LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 459/96-97
(The minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/PL/IP

LegCo Panel on Information Policy

Minutes of Meeting

held on Thursday, 10 October 1996 at 3:15 p.m.
in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing (Chairman)
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP

Member Absent :

    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Members Attending :

    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon LEE Wing-tat

Public Officers Attending :

Mr Michael SUEN, CBE, JP
Secretary for Home Affairs
Mrs Irene YAU, ISO, JP
Director of Information Services

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Anna LO
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Mrs Justina LAM
Assistant Secretary General 2
Mr Colin CHUI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2

At the Chairman’s invitation, the Secretary for Home Affairs briefly introduced members to the policy commitments in his programme areas In response to members’ comments and questions, the Secretary and the Director of Information Services made the following points:

Policy on matters relating to Internet

2. At present the following policy branches were responsible for matters relating to Internet:

  1. Economic Services Branch on issuing licences to Internet Service Providers;
  2. Home Affairs Branch on dissemination of government information via Internet;
  3. Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch on content regulation;
  4. Finance Branch on delivery of government services via Internet; and
  5. Education and Manpower Branch on assisting schools to access the Internet.

The Government was conducting a review of the policy on matters relating to Internet. The Panel would be briefed on the result of the review. Members’ points on the development of information superhighway and the suggestion of setting up an advisory committee on matters related to Internet would also be considered.


Access to government information via Internet

3. The Internet Resources Centre to be established under the Information Services Department would help branches and departments set up their own home-pages on the Internet. For branches and departments with home-pages, the Centre would assist them to make more effective use of Internet services, especially the collection of public views on consultation documents. By the end of September 1996, four branches, 28 departments and 12 related organisations had set up their own home-pages. The information placed in the home-pages was essentially based on the guidelines laid down in the Code on Access to Information. Given technical feasibility and availability of resources, the Government planned to set up home-pages for all departments and branches by 1997.

Complaints of non-compliance with Code on Access to Information

4. The Code on Access to Information would be extended to the whole of the Government by the end of 1996. Persons refused access to information by a department or branch had the right of appeal to the Commissioner for Administrative Complaints (COMAC) who was empowered to investigate complaints of non-compliance with the Code against the department or branch. However, a small number of departments, viz. the Police, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and the Secretariats of the Independent Police Complaint Council and the Public Service Commission, did not at present come within the COMAC’s jurisdiction. The Administration had therefore introduced into LegCo in July 1996 COMAC (Amendment) Bill 1996 which sought to, inter alia, empower COMAC to investigate complaints of non-compliance with the Code against these few departments. The Bill was being studied by a Bills Committee.

Press coverage on activities marking handover of sovereignty

5. Based on experience of other international conferences/ceremonies and a survey, conducted in April 1996, on media coverage of activities marking the handover of sovereignty, it was expected that the number of reporters covering these activities would be between 4,000 - 6,000. To assist the local and international press and electronic media to cover these activities, the Administration planned to hire space in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to provide a Press and Broadcasting Centre with supporting services and facilities such as work stations, telephones and catering. The Government planned to provide free live broadcast of the handover ceremony which could be transmitted to television audience around the world. The estimated costs of such facilities and services would be stated in the Administration’s funding application to the Finance Committee for consideration in late October 1996.

Personal data protection

6. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data set up in August 1996 would enforce and promote compliance with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance to be brought into force by the end of 1996. A publicity campaign had been launched to enhance public awareness of personal data protection. The Commissioner would attend the next Panel meeting on 14 October 1996 to brief members on the work of his Office and progress on the implementation of the Ordinance.

Progress on the case of XI Yang

7. The British and the Hong Kong Governments had repeatedly raised the case with the Chinese Authorities through various established channels. At the request of the family, the Administration had conveyed to the Chinese authorities the family’s concern about Mr XI’s deteriorating health and conditions in prison as well as the family’s request that he could be released on bail for medical treatment. Representatives of the Security Branch and Home Affairs Branch would report progress of the case at the next Panel meeting.

Official Secrets Bill and Crimes (Amendment) Bill

8. It was understood that the Official Secrets Bill and Crimes(Amendment) Bill were being studied by the Joint Liaison Group. Representatives of the Security Branch which was the policy branch for the bills would report progress on the bills at the next Panel meeting.

9. The meeting ended at 4:12 p.m..

Legislative Council Secretariat
18 November 1996

Last Updated on 20 August 1998