term under the British colonial rule, this Council will, on the one hand, put an end to the British rule and, on the other, join hands with the people of Hong Kong to set up the SAR Government. This is an honourable, historical mission indeed.

More than 150 years ago, Britain triggered the Opium War and fought it with her sturdily built fleets of warships and powerful guns. Subsequently, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon were ceded, and the New Territories was leased to Britain under three unequal treaties. Over the century, serious oppression, exploitation and looting took place in Hong Kong. Prior to 1967, a conventional style of colonial rule was practised, subjecting the people of Hong Kong to various kinds of unfair treatment. The livelihood of the grassroots at that time was extremely miserable. After 1967, Hong Kong people's national awakening and resistance began to challenge the British colonial rule. As a result, Britain was forced to make improvements in the way she governed Hong Kong and a number of social welfare measures were introduced to mitigate contradictions in society. It was not until China proposed the resumption of sovereignty in the early 1980s that Britain began to make preparation for her "honourable withdrawal" by implementing a system of representative government and a de-colonization package, a tactic she used when withdrawing from other colonies. In doing so, Britain would be able to maintain and continue with her invisible rule, creating barriers to China's resumption of sovereignty and realization of the concept of "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong".

In order to resume her sovereignty over Hong Kong, China put forward the concept of "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" and "a high degree of autonomy". In 1982, the Sino-British talks commenced to sort out problems pertaining to Hong Kong; in 1984, the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed; and in 1990, the Basic Law was promulgated. It has been 13 years since then and trials and hardships have been dominating the scene. With just 600-odd days to 1 July 1997, Hong Kong is going to become the SAR of the People's Republic of China. This will be an important moment in the history of China, and the world's attention will focus on it. It is an extremely valuable occasion on which we happen to be present at the right moment and take part in promoting a smooth transition for Hong Kong and maintaining Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. We must join hands to build a better Hong Kong. Only in so doing will we feel that we have discharged ourselves honourably towards our country and people.

What is disturbing is that the Governor, on the one hand, proposed Britain and China should co-operate and, on the other, talked of some unrealistic political nonsense by demanding that Members returned by the "triple violating" political reform package be allowed to straddle l997, which would be of no help to the improvement of Sino-British relationship. It is widely known that as far as the handover of Hong Kong's sovereignty is concerned, both Chinese and British sides as well as all Hong Kong people are hoping for a "through train" arrangement. It was with this good will that China set out to formulate the Basic Law. But regrettably, Britain changed its foreign policy towards China in 1989 and went back on her promises by dismantling the rail for the "through train". So, how can we have a "through train" today? When sovereignty over a country or a place changes hands, it is normal that the original political structure be discontinued or disbanded, regardless of whether the change takes place in China or in foreign countries, in the past or at the present time. It is only natural that the term of office for the Legislative Council ends with the termination of British rule over Hong Kong.

The Governor, on the one hand, promised to assist the Preparatory Committee of the SAR, but on the other, made it clear in the Governor's Question Time that no assistance would be given to the provisional legislature to be set up by the Preparatory Committee, which is responsible for preparing for the establishment of the Hong Kong SAR and other related matters, including making preparation for the Judiciary and the executive and legislative organs. As regards what kind of legislature is to be set up, it is an issue pertaining to the internal affairs of China and should be left to the Chinese side and the people of Hong Kong to discuss. In the event that no "through train" is available, the establishment of a provisional legislature will be a more feasible option. During the period between 1 July 1997 and the setting up of the first legislature under the Basic Law, a provisional legislature made up of Hong Kong people and returned by a Selection Committee will always be in a better position to embody the spirit of "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" in law enactment than the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, or the Preparatory Committee on behalf of the SAR, or by way of promulgating executive orders by the Chief Executive.

We sincerely hope that the Liaison Office to be established by the Government can assist the Preparatory Committee in a proactive manner, the Governor can give the policy secretaries a free hand to fully co-operate with the Preparatory Committee, and local civil servants can boost their confidence in straddling 1997 through better understanding and contacts with Chinese officials involved in Hong Kong affairs.

Hong Kong's economic problem

Over the past 20 years, Hong Kong's economy has seen a significant development which has been partly due to the fact that the Chinese in Hong Kong are hardworking, flexible, and know how to incorporate and apply western managerial experiences. More importantly, the geographical position of Hong Kong with China as its hinterland has provided us with an abundant supply of manpower, cheap commodities and raw material. In recent years, China has even provided a huge market for us. Hong Kong's economic takeoff over the past 20 years has been closely related to the opening up of the mainland and its reform. The global economic downturn, coupled with Hong Kong's lack of long-term economic planning and failure to cope with economic transformation as well as China's macro-adjustment cum control and economic contraction, also has a significant correlation with Hong Kong's recent economic slowdown. The rise in the unemployment rate has been attributed to a number of factors, with the importation of labour and the presence of a large pool of illegal workers being two of the important factors. But more importantly, we can only solve the unemployment problem at its root by developing Hong Kong's economy and creating more job opportunities. To improve Hong Kong's economy, we must strengthen our economic co-operation with China. In particular, we must link up with the economic development of the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong Province so that Hong Kong and the Delta Region can complement each other and have a co-ordinated development to enable Hong Kong to develop further. In the Governor's policy address, however, there is no mention of any planning of a grand scale in this bearing. This is the state of mind of a sunset government. What we should do is to start with a long-term objective, strengthen our economic co-operation with China and develop our economy.

Housing problem

Being Hong Kong people's first and foremost problem, the housing problem should rank as our number one problem and be accorded top priority. With the increasing number of immigrants from the mainland, urban renewal, demolition of temporary housing units and clearance of rooftop structures, it is anticipated that the need for public rental housing units will become more pressing. At present, 150 000 people are still on the Waiting List for public housing. As most of them are the grassroots, it is necessary for the Government to build a large number of public rental housing units to meet their housing needs. Only in doing so can Hong Kong acquire stability and continue to develop.

Problem of the stranded Vietnamese migrants

As far as the stranded Vietnamese migrants are concerned, not a single word has been mentioned in the policy address. The Government did promise that the problem would be solved by the end of 1995. But regrettably, the progress was so slow that only 3 000 people were repatriated last year. In light of the present progress, it is simply impossible to have all the migrants repatriated by 1997. The Vietnamese problem was attributed to the United State's erroneous policy of fighting the Vietnamese War, while the problem of stranded Vietnamese migrants in Hong Kong was attributed to the fact that the British Government, yielding to the pressure exerted by the United States Government, made Hong Kong adopt the policy of the port of first asylum. Of course, one can call the decision by the fine-sounding name of humanitarian considerations. But actually, it is inhumane to both the stranded boat people and our citizens for forcing Hong Kong, almost the number one region in the world of having the highest population density, to adopt such a policy. Since this problem was triggered by Britain and the United States, both countries should be responsible to provide a solution to the problem prior to the handover of sovereignty in 1997. They are duty-bound to accept all Vietnamese migrants who will still be stranded in Hong Kong by 1997, or make arrangement for all the migrants to leave Hong Kong. The relevant expenditure should also be borne by these two countries.

What is more, being the sovereign state of Hong Kong, Britain is duty bound to recover all the debts the United Nations owes Hong Kong.

Mr President, these are my remarks.

MR LEE WING-TAT (in Cantonese): Mr President, on behalf of the Democratic Party, I would like to the speak on the housing problem as it is presented in the policy address this year. This is the fourth policy address of the Governor, and as far as housing policies are concerned, it is even more "lacking in anything worth mentioning" and even more "lacking in vision" when compared with those of the past three years. The only thing in it which can be regarded as somewhat a new initiative is the hope of reducing the average waiting time for public housing to less than five years by 2001.

Mr President, in retrospect, the four policy addresses prepared by the Governor can be described as lacking in vision as far as housing strategies are concerned. A housing construction project will take at least seven to 10 years for planning and the actual building before it can be completed. To a Governor whose term of office is only five years, housing is therefore not an area which offers much room for displaying his talents. It is for this reason that the Governor has been concentrating on short-term, immediate and easy-to-achieve targets in his policy addresses over the past few years. An example is the clearance of all Temporary Housing Areas and squatter huts built on urban Crown land by 1996 and 1997, as demolition is a target easier to achieve than construction. As to issues which are difficult and need long-term planning, with some being fundamental, the Governor is at his wits' end.

To be honest, I have always doubted the Governor's understanding about the seriousness of Hong Kong's housing problem, or whether the Governor is merely "a puppet" on the worshipping table and relied on the Housing Branch, the Housing Authority (HA) and the Housing Department to provide him with housing information and policy analysis for the determination of Hong Kong's housing development direction.

Mr President, in paragraph 86 of the policy address, the Governor criticized those public housing tenants who own property, hinting that they had victimized the 150 000 applicants on the General Waiting List. This is actually an emotionally-appealing and simple strategy adopted by the Government in its search for a "scapegoat" to shoulder the blame for its faulty housing policies. Comments of this kind also exposes the Governor's unilateral view, or even ignorance, as far as the housing problem is concerned. However, this search for a "scapegoat" will certainly continue and expand in the coming months. The truth is that most public housing tenants have purchased private property largely for self-occupation, instead of for rental income as alleged by the Governor. Many of these people are over-crowded households, or tenants living in timeworn public housing estates, or they may also be elderly people who have to live on the rents they receive, or parents who have to make accommodation arrangements for their married children. The supply of public housing is so tight that everyone in Hong Kong, while enjoying a steady living, still feels the need to exhaust each and every means to meet the future housing needs of himself/herself and his/her children.

If the "lamb" which has made the mistake must really be found, where is it? In the paper on long-term housing strategy released in 1987, the Government stated its intention of clearing all applications on the General Waiting List within 10 years, that is, by 1997. It was also said that thereafter all new applicants could expect to be allotted public housing within two to three years from the date of application. However, owing to the policy errors of the Government and the HA in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the quantity of Government land allocation during that period was reduced. The results have been a low production period for the HA from 1993 to 1997, and an ever-lengthening General Waiting List. When so many applicants on the General Waiting List cannot get public housing, whose fault is it?

Currently, each of the 150 000 applicants on the General Waiting List has to wait for an average of seven years before he or she can be allotted a public housing unit. This in itself is already an extremely long waiting time. What is more, with the entry of 54 000 new immigrants from China every year and the emergence of new families due to economic or other reasons such as marriages, the demand for public rental housing is still heavy. Estimated conservatively, at least 20 000 new applicants will be added to the General Waiting List every year. Therefore, given the existing speed of allocation, it is very likely that at least 100 000 families will still be on the General Waiting List even in the year 2001.

A major solution to the problem is for the Government to drastically increase the quantity of land allocations and building more pubic rental housing flats. Each time Mr Dominic WONG, Secretary for Housing, talks about the Government's housing construction programme, he always repeated, "The Government will build a total of 141 000 public rental flats in the coming five years". This in effect means an average of 28 200 flats a year. However, given the increase in new applications on the General Waiting List, and with the potential housing needs of the large numbers of new immigrants from China, this level of output clearly is unable to meet demands. For that reason, I hope Mr Dominic WONG, Secretary for Housing, should neither become complacent nor refuse to make progress. Nor should he seek only to construct 140 000 flats and then call it a day. Instead, he should be more aggressive in his work. To be a Secretary for Housing calling it a day will not be difficult, and to satisfy the housing needs of the lower strata of society is the real challenge of the job.

Apart from low output, the serious shortage of public rental flats is also caused by the fact that when formulating housing policies for the future, the Government and the HA have adopted a gradual shift towards HOS housing. In the next five years, a total of 175 000 flats will be constructed under Home Ownership Schemes and Sandwich Class Housing Schemes, a number which is larger than that of public rental housing units by 34 000 flats. Such a policy, based primarily on HOS housing and supplemented by public rental housing, has already been the firmly established view of the leadership of the HA and the Housing Department. However, I think this approach is simply like asking a poor man to have shark's fins as food, when he cannot even afford rice, or like asking a lamb to put on a fur coat to keep warm in winter after it has been fleeced of its wool. Given the limited resources, the Government should devote most of its public housing units to rental housing, in order to satisfy the people's most basic need. Home ownership should be encouraged only after this need has generally been met. If, for reasons of management difficulties, the Government now hastens to freeze the total number of public rental housing flats in a short time, then, a few years later, when pressure for public rental housing mounts incessantly, it may be forced to spend another five or 10 years on making a U-turn.

"Distant water cannot be relied on to put out a fire nearby" and "a meal with a roasted whole sheep" are certainly no solution to the immediate hunger of a starving man. Therefore, in view of the low output of public housing in the next two years, we should perhaps consider the following four measures:

  1. to convert housing units planned as HOS flats back into rental units;
  2. to keep the old housing blocks in renewal areas where there are no immediate plans for housing development;
  3. to increase the plot ratios of housing blocks the construction of which have just started for the purpose of adding a few more storeys;
  4. to consider the provision of short-term rental subsidy for those who have been on the General Waiting List for more than seven years.

The rationale behind the fourth recommendation is that since such applicants on the General Waiting List have waited for a time longer than the target period set down by the Government, what the HA provides is only the difference between the "equitable market rent" and the public housing rent.

Mr President, I turn now to home ownership. As stated in the Governor's past policy addresses, 60% of families in Hong Kong will own their homes by 1997. However, both the Government and the Housing Authority recently have admitted openly that the percentage in question will at most be 55% by 1997, which means a shortfall of 70 000 owners when compared with the previously set target. This decrease in the number of owner-occupiers is clearly related to the sharp increases in private property prices between 1991 and 1994, which have added more difficulties to those buying their own homes. Moreover, since the supply of private housing, especially the housing units built as a result of urban renewal, has markedly decreased over the past two years, a drop in the percentage of increase for home ownership is well within our expectation. Private property prices between 1991 and 1994 nearly doubled. Since the implementation of curbing measures last year, property prices have gone done by a mere 20% only. To most of the common people, private property at the existing price levels are still beyond their reach. Some genuine users still want to purchase property; however, which is simply because they are not eligible for public housing, or because their patience has worn thin after prolonged waiting. It is only due to a lack of other options that they choose to make the "heroic move" of purchasing their own flats. And, once these poor fellows have made this move, they will have to lead a scrimpy life in the following 20 to 30 years to repay their mortgage loans, to say when no rice is available, these lambs will have to feed on grass. Mr Donald TSANG, the Financial Secretary, told the media a few days ago that property prices had bottomed out. At a time when property prices have just started to stabilize, this comment of the Financial Secretary seems to send a signal to promote property sales and does indeed rouse the suspicion that he is trying to "boost the sluggish market", or to give members of the public the impression that the Financial Secretary is acting as the agent of property tycoons. The Government has repeatedly insisted that the market, not the Government, should be left to determine what levels of property prices are reasonable. Therefore, this unprecedented "green light" given by the Financial Secretary to those who intend to buy property is really in breach of the Government's avowed principle that it will not set price levels for the property market. The Financial Secretary ought to account for this.

The measures announced by the Government last year to curb property prices have basically been able to drive most property speculators out of the market. It is the view of the Democratic Party that these measures, especially the 70% mortgage ceiling, should continue to be applied. The only relaxation which can be considered is to provide better terms for first-time buyers. I hope that the Government will consult the Housing Panel of the Legislative Council before making any change to the measures of curbing property prices.

Apart from private property ownership, another way to increase the number of home owners is to reconsider the Sale of Flats to Sitting Tenants Scheme (SFSTS) rejected by the Government in 1992. Owning a comfortable home is an aspiration of the small people. With low prices, if flexibility is applied to re-sale restrictions, and appropriate handling of integrated management and maintenance issues, I believe the SFSTS will be able to help the grass-root level fulfil their hope of owning their homes. If the HA can introduce a "rental-as-mortgage-payment" arrangement under the Scheme, whereby a tenant-turned-owner can repay his mortgage loan at the level of the rental he used to pay or at a slightly higher rate, I believe more tenants will be willing to become owners. And, once the number of tenants has decreased, the Housing Department's staffing as well as its continuously rising expenditure can be scaled down. In fact, the SFSTS is a proposal which can benefit all the parties concerned, and it has the support of several political parties in this Council. The Democratic Party will initiate discussions with various political parties to seek a consensus, and then present our views to the Government.

Mr President, the commotion which occurred during the Governor's visit to a Temporary Housing Area (THA) last month highlighted the residents' discontent with the appalling conditions inside THAs, the HA's break of promise, and the Governor's failure to supervise the HA. THAs, introduced as a stopgap measure in the 1960s to alleviate the housing shortage, have existed "temporarily" for over 30 years already. If it is accepted that the living conditions of the people should improve proportionately with economic growth, then it is high time that old public housing blocks should replace the wooden huts of existing THAs to provide temporary housing.

Mr President, I understand that the Housing Branch is drawing up the Long Term Housing Strategy. I hope that the Housing Branch can provide more information to the public on the review concerned, conduct a full-scale consultation exercise, and increase the transparency of the whole process rather than carrying out any "clandestine operation". I hope that Mr Dominic WONG can see that a bare lamb is more acceptable to the community than a lamb clad in furs. In fact, apart from errors made in the central policy-making process, the composition of the HA is also a key factor to the failure of the existing housing policy to effectively solve the people's housing problem. Over the years, we have been asking the Government to open up the HA but the Government has simply turned a deaf ear to this. I shall move a Member's Bill on behalf of the Democratic Party in this session to reform the composition of the HA so that it can become more accountable to the public.

Mr President, for a whole day yesterday, Members have all pointed to the Governor's faults in their speeches. On policy issues affecting the people's livelihood, I agree with these criticisms, but I think the Governor has made some undeniable contributions to Hong Kong's political operations and political culture. My colleagues who have been Members of this Council since 1992 should recall that in just three years, unprecedented changes never found in Hong Kong in the past 100 years or so have been introduced to the operations of our Government. These changes are:

  1. the Governor's Question Time during which the Governor himself takes questions from Members and the public;
  2. Policy Commitments and Progress Reports which cover various government departments,
  3. Performance Pledges undertaken by Government Departments as part of a culture of service which stress on improving standards; and
  4. the formulation of the Code of Access to Information.

Although these changes are not institutional reforms as such, they have already made the Government more open and more accountable. And, government officials have gradually become accustomed to accountability to the public. Moreover, once such political operations have proved themselves workable and sustainable in practice, they will receive public support and social acceptance. I think some efforts in this direction should be continued which may include:

  1. reforming the composition of existing statutory bodies and advisory committees with a view to increasing their transparency and accountability;
  2. strengthening the legislature's power of monitoring the Government, including the provision of resources and research backup.

Mr President, the creation of a culture of participatory politics and the cultivation of a governmental tradition of transparency, openness and public accountability are essential to the protection of civil rights and the people's livelihood.

Mr President, these are my remarks.

MR DAVID CHU: Mr President, I agree with the central premise of the Governor's policy address. I share his view that our Civil Service is dedicated, our finances are sound, and our people are diligent. Hong Kong has all the conditions for another take-off and it is upon us to achieve our promise. To me, there is neither room nor excuse for failure.

The Chief Secretary's progress report is impressive. No fair person can deny that we have a competent Administration. The evidence of that is in health care, social welfare, housing and education; it is everywhere. Our Government is not perfect, but can anybody name me one which is more competitive?

Today I will confine my remarks to three subjects: relations with China, the economy and confidence. Instead of just passing off comments, I will try to be constructive by offering some suggestions and alternatives. After all, it is far easier to tear things down than to build them up. I always like to do things the hard way.

First, on relations with China. In his first policy statement in 1992, the Governor talked about co-operation with China to secure a smooth transition. Three years and many rows later he returned to the same theme without making much progress in the interim. He mentioned two weeks ago three specific points on co-operation. One is on a "working relationship between the Hong Kong Government and the Preparatory Committee"; another is on regular, formal contacts between local and mainland officials; and the third is a planned handover ceremony that will add shine to the honourable withdrawal.

I would like to discuss his recommendations and propose ways for making them better. The "working relationship between the Hong Kong Government and the Preparatory Committee" has to be more than a bunch of meetings. Hong Kong must sincerely support the Preparatory Committee with information, manpower and other resources to enable it to carry out its duty which is: the founding of the first Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government. Anything short of that is simply not good for Hong Kong.

Formal contacts between local and mainland officials are very important and the benefits are mutual. Senior officials should spend real time in each other's working environment to understand in depth the two systems within one country.

The main handover ceremony will be a joint effort between China and Britain. China is obligated to making sure that the British exit is memorable. Britain, for its part, has to let the people demonstrate their acceptance of the sovereignty transfer.

For the great majority of our people, the really spectacular ceremonies are not the pomp of sovereigns but their own territory-wide events. I would suggest to the Government to give the Urban Council, the Regional Council and especially the poorly-funded district boards the means to stage festivities that would do credit to the whole of Hong Kong. Since the logistics and planning for these occasions are so immense, we have to start organizing them soon. Remember, the hotels will be fully booked, the world will be watching, and so we had better put on a dazzling show.

Regarding the turning of confidential files from the Hong Kong Government over to China, I know the Governor is queasy about this. He would rather the Hong Kong Government submit the files directly to the Special Administration Region's Chief Executive (Designate) and his team. China, however, maintains that, being the sovereign, it must first receive and then pass the papers to the Special Administrative Region Government in waiting. I do not see the impasse as serious. Both sides can get around this easily.

The Hong Kong Government could leave the filing cabinets where they are. A Chinese official representative would then be here to accept them on behalf of his Government. These will then be transferred simultaneously to the Chief Executive (Designate) and his team. The senior civil servants I have spoken to have had no objections to their files being forwarded. They are where they are because they all have proud records and would be only too happy for their future government to see that this is so. Britain must not be too paranoid about dealing with China for both have a shared interest in a successful Hong Kong.

For three years now, our Governor has frankly not done enough to help the people reconcile with their future sovereign. Some have argued that he has done the reverse by driving a wedge between China and Hong Kong by focusing on politics to the neglect of other matters, and by putting personal pride above the public interest. These comments are extreme, but I feel that they are not entirely without merit. As the saying goes, "it takes two to tangle" and the Governor has done his part with relish.

Mr President, the people of Hong Kong, being practical, want results, not just pledges. They have to be very demanding on this because they are the ones who must live and work with China on which their and our success depends.

Our ties with China are basically cordial and constructive. What is clear is that Hong Kong and China have already learned to accommodate each other. I can see that flourishing in areas that do not concern politics: look at border co-operations; look at the steady supply of Chinese water coming south and that of electricity flowing north; at the special committee to liaise on infrastructure projects; at the recent joint fire-fighting drills in Shenzhen; at the daily repatriation of illegal immigrants; at the support which our Independent Commission Against Corruption receives; at the customs and immigration checkpoints along the border that permit goods to be transported at huge volumes and that also process some 30 million passenger crossings each year. The ties are so smooth that Hong Kong and China have fused economically in symbiosis. Come to think of it, Hong Kong and China working together is the norm while fighting is the aberration. This of course may not be the impression others get judging from what the media report.

My next subject is the economy ¢w Hong Kong's open, free, dynamic and also vulnerable economy is subject to rapid change and external influences. Current opinion polls confirm for me that the people are most worried about bread than ballot.

I believe we have to recognize that our economy is in a slump. As speakers before me said, the timing of the crisis could not be worst, coming at 20 months before the transition. Outsiders looking at us probably equate our economic woes with a lack of confidence in the Special Administrative Region. Yes, this time, we have to promote Hong Kong better because foreign investors may not know that our recession is caused by many factors. Some of these are beyond our control.

What the Government could do is to introduce short-term economic stimuli which do not deviate from its long-term fiscal prudence and non-interference policy. One, the Financial Secretary cuts taxes to spur investment and consumer spending. This is what our reserves are for. Two, the Administration allows the banks to relax their lending policy and lift their mortgage caps to afford more young families the chance to own their own property. Three, the Government discusses with China about increasing the quantity of staples ¢w goods such as vegetables, meat and cereals ¢w exported to the territory from China. The prices of these commodities account 40% of our inflation. We should also convince the Chinese Central Government to ease restrictions on provinces and municipalities which would like to establish businesses here in Hong Kong.

Our financial experts in the Government and the Central Policy Unit must, in my view, keep tabs on the regional and global economic trends and advise policy adjustments accordingly. We just have to be more nimble and sophisticated in the age not of plastic flowers but of super computers.

In the job area, the Labour Department is busy matching skills with vacancies and cracking down on illegal workers. In the long run, our Government has to develop a comprehensive vocational training programme to rival that of Germany so that our workers can upgrade their jobs. I propose that the Labour Department set up a monitoring committee to watch the job market, look for shifts in demand and supply, and devise measures before they are needed.

If there is an agreed world trend, it is that of globalization of business expedited by the advent of telecommunications, computers and jumbo jet. Today, we are in effect vying with everyone for investment in a very direct way and, to stay ahead, we must constantly sharpen our competitive edge.

The key to our future success is our ability to move up the market because it is crowded down below and we are too expensive. What all this means is that we have to have first-rate education, top infrastructure, efficient government and superior environment. To realize our ambition, our destiny, we need investment capital plus the self-assurance to attract more business. This brings me to my final topic, confidence.

I notice that predicting the doom of Hong Kong is our newest industry. But the territory obviously has something going for it. How else do we explain the thousands of emigrants flocking back, including a friend of mine who has made a profession in forecasting the territory's collapse? The returnees prove to me that Hong Kong is a winning proposition.

Whenever we mention confidence, we cannot avoid thinking about our Civil Service ¢w a civil service under fierce attack in the media and in this Council. The tirades against the Government in this Council have now doubly convinced me that my plea last week for co-operation was not only necessary but timely. All this railing against the Government has put our officials under tremendous strain as they cope with the transition and fend off the demands of populist forces.

I believe that we have the right to supervise, we also have the duty to support. Once again, we have to demonstrate the spirit of co-operation, moderation and reconciliation to get Hong Kong over this period so that our community may get further ahead.

To me, confidence in our future is really confidence in ourselves, in our ability to implement the Basic Law, to manage our ties with China, and to administer Hong Kong better than we have ever done. Behind every challenge lies an opportunity. We must look beyond the present with bold vision. What lies on the horizon is the Pacific Century with Hong Kong leading the way. Instead of reaching for passports, we ought to be reaching for the stars. Mr President, on this theme of hope, I acknowledge the Governor's policy address. Thank you.

MISS MARGARET NG: Mr President, never has this Council enjoyed so strong a mandate. Never has it felt its survival so threatened. In these uncertain times, it is well that we remind ourselves of our duties, and the powers given to us to carry them out.

The first function of this Council is to make laws: the laws by which this territory is governed, the laws by which the Government is bound, the laws which the courts uphold in deciding the rights of the individuals who come before them. Where the rule of law prevails, the legislature occupies, of necessity, a central place.

In his policy address, the Governor chooses to remind us that he has the power of refusing assent to legislations passed by this Council. But the Governor can only veto; he cannot make laws. The power to make laws rests with this Council.

This Council does not make all the laws of this territory: some enactments of the United Kingdom prevail here. Nor does it have unlimited legislation. For example, it cannot legislate its own demise and so "commit suicide". But apart from these facts, it enjoys the widest law-making power: to make laws for the "peace, order and good government" of Hong Kong. It can, and has, made laws providing for the elections into this Council.

Under the rule of law, the Government cannot stop a man coming or going if there is no law to empower it to do so. It cannot reclaim or resume land, collect taxes or impose fines, if there is not the law to empower it to do so. Nor can it restrict the least of the rights and freedoms enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong, except according to law ¢w law enacted by this Council.

So, in our constitution, this Council is, in a very real fundamental sense, the custodian of the rights and the interests of the people of Hong Kong. This is our duty and our responsibility. If we in this Council allow a bill or motion to pass into law that harms the public interests, we would be in breach of that duty. Conversely, if we fail to do our utmost to enact those laws which are required for the "peace, order and good government" of Hong Kong, we would be in breach of that duty, too.

Mr President, our constitution, which the Governor in his policy address calls "peculiar", has always given this Council the means to do that duty. Under our constitution, this Council holds the purse strings of public funds. This gives it in effect a veto on the Government when the Government refuses to come up with the policies and legislative proposals required by the public interest. Furthermore, under our constitution, any Member of this Council can present a Private Member's Bill.

These are blunt instruments. Regard for effective and efficient division of labour would persuade this Council to resort to them sparingly. However, whatever is "peculiar" about our constitution, it is far from peculiar, indeed profoundly wise, for our constitution to provide a legislature with these means and powers, so that it may truly and meaningfully act as a check and balance against the executive. Only then can it be ensured that an executive, which is constituted solely by appointment and can never be voted out of power, cannot do as it pleases, or omit to do as it pleases.

To make law, to approve public expenditure, and to make the executive account for its policies and administration, have always been the functions of this Council. The power and means to carry them out, as I have said, had always been this Council's. The development in recent decades has not been to change this Council's role. It has been, however, to remove the obstacles which prevent it from performing that role properly and meaningfully, by giving it the independence and autonomy which such a role necessarily implies.

Central to this development is the way this Council is constituted. So long as it is composed mostly of Members selected for their willingness to comply with the wishes of the Government, there can be no autonomy or independence. The power and means provided by the constitution will lie fallow and unused. It is as members are increasingly democratically elected and are, therefore, increasingly more independent of the Government, then these power and means become real and meaningful.

Equally important in this development is the strengthening of the legal framework in which this Council operates. To highlight just a part of it:

    - the Public Finance Ordinance provides for the role of the Finance Committee of this Council in the control of public expenditure;

    - the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance declares and defines this Council's powers, particularly the powers of inquiry and its immunities;

    - its Standing Orders set up the procedures by which it conducts its own business; and

    - the Legislative Council Commission Ordinance establishes an independent secretariat to give this Council the required administrative support.

So this Council now stands poised to fulfil the role set for it in our constitution. It is not by any means a fully democratically elected Council. But it is the most democratically elected Council so far in Hong Kong's history. And it is worth emphasizing again and again, that it is the autonomy and independence of this Council which safeguards the rights, freedom and interests of the people of Hong Kong. To the extent that that autonomy and independence is eroded, the public interests will be endangered.

That is why Hong Kong cannot afford to turn back the clock to the days of colonial government. Hong Kong cannot afford to replace this Council in July 1997 with a Provisional Legislative Council which is carefully constituted to ensure compliance, as proposed by the Preliminary Working Committee(PWC).

Not only will such a legislature not be able to safeguard the rights and interests of the public against an encroaching executive; the power to make law, in the hands of such a legislature, can do great harm to Hong Kong.

The recent proposals of the Legal Sub-group of the PWC to tamper with the Bill of Rights Ordinance, and to "restore" other ordinances amended in accordance with it to their pre-amendment form is a timely reminder of the kind of law the Provisional Legislative Council will be asked to pass. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress has no power to "restore" a repealed Hong Kong legislation. It can only remove an existing law for contravention of the Basic Law. To revive or "restore" replaced laws requires a new enactment. Only the Hong Kong legislature has the power to do that.

But these proposals of the PWC are only one example. The Provisional Legislative Council can be asked to pass the most Draconian laws, including laws to create political crimes; laws to disqualify politically undesirable people from standing for election; laws to give the executive arbitrary power of arrest and detention in the name of internal security; laws to subject a resident's right to leave or come back to Hong Kong to political approval; laws to bring back capital punishment.

An undemocratically elected and compliant Provisional Legislative Council will agree to pass all such laws when asked by the Government to do so. In doing so, it will strip the people of Hong Kong of their constitutional protection and expose them to every risk. The danger of such a legislature is immense, no matter for how short a time it is allowed to exist. A short time is enough to do all the harm.

Mr President, the basis of the desire for a compliant legislature is the conviction that the executive must always be in the control of everything. There are signs that this conviction is shared by this Administration, now, in Hong Kong.

I am concerned that the Governor, speaking on behalf of the Administration, sees it as a threat when this Council shows that it means business; that it is prepared to use all the constitutional means to carry out its duty. He is already worrying about this Council developing into an "alternative administration", and a challenge to the "executive-led government".

Mr President, the expression "executive-led government" is being brandished about increasingly by Hong Kong and Chinese officials alike. It has become a sacred law in the eyes of these officials. Anything which offends against it must be immediately and vigorously denounced. Yet no one has bothered to define exactly what it means. To me, it is indistinguishable from the doctrine that the executive calls the shots. If so, it would be a false doctrine. I urge this Administration not to fall into heresy and so lead the way to retrogression. Rather, it should affirm the value of democratization by responding positively to this Council.

Mr President, some people are always worried that Hong Kong's stability will be compromised if this Council is allowed to be too powerful. Their worry is misplaced. It is in the provision of a system of real checks and balances that Hong Kong's stability lies. Hong Kong's stability has always embraced dynamics: it is in the balancing of frequently divergent forces that we find our equilibrium.

Mr President, I support the motion.

MR FRED LI (in Cantonese): Mr President, last year, I criticized the 1994 policy address as "plain, boring with nothing new in it". This year, the Governor is no longer treading the same ground and has come up with something new which, however, is "a total regression with preparations made for an honourable retreat". With a high unemployment rate and a depressed economy, these new ideas will only give the public a hard time. Maintaining a living has put increasingly greater pressure on the small men and, as a legislator and their spokesman, I share their feelings.

I will focus my speech on the discussion of three areas, namely, the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payment (CSSA payment), the welfare of the elderly and consumer rights.

After the policy address has been published, the Government has repeatedly spread the message that the living standard of the CSSA recipients is far better than that of the average citizen with low income. This can easily lead to misunderstanding among the public that the CSSA recipients are really "the lucky ones" who do not have to worry about their living and they even fare better than those who are on the verge of unemployment. Perhaps we should spend a little time to speak in fairness to the CSSA recipients.

There are four proposals in the policy address which concern the CSSA payment. Their main purpose is to raise the standard rate for certain classes of recipients. The third proposal, to "increase the CSSA standard rate to $1,490 (for a single adult) and $1,325 (for an adult living in a family)", is probably centred around the unemployed. This proposal will only come into effect in April next year. At present, the standard rate of assistance for able-bodied adults, that is, if a single adult is unemployed and has to receive CSSA payment, he can only get $1,210 a month. Next year, as proposed by the Government, there will be an increase of 23% which appears to be a "high growth".

However, if we analyze these "impressive" figures carefully, we would discover that this is just a game of figures. For example, calculating on the basis of the rate in April next year, an able-bodied person will get $1,490 a month, that is $49.6 a day. If he has to go around looking for a job in an attempt to lift himself out of unemployment, he will certainly have to spend no less than $20 on transport every day, as a result he will have to spend the remaining $29.6 on his three meals. There is a Chinese adage which goes, "the cleverest housewife cannot cook a meal without rice". For Mrs FOK, she can perhaps buy the cookery book Lisa's Kitchen Bi-weekly with the trifling $30, but for a CSSA recipient, this sum is the only thing they can rely on for their three meals.

In the 1990s in Hong Kong, people committed suicide and others stole rice because of unemployment. With the number of the unemployed totalling 100 000 and constantly increasing, who can safeguard his livelihood? These workers who had toiled for the economic prosperity of Hong Kong are now facing difficulties in making ends meet. Can the Government look on without lifting a finger?

According to the information of the Social Welfare Department, up to August 1995, only 7 000 unemployed persons have applied for CSSA. Although this is already a 55% increase as compared with 4 500 applicants during the same period in 1994, this is nevertheless a small number relative to the number of unemployed totalling 100 000. It is evident that the majority of the unemployed still hope that they can earn their own living and maintain their dignity and they do not want to live on "relief". However, the reality is that the problem of unemployment will not be solved instantly and unemployed workers really need our help. Therefore, I have to reiterate the stance of the Democratic Party which is to extend the coverage of the CSSA; to increase the rate of CSSA payment for the unemployed to $2,750 a month and to take the present annual median wage as the basis for calculating the upper limit of the value of assets, so that the present limit of $26,650 can be raised to $96,000 and the livelihood of more unemployed persons can be protected. At the same time, the Government should implement the recommendations in Dr MACPHERSON's report without delay and carry out a complete reform of the criteria of determining the rate of CSSA payment. I have to stress that the CSSA is not charity, but a fair and reasonable social right.

Given the limited time, I cannot give a detailed analysis of the situations of CSSA recipients like the elderly, children and single-parent families. However, as widely reported by the media in these last few weeks, even with a slightly adjusted rate of payment, these people still cannot improve their quality of life. In terms of cash, the increase is only $6 or $7 per day. The Government should really make adjustments according to the recommendations of the MACPHERSON report and the inflation rate, and the standard rate of CSSA for the elderly should be increased to $2,700.

As regards welfare for the elderly, the slow progress in the Government's work has really disappointed the community. Although the Government has kept on lowering its target, with its present rate of progress, there is still a long way to go before it can reach the target. Work in respect of care and attention homes, homes for the aged and multi-service centres for the elderly have not been progressing as planned. The Government should really inquire into whether there has been maladministration on the part of the Social Welfare Department and other government departments concerned. The Government cannot go on making the excuse that "it is difficult to find a suitable place". Is it possible that there is a co-ordination problem among the government departments? For instance, the progress of the work carried out by the Buildings Department are often denounced by voluntary agencies. As a responsible Government, the authorities concerned should give the public a clear account of the real reasons for the delay in progress and find out ways of improvement as soon as possible.

In short, at present, services for the elderly are still provided in a remedial mode. The Government should provide services for the elderly in a "preventive and developmental mode" in the future, make good use of the talents of the elderly, encourage employers to provide the elderly with more job opportunities, provide more continuous education and retraining, help the elderly to adapt to the development of society and improve their employment ability.

I will turn to consumer rights and the fair trade policy in the remaining time.

As far as the protection of consumer rights is concerned, it can be said that there is nothing new or meritorious in this year's policy address. As regards fair trade policy, for example, in relation to the establishment of a Fair Trading Commission and the introduction of anti-trust legislation, the Government is still evasive. How then will consumer rights be really protected? Three years ago, the motion debate I moved was negatived by just one vote. If there is a chance to debate on the motion again, I am confident that my colleagues in this Council will agree that we should conduct a study on the introduction of fair trading legislation and the establishment of the Commission in Hong Kong.

However, the Government has been making various excuses about the study on the establishment of a Fair Trading Commission and the introduction of anti-trust legislation and it has only promised to subsidize the Consumer Council to conduct studies on individual trades. This is obviously stalling. Although the Consumer Council has completed its study reports on banks, supermarkets and the gas company, the Government has still not responded to the two reports concerning supermarkets and the gas company. As regards the Consumer Council's proposal to revoke the interest rate agreement, the Government has only adopted some part of it and completely brushed aside the most important part without a final conclusion. This clearly shows that the Government will only protect the interests of the banking cartel. It is regrettable that the Government has so often adopted delaying tactics in the guise of review.

If the Government is really committed to improving its policy on the protection of consumer rights, it should make the following pledges:

First, to establish a Fair Trading Commission and introduce anti-trust legislation without delay in order to uphold fair free market competition and give consumers the legal protection they deserve.

Secondly, to strengthen the powers of the Consumer Council which is, at present, similar to a "toothless tiger". Let me take a casual example. When the Consumer Council has to inquire into a certain trade, it is not entitled to obtain all the information on the individual commercial organization concerned. As a result, it is difficult for it to assess whether unfair trading exists in such an organization. Although the Consumer Council can publish the names of those companies which have broken the law and cheated their customers, it cannot and does not have the power of arrest and prosecution. Lacking the power of law enforcement, the Consumer Council has to reluctantly allow those unscrupulous traders to remain at large. Therefore, the Government should review the terms of reference of the Consumer Council without delay so that it can function more effectively.

Thirdly, the Government has granted $10 million to the Consumer Council in 1995 to set up the Consumer Legal Action Fund to help consumers take collective legal action against unscrupulous traders. This should have been a piece of good news to consumers. However, it seems that the authorities concerned do not have any systematic promotional strategies to let the public know very clearly how they can make good use of the Consumer Legal Action Fund to protect their consumer rights. Also, the Government should regularly review the operation of the Fund and to increase the funding ($10 million is in fact a rather small sum) so that the Fund can provide assistance to more people.

Many colleagues in this Council have critized the sunset Government. I certainly believe that such a government is bound to be apathetic, but the future of Hong Kong should be dynamic. Throughout the 600-odd days in the latter transitional period, I sincerely hope that the Government can work together with the people with one heart in order to lay a firm foundation for Hong Kong beyond 1997.

Mr President, these are my remarks on this year's policy address.

MR BRUCE LIU (in Cantonese): Mr President, I rise to speak on behalf of the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL) in relation to human rights, welfare and security.

The people of Hong Kong have acted with one mind in the past two weeks. Many people have united in refuting the view which jeopardizes Hong Kong people's human rights and voicing their objection to the proposed repeal of some of the provisions of the Bill of Rights. The people of Hong Kong have sent out a strong message demanding that human rights in Hong Kong should not retrogress in and around 1997, and that they want to continue to enjoy ever-improving human rights protection. Therefore, the Hong Kong Government should continue to go forward in implementing the Bill of Rights, especially in amending the laws, and it should not suddenly "slam on the brake" and stop amending the laws, especially those which do not conform to the Bill of Rights.

In the policy address, the Government indicates that in this legislative session it will amend the legislation which contravenes the freedom of the press and the Bill of Rights. I lend my support to this proposal on behalf of the ADPL and my ADPL colleagues in this Council. We hope that the Government will not employ a delaying tactic in the amendment of those laws but will indeed amend all the laws which do not conform to the Bill of Rights by July next year. On the other hand, the proposed review of the Official Secrets Act and the Crimes Ordinance has yet to be finished but the Governor has not given any detailed report on it in this policy address. The ADPL calls on the Government to finish the review of these two pieces of legislation within this legislative session and make amendments accordingly.

The Government has also promised to extend the application of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to Hong Kong. Last year the Government already indicated that it would get on with the work but such application has yet to be effected. In this policy address, the Governor only says that he will make an effort to strive for this but has not worked out any time limit or specific measures. The ADPL very much doubts the Government's sincerity in protecting women's rights and interests. We hope that, in the Governor's dictionary, the promise made in this respect does not mean a "bad cheque".

As regards the promotion of equal opportunities, the policy address indicates that the Government will conduct a study on age discrimination and related matters first before deciding whether to legislate against it. Age discrimination is a well-known problem. If the Government has the intention to prohibit it, it has to do so with determination and it should legislate to prohibit all other forms of discrimination. The ADPL calls upon the Government to take the initiative to enact laws to prohibit various forms of discrimination, including age, religion, political conviction, race, sexual preference, family circumstances and so on.

As regards welfare, the Government is obliged to provide a sound welfare system to help the needy. In this year's policy address, the issue which catches the most attention, I believe, should be the increase in the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) payments. According to the Government's recommendation, there will be a 22% increase in the monthly CSSA payment for a two-member family and only 10.1% for a four-member family. The above figures show that the amount of CSSA payments increased by the Government is very small, only around 10% to 22%, which is of little help to the needy. In the policy address, the Government claims that there will be an increase of over 50 percentage points but it is only fiddling with the figures. The ADPL suggests that the Government should revise the policy for calculating the CSSA payments and take the wage median of each family as the base of calculation so that the social security provided by the Government can really help the needy in our society.

Last year, the Government promised to increase the number of school social workers by 47 in the year 1994-95 to meet the target of one social worker to 2 000 students as set out in the White Paper. This year, it only promises in the policy address to add 22 school social workers in the year 1996-97. The ADPL considers this increase inadequate and hopes that the Government will implement the "one school, one social worker" policy as soon as possible and will not delay this any longer.

As for security, nothing is mentioned about the refugees in the policy address. The Government has promised to do its best to meet the target as agreed by the international community so that all boat people camps in the South East Asia region can be closed by the end of 1995. But over the past 12 months, the Government has only repatriated 3 000 boat people and 20 938 are still stranded here. This result seems to be far from the original target. The ADPL requests the Government to speed up the repatriation and try to have all boat people repatriated by 1997.

In addition, as regards the $950 million debt owed by the United Nations to Hong Kong in respect of the boat people, the ADPL thinks that the British Government ought to demand the United Nations to repay the debt to Hong Kong by 1997. If the United Nations fails to do that, the British Government has the responsibility to repay the outstanding amount to Hong Kong on behalf of the United Nations.

Another worrying issue concerning our security is: many disputes have occurred in Hong Kong and Chinese waters over the past couple of years which were partly due to the misunderstanding and lack of communication between the two sides. After such incidents have happened, there is usually a lack of established procedures to deal with the problem of who should be held responsible. The ADPL calls upon the Government to discuss this with the Chinese side so as to set up a "Sino-Hong Kong Coastal Affairs Co-ordination Group" to strengthen the co-operation and communication between the representatives of Hong Kong and the coastal provinces and cities of China, in order to avoid the occurrence of unnecessary conflicts.

Mr President, I so submit.


MR CHAN WING-CHAN (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, the Governor takes Hong Kong: Our Work Together as the theme of his policy address. However, under the circumstances that we have a high unemployment rate and the livelihood of the "wage earners" is at stake at present, I do not see any indication in the Governor's policy address that he has much sincerity in riding out the hard times with us, the "wage earners" and the ordinary people. Neither has the Government taken any substantive measures to address the problem of serious unemployment.

Stop Importing Workers in the Name of Training

It is an undeniable fact that the Labour Importation Scheme has seriously threatened the employment opportunities of the "wage earners" in Hong Kong. I want to point out here specially that foreign workers who came to Hong Kong in the name of training have affected many industries, especially the hotel and catering industries. Many big catering groups often bring in a large number of foreign workers in the name of "training" but let them carry out ordinary work. According to the statistics of the Immigration Department, in the past three years, over 5 000 foreign workers have come to work in Hong Kong each year in the name of training. Most of these workers are engaged in the hotel and catering services and there is no quota set. Some of these foreign workers' professional standard is even higher than that of the local workers. It makes people wonder what training this kind of training is going to provide. If it is really training, why is it not conducted in schools or training institutes and why is it that the trainees have to take up work in big restaurants and big hotels for a period ranging from three months to a year? What worries people is that this kind of importation of labour in the disguise of training allows employers to unscrupulously bring in a steady flow of "cheap, good and efficient" mainland Chinese workers who are "obedient and hardworking", and these workers may gradually take the place of local workers. In fact, these workers under training, together with those formally imported, are seriously threatening the job opportunities and wage increase of the local workers in the industry. At present, the wages of catering workers have decreased. The importation of labour has also barred workers from other industries from joining as a result of economic transformation. Consequently, the unemployment problem is continuously worsening. It is indeed essential for the Government to review this situation and enhance supervision, as well as increase the penalties to plug the loopholes in the existing policies and laws.

Excessive Sewage Charges Threatens the Catering Industry

Mr Deputy, the Government's reckless levying of sewage charges strikes another blow at the catering industry. The sewage charges paid by the industry now is as high as 1.8 times the water charges. For example, if the water charges are $50,000 per month, the monthly bill will be as high as $140,000. The catering industry has long been troubled by high rents and their operation is beset with difficulties. Given the current sluggish economy, such a policy of high charges will only add to the industry's heavy burden. The Government has not considered at all the sustaining power of the industry. Not only is the survival of this industry threatened, the employment and livelihood of the workers are also affected.

Since the Government started to levy the sewage charges in April this year, many operators in this industry have repeatedly complained to the Government and the departments concerned to pour out their grievances. They have pointed out that the charges are determined in an unfair and unreasonable manner and these charges are damaging to the prospects of the whole industry. The situation is very worrying.

Mr Deputy, it is everyone's responsibility to protect the environment but the premise should be not to affect people's livelihood and not to jeopardize the survival of industrial and commercial undertakings because, in the end, it is the "wage earners" and the consumers who suffer.

As the representative of the hotels and catering functional constituency, I strongly urge the Government to suspend levying the sewage charges. The government departments concerned must discuss with the operators of hotels and those in the catering industry to work out a new charging policy on the basis of a more equitable and reasonable criterion so that the catering industry can have more room for survival.

Concerns about the Demolition and Redevelopment of Hotels

In addition, the demolition of hotels to allow other usages has also reduced the job opportunities of the employees in the hotel industry. In recent years, many hotels, though making profits, have been demolished and rebuilt into office buildings. The reason is that the construction cost of a hotel is usually twice that of an office building but the plot ratio of a hotel is only about 1:8 to 1:10 on average which is apparently less than the average plot ratio of 1:15 of an office building. Besides, after a hotel is rebuilt into an office building, the rate of return usually increases about four times. With such attractions, redevelopment is bound to continue. I hope that the Government will relax the constraint on the plot ratios of hotels as soon as possible so that hotels can be built taller, and that the Government will give hotels preferential treatment if they build basements so that more people can be encouraged to invest in the hotel business and that more job opportunities can be created.

Occupational Safety and Health Issues

As for other labour issues, the Governor has only put forward a "Safety Charter" concerning occupational safety. This is another proposal having more gesture than real effect. I believe it will be more effective in preventing accidents if the Government puts in more resources and energy to strengthen the measures for monitoring occupational safety, imposes heavier penalties by law on employers breaking the law as well as sets up occupational safety councils comprising labour representatives in various work sites and companies.

Mr Deputy, I want to point out that the occupational safety and health of clerical workers is not protected at present. After 12 people were killed in the arson which took place in the Shek Kip Mei branch of the Hong Kong Bank in January 1994, the occupational safety of clerical workers has become a matter of concern. The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FDU) and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) have repeatedly called on the Government to amend the ordinances to enlarge the scope of protection. It is a shame that the Consultation Paper on the Review of Industrial Safety in Hong Kong published by the Government last July has only reviewed Hong Kong's industrial safety but has neglected to step up the safety and health measures for the large number of clerical workers and employees in the service industry. The FDU and DAB have criticized the review for not being comprehensive and for being biased. The Governor has also mentioned in his policy address the need to guarantee that workers can work in a safe environment which poses no threats to their health. I hope that this promise can really be fulfilled. This is especially important to the white-collar clerical workers who are not under any protection at the moment, because occupational safety is of course important but occupational health cannot be overlooked either. For example, the ventilation in the office, the installation and maintenance of lighting equipment, health and safety in relation to the use of computers, handling and using of chemicals, protection equipment for individuals and so on are all matters of our concern. I strongly hope that the safety and health of over 2 million white-collar workers and employees in the service industry will also be given adequate attention and protection.

Lastly, I have to reiterate that the Government should suspend the levying of sewage charges immediately. The relevant government departments should discuss with people in the catering industry to re-determine a reasonable scale of charges.

Mr Deputy, I so submit.

MR ANTHONY CHEUNG (in Cantonese): Mr Deputy, many colleagues in this Council have mentioned in their speeches that there are only 600-odd days away from 1997. Some describe Mr Chris PATTEN as a retreating Governor and the Hong Kong Government under his leadership as a sunset government. It seems that time is not on our side. However, to this Council and the general public of Hong Kong, we should not regard 1997 as a great calamity and we should not make self-adjustments to adapt ourselves to some "post-1997" situations that we imagine to be the case. We have only one option: We have to stay in Hong Kong to straddle 1997 and through our joint efforts, to ensure that Hong Kong's human rights, freedom and the rule of law system will not retrograde and we shall continue to advance the democratization of our political system so that "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" will be really implemented; so that the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong will not turn into a place ruled by another form of autocracy after the departure of the British colonial rulers, because this is not the kind of "remaining unchanged for 50 years" which we, the people of Hong Kong, are looking forward to.

As an elected council, this Council has the responsibility to secure the interests of our society. We should not let any myth blind our eyes or let wax seal our ears so that we cannot hear the voice of the public.

The most important function of the Legislative Council is to monitor the Government's performance and policies, and control the Government's public revenue and expenditure. However, in the past few years, two "tightening spells" are gradually gripping us: one is "positive non-interventionism" and the other the "executive-led" administration.

My colleague, Dr the Honourable YEUNG Sum, has already spoken on positive non-interventionism. Of course, the Democratic Party is not advocating a "Big Government" and to intervene all social and economic aspects of society. However, the market is not all powerful. It may lose its effect and competition is not necessarily fair. Workers and employers are, more often than not, on unequal grounds. When the distribution of resources in the society is seriously uneven and unreasonable and when there are discrimination, unequal opportunities and the gap between the rich and the poor widens, the Government, as the realizing agent of the public will, cannot shirk the responsibility and must intervene to improve the situation through public policies.

"Executive-led" is a term invented in Hong Kong. Actually, there is no distinction between "executive-led" and "legislature-led" in political science, because whether it is the American system of the separation of powers or the Westminster mode of "parliamentary sovereignty", the scenario in which the legislature is leading does not really exist. Basically, it is still for the executive taking the lead by proposing bills and policies. However, under the traditional colonial system, Hong Kong was not executive-led but executive-manipulated and executive-autocratic in the past. As for today, when a foreign-appointed Governor, who does not have a mandate from the public, after making attractive remarks about democratic development and respecting public opinion, has declared in a threatening manner that he will be brave enough to use his absolute "constitutional powers" regardless of the opinions of this Council, what system is it if not executive-autocratic?

Mr Deputy, under the principle of the separation of powers, the legislature certainly respects the due role of the executive authorities, but the co-operation between the executive and the legislature should not be interpreted as "the executive making the decisions with the legislature echoing them".

Mr Deputy, whether the decisions of the Legislative Council Members are right or wrong, the public do have an idea and their assessment will be reflected in the elections eventually. Some people criticize Members for going after votes, as if speaking for the rights and interests of the electorate is some unpardonable sin. They have forgotten that the basic guarantee of a democratic electoral system comes from the power and attraction of the votes. If Members do not go after the votes, the electoral system will have no effect. The principle is the same as suppliers in the market no longer care about the money in the customers' hands.

In the months ahead, no matter how divergent the political views of the Legislative Council Members are, we should have a collective responsibility to the people of Hong Kong, that is to defend together our constitutional role of "checking and balancing the executive" which is the prerogative of the legislature. We should not let the spectre of the "executive-led" system impose self-constraint and self-examination on us. We should act like this in the face of the Hong Kong Government and we should also act like this in the face of the government of the sovereign state.

There is only one word's difference between "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" and "Hong Kong bureaucrats ruling Hong Kong". Some like to use the term "executive-led" to suppress the democratic development of the political system. In fact, they are looking for a political "restoration" to keep a Hong Kong system under the rule of professional bureaucrats who only switch their object of allegiance. Here I hope that the senior officials in the Hong Kong Government do not have such a mentality and will not unconsciously cheer for the restoration of the old system because they are too eager to obtain the so-called blessing of "straddling 1997". I fully understand that civil servants are in a difficult position but I hope that they will stand firm in their position of being accountable to the people of Hong Kong and will not turn back from the gradually liberalizing mode of government!

Mr Deputy, as the spokesman for the Democratic Party on education, I wish to express some of our views on certain aspects of education, including the three aspects of resources, quality and direction. The Governor mentions in the policy address that the Government will make "efforts to create a modern educational system to serve the entire community" and emphasizes that "perhaps the most important thing the Government can do for the workforce is to provide a sound basic education". I do not believe anyone will query these targets. The question is: Other than the right target and direction, there is still the need for a matching strategy and appropriate resources; otherwise, the most ideal target will become no more than empty words in the end.

Hong Kong has now become one of the world's most important financial centres because our people are ambitious, diligent, ready to grasp every opportunity and have worked in concerted efforts. This "human" factor has always underpinned Hong Kong's vigorous development. We should pay great attention to the investment in and nurturing of this "human" resource. Hong Kong's current financial reserves and her real economic growth have exceeded those of many other developed countries. However, over the past years, the percentage of resources which we have allocated to our education, as compared to the GDP, has lagged behind other countries. Because of inadequate funding to meet all needs, we have been forced to delay the implementation of many widely supported policy proposals. One good example is the upgrading of primary school teachers to graduate level.

As early as in 1992, Education Commission Report No. 5 already stipulated that 35% of the primary school teachers should be upgraded to graduate level by 2007. Compared to the eventual target of upgrading all primary school teachers to graduate level, that was only a very modest goal. And now, whether that goal can be reached or not also remains in doubt.

According to some statistics, we shall need over 6 700 graduate teaching posts in primary schools by 2007. However, nothing is possible without money. There is an adequate supply of graduate teachers but the pace of upgrading primary school teachers to graduate level is very slow. According to a progress report in primary schools published by the Government, there will only be about 860 graduate primary teaching posts in primary schools by the end of 1997. Then, how can the Government be sure that there will be a great increase in the number of graduate teaching posts in primary schools in the following decade so that the target of 35% graduate teachers will be reached?

The Kindergarten Direct Subsidy Scheme is another problem. This scheme is the first step taken to raise the quality of kindergarten education and strengthen the students' basic education. It has taken the educationists, other members of the community and parents many years of efforts before the Government finally agreed to implement this scheme. However, many organizations which have participated in this scheme are worried if the Government fails to raise the subsidy in the coming year, they may have to increase the school fees substantially in order to pay the teachers at the incremental points, but if they increase the school fees substantially, their market competitiveness will be weakened and that will not be in the interest of the parents and the organizing bodies of the schools themselves. We hope that this scheme can be employed widely and the target of the whole scheme will not fall through because of inadequate funding making organizers of kindergartens hesitate to participate in it.

When reviewing Hong Kong's educational development, we should not allow some superficial figures to restrict our vision or make us feel complacent and in turn lose sight of some essential issues with long-term impacts. Otherwise, the policy blue print will be reduced to a product of tricks or a game which fiddles with figures. In the part of the Policy Commitments concerning education, the Government has made an impressive list of five major missions, 12 commitments and 25 programme highlights. Although many figures are listed, it is not able to cover up the Government's misjudgment in education policy throughout these years. As an example, there has not been any breakthrough in the promotion of mother tongue teaching and improvement in the quality of special education over the past years. The Government is powerless as to how to deal with the shortage of school places in the new towns, which time and again allocated students to schools in Lantau Island and Cheung Chau. The Government cannot escape from its responsibility for that.

Mr Deputy, Hong Kong's educational development cannot remain in the aspect of "quantity", neither can it be satisfied with the development in "quantity" only. It is high time that we place emphasis on upgrading the quality of various levels of our education. One fundamental question is: What kind of social and economic situation is Hong Kong in? Politically, Hong Kong has entered the transitional period when sovereignty is about to revert to China. In economic development, Hong Kong is strengthening its ties with China and both economies are now inter-dependent. In the future, many of our workers will shuttle between China and Hong Kong frequently. Our industrial development is facing a restructuring. The commercial activities between Hong Kong and the South China region will be increasingly busy. All these factors should be reflected in our education planning to effectively help the people of Hong Kong adapt to these changes.

Our education should be able to provide our students with a wide and discerning vision over China. In the process of reverting to China, it is a natural trend that we should strengthen our civic education, including national education, and promote mother tongue teaching. Nevertheless, emphasizing mother tongue teaching should not mean that we go from the extreme of "valuing English and neglecting Chinese" under the colonial rule in the past to the possible extreme of "valuing Chinese and neglecting English". Hong Kong should remain a city orientated towards the international community. Our workforce should have a good command of both the Chinese and the English languages. No matter it is the economy of Hong Kong or of China, it is a focal point in the economic development of the Asia Pacific region. On entering the 21st century, all focus will be set at the Asia Pacific region and everyone expects the economy in this region to lead the economy of the whole world forward. Our education curricula should also reflect this trend of "orientation towards to the Asia Pacific region".

Our students should be given the chance to systematically understand the history, geography, politics and the social and economic situations of our neighbouring countries, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the South East Asian countries.

In line with many other developed societies in the world, Hong Kong is becoming an information and intelligence-orientated community. The value-adding ability of our economy can no longer depend on the traditional manufacturing industry. Apart from providing new job opportunities to workers who lose their jobs because of the industrial restructuring by helping them go into other trades and arranging retraining for them, it is more important that we adjust our education system to emphasize the development of the students' reasoning and analytical power, and application of their intelligence; to strengthen their abilities and skills in absorbing new technologies and information and to increase their communication skills in languages.

Mr Deputy, to raise the Hong Kong people's power to create and increase wealth, we need a multi-pronged approach, including furthering scientific and technical researches in universities, to assist the medium and small enterprises to improve their productivity through various supportive means and tax incentives, and to introduce new technologies. What is more important is that we must start tackling the problem from the basic education and seriously and systematically nurture our next generation to become a generation with a high capacity to increase wealth. We should review the curricula and teaching methods of our schools and the compilation of subjects for public examinations, to see if they would help achieving the above targets, so that Hong Kong can really march steadily into the 21st century.

Mr Deputy, these are my remarks.

THE PRESIDENT resumed the Chair.

MR YUM SIN-LING (in Cantonese): Mr President, if the Governor quoted in his policy address some figures from 1992 onward, this would mean that the Government under his leadership had made some achievements in the items he listed. If, however, he talked about figures over the past 10 years, we might well assume that his performance was not as good as his predecessors' in these items, or Hong Kong's performance had failed to tally with his theory. For example, when referring to the increase in the number of jobs since 1985 and workers' income in real terms, the Governor has used figures over the past 10 years to cover up his poorer performance over the past three years.

This year, the Government will be spending $4 billion on building 15 000 or so public rental housing units. At the same time, however, a large proportion of another $4 billion will be spent on renovating 15 500 units. Such a move is obviously not cost-effective because the life expectancy of renovated units is definitely shorter than even a fraction of the life expectancy of new units. Moreover, renovated units are not popular with the people on the Waiting List. The problem lies in the Government's unwillingness to allocate more land for building more public housing. However, the Government did allocate more than 40 hectares of land this year for building private residential units. The way the Government handled the matter seems to be unbalanced.

As regards transport, the Government will soon be spending $8.25 billion on constructing the Central-Wanchai bypass that will mainly benefit private motorists. Yet as regards the urgently needed railway line of the Western Corridor in Northwest New Territories, only $10 million to $20 million will be spent on commissioning a consultancy study. This reflects that, as far as transport policies are concerned, the middle-upper class people are given a higher priority than the middle-lower class people. This is yet another unbalanced phenomenon.

The Governor is very fond of quoting overseas comments and applying overseas standards to demonstrate Hong Kong's economic success. However, the successful cases are mostly attributed to the fact that the Government's "positive non-interventionism" has provided certain favourable conditions, not because the Government is successful in its administration. In time of economic boom, the practice of "governing by doing nothing that goes against nature" certainly works out fine. But at a time when the economy is not doing well as at present, the Government becomes quite helpless. I think the Government should take a proactive approach to study short-term, medium-term, as well as long-term measures to enhance job opportunities. As far as short-term measures are concerned, the Government should rectify as soon as possible the bogus reduction scheme by substantially reducing the number of imported workers in concrete terms or suspending the importation of labour. In addition, the Government should expand the job-matching scheme and encourage all employers to register with the Labour Department for staff recruitment instead of forcing only those who wish to import workers to join the scheme. As for medium-term measures, the Government should expand the employees retraining scheme in terms of both quality and quantity. As far as "quality" is concerned, the scheme should not restrict itself to nurturing skills of low "added value". Instead, it should allow some of the trainees to receive training of higher "added value". For this reason, the Government should encourage more technical institutes, tertiary institutes and private companies that have their own training departments to provide retraining programmes of higher "added value". Consequently, quantity would be enhanced at the same time. Otherwise, we would not be able to cope with the tens of thousands of unemployed people. In the long run, the Government should set up an "investment promotion council" and provide "tax holidays" to attract those overseas industries that are fit to set up their plants here to do so to create job opportunities.

In the policy address, the Governor said: "There are just over 600 days to the bands, the speeches and the fireworks". However, after hearing so many criticisms by my colleagues in this Council and, if the Administration fails to correct the direction for which certain items are heading in the coming 600 days, and make positive efforts with regard to other items that have not been brought off, I am afraid that there will only be "uproar, abuses and slogans." Even China probably does not wish to see such a scene. Therefore, we hope that the Chinese and British sides can step up their co-operation and bear with each other in the coming 600 days. As for the Liaison Office that is responsible for giving support to the Preparatory Committee, it may carry out large-scale opinion polls more often and submit the result to this Council for discussion. If the proposals are proved to be constructive, it may ask the Chinese and British sides to modify some of their established positions with a view to achieving a truly smooth transition.

After reading from the draft speech I have distributed to all of you, I would like to add some comments. The Governor may find it disagreeable that some Members may propose Member's Bills. But I would like to ask Mr President to relate to the Governor that there is a Chinese saying that "three cobblers with their wits combined get the better of ZHUGE Liang, the mastermind" (the collective wisdom of the masses exceeds that of the wisest individual). Should a Member's Bill be passed by this Council, normally more than 30 Members representing the people should have expressed their wisdom. For this reason, the Governor should not veto the Bill.

Mr President, these are my remarks. Thank you.

MR RONALD ARCULLI: Mr President, I would like to offer my thoughts on our high inflation, importation of labour, safety at work, the property market and public housing. First, I will deal with inflation and our workforce. This year, as in previous policy addresses and Budget speeches, our high inflation rate has been a great deal of concern since rising costs affect not just our standard of living, but also our position as an international centre for commerce and finance. Yet unlike previous addresses and speeches, in this year's policy address, property value has the singular distinction of being mentioned as the cause for our high inflation while the other cause, namely, the tight labour market has not been mentioned, let alone acknowledged.

The Administration and the property analysts here acknowledge that the property prices have dropped between 20% to 30% from their highest levels. This has been brought about by a combination of events, the most significant being the Government's anti-speculation measures. A second reason could be the rising interest rate which has also put pressure on prices. Yet inflation remains high. Why? We ask. The reason, I suspect, must be the constraint in our labour force as the former Financial Secretary, Sir Hamish MACLEOD aptly said in his Budget speeches. The Governor also correctly mentioned the necessity of expanding our workforce in his policy address last year, by saying that our first line of defence against inflation is the business community by its search for lower costs and high productivity. The Governor went on to say that one way of helping the business community maintain its competitiveness is, and I quote, "for the Government to continue to import, on a limited and strictly-controlled basis, the foreign workers needed to overcome the most acute bottlenecks in our labour market." Did the Governor foresee then that the Government would bring about an end to the General Labour Importation Scheme one year later; Or indeed initiate a new Supplementary Labour Scheme with a quota of 5 000? I do not know the answer but what I do know is that 5 000 guest workers are woefully inadequate to cater for, and I quote again, Mr President, the Governor's own words ¡Ð "the most acute bottlenecks in our labour market." So why did the Government make a decision that pleases no one? I hope we were not going to be told that if no one is happy the Government got it just about right!

Whilst I believe we should take a positive approach to the new Scheme, I believe that those who favour complete cessation of any importation scheme should be warned of the economic dis-benefits including higher inflation and possible increased unemployment because of such reduction or cessation.

Mr President, I should like now to deal with safety at work. Over the past two years, the Government has actively tried to improve the working environment and safety record in our workplace, mainly, by regulations and increased penalties. The accident rate for the construction industry has been decreasing for the past three years. The construction industry accident rate for the first six months of this year is 8% less than the same period for 1994. It is difficult to attribute this improvement to new legislation and I would suggest that the initiatives of the construction industry have made a valuable contribution to this improvement. However, no one would doubt that we should continue working towards better safety standards and lower accident rates. The construction industry has emphasized on many occasions that simply using legislation is not going to work if the workers, themselves, do not co-operate and are not penalized for failing to adhere to safety codes or do not use safety equipment provided by their employers.

The Governor, Mr President, mentioned the need to improve safety standards through proper safety training. Proper safety training has already been initiated by the Hong Kong Construction Association(HKCA) through its Green Card Scheme. Workers who participate are given basic safety training and are then issued with a Green Card which is valid for one year. The Housing Department's recent decision to require housing contractors to organize site safety induction courses for workers from January 1996 is a welcome boost for the Green Card Scheme. This yet again demonstrates the continuous commitment of the construction industry to improving safety at the workplace. The HKCA also hopes to create a safety culture within the industry through this Scheme. The Government, on the other hand, must revise its thinking that it can by legislation alone achieve the desired level of safety at work. This is probably the least effective of the tools at its disposal. Introducing codes of practice in conjunction with the industry sets the right tone and achieves industry co-operation. Persuasion is far better than legislation.

While government support for the construction industry's efforts to improve construction site safety is welcomed, not all areas require government intervention. The Government intervened in the property market last year by introducing the recommendations of the Task Force on Land Supply and Property Prices to knock out, as the Governor mentioned in his speech, "the speculators who were an impediment to the smooth operation of the price mechanism".

What the Government has sought to do was to curb excessive and I repeat excessive, speculation. Is anyone seriously suggesting that there is any speculation, excessive or otherwise, today? It is time for the Government to relax some of the measures introduced last year. And I specifically refer to three:

  1. The restriction that flats cannot be sold earlier than nine months before completion of the building. This restriction unnecessarily and unjustifiably delays the supply of residential units which actually goes against the objective of fighting speculation.
  2. The restriction of no subsale, resale or transfer before completion of flats. This is a temporary restriction to deter speculation. As the property market is already stagnant, maintaining this measure prevents genuine end-users from selling their units to mitigate either losses or for urgent and unanticipated cash needs.
  3. Some relaxation in the mortgage ceiling of 70% for end-users. With the co-operation of the banking industry this can be done.

Mr President, moving away from private housing, I would like to offer some observations regarding public housing. Unlike some of my honourable colleagues, I do not profess to have all the answers, but I do have some suggestions. It is stated government policy that 60% of our households should own their homes by 1997. At the rate the public and private sectors are building it is not possible to reach this target. Some years ago, the Housing Authority put a proposal to the Executive Council for the sale of public rental flats to sitting tenants. As I recall the Executive Council rejected the proposal, as did the tenants, essentially because the price was set too high. Since then, we have consistently advocated that the selling price must be attractive with as few restrictions as possible and that the units must be refurbished to a reasonable standard. Some 700 000 families live in these units. Some can afford to buy, some cannot. For those who cannot, and sadly there will always be some who cannot, we have to continue to provide them with rental units. But for those who can, we must take a realistic approach and basically make them an offer they cannot refuse. This is the easiest and quickest way of attaining the ownership objective set by the Government. I hope therefore that the Government will take a bold initiative and indeed come up with a quick fix.

Another difficult issue regarding public rental units is the position of the better-off tenants or, indeed, tenants-to-be. It seems to me to be worthy of consideration that new tenants be subjected to terms and conditions that will allow the Housing Authority to terminate their tenancies should their financial position make it unfair for them to continue enjoying heavily subsidized rental housing at the expense of those in need. If a new policy is not adopted regarding new tenants, there will always be a problem of what is equitable when the community has limited resources. These are, in my view, key issues for the Administration to tackle.

Mr President, in conclusion, I would like to put on record that I entirely agree with the Governor's remarks on creating wealth before spending a share of it on improving our public service with one huge reservation: Do not tax us simply to create reserves. It is better to leave the money in taxpayers' pockets where it would do most good. Mr President, I had hoped that the Financial Secretary would be here so that he could read my lips as I fear he may not be able to hear my words. But unfortunately my words have not fallen on deaf ears but an empty chair.

MR ALBERT HO (in Cantonese): Mr President, recently, quite a number of Members have referred to the Government as a "sunset government" and criticized it for lack of foresight and reluctant to commit itself. However, I think we Members sitting in this Chamber should also examine ourselves honestly and ask ourselves how we view ourselves.

No matter whether our term of service will be three years or just over one year, we should ask ourselves whether we will restrict our own terms of reference and give up our rights so that we become "lame-duck" Councillors and that this Legislative Council becomes a "sunset legislature"? Will many of us think that we should refrain from exerting influences at will on decisions made or resolutions passed by the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group (JLG) during our future debates or the legislative processes? Perhaps when the Chinese Government interferes with the decisions of the Hong Kong Government or this Council on the pretext of interpreting the Basic Law or protecting the interests of the future Special Administration Region (SAR), dare we point it out? More importantly, will many Members think that we should wait for the appointment of the Chief Executive (Designate) or the establishment of the Preparatory Committee and co-operate with them in order to create a prosperous Hong Kong and that we should not do too much ourselves? Will this really happen? If this does happen, it will be a real tragedy. In my opinion, any Member who takes this attitude fails electors who trust him and betrays the interests of Hong Kong people.

Mr President, I am the spokesman for the Democratic Party on issues concerning human rights and home affairs. On behalf of the Democratic Party, I would express our views on these aspects. In regard to the implementation of the Bill of Rights Ordinance (BOR), although much criticisms have been voiced at the meeting of the Human Rights Commission held in Geneva recently, I have to point out that we support the efforts made by the Government in the formulation of legislations and the repeated amendments made in the past few years. Although it is still not perfect, we support the Government and hope that it has the courage to continue its work in this respect and should not be disheartened by the pressure exerted by the Preliminary Working Committee, the future government or the Preparatory Committee and give up the amendment work.

Regarding the successful implementation of the BOR, we must take into consideration some social factors. First, we all know that one of the most important principles for the successful implementation of the BOR is equality before the law. To achieve this, we must ensure that every citizen can enjoy equal rights and be protected by the law, or they can seek legal remedies when the need arises. However, in reality, due to differences in political, economic and social status, the so-called "equality" very often just becomes a myth.

Let me cite a concrete example. All of us can see that if the small men want to institute civil proceedings against tycoons or big developers, can the former really enjoy the same legal protection as the latter? In many such cases, I saw that the wealthy developers kept on making appeals. They just try to deprive the weak of their rights by legal means.

Of course, we understand that it is impossible to completely eradicate such phenomenon of inequality in real life. However, we think that we should try our best to seek more just social conditions so that such phenomenon of inequality can be brought within a more acceptable and tolerable extent. Therefore, we emphasize that in order to implement the BOR successfully, the Government must fully implement the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, that even the poorest people in our community can lice with dignity and enjoy a life which we expect and every one hopes for in a modern society. This is a very important point.

Secondly, as regards equal protection before the law, we also have to put in a lot of efforts. In order to achieve this goal, we must eliminate all forms of discrimination. Therefore, the Democratic Party will, in the coming year, continue to work on the formulation of legislations in this respect together with those Members who support this, so that apart from legislation in respect of sexual and disability discrimination, we shall continue to complete legislation work in other areas to eliminate any possible discrimination in age, religion, politics and race and so on.

We must also point out, at this stage, that some Members have raised questions on the lawful traditional interests of the indigenous inhabitants of the New Territories. They are of the opinion that the New Territories Land (Exemption) Ordinance passed earlier contravenes the provisions of the Basic Law. However, I must point out that what the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration refer to is the lawful traditional interests. To be lawful, it must also comply with the two international covenants relating to human rights recognized by the Basic Law and the Joint Declaration. One basic principle which is clearly stated in these two covenants is equality and the elimination of discrimination.

On the other hand, we have to create an environment which is beneficial to the full implementation of the BOR free from hindrance by other factors. One thing which we can notice from our daily life is the contempt on the part of the police and other disciplinary forces for the BOR and their want of awareness of human rights. Of course, many factors contribute to this phenomenon. There is also the problem of their so-called subculture which has existed among them for a long time. However, I feel the Government should embark on a systematic and comprehensive programme of promoting the awareness of human rights. At the same time, as a double-barrelled policy, a credible department responsible for handling complaints fairly against the police should also be set up so that the public can be convinced.

Mr President, in fact the first of the two convenants relating to human rights refers to self-determination. This is a fundamental principle. Of course, when we talk about self-determination, many people will find this subject very sensitive and ask whether we want independence. This is not the case. Self-determination may include decisions on future policies of the community and the people's future life style through a representative system elected by the people. In our existing political environment, it is impossible for democracy to develop healthily. Our Government clings to colonial rule and insists on an executive-led government, and is reluctant to be held fully accountable to the Legislative Council. It is regrettable therefore that we can only talk about human rights in such an environment. However, we must not lose our vision of the future. We must fight for a fully democratic system and an accountable relationship between the executive and the legislature. Only in this way it will be meaningful to talk about human rights. We must realize that human rights and democracy are inseparable.

In regard to our judicial system, I am concerned with a few points. First, as far as judicial independence is concerned, I think we are in urgent need of enacting ordinances or rules and regulations to govern the appointment of judicial personnel. According to my understanding, the appointment of judicial personnel is currently still subject to the provisions of the Civil Service Regulations. I do not know why there is an absence of relevant ordinance governing the appointment of judicial personnel but I feel that we are in urgent need of such an ordinance. Despite the judicial system is still operating independently, I hope we can deal with the terms of appointment of judicial personnel according to a separate administrative system just as other advanced countries do. Their appointment including contracts for their housing allowance, salary and working environment, or conditions of service, are very important. This is one of the many important mechanisms to ensure judicial independence. In addition, it is also very important to have a separate fund for the payment of the remunerations of judicial personnel. Presently, there is no such mechanism in Hong Kong. I hope the work relating to the legislations in this respect can be continued. Secondly, as regards the languages used in the legal environment, we always feel that the Government does not have any long-term policy to implement bilingualism. We are of the view that as our existing laws and regulations are based on the common law, it is impossible to translate all precedents into Chinese. Therefore, we must consider the codification of the common law and the implementation of sound basic bilingual education in legal education. Regarding the use of Chinese in courts, the efforts in promoting this is far from satisfactory. In fact 10 years have elapsed since the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984 but it is not until recently that charge sheets are prepared in bilingual form. This had never happened before. Very often we only had charge sheets written in English. This is indeed unfair to the defendants. Also, I think solicitors and judges in the High Court and District Courts can in fact use Chinese on many occasions, especially when it involves the cross-examination of witnesses and the processing of statements in many criminal trials. I very often see that the judges, the solicitors, the witnesses, the plentiffs and the defendants concerned are all local people. They all speak Cantonese and some of them even have Cantonese as their mother tongue. Nevertheless, interpretation is still required during the proceedings. This is sheer absurdity. I think it is the Government which has the responsibility to devote more efforts in promoting this. Of course, we also need other facilities such as good recording equipment and court reporters to assist.

I would also like to speak on the absolute discretion of the Attorney General and the Crown Prosecutor in deciding whether to prosecute a person or not. Under the current system, when the Attorney General exercises his discretion, the decision so reached will not be subject to judicial review. This is one of the principles in our establishment and it has been operating well so far. However, we have to bear in mind that with the society becoming more and more open, we think it is necessary to consider whether courts should never query such authority. We are not saying that the Attorney General should be replaced by courts in exercising the discretion. However, in certain circumstances, if the discretion was exercised in an entirely irrational and irresponsible manner, the court should have the power to query. I believe that I am not speaking against anybody in bringing up this point. I just hope that we can have a even better system.

Finally, Mr President, as an elected Member from New Territories West, I feel that I will let the electors down if I do not mention the following. The Government has been treating the New Territories residents as if they had been abandoned even though they all pay taxes and rates. As we all know, due to poor planning on the part of the Government and the lack of improvement in this regard, many container yards have moved into the New Territories. However, the Government just turns a blind eye to this. In fact, during the past 10 or more years, the Government has failed to do what should have been done. We now request the Government to take up this responsibility. As a long-term measure, it is, of course, necessary to widen the Tuen Mun Road and construct the Western Corridor Railway. We hope the Government can promise and commit itself to extend the Western Corridor Railway to Tuen Mun town centre. In addition, the issue which should be addressed in the immediate future is improvement of ferry services. The Government often shifts the responsibility to the private sector, that is, the Hong Kong Ferry (Holdings) Company Limited, and thus relies solely on a commercial operator. We hereby strongly request the Government not to put forward the excuse that it will only provide the infrastructure and will not subsidize transport operations. We urge the Government to take up the responsibility to build new piers, open new ferry routes and provide modernized and speedy ferries, and to maintain the fares at a resonable and affordable level. The Government is duty-bound to do all these. If it is unable to persuade the Hong Kong Ferry (Holdings) Company Limited to provide these services, it should take up this responsibility. I believe that the Democratic Party as well as other Members will spare no effort in following up this matter.

Thank you, Mr President.

MR LEUNG YIU-CHUNG (in Cantonese): Mr President, over the past two days, many Members have levelled much criticism when they speak, which was quite different from the attitudes of the so-called "Loyalists" and the "Fire Brigade" or those who are on the defensive side of the Government. For instance, some colleagues blamed outright that the Hong Kong Government is impotent, while some colleagues severely censured the British Government for having sold Hong Kong people's interests in the Sino-British agreements for more trade with China. At the same time, some Members shouted themselves hoarse in their laments and worries. Meanwhile, some Members have specifically pointed out that the Hong Kong people, who are currently living in Hong Kong and will stay in Hong Kong after 1997, have no right to make arrangements for their own future lifestyles. Instead, decisions are made by others behind closed doors and we are totally kept in the dark. Some colleagues have also vehemently stressed that the grassroot level have never enjoyed any free lunches but on the contrary the consortia, big bosses, property developers and bankers are enjoying free dinners which fatten them both in brains and stomachs.

In the old days of the appointment system, it was inconceivable to hear these opinions. It would also be unbelievable in those days that Members were so bold and speak out like this with a straight spine and inflated chest, thus airing the people's voices. I heartily believe that all these changes are mainly due to democratic elections, which are really commendable and valuable, because with it channels now exist to convey public opinions and feelings. However, precisely because of this, those who have vested interests or those who are most afraid to face the masses dread democratic elections, for they fear that such elections would bring them damage. So in a little more than 600 days the above situation will be just like a flash in the pan and we will be on the road of retrogression.

Now many people are shamelessly busying themselves because of the chairs under us. In fact, by the end of these 20 months, we can no longer sit in the chairs we are now occupying. Therefore, there are people telling us to shut up, and there are people telling us to accept the reality. I feel however that we cannot yield helplessly. Neither can we cower, especially in a political situation where power overrides justice. On the contrary, we must stick to our belief and hold fast to our position despite our helpless situation, to keep on striving for the establishment of a domcractic system in order to put democracy into practice in Hong Kong. Without democracy, how can there be protection of people's livelihood? Just as what had happened yesterday, even the high ranking Hong Kong Government officials kept threatening us. If we failed to hold our ground and if we were not elected Members but appointed ones as in the past, I believe the voting result we had yesterday would have been entirely different.

Although yesterday's voting situation is a far cry from the above-mentioned political issue and the two defy comparison, I feel that there is nothing unachievable if there is the will. In fact, in the future, we have to face more difficulties and threats. Now even the last Governor, Mr PATTEN, has threatened us to exercise his powers to veto Member's Bills. Should we flinch, the situation would be dreadful to contemplate because, as Members have said, the colonial Government of Hong Kong, with a life span of a little more than 600 days simply will not do anything for Hong Kong. And this policy address, which is the last of its kind, has clearly demonstrated that the Government has no sincerity to solve the many pressing problems faced by the Hong Kong people. So, the future Hong Kong Government or the future Hong Kong society is just like a time bomb on which we cannot help worrying.

In fact, the current unemployment problem has been worsening with a decreasing number of vacancies. On the one hand, however, the Governor still has the nerve to say that Hong Kong is virtually in full employment compared with other countries. On the other hand, the Government attributes unemployment to a swollen labour force, which include emigrants who have returned to Hong Kong and those holding one-way permits from China. However, the Government has failed to seriously ask itself one question: Has the Government done anything to assist industrial development after it had proposed industrial diversification in the 1970s? The fact is that our industries were left to fend for themselves. It has almost been a non-performance for the Government in regard to providing assistance to our industries. There is neither a long-term policy nor any support for the development of advanced technology. Local factories have to rely in their operations entirely on labour-intensive modes. In an unfavourable situation of fierce competition, they can only relocate their factories to other low-cost regions. As it is, in the absence of any bargaining power, the workers have to bear the brunt. Those who were in the manufacturing sector, especially in the textile and garment industries, are continuously being weeded out. Most of them are now in their forties and are low-skilled workers. They are squeezed out of the system like tooth paste. In the past, there were still some jobs of unskilled nature, such as cleaners and restaurant waiters, which could have absorbed unemployed workers. However, the Government has imported large numbers of workers in disregard of the people's livelihood, and on top of that the economy is slowing down, so that these workers are often unable to find any job and have to join the army of the unemployed.

Undoubtedly, the Government is aware of the economic restructuring, but the fact is that restructuring does not come overnight. It is precisely because the Government has never paid attention to this problem that it hastily implemented the Employees Retraining Scheme only when problems have cropped up. Such policies of hindsight obviously cannot cope with the actual needs. Therefore, the job matching scheme is often frustrating. Most of the retrainees are still unable to find jobs. More than 2 000 people queued up in the Job Bazaar held in Tsuen Wan yesterday to apply for only 700-odd vacancies. The number of unemployed has greatly outnumbered jobs offered, let alone that job matching is not necessarily successful.

In fact, apart from unemployment, the Government has also failed to recognize another important problem, that is, underemployment, what the workers call "saline infusion". Right now, manufacturing and textile workers are facing the problem of underemployment and decreasing income apart from factories relocation. In addition, they also have to face high commodity prices and high rents, and are thus driven to a sorry plight. Recently, the number of suicide cases involving unemployed workers has been on the rise, showing that the Government is putting more powder into this time bomb. We are of the opinion that the Government must face these problems squarely and must bring the labour importation scheme to an end and to review the Employees Retraining Scheme, and establish an Unemployment Allowance Scheme. Moreover, the Government should create more employment opportunities for the unemployed workers in order to solve the above problems.

Furthermore, the Government has emphasized that it must create wealth first before part of the resources can be allocated to the improvement of services. But the current situation is that after having created wealth, the Government actually keeps on hoarding it. I would like to ask the Government, why it has to keep a tight fist on the money? We are not asking the Government to spill the money, but we think that the Government has no justifications and cannot explain why the proposed Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) rate for the elderly recommended by Dr McPHERSON's report should be above its means. Now the CSSA rate for the elderly remains unchanged at $1,800 a month, whereas the original $1,505 will be increased to $1,685. In other words, they will get $6 more a day. That means the extra money the Government is going to give the grandads and grandmas everyday is good for two buns only. Can this be called a show of respect to the elderly and that it has met their needs? It really defies my imagination. In fact, I think this is an affront to them. We think the Government should apart from raising the CSSA rate to a level as recommended by Dr McPHERSON, establish a community-wide Retirement Protection Scheme at the earliest opportunity in order to ensure a decent twilight life for the elderly.

Yesterday, a group of elderly people outside this Council appealed between their tears to us to fight for an increase in benefits for them. At that time, the Chief Secretary was alighting from her car. But unfortunately, she did not choose even to take a look at these old people. I am really worried about what protection they will get in the future. Will some old people committing foolish acts again due to the intolerable pressure of life later? I sincerely hope that the Hong Kong Government can show its compassion towards the elderly, who had contributed to us and to the Hong Kong society. We hope we can do something to ensure that more care will be given to them.

Apart from these, the policy address has also deliberately evaded the discussion of another issue, that is, whether the itemized medical charges scheme will be scrapped. I strongly oppose to the "user pays" and "cost recovery" principles because this would relieve the Government of its social commitments and responsibilities. Although we are not worried that some people will be deprived of health care due to lack of means, I am afraid that some people would prefer not to go to consult doctors in order to save money. When the patient is incurably ill, it will then be too late. So I hope the Government can expressly state that it will scrap the itemized medical charges scheme and that charges will not be pegged to costs. Also, although the policy address has promised that the waiting time for public housing will be reduced to five years by 2001, I am of the opinion that it does not merit our trust, because the Governor has promised that all Temporary Housing Areas would be cleared before 1997, but finally the Government said that the situation had changed. As a result, the pledge has become a lie. So if the Government is really sincere, I hope it can produce evidence to convince us that it will keep its promise.

Mr President, I hope government officials can make out in real earnest all the issues we have just raised and will positively and seriously do more during the transition period so that we can have some breathing space while we are harbouring so many worries brought by political pressure, and that we need not worry about the time bomb which may explode at any time. Hence, we can concentrate our efforts on coping with the changes to come, that we can have more opportunities to strive for a democratic system which can genuinely ensure a high degree of autonomy to be enjoyed by the Hong Kong people and better protection for our livelihood.

Mr President, I so submit.

MR CHAN KAM-LAM (in Cantonese): Mr President, Honourable colleagues have made a lot of comments on Mr PATTEN's policy address of this year. I do not intend to level any more severe criticisms because I have never expected too much in the last policy address of a sunset government. I only wish to point out, on behalf of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB), some deficiencies in the policy address in relation to economic, employment and housing issues.

Although the Governor has made economic adjustment and employment the top priority issues in his policy address, he is clearly at his wits end in dealing with the two interacting factors, that is, economic growth slowdown and high unemployment rate, and he has not offered any practicable proposals.

In mentioning Hong Kong's economic growth, the Governor stressed that whilst this year's GDP growth is expected to be 5% in real terms instead of the 5.5% as previously estimated, we should not overreact to this revision of our growth forecast. However, we must realize that the dwindling economic growth rate, from 6.5% in 1992 to 5% this year, is obviously a result of economic restructuring and indicates a potential crisis of recession in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the Governor has not addressed the seriousness of the problem squarely, and even assured us in blind optimism that "a growth rate of 5% is still a very healthy rate of expansion". He is in fact pulling the wool over his own eyes as well as others'.

The DAB is of the opinion that a responsible government should present a comprehensive proposal to fully revitalize our economy, maintain our competitive edge in world markets and face the problem of economic restructuring seriously, by adopting measures to encourage investment while formulating a long-term strategy on economic development and industry, thus assisting the development of the manufacturing sector.

In my opinion, the current economic system of Hong Kong is still sound. Co-operation with mainland China is vital to maintaining our competitive edge and promoting economic development. During a meeting with the Governor, Mr PATTEN, the DAB proposed that the Government should set up as soon as possible a bilateral economic development committee, comprising Hong Kong and Chinese officials, to hold discussions on economic co-operation between the two places, such as how Hong Kong can dovetail with China's economic planning, and even how Hong Kong industries should face the mainland Chinese market. Furthermore, the Hong Kong Government should make full use of our present conditions to improve our infrastructure, and to give full play to Hong Kong's advantage as the southern geteway of China.

On formulating a long-term industrial strategy, I think that the Hong Kong Government has been adopting a piecemeal approach and lacks a comprehensive strategy to develop high-technology industries. Despite the establishment of the Applied Research and Development Scheme in recent years to promote the development of certain industries, the Government lacks any coherent planning. The proposed establishment of a Science Park in this year's policy address is the only more far-sighted suggestion. Meanwhile, as there is a lack of technological personnel in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Government should of course play an active role in training experts in this respect in the long run. The Applied Research Centre, as proposed in the policy address, with the special task of financing projects involving both Hong Kong and Chinese researchers, is worthy our support.

Furthermore, in the face of an economic restructuring, a vicious cycle is created in which whilst most of the workers of the shrinking manufacturing industries hope to switch to the service sector on the one hand, on the other hand, trades like the financial sector, catering and department stores cannot take on all the manufacturing workers as a result of high unemployment rate, slow economic growth and falling spending power. I am therefore of the opinion that while the Government is developing high-technology industries and the service sector, it should also adopt feasible measures such as allocating more land and subsidizing scientific research in order to help the manufacturing industries.

When targeting on the problem of high unemployment rate, the Governor has admitted on the one hand that importation of labour is one of the factors leading to the high unemployment rate, but he has failed to mention other contributory factors at all such as economic downturn.

In fact, in order to tackle the problem at source, the Government, in addition to scrapping the labour importation scheme, can only stimulate the economy in order to create more employment opportunities to relieve the pressure of high unemployment rate. So I hope the Governor, Mr PATTEN, can seriously consider the suggestions I have just put forward for stimulating economic growth.

Although the Governor has taken the initiative to put an end to the General Labour Importation Scheme in his policy address, he has also proposed the Supplementary Labour Scheme with a cap of 5 000. Undoubtedly, it is changing the label but not the substance. Meanwhile, according to government information released earlier on the review of the General Labour Importation Scheme and its recommendations, there will still be 10 357 imported workers working in Hong Kong under the existing General Labour Importation Scheme by June 1996. If the maximum quota of 5 000 under the new Supplementary Labour Importation Scheme is used up, then by June next year, there will be at least 15 000 imported workers in Hong Kong, which is very close to the current number of 15 344. In doing so, the Government is only playing with figures.

The DAB is now drafting a Member's Bill which seeks to improve the General Labour Importation Scheme, the Supplementary Labour Importation Scheme and the Importation of Labour Scheme for the New Airport Core Projects. The Bill will also propose the establishment of a tripartite ad hoc committee comprising representatives from employees, the Government and employers. This committee will co-ordinate policies concerning importation of labour, including the examination and approval of quotas of foreign workers, supervising the progress of importation of labour, and conducting a comprehensive review on the policy of employment visa.

The DAB has also suggested that the Government should relax the upper assets limit for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) and raise the standard rate to at least $2,500 per person per month, in order to help the unemployed resolve their financial difficulties. At the same time, tax concession should be given to employers as an incentive for them to hire workers who have been laid off or who have received retraining. However, in his policy address, the Governor has only promised a nominal increase in the standard rate for unemployed workers from $1,210 to $1,490. The DAB registers its deep dissatisfaction on this.

The policy address has totally ignored the welfare for the elderly. Not only there is no increase at all in CSSA rates for the single elderly, but the Governor even expressed that they are not the worst off in our community. He even blatantly lumped together the standard rate with the meagre special grants and allowances and then claimed that the monthly benefits received by a single elderly CSSA recipient made a total of $2,710.

In my view, the fact that the Hong Kong Government turned down the Old Age Pension Scheme early this year has dashed the hope of hundred thousands of old people. In order that these old people who had contributed immensely to Hong Kong's economic development in the past would not be left forlorn in their old age, the Government must increase the standard rate for single elderly to one third of the median wage, that is, not less than $2,700 a month, to enable the elderly people to lead a dignified twilight life. We shall keep on urging the Government to increase the Old Age Allowance to $800 and waive the 180-day absence rule. The DAB will also keep on urging the Government, in this Council, for a double retirement protection system which would include the Old Age Pension Scheme and the Provident Fund Scheme.

In dealing with the housing problem, the policy address has not proposed any increased construction of public housing to meet the housing needs of the ordinary people. On the contrary, it has highlighted the "Better-off Tenants" issue. That the Government has decided to retain 13 Temporary Housing Areas and to renovate some older public housing flats to meet new housing demands is a regressive policy.

Although the policy address has promised to reduce the average waiting time for public housing flats from seven years to five before 2001, it has only reiterated last year's pledge on the number of flats to be constructed. Among these flats, only 74 000 flats are reserved for the 150 000 households on the Waiting List. According to the DAB's calculation, if the Government wants to implement the Long Term Housing Strategy formulated in 1987, that is, to meet all housing needs of those on the Waiting List by 2001, at least 30 000 new flats must be constructed every year, which is obviously far greater than the number now promised by the Government. I think there are sufficient land and time to build more flats provided the Government has the will to do so. Unfortunately, in order to fulfill the Governor's promise in 1992 that 60% of families could own their flats, the Government considers it proper to slow down the development of public housing, and compels people to turn to the private property market. As a result, people of the lower strata are unable to improve their living conditions.

Furthermore, the policy address makes no mention of withdrawing the proposal of vetting the assets of public housing tenants. On the contrary, the proposal is now listed as a priority issue in the Policy Commitments. The DAB is greatly disappointed with his.

I would also like to raise the issue of urban renewal. In its Urban Renewal consultation document released in July, the Government has failed to face squarely the unfair situation arising form the discrepancy between the compensation offered by private developers and that offered by the Land Development Corporation to affected residents. In his policy address, the Governor has not mentioned a word on this and ignores the "flat for flat, shop for shop" request put forward by the DAB and the residents. I shall question the Government and ask for a reasonable reply in this Council before the end of the consultation period.

Undoubtedly, the Governor is an outstanding politician, but he is good at politics only. Apart from a large number of legislative amendments and completing a political reform package of "triple violations" leading to the dismantling of the through train, he has done nothing constructive to the people's livelihood, and people's quality of life is declining. Fortunately, we have an experienced and capable team of civil servants in the Government who are quietly working under the politics-led administration for the people of Hong Kong. However, it is a pity that government officials are not accustomed to working together with the newly formed Legislative Council. They are all defensive and overreacting, which has been clearly demonstrated when this Council put forward a proposal for freezing government charges. The DAB is willing to make our stance clear. We are willing to co-operate with all civil servants, to stand on the side of Hong Kong people's overall interests, and to strive for the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong so that people can live and work in peace and contentment.

Mr President, the British rule over Hong Kong has entered the countdown stage. However, as a responsible government which looks forward to a honourable departure on 30 June 1997, it should still fulfil its responsibility to maintain a stable political environment and a prosperous economy so that people can live and work in peace and contentment. Otherwise, when a flag is lowered and another hoisted, on the day bands play and fireworks explode, it would probably be a day when the Hong Kong British Government is leaving with despondency.

I so submit.

MR SIN CHUNG-KAI (in Cantonese): Mr President, during the debate on the Governor's policy address in these two days, there have been endless criticisms against Governor PATTEN. Most Members, whether they are from the pro-China camp, the democrats' camp or from the business sector, criticized the administration of Governor PATTEN severely. Only a few have spoken well of him.

I am not trying to stand out of the line or deliberately speak contrary to the others in order to attract more attention. I am just thinking thoroughly what changes has Mr PATTEN brought to Hong Kong in these few years. Or I would ask myself, had Mr PATTEN never come to Hong Kong, and the ex-Governor, Lord WILSON, had continued to be the Governor of Hong Kong, then how different the present situation of Hong Kong would have been?

First of all, I think that Mr PATTEN has actually accomplished a few tasks: First, he introduced a political package which was branded as the "three violations" by China and was criticized by the Democratic Party as not democratic enough. Secondly, he improved various means of public relations from top down in the entire Hong Kong Government and the political culture.

As the former has already become fait accompli and has been much commented on, I would rather not discuss it here. For the latter, I have to compliment Mr PATTEN on his approach in handling his policy addresses in these few years, which is markedly different from that adopted by his predecessors. Before drafting the policy address, Mr PATTEN had met various political parties and Members of the Legislative Council from different sectors. After delivering the policy address, Mr PATTEN rushed to the radio and television stations for their respective Governor's Question Time organized in the same pattern in order to respond to the public's questioning. In regard to the policy address, the Progress Report, the Policy Commitments, the briefings of the Branch Secretaries, all these have been criticized as no more than political shows which were not practical. I personally strongly disagree with this remark. In my view, Mr PATTEN has pioneered a new political culture by coming out of the office and standing personally before the public. Mr President, I dare not hazard a guess at who is going to be the first Chief Executive of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) after 1997, but I hope that the Chief Executive of the future SAR will continue to maintain this kind of open approach.

All political parties have levelled severe criticisms at Governor PATTEN both yesterday and today. I also hope that two years from now, Members of the Legislative Council will also be able to level severe criticisms at the policy address of the Chief Executive of the future SAR. I still remember, when I watched the television news more than a decade ago, when most of the Legislative Council Members were appointed, I noticed that most of them only complimented the Governor of the day on his policy address. To monitor and criticize the Government is the duty of elected Members. May all Members in this Chamber bear witness to whether or not the Legislative Council 600 days later can be the same as these two days when Members will also be given such a liberal environment to severely criticize our future SAR Government and our future SAR Chief Executive?

Turning back to the policy address, in view of the fact that the Government has compiled the package of Progress Report and Policy Commitments, I only wish to ask the Hong Kong Government what its central thinking is in governing Hong Kong, and what are its guiding principles in formulating various policies.

I remember that many years ago, I heard a former Financial Secretary who pursued positive non-interventionism. A few days ago during the briefing session by Branch Secretaries, I heard Mr CHAU Tak-hay, Secretary for Trade and Industry, say that he never believed in "positive non-interventionism". On this, I cannot help asking: Is the economic policy of the Government one of intervention or non-intervention, positive or non-positive? Principal officials of the Hong Kong Government are civil servants. Administrative Officers have undergone all-round training and have extraordinary capabilities in handling problems, but they are devoid of a kind of guiding principle or direction. Viewed from another angle, it is a kind of stop-gap approach. For instance, a few years ago before Mr PATTEN came to Hong Kong, there were high inflation and brain drain, and pressure from the business sector forced the Government to introduce the labour importation policy, arguing that importation of labour would reduce inflation. A few years later, inflation now still remains high, and under the pressure from the labour sector, the Government reduced the quota of imported labour. Indeed, I would like to quote some other cases. More than a century ago, labour importation policy had already been practised by the United States when negro slaves, that is, the present day black people, were imported. Germany imported Turks and so on. They created heavy burdens to both the United States and Germany. Labour importation should never have been introduced. Another example is the measures hitting out at property speculation. A few years ago when property prices began to rocket, it was already suggested that the property market had to be clamped down, but the Government chose to do nothing. It was not until the property prices reached the peak and outran people's purchasing powerly by so much that the Government began to introduce some measures to dampen property speculation. As a matter of fact, even if the Government did not control the property market at that time, property prices were already going down as the United States raised the interest rates, and then the Hong Kong Government introduced those measures, which were naturally taken as proof that the policy of the Government scored another success. The third example is that the infrastructural development of the Government is always lagging behind the "market" (which is a jargon I borrowed from the Honourable CHIM Pui-chung). Here is another case. Ten years ago, Mr NG Ming-yum, our late colleague, went on a hunger strike in the street in protest against the Government building the Light Rail System instead of a mass transit railway to Tuen Mun. Had the Government heeded the advice of the late Mr NG, the traffic problem of Tuen Mun would surely not have been as serious as it is today, and property prices of Tuen Mun would not have lagged far behind those in the urban areas and the vacancy rate would not have been so high.

The above three examples are sufficient proof of the lack of "strategic" management on the part of the Hong Kong Government.

Mr President, the economic achievement of Hong Kong catches the eyes of the world. The economic success achieved in past decades is attributed to Hong Kong's ability to co-ordinate flexibly with China's open policy. At the time when Hong Kong's industries were moving north, the service and financial sectors were able to swiftly fill that empty space. Although the economic success in the past few years, as mentioned by Mr PATTEN in the policy address, is backed by statistics, I have to ask whether the economic achievement in these few years can raise the living standard of the grassroots in Hong Kong?

During the last two years, with the skyrocketing property prices and the high unemployment rate, both the service and the retail sectors began to shrink, and employers or employees alike are suffering from economic "labour pains" after a high growth period. Of course, the labour pains are probably triggered by the macro-economic control of China and the increase of interest rates in the United States.

Mr President, the Hong Kong Government emphasizes the success of the non-intervention policy, but it does not mean that we shall remain successful in future by sticking to this policy. During this debate on the policy address, my colleagues in this Council from different political camps have respectively proposed to set up the "Competition Committee", "Competition Development Committee", "Competition Development Council" and the like. The Democratic Party supports all these proposals. Hong Kong has many competitors in Asia, for example, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. All these countries are able to invest huge amounts of capital in scientific research in order to develop and raise the industrial base and to implement various kinds of policies to attract foreign investments. I agree with the opinions of some of my colleagues in this Council that there are several causes to Hong Kong's falling economic competitiveness: rents or prices of residential and commercial buildings in Hong Kong are only lower than those in our neighbour, Tokyo, and greatly increased the burden of international commercial institutions in setting up regional organizations in Hong Kong.

Mr President, I urge the Government to actively set up a strategy study body with a view to studying the competitiveness of Hong Kong and to working out measures to cope with Hong Kong's competitors.

Besides, the wage level, commercial services or the remunerations of executives of some sectors are catching up with, if not surpassing, the developed European countries and the United States. On the contrary, the wage level of Hong Kong's workforce is far behind their counterparts in many developed countries.

Mr President, faced with economic restructuring, different occupations and classes of people would suffer in their own ways, but unfortunately, the pains suffered by the middle and lower classes of the community is greater than the middle and upper classes. Mr President, I hope that the Hong Kong Government will tell us what it will do to alleviate the pressure suffered by the middle and lower classes due to economic restructuring. In the coming few months, various kinds of public utilities will apply to the Government to increase their charges, which include taxis, bus companies, ferry companies and power companies, and also rents of public housing. Mr President, we the Democratic Party urge the Government to examine strictly the host of applications for increases. Of course, the Government has enough executive power to freeze these increases so as to alleviate the burden on the middle and lower classes.

Finally, I would like to respond to the "cost-recovery" policy emphasized by the Hong Kong Government yesterday. It said that our motion to refuse the increase of charges in the cargo handling areas had violated or upset the fiscal policy of the Government. The policy of "cost recovery, user pays" sounds appealing, but I have to ask: has the Hong Kong Government done the costing of it? When I was a Regional Council Member, I learnt that the recreation and sports amenities managed by the Regional Council (RC), such as swimming pools, have to be subsidized by more than 80% in the operational costs. In other words, when a person pays more than $10 to use the swimming pool, the Regional Services Department (RSD) or the RC has to subsidize more than $80. In costing, the RSD will take into account the overhead costs of the entire department instead of just the direct costs of the operational area. By the same token, when dealing with the charges pertaining to cargo handling, the expenditures of both the head and the staff of various ranks of that department will have to be taken into calculation proportionally.

Mr President, today we request that in response to the debate on the policy address, the officials of the Treasury should explain clearly what "costs" they are referring to, and how the costing is done. I have to ask the various departments concerned what they have done in the past to lower the costs of production. I must emphasize that the Government has the franchise of various kinds of licences. This franchise, or monopoly, together with the cost-recovery policy, will reduce the enthusiasm of the departments concerned in raising productivity or in reducing costs. Mr President, I hope that officials of the Treasury can give a lecture to this Council, especially to "greenhorns" like me, on the trend of unit costs of various kinds of government charges over the past five years. Mr President, I ask the Treasury and departments concerned to provide us with information on what various departments have done in the past when dealing with this kind of licenses or charges or in respect of improving cost-effectiveness.

Mr President, these are my remarks.

DR LAW CHEUNG-KWOK (in Cantonese): Mr President, on behalf the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL), I shall comment on policies concerning labour, economy and transport in the policy address of the Governor.

As regards the Government's labour policy, the ADPL and I agree that high unemployment rate is related to economic restructuring and the increase in the number of returned emigrants. However, since it is nearly impossible for the Government to adopt any specific measures in these respects to lower the present high unemployment rate, the only policy adjustment which the Government can make is to terminate the importation of labour.

Whilst the ADPL supports the Government's decision to terminate the General Labour Importation Scheme, however, according to the proposed Supplementary Labour Scheme which will commence on 1 January 1996, the maximum number of workers to be imported each year is 5 000. Adding this to the number of workers who have been imported under the existing scheme, it is likely that the total number of imported labour in Hong Kong in 1996-97 will not have been reduced when compared with the same period last year. The failure of the Governor to take this simple arithmetical relationship into consideration has really made me cast doubt on his reasoning power.

In order to solve the problem of mismatching between vacancies and the skill of unemployed workers so that the phenomenon of "having jobs without people to do" will no longer exist, the ADPL thinks that the Employees Retraining Board should provide matching retraining programmes to ensure that all present vacancies can be filled by local workers after 24 months. Besides, to prevent local workers from falling prey to economic restructuring, the ADPL proposes that the Government should co-operate fully with the private sector and set up a permanent retraining center to co-ordinate various retraining programmes to train local workers on a concentrated and long-term basis.

In fact, with an unemployment rate as high as 3.5%, the employment problem of the 170 000-plus unemployed (including underemployed) cannot simply be solved by terminating the Labour Importation Scheme and adopting the Employees Retraining Scheme. In the long run, the Government should follow the examples of the governments of our neighboring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea and establish in Hong Kong an Economic Development Council and a venture fund for small businesses to study and to advise on the development of various trades, to introduce suitable policies, and to submit reports regularly, which will not only avoid the loss of direction of local businessmen and workers in the course of economic restructuring, but will also create job opportunities for the people. During the Governor's Question Time, the Governor said that the concept of establishing an Economic Development Council was tantamount to implementing a planned economy. I do not agree with these remarks. Quite a number of European countries, the United States and countries in the Asia Pacific region have such organizations. The Government should study the structure and functions of similar organizations in these countries and then establish an Economic Development Council. If the Government does not have a full understanding or even ignorant of the changes in the productivity of the major trades in Hong Kong, it would be very doubtful how effective its present economic policies would be. I have reservations, however, about the suggestion made by some colleagues earlier that Hong Kong should subsidize the development of some high-tech industries.

In addition, the abuse of the Labour Importation Scheme and the employment of illegal immigrants by a considerable number of employers have led to the existence of "black market workers", involuntary deduction of wages and so on. The ADPL thinks that in order to effectively stop illegal workers from taking away the job opportunities of local workers, the Government should work out sophisticated measures such as immediate publication of the names of employers/companies who have employed imported labour, the setting up of a scheme to reward those who have informed the authorities of cases of employment of illegal immigrants, so as to encourage people to assist the Government in the prosecution of employers and employees concerned.

It is also mentioned in the policy address that legislation will be formulated in 1996 to protect members of trade unions from unfair dismissed. The ADPL thinks that the Government's response in this respect is not sufficient because the deterrent effect of an increased penalty for this kind of offences is extremely inadequate. The ADPL is of the opinion that the Government should formulate legislation which specifically aims at unfair dismissal in order to enhance job security for all employees.

The last suggestion the ADPL would like to put forward on labour policy is the setting up of an Interim Financial Assistance Scheme for the unemployed. This is a fund to positively assist those unemployed persons of the lower income group to find new jobs, and not a relief payment to passively maintain the livelihood of the recipient. The ADPL proposes that target recipients of this Scheme should include all those who are unemployed and the applicants must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. the applicant must have regular work during the last two years;
  2. the applicant should have been unemployed for a period of not less than three months during which the applicant has registered with the Labour Department and has been actively seeking a job;
  3. the applicant should have earned no more than $15,000 a month from his work in the past; and
  4. those who have participated in the Employees Retraining Scheme and have found a job are not eligible to apply for assistance.

The ADPL proposes that means test should not be applied under this Scheme. Regarding the amount of assistance, the applicant will receive assistance from the fourth month of unemployment and the amount of assistance should be around $3,000 per month.

Recipients must continue to try their best to look for a job during the period of assistance. Each applicant can only receive assistance for a period of six months at the most. If the applicant is still unable to find a job after six months, his case should be transferred to an ad hoc group set up by the Government for the purpose of identifying the reasons why the applicant is still unemployed and consider whether further assistance should be granted.

As I believe we all know, conditions of the labour market of a certain place interact with the economic development of that place. At present, both the inflation rate and unemployment rate in Hong Kong are high. People have become more and more reluctant to spend. Faced with rising prices, it becomes more difficult for them to meet their daily needs. I recall that in the financial year of 1991, the Government took the initiative to freeze all Government fees and charges for nine months as one of the measures to curb inflation. In response to the Government's decision, the Housing Authority also made corresponding arrangement to freeze the rents of public housing estates temporarily.

It seems that the Government officials concerned were baffled why the Legislative Council vetoed the proposals of fee increases at yesterday's sitting and they continued to criticize the Members for doing so. The ADPL supported the vote against these proposals mainly not because of technical reasons, but rather, it was to pass a clear message to the Government that an inflation rate of 9% is still very high. The policy of pegging Government fees and charges with inflation adopted by the Government long ago is one of the major causes of a prolonged period of high inflation and the ADPL objects to such a policy. As a temporary measure to alleviate the financial difficulties caused by high inflation and unemployment rates, the ADPL thinks that the rents of public housing estates and other charges which are directly related to the livelihood of the public should be frozen this year.

It is also the concern of the ADPL and myself whether the rights and interests of consumers are given sufficient protection. The policy address mentions that the Government will commit itself to protect and promote the interests of consumers and to encourage positive competition. The ADPL applauds the Government for establishing this policy and hopes that it can really be put into practice. According to preliminary studies of the ADPL and other organizations, monopoly does exist in many trades in Hong Kong, ( for example, the press, banking, gas supply, cooking oil, cement, provident fund management, oil supply and so on), which seriously affected the operation of free market competition in Hong Kong. In the opinion of the ADPL, the Government should introduce legislation similar to the Unfair Trading Act enacted in Britain in 1973 as soon as possible. In connection with this proposal, the ADPL is now drafting a relevant bill. Should the Government procrastinate, the ADPL will consider tabling a Member's Bill for the deliberation of the Legislative Council in order to promote free competition and to protect the rights and interests of consumers.

Let us now change the topic to the transport policy adopted by the Government. The ADPL welcomes the proposals to conduct studies on three railway development projects and to develop the mass transit system as mentioned in the policy address. It is said in the policy address that the Government is discussing with the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) the feasibility of extending the Western Corridor Railway to Butterfly Beach in Tuen Mun. However, the ADPL has reservations on one of the railway projects under study, namely, the KCR extension to Tsimshatsui. The ADPL considers the main reason leading to serious traffic congestion at the cross harbour tunnels at present is the lack of cross harbour infrastructure, with the tunnels and the Mass Transit Railway providing the only land links. The ADPL proposes that the KCR extension be linked to Wan Chai rather than Tsimshatsui to relieve the volume of traffic at the cross harbour tunnel.

Finally, the policy address also mentions that the Government is devoted to contain the growth in the number of private cars so as to ease traffic congestion. According to the information contained in the policy address, 44 out of every 1 000 Hong Kong people are car owners. Compared with Singapore where 106 out of every 1 000 citizens and Japan where 291 out of every 1 000 citizens are car owners, the number of private cars in Hong Kong is not that great. However, comparatively the problem of traffic congestion in Hong Kong is more serious than that in countries like Singapore, Japan and the United States. This clearly shows that the problem of Hong Kong lies not in the excessive number of private cars but in the serious inadequacy of road networks. Therefore, the ADPL thinks that containing the growth of the number of private cars alone is not the most effective way to solve the problem of traffic congestion in Hong Kong. The ADPL suggests that besides building roads in conjunction with the development of the railway systems and the new airport, the Government should also construct more other road networks, for example, cross-region flyovers and roads as a long-term solution to the problem of congestion. At the same time, the Government should set down feasible and objective long-term targets and work out the schedule for achieving them, for example, the Government may decide on the number of vehicles that each kilometre of road can accommodate by the year 2000. We very much hope that the number can be reduced to a level comparable to that of the advanced countries.

Last but not least, I wish to address my constituency which consists of more than 300 district board members. I hope the Government will consider formulating policies which would strengthen the power of district board members to participate in politics and comment on political issues as soon as possible and to provide more resources and facilities so as to enable them to carry out their work.

Mr President, these are my remarks.

DR JOHN TSE (in Cantonese): Mr President, assessment of Governor Chris PATTEN's policy address should be based on two criteria: first, its ability or otherwise to cater for the interests of the whole community and those of minority groups and; second, whether or not it has laid down any long-term policies.

The interests of the community as a whole hinge on the wholehearted commitment of the Government to the entire community and all its people. However, I cannot find any wholehearted commitment in the way the Government handles the issue of discrimination. Discrimination has been a long-standing problem in Hong Kong and has affected a lot of people, including single parents, homosexuals, ethnic minority groups, released prisoners and so on. But, the Government, which has remained conservative and passive in its attitude, has so far refused to address the issue of discrimination properly. It is only after discrimination has led to violence that the Government starts to take actions in a "piecemeal" fashion ¢w two instances being the recently enacted Disability Discrimination Ordinance and Sex Discrimination Ordinance. Once again, the Government has adopted a "stop-gap" approach to tackle the deteriorating problem of discrimination. It has refused to formulate any full-scale anti-discrimination legislation, and so, the underprivileged are still largely ignored.

However, as these two Ordinances will not become effective until the Equal Opportunities Commission is established, they have so far existed in name only. How can the Government gain the trust of the people and protect their rights when some enacted ordinances cannot be enforced?

Mr President, I think that on the question of eliminating discrimination, the Government has not only shirked its responsibilities but has also acted to worsen the situation. Knowing very well that the public was in general not in favour of homosexuality, it conducted a public opinion survey on the matter in the form of a misleading questionnaire that served the purpose of mustering the voices against legislation, thus succeeding in making its own stand appearing like that of the public. This is like "murdering someone with a borrowed knife". This is unfair to homosexuals who are being discriminated against. This is also prejudicial to their dignity.

It can be seen that the principle adopted by the Government in regard to legislation against discrimination has been inconsistent. On the one hand, it put forward legislation to eliminate sex discrimination and disability discrimination. One the other hand, it refused to support the Bill submitted by Miss Anna WU during the last session of the Legislative Council, which aimed at eliminating all forms of discrimination. If the Government thinks that discrimination is undesirable and should be sanctioned by law, why should we tolerate discrimination on grounds of age, religion, sexual orientation or race?

I think it is understandable that people would tend to reject those they do not like. However, the Government should take positive steps to tell members of the public that they should accept different kinds of people. It should also fully implement the Bill of Rights to eliminate discrimination and promote social equality in the community. Legislation is the most expeditious way of eliminating discrimination. If the Government is at all sincere in safeguarding the rights of the Hong Kong people, it should support a full-scale legislative protection of the people's basic rights. The policy address, however, fails to put forward any effective policies to combat discrimination in the community.

Mr President, the lack of sincerity on the part of the Government to look after the minorities can be seen in its provision of special education. Since it has not given due regard to the needs of all in society, it has failed to provide the resources and attention required by people with special needs, such as children affected by reading difficulties and slow-learning, as well as gifted children. Owing to a lack of choices, these children can only make do with ordinary services. This approach of the Government, apart from failing to help the children concerned, has produced the opposite result of hindering their development and making things worse. We should note that a child's formative period is limited in length, and once it is over, it is over forever.

The existing government arrangements of integrating disabled people into the mainstream education system are in practice a "mere gesture" which has reduced the objective of integration to nothing more than admitting disabled students to ordinary schools. Currently, 9 000 students with a disability are studying in ordinary schools. I believe that most enlightened people will agree that education should aim at integration rather than segregation. However, when implementing such an objective, the Government does not seek to draw up a systematic and well thought-out scheme that covers aspects such as teacher training and increases in manpower to meet the needs of school children. Therefore, the measures thus adopted have failed to meet the needs of reality, leading to a host of problems.

Mr President, as the spokesman for the Democratic Party on environmental affairs, I would like to state my relevant opinions in the following part of my speech. The section on environment protection in the policy address this year is basically a restatement of the work done in the past, such as cleaning up environmental black spots in the New Territories and controlling livestock waste, which are no new initiatives at all. As for solutions to the environmental problems in Hong Kong, no long-term objectives or plans have been laid down. So, I cannot but describe the Government's approach as "lacking in enterprise and sincerity".

I think if the Government is at all serious in tackling air pollution, it should first work out long-term measures to tackle the air pollution caused by vehicles. It should work with the Transport Department to look into all feasible plans, including the introduction of low-pollution vehicles. At the same time, it should finance research projects on the use of electricity and other fuels. Solutions targetted at busy roads should be worked out by improving road-use management measures with the support of mass transportation means. On the other hand, the number of surface air quality monitoring stations should be increased, first to let the public know how serious the pollution problem is, and second, to pave the way for research work on improvement measures.

For environmental protection polices in the past, increases in expenditure were often quoted as indicators to show that the work done had increased. This year, however, the Government has come up with the novelty of using fees and charges as indicators. Although the Democratic Party supports the "polluter pays" principle, it takes exception to the logic the Hong Kong Government has adopted. For example, before the waste water treatment procedure and all the important parts in the Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme are finalized, the Government has hastened to impose sewage charges on the people and has even refused to make further injections to the waste water treatment trading fund to pay the preliminary sewage treatment expenses incurred in the past. This has not only defeated the purpose of imposing sewage charges as a means of educating the people, but has also led to the possibility of reduced public support for environmental protection, as the people may simply think that the Government is just trying to recover costs in the name of environmental protection.

With regard to the concept of "sustainability", the Hong Kong Government has so far been paying lip-service only. No concrete proposals for the implementation of the concept are made in the policy address. As a matter of fact, if genuinely applied in formulating public policies, this concept will certainly contribute a great deal to the work of environmental protection in Hong Kong. For example, prevention of pollution and environmental damage can certainly do more good to the environment than taking remedial measures to tackle pollution and restore the environment, not to mention the huge social costs thus saved. However, up to this day, the Hong Kong Government still focuses on economic benefits, and ignores the significance of the concept of sustainability. My deep regret for this.

To deal with such a difficult situation, the most direct way out is the creation of the post of Secretary for the Environment to give more prominence to environmental issues in the policy making process, and to put anti-pollution and conservation work under central planning. Currently, the work of conservation is not the sole responsibility of the Environmental Protection Department. Instead, the work is spread among different government departments, such as the Agriculture and Fisheries Department, which manages country parks and marine parks, and the Drainage Services Department, which is responsible for implementing the Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme. In the absence of an integrated conservation policy to guide their work, the various government departments concerned simply work entirely on their own without any co-ordination, thus producing results that are far too fragmentary and limited in scope to adequately achieve the objective of conserving the environment.

All in all, Governor Chris PATTEN's policy address this year cannot effectively protect the rights and interests of the people. On the issue of discrimination, it takes a wait-and-see position. And, it lacks far-sightedness in environmental protection policies. However, Mr President, as it is important that one should be fair and reasonable, I must point out, apart from the above criticisms, that the Government has at least made these proposals concerning environmental protection: (1) to build more refuse transfer stations, (2) to implement the green manager programme; (3) to introduce cleaner diesel fuels; and (4) to increase the penalties for excessive smoke emission of vehicles. Although the Government has made some progress in combating discrimination, providing special education, and protecting the environment, the progress is far from being satisfactory. I hope to see more and better progress in future.

I so submit.

MR TSANG KIN-SHING (in Cantonese): Mr President, after I had read the Governor's fourth policy address last week, I thought to myself what on earth he could do for us in these 600-odd days. In the face of the uncertainties in Hong Kong's future and the grassroots of Hong Kong being hit hard by the sluggish economy, what can Chris PATTEN, the last Governor, do about that?

After listening to the whole policy address, I found that my foresight was just like my ability to predict that the Chinese Government will definitely resume sovereignty over Hong Kong after 1997 which was "well-known" and "extremely accurate". Of course, I cannot lay too much blame on the Governor and the Government under his leadership because Hong Kong's "borrowed time" and "borrowed place" is about to expire. I also cannot expect too much because that will only disappoint me more.

Therefore, I am psychologically prepared that the policy address next year will have even less substance. And I can bet with you today that the policy address next year will have more "address" than "policy"; the direction will definitely lack long-term consideration; the voices and the interests of the grassroot level will continue to be neglected; any merit will be taken to represent the whole picture and exaggerated; the Chinese Government will step up its intervention in our policies and perhaps "kow-towing" will occur repeatedly.

Mr President, I am not intentionally expressing "pessimism" in saying that but rather I hope that we can be fully prepared so that we shall not "have a proposition which is unresponded". Hence, when I was participating in a protest at the United Nations in the United States, it occurred to me that it would be better for me not to come back to deliver my speech to raise the protest rather than wasting your time. However since I can make it back here today, I might as well "lash out" at the policy address.

First, I wish to start with the Governor's policy approach. The Governor starts outright by talking about the Government's "commitment to open markets and competition" and further emphasizes that "the remedies for unemployment and inflation" are to "compete our way back to full employment and stable prices". This way of deifying the "free market", I believe, is all too familiar to us and the Government's "positive non-interventionism" is nothing strange to the common people.

Is it reasonable that a minor school of thought in the western economics is to be regarded so highly that one or two simple economic concepts can be used to generalize all the Government's economic strategies? Is it possible that a policy approach which even a three-year-old child understands is enough to overcome the current problems of the economy and people's livelihood? Regrettably, such a way of simply copying the western economics will deny any improvement in the livelihood of the grassroot level, the gap between the rich and the poor will continue to widen and conflicts in society will become more and more acute.

Mr President, some may think that I am an alarmist who exaggerates things, but in fact, Hong Kong does not live up to her reputation of achieving economic success over the past decades. It is true that Hong Kong's economy has grown rapidly and she has become one of the Four Little Dragons in Asia. However at the same time as the economy develops, the grassroot level in general have not been able to share the fruit of this success. In the past 30 years, three census have been conducted in Hong Kong and the Gini coefficient which measures the gap between the rich and the poor has grown each time, from 0.43 in 1971 to 0.45 in 1981 and then to 0.48 in 1991. In 1991, the 10% households with the lowest income possess only 1.31% of Hong Kong's total wealth while the 10% with the highest income actually own 37.3%. It was no wonder that when I asked Mr CHAU Tak-hay, the Secretary for Trade and Industry, about the Gini coefficient last Thursday, he had to "consult" his colleague next to him!

In addition, just as the Governor mentions in the policy address, there has been a 4.5% growth in the domestic labour productivity while the real growth of the average worker's earnings during the same period is only 4%. This 0.5% difference has not taken into account the difference between the highest and the lowest incomes. This already proves that in the economic take-off, the ordinary "wage earners" have not enjoyed a fair share of the fruit which they deserve. The reason is when determining the wages, the Government and the industrial and commercial sector dominate the market and in addition local workers do not have any collective bargaining power; as a result, the wage growth has long been suppressed by manufacturers. Therefore, it is not true the labour market of Hong Kong suffers keen competition, but that it is monopolized.

From this we can see that the economic development of Hong Kong is not real economic development. At the most, it is only the personal development of a handful of "rich people". The grassroot level have heard for decades sayings like "let a handful of people become rich first, then it will be your turn". This economic policy which only cares about the big businessmen and leading property developers is the crux of the whole matter. It is also the culprit for the gap between the rich and the poor.

Mr President, another concern of the people of Hong Kong is unemployment. During the past few months, the unemployment rate has climbed to 3.5%. Since China first launched the open door economic reforms in the '80s, most of the Hong Kong businessmen have moved their production lines to the north, to take advantage of the cheap labour there. This has resulted in a large number of manufacturing workers being forced to go into the service industries. There were close to 900 000 manufacturing workers in 1984 but the number has dropped to only 400 000 today. This is imprecedented in the economic history of the world. As a result it is generally very difficult for the older and less educated non-skilled workers to change jobs. As the selfish businessmen have moved their production lines northward, Hong Kong workers are not able to share the fruit of the economic success and enjoy higher wages.

This kind of "economic restructuring" is not a blessing to Hong Kong's economic development. The so-called restructuring is only transferring the old trick of making use of cheap labour from Hong Kong to mainland China. We have yet to see the division of labour, specialization and application of science and technology brought about by the real economic restructuring. The present economic development emphasizes the service industries, (such as finance, real estates and retailing). Once consumer power drops, Hong Kong will experience an economic crisis. Everyone can foresee that such a crisis is approaching.

Mr President, to solve the current unemployment problem, the Government must stop the General Labour Importation Scheme and Importation of Labour Scheme for the Airport Core Projects immediately so as to safeguard local workers' wage growth and priority in employment. As I have mentioned before, Hong Kong workers do not have collective bargaining power. Their welfare can only be improved through the supply and demand of the labour market. If imported workers keep coming to Hong Kong, the supply and demand relationship is bound to change and the workers' welfare and their jobs will also be gone with the wind.

Now, the Governor on the one hand admits that imported workers are undermining local workers' employment, but on the other hand he pursues the new Supplementary Labour Scheme with a quota of 5 000. Obviously, this is a self-contradictory approach which is nothing more than "rehashing", or "old wine in a new bottle". Certainly, I do not think halting the labour importation scheme is the panacea for unemployment but it is at least more thorough and helpful than the Governor's admitting "the limits to what the Government can achieve" and his emphasizing that "all too often, well-intentioned job-creation schemes prove in practice to be disastrous job-destruction schemes".

Mr President, as the representative of the Primary Production, Power and Construction Constituency, I, TSANG Kin-shing, wish to take this opportunity today to express my views on the "Safety Charter".

The Governor has made no mention in the policy address of the seriousness of the industrial safety problems. These problems are in fact triggered by insufficient monitoring over the years. The fact is that not only has the casualty rate of accidents of the construction industry not been reduced in the last decade but the overall casualty rate in the industrial sector is also higher than what it was 10 years ago. In 1994, 52 out of every 1 000 workers were injured or killed in industrial accidents, which is higher than the casualty rate of 50 in 1 000 in 1985.

At present, employees have simply no say on matters concerning work site safety. Employers do have the duty to provide their employees with a safe working environment, safety facilities and safety training. What is more, the Government should also protect the workers' right to work in a safe working environment by law, rather than just chanting empty slogans of safety at work. The real safety protection is to ensure that workers will not lose their jobs when they fight for improvements to the safety in their working environment, and the "Safety Charter" fails to provide this kind of effective protection by law. In the face of the poor industrial safety records, I think the Government should step up the enforcement of law and prosecution, and enact legislation for all industries to set up their own safety councils so that the workers can have genuine participation in raising the safety standard and improving the working environment.

As for the farmers, because of the recent heavy rains, many crops have been destroyed and the farmers and fishermen have suffered tremendous losses which have direct impact on their livelihood. The root of the matter is that other than the correction work being carried out on Shenzhen River, it is also attributable to the fact that the use of certain land has been altered. Therefore, the authorities concerned should make a thorough investigation and prevent the altered use of land in order that the stormwater drainage and flood prevention facilities will not be affected. More importantly, the Government should change its concept that the floods are "the wills of Heaven" and should do its best with "man's efforts" to effect remedies and to hand out sufficient compensation to the affected fishermen.

Mr President, Mr Chris PATTEN was once the Chairman of the Conservative Party. After he has come to Hong Kong, he has also pursued the "neo-conservatism" line practised by the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom in the 1980s. However, in Britain today, there is a wide gap between the rich and the poor, society is restless, people are becoming more and more divided and street riots are frequent. These are all the bitter fruits of the economic line pursued by the Conservative Party. I am absolutely unwilling to see this happening in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's past successes have not come easily. Copying the experience of the past successes does not guarantee it will also work in future, not to mention that views are divided on whether our past was successful or not. It is now time for a change and it is also time to determine the direction of our long-term development.

Mr President, as a representative of the grassroot level, I am looking forward to seeing a society of justice. In a society of justice, "the rich" understand that only when the majority in society prosper, can they continue to prosper. But in an autocratic society, "the rich" are indifferent to other people, as if the latter do not exist. For Mr Chris PATTEN, the last Governor, who keeps talking about democracy and liberty all the time, what kind of society would he choose?

Mr President, these are my remarks. However as the Governor has totally neglected the interests of the grassroots, the labour problems and the gap between the rich and the poor in the policy address, I do not intend to thank him.

PRESIDENT: I will call on Dr LEONG Che-hung to speak the second time to move the adjournment of the debate.

DR LEONG CHE-HUNG: Mr President, I move that the debate on this motion be adjourned.

Question on the adjournment of the debate proposed, put and agreed to.



PRESIDENT: Honourable Members, in response to enquiries about the adjournment debate on "The Importance of Encouraging Broad Education and Modern-day Literacy" initiated by Mrs Elizabeth WONG which had to be cut short at the last sitting through the lack of a quorum, I have directed that the debate should stand over until this sitting, having regard to the spirit of Standing Order 10 (4) which provides for procedures for dealing with divisions which may be rendered invalid as a result of the lack of a quorum.

Members have a total of 45 minutes to speak in an adjournment debate. Members spoke for 20 minutes on the last occasion. I will therefore allow 25 minutes for the resumed debate, that is, the balance of the 45 minutes. Two Members who had earlier indicated their intention to speak in this adjournment debate were unable to do so at the last sitting. I will call upon them to speak first and each of them will have a time limit of seven minutes and 30 seconds, as recommended by the House Committee. After they have spoken, I will then invite other Members wishing to speak to do so before I call upon the Secretary for Education and Manpower to reply.

MR AMBROSE LAU (in Cantonese): Mr President, the Honourable Mrs Elizabeth WONG initiates an adjournment debate on "The Importance of Encouraging Broad Education and Modern-day Literacy (for example, computer literacy) in Hong Kong". My view is that the crux of the problem lies in the need to lift the level of language education in Hong Kong, otherwise, any discussion of broad education and modern-day literacy without regard to the lifting of the level of language education would be no different from building castles in the air, as it would be very difficult to achieve the envisioned goal.

Language education in Hong Kong is now in a grossly confusing state. In the first place, over 98% Hong Kong people are ethnic Chinese, and their mother tongue is the language used by most Hong Kong people in their daily life. They use their mother tongue both in thinking and in acquiring knowledge. Students understand and remember better what they are taught when their mother tongue is being used as the language of instruction. A survey on the language of instruction was conducted between 1987 and 1988 by the Education Department. The result showed that, in 22 secondary schools that were divided into two groups, the overall result of the schools using Chinese as the language of instruction was better than those using English. This illustrates the fact that mother tongue teaching is the most effective means by which the students learn. The promotion of mother tongue teaching can help improve the quality of teaching and train outstanding talented persons. Chinese scientists like YANG Zhenning and LI Zhengdao who had been awarded the Nobel Prize had received their secondary school education in their mother tongue. Mother tongue teaching will not lower the students' English language standard. It is the unanimous view of linguists that it would be impossible for one to learn a second language well without having mastered one's mother tongue.

As regards language education, for a long time, Hong Kong has regarded English as a more important language than Chinese, and this has greatly affected the broad education of students in an adverse way. In some schools that have chosen English as the language of instruction, a lot of subjects are being taught by teachers in a "half-Chinese, half-English" manner, the English of students is poor, and the result of using the mother tongue as the language of instruction is also affected. What turns out is that not only are students unable to learn the English language well, but they are also unable to learn the Chinese language well, and what is worse, it has hampered the students' ability to think and understand. Should students trained in such a way become teachers themselves in the future, this will form a vicious circle.

To attach importance to mother tongue teaching does not signify at all that the importance of the English language should be ignored. It is of great importance to keep on improving the English language standard of Hong Kong people if we are to consolidate Hong Kong's status as a financial, shipping and economic centre. However, one way we must not overlook is that we can only lay a solid foundation for the students' thinking, comprehensive and associative ability and their ability to apply what they have learnt by improving the quality of mother tongue teaching, and they can only improve their English language standards this way. Otherwise, if they are taught half-English and half-Chinese, they will be in a dilemma and this will also have a fairly great impact on our training of talented persons of a higher calibre in Hong Kong in the future. In the long run, this would damage Hong Kong's competitiveness.

Language education is the basis on which we can carry out education and have modern-day literacy. Regarding this, Noam CHOMSKY, the master of generative semantics remarks that knowledge that comes from a nation's cultural genes is the very key to the mulitculture of modern times. According to this principle, the existing confused state of language education in Hong Kong has not only deprived our students of the right to master their mother tongue, but also limited their ability to learn the English language well and to have modern-day literacy. There is an urgent need for this state of affairs to be changed.

Mr President, these are my remarks.

MR SIN CHUNG-KAI (in Cantonese): Mr President, with economic transformation, Hong Kong has developed into a financial, business and trade centre. To reinforce Hong Kong's leading position and role in the Asia-Pacific and South China regions and to meet the new challenges of the 21st century, the quality of the people of Hong Kong should be constantly raised and sufficient personnel be constantly trained.

Over the past few decades, Hong Kong's education has basically been able to meet the demand in terms of quantity. Nevertheless, there is an actual need for improvement in terms of quality. The standard of teachers, full-time teaching, activity approach and the like can certainly improve the quality of education. Although I am not an educationist, I feel that the teaching methods employed at present are basically the same as those decades ago.

In recent years, multi-media personal computers equipped with CD ROM and various kinds of teaching and educational software have greatly aroused students' interest in learning and improved their learning ability. These vivid and interesting software enable people to learn through playing. Some of them are even interactive, enabling learners to know instantly whether an answer is correct or not. These software are immensely valuable to primary school pupils during their learning process.

At present, computer courses are offered in secondary schools to help students nurture computer knowledge. That is certainly a right direction. However, the use of computers in primary school teaching is lagging far behind indeed.

In this adjournment debate, I would like to take the opportunity to urge the Government, the Education and Manpower Branch and officials of the Education Department to examine in concrete terms ways to implement computer-assisted teaching extensively from primary one and to adopt suitable and sophisticated personal computers as well as educational software with a view to arousing students' interest in learning. What is more, the Education Department should embark on developing and writing appropriate computer software programmes for primary schools. Of course, after setting targets in this respect, the Education Department can invite professionals to develop the software on its behalf.

In addition, I would like to urge officials of the Education Department to provide Internet services, a valuable reservoir of knowledge, to all secondary schools of Hong Kong and to study the feasibility of setting up a data link with the two Municipal Councils and libraries of tertiary institutions so as to encourage students to gain even wider access to knowledge. I would also like to call on the Education Department to grant loans, scholarships and subsidies to those primary and secondary students who are in need to enable them to buy computers for the purpose of acquiring new technology and knowledge.

Finally, I would like to urge the Economic Services Branch to study and develop the information superhighway to link up the information network of the Government and public organizations with that of the public so that they can link up directly with the Government's computers for the information they need through personal computers or other communication systems, at home or in the office. Development in this area would require the Government to take the initiative, just as what it did in promoting the EDI system in trade.

These are my remarks.

PRESIDENT: There are about 15 minutes left for this debate. Does any Member who has not spoken wish to speak?


Aims of Education

First, I would like to thank the Honourable Mrs Elizabeth WONG for moving this adjournment debate and Members for expressing their valuable opinions. In fact, the subject of this debate, "The Importance of encouraging Broad Education and Modern-day Literacy in Hong Kong", happens to coincide with the existing education policy of the Government. In our policy statement entitled "School Education in Hong Kong: A Statement of Aims" published in 1993, we have clearly stated that the primary aim of our school education is the full development of our children's potentials, academic and non-academic. The development of their non-academic potentials refers, for example, to their physical, artistic and cultural development, all aimed at enabling them to become adults equipped with knowledge, skills and social awareness, who are capable of independent thinking and leading a rich life. In other words, our existing education policy has already given full consideration to our students' moral, intellectual, physical, social and aesthetic development, the five aspects referred to as the essence of education by the Honourable CHEUNG Man-kwong.

Curriculum Design

Broad education is actively encouraged in the whole education system of Hong Kong from kindergarten to senior secondary levels. As regards curriculum design, the Curriculum Development Council published in 1993 four sets of curriculum guide for use at kindergarten, primary, secondary and sixth form levels. The aim is to assist schools to design appropriate curricula according to the ability and needs of their students. The overall objective of all curricula from kindergarten to sixth form levels accords with the established policy of broad education. Specifically, the objective of the curricula covers the development of students' intellectual ability, communication skills, sociability, moral integrity, physical ability, aesthetic appreciation and creativity and so on.

To cater for the different needs and interests of students, we operate different types of secondary schools, including grammar schools, technical secondary schools, practical secondary schools, skills opportunity schools, pre-vocational schools and special schools, which offer different types of curricula. These schools differ not only in subject groups, but also in the proportion of time allocation. That is an apt illustration of the flexible nature of broad education. To ensure that curricula are balanced, each curriculum includes five subject groups, namely language studies, mathematics and science, the humanities and social sciences, cultural/practical subjects and craft studies, as well as cross-curricula learning activities. Each subject group is allocated a specific amount of teaching time. For example, under the system of nine-year free education, the teaching time in percentage terms for cultural, practical and craft subjects should be 21% in primary schools, and 15% to 50% in secondary schools, depending on the types of schools and their respective needs.

The Government is now working hard to introduce the Target Oriented Curriculum in primary schools. The Target Oriented Curriculum involves setting down clear learning targets according to the ability of students and the adoption of new methods to make teaching, learning and assessment more lively and interesting. This curriculum is based on the three subjects of Chinese Language, English Language and Mathematics. However, besides helping students to learn these three subjects more effectively, the essence of the Target Oriented Curriculum also involves the cultivation of a positive and active learning attitude and the methodology of communicating, inquiring, conceptualizing, reasoning and problem-solving, which will be useful for the rest of their life.

At present, over 50% of all primary schools have agreed to adopt the Target Oriented Curriculum next year. I very much hope that through the continuous explanation and assistance given by the Education Department, more and more schools will accept the views of the Government, thus enabling us to achieve the goal of adopting the Target Oriented Curriculum at all levels of primary education in 2000. The Honourable CHEUNG Bing-leung mentioned the question of civic education. In the Governor's policy address released earlier this month, we have undertaken to provide a new subject guide on civic education in September 1996 to help schools to design a new curriculum on civic education.

Training of Teachers and Teaching Process

Teachers are the front-line workers in the implementation of the policy of broad education. The Government is well aware of the importance of teacher training. The primary mission of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, founded in 1994, is to raise the standard of teacher training. General Education is one of the compulsory courses of the Institute. General Education aside, the curriculum of the Hong Kong Institute of Education is also comprehensive, as it includes languages, computer studies, technology and even fine arts, sports and so on.

As regards teaching methods, many Members have referred to the spoonfeeding feature of education in Hong Kong. In fact, it has always been the policy of the Government to encourage schools and teachers to adopt modern teaching methods to arouse children's interests in learning.

As far back as the early 1980s, we started to encourage schools to adopt the activity approach, and participating schools were allowed to reduce the size of each class by five students. At present, over 40% of all primary schools have joined the programme. Since the mid-1980s, in order to facilitate the adoption of mother tongue education, we have implemented the policy of increasing the number of English language teachers in schools which adopt the mother tongue as the medium of instruction so that they can conduct their English language classes in small groups. Besides, more and more Band 5 schools have each been provided with an additional graduate teacher to enable the teachers there to teach according to the curricula tailor-made to suit the standards of their own students.

The Target Oriented Curriculum which we are seeking to implement is also directed at the wide ability spectrum among our students and designed with the principle of self-competition in mind.

Learning Environment

As regards learning environment, the Government has drawn up a policy to improve the existing 1 000 or so primary and secondary schools in stages. The first two stages covering the improvement works of 240 primary and secondary schools at a cost $2.4 billion are expected to be completed by 1997.

Schoolwork and examination pressure

It has been said that heavy schoolwork and the overemphasis of our curricula on examinations have hampered the development of our students' non-academic potentials. It has also been said that this may also have exerted too much pressure on individual students and led to a suicidal tendency among them. I can tell Members that the Education Department has laid down detailed guidelines on homework and internal tests, requiring each school to formulate policies on homework and tests. Such policies are to be monitored by school principals to ensure that the amount of homework and tests can be set according to the learning needs and ability of students. Inspectors of the Education Department also carry out regular inspection. According to their inspection reports, most schools have already formulated their policies on homework, and the amount is also found to be suitable.

As far as public examinations are concerned, following the introduction of universal education in Hong Kong, the Primary 1 Admission Examination and the Secondary School Entrance Examination were abolished and admission to Secondary 4 has been based on internal assessment results. Besides, the Government is already providing Secondary 4 places for 85% of all Secondary 3 students and vocational training places for 10% of them, making up a total of 95%. This has significantly alleviated the pressure exerted on them in respect of their further education.

We expect the schools to adopt a principle of teaching which can enable students to learn effectively and happily. For students who have emotional problems, we have adopted the whole-school approach to guidance. With this, and the professional expertise of guidance teachers and social workers and the family services provided by the Social Welfare Department, I believe that we already have a very good network of relief. Of course, we will still continue to review the situation to see whether further improvement can be made.

As regards the suicide cases involving adolescents, such unfortunate incidents often involve many complex factors, and the pressure of schoolwork and examinations may just be one of the apparent reasons; sometimes this is simply not a reason at all. Our understanding of most of these cases shows that if we are to solve this unfortunate and worrying problem, the co-operation of the family must be obtained. Later on, I will speak on the importance of the family to education.

Extra-curricular Activities

As far as the promotion of extra-curricular activities is concerned, the Government has injected a lot resources to provide various support services to schools. Extra-curricular activities held by individual schools broadly include the following: activities organized by academic societies like Chinese language societies; leisurely pursuits promoted by interests groups such as photography clubs; sports and recreational activities organized by basketball groups and the like and community services organized by the Junior Police Call and so on. As far as joint-school or territory-wide extra-curricular activities are concerned, their scales and types are also of great variety. There are, for example, the Community Youth Club, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme and the Hong Kong School Drama Festival organized by the Education Department. Besides, voluntary services groups also hold many large-scale functions and other activities on a regular basis. According to the statistics of the Education Department, almost 40% of all students in Hong Kong are involved in various community services or are members of different youth organizations.

Co-operation between society and the family

We have to bear in mind that on average, students spend only one-third or even less of their time a day at school. Therefore, the family plays a very important role in education. Parental love, care and values will all produce a direct and far-reaching bearing on the character and emotional developments of children during their formative years. The Education Department set up the Committee on Home-School Co-operation two years ago. The aim is to promote the concept of home-school co-operation through a variety of activities that encourage parents to play an active role in the education process and to make suggestions to the Education Department. Through the efforts of the Committee on Home-School Co-operation, we have now formed 370 parent-teacher associations.

Modern-day literacy

Since Hong Kong is a large international city, it is necessary for our young people to be well-versed in modern-day literacy skills, especially knowledge of the computer. In this regard, the Government has done a great deal. After 10 years of development, computer classes are now offered in almost every secondary school. The number of students taking the subject of Computer Studies in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination has increased from 2 500 in 1984 to more than 16 000 (about 20% of all candidates) last year. The number of sixth form students taking the subject of Computer Studies have also increased to almost 1 800, which doubles the figure of 900 or so in 1994.

I wish to take this opportunity to respond to the opinions of the Honourable SIN Chung-kai. The Government has already offered computer courses to serving primary school teachers in preparation for implementing computer education in primary schools later.

As far as language is concerned, in order to promote the learning of Putonghua, the Government has set aside $10 million as an annual recurrent expenditure item for the purpose of developing a Putonghua teaching syllabus. The aim is to extend Putonghua training to students from Primary 1 to Secondary 5 in 1998 and to offer Putonghua as an independent subject in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination in 2000. In the interim, before the syllabus is fully developed, we will offer summer classes from 1996 to 1998 to strengthen training in Putonghua. This plan will involve an estimated cost of $30 million and we will submit an appropriation request to the Finance Committee next month.

Owing to the undisputed importance of the Chinese language in the education system of Hong Kong, I entirely agree to what the Honourable Ambrose LAU said about the importance of mother tongue education. It has always been the Government's policy to encourage mother tongue education and to promote the use of the mother tongue in our schools through various means. The Government has also made it clear that strong guidelines will be issued to all schools in 1998. That said, we must still attach equal importance to the teaching of English because, as I have said earlier on, Hong Kong is a large international city. More than one billion people all over the world speak English, which is not only the language of international trade, but also one of the main languages used in the academic community. I hope that in its Report No. 6 to be released in the next few months, the Education Commission can put forward effective proposals on enhancing our students' competence in Chinese, English and Putonghua and also on the creation of a multi-lingual teaching environment, thus helping the Government to formulate its long-term and short-term polices on language education


To implement broad education and come to grasp with modern-day literacy, we need the concerted efforts of all involved. In terms of policies, the Government's orientation is unambiguous, and the Board of Education and the Education Commission have also conducted a comprehensive review on our school education. However, that is not sufficient. We need the recognition and co-operation of educators, parents, employers and the community. Therefore, I hope that, through this debate, we can come to a better understanding of the importance of broad education and modern-day literacy.

Thank you, Mr President.

Question on the adjournment put and agreed to.


PRESIDENT: In accordance with Standing Orders, I now adjourn the Council until 2.30 pm on Thursday 2 November 1995, I repeat, Thursday, 2 November 1995.

Adjourned accordingly at fifteen minutes past Nine o'clock.

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