Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(2)1401
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)

Ref : CB2/PL/HA

Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Home Affairs

Minutes of Meeting held on Monday, 16 February 1998 at 10:45 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP (Chairman)
Hon LO Suk-ching (Deputy Chairman)
Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

Members Absent :

Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee

Member Attending :

Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP

Public Officers Attending :

Item I

Mr John WAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (1)

Miss Jenny Y H CHAN
Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (1) 3

Item II

Mr Parrish NG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (4)

Assistant Director (2)
Home Affairs Department

Mr CHAN Wai-sun
Assistant Director (Development)
Territory Development Department

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Mr Colin CHUI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2

I. Follow-up on the discussion of Youth Policy
[Paper No. CB(2)985(01) - further submission of Hong Kong Council of Social Service]
[Paper No. CB(2)985(02) - discussion paper provided by the Administration]

1. The Chairman recapitulated that, at the meeting on 19.1.1998, the Panel received the views of the Alliance of Hong Kong Youth Group (AHKYG) and Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS). In response to members, HKCSS had made a further submission giving more specific proposals for the formulation of a youth policy. The Administration had also provided written response to members ' questions raised at the last meeting.

2. At the Chairman ' s invitation, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (1) (PAS/HA(1)) briefed members on the Administration ' s paper. PAS/HA(1) said that as the first subscriber to the Charter for Youth, the Government had been pursuing polices which sought to realise the principles and ideals in the Charter for promoting the well-being of the youth. Substantial resources had been put into the implementation of these policies through the respective policy bureaux and departments such as the Education and Manpower Bureau and the Health and Welfare Bureau; the details were given in the Annexes of the Administration ' s paper. While Home Affairs Bureau assumed the coordination role for youth development and promotion of civic awareness and moral values, achievement of the objectives as set out in the Charter would require concerted efforts of the Government, parents, teachers and non-government organisations providing services to the youth.

Promotion of a better understanding about China

3. The Deputy Chairman asked about the plans and resources for cultivating a sense of belonging to China among young people in Hong Kong. In response, PAS/HA(1) said that various measures were being implemented to promote civic education and to enhance a better understanding about China. A provision of $8 million had been allocated for the promotion of the Basic Law in 1997-98 and 1998-99. These would include exhibitions and publication of pamphlets and compact disc about the Basic Law as well as the political structure, history and culture of China. An additional $3 million was available to subsidize youth exchange visits to mainland China organised by non-government organisations. Application forms were distributed to District Offices, educational institutions and youth organisations. Several organisations had already expressed interest and the deadline for applications would be the end of February 1998.

4. As regards the cultivation of a national identity among youth, PAS/HA(1) said that the community would need time to understand the spirit of the ' One Country Two System s ' , and efforts were being made in schools and in the community to instil the national identity.

Study on civic awareness and moral values of the youth

5. A member enquired about the scope and objectives of the study on civic awareness and moral values of young people. PAS/HA(1) advised that, as mentioned in the Chief Executive ' s Policy Address, the study was carried out by the Commission on Youth. The purpose was to examine how our young people could take up a more active role in building the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in voluntary work, in order to make Hong Kong a place abundant both in material wealth and spiritual riches to meet the challenges in the next century. The study comprised two surveys, viz., the civil awareness of youth and the expectation of youth in employment; a literature review of value-orientations of youth, and consultation sessions with youth organisations, schools and young people for the collection of first-hand information. The Commission had already completed data collection and was analysing the findings for recommendations to be made to the Chief Executive ' s Office by end April 1998. PAS/HA(1) said that views expressed by the deputations and the Panel would be taken into account in the study. At the member ' s request, PAS/HA(1) undertook to provide the study report to the Panel when it was available.Adm

The Administration ' s response to HKCSS ' s further submission

6. In reply to a member, PAS/HA(1) provided the following response to some key points in HKCSS ' s further submission -

  1. the school curriculum would incorporate the concept that Hong Kong was an international city and part of China under the ' One Country Two Systems ' principle;

  2. an Information Technology and Broadcasting Bureau would be set up in April 1998 to promote the use of information technology in schools and in the community to maintain Hong Kong ' s competitiveness;

  3. the pluralistic value system and international vision would be taken into account in revising the school syllabus; and

  4. the proposal of appointing a Commissioner for Youth to take charge of all youth-related issues might not be an effective alternative to the present arrangement of the Home Affairs Bureau coordinating policies relating to youth.

7. PAS/HA(1) said that the Administration noted the suggestions of HKCSS and would further discuss with youth organisations on ways to achieve these objectives.

Charter for Youth

8. The Chairman and some members commented that the Charter for Youth only set out some ideals and principles which were not binding on the subscribers. They asked how the Administration could ensure implementation of the provisions in the Charter. In response, PAS/HA(1) said that the Administration would not make it a statutory duty on subscribers to implement the Charter. A Preparatory Committee for the Review on the Charter for Youth had been set up since 1997 to conduct the second biennial review on the implementation of the Charter. The role of the Preparatory Committee was to consider the format of the review as follows -

  1. issues to be covered by the review;

  2. possibility of developing yardsticks for evaluating the implementation of the provisions of the Charter; and

  3. possibility of developing, on the basis of the provisions of the Charter, forward looking proposals in areas of common concern.

9. In this connection, Mr WONG Ying-ho questioned the Government ' s non-commitment to reviewing the Charter for Youth as proposed in his motion on youth policy which was passed by the Provisional Legislative Council on 3 December 1997. He urged the Government to respect the carried motion and take expeditious action to formulate a concrete youth policy, enhance the education of young people about China, review the Charter for Youth, and strengthen the role of the Commission on Youth in formulating and implementing the youth policy. He said he was disappointed with the Government ' s reluctance to set a concrete timetable for implementation of the motion.

10. PAS/HA(1) responded that the Government was committed to implementing the youth policies to achieve the ideals and principles in the Charter. However, it was difficult to set a definite timetable as progress would depend on the efforts and cooperation of all parties concerned including non-government organisations, parents, schools and the community as a whole. On enhancing education about China, efforts were being made through civic education campaigns and revision of school syllabus. With regard to the revision of the Charter, it would require the agreement of organisations and individuals who were signatories to the Charter. He advised that it was within the terms of reference of the Preparatory Committee for the Review of the Charter to provide forward-looking proposals.

11. Mr WONG Ying-ho said that as a member of the Preparatory Committee for the Review of the Charter, he was given the understanding that the Review was on implementation rather than revision of the provisions of the Charter. He considered that the Government should take the initiative to consult youth organisations on the revision of the Charter. PAS/HA(1) responded that the Government noted Members ' views at the motion debate on 3 December 1998 and agreed to work towards promoting a better understanding of China within schools and through community participation. The Government would welcome views and suggestions of interested parties on the future direction including the need for the Charter to be revised.

12. In concluding the discussion, the Chairman advised that the Government should further examine its way forward with regard to the motion on youth policy passed by the Provisional Legislative Council on 3 December 1998.

II. Division of work for projects under the Rural Planning and Improvement Strategy (RPIS)
[Paper No. CB(2)985(03) - extract of minutes of meeting of PLC Members with Tuen Mun Provisional District Board members on 23 October 1997]
[Paper No. CB(2)985(04) - discussion paper provided by the Administration]

13. At the invitation of the Chairman, Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (4) (PAS/HA(4)) briefed members on the Administration ' s paper. Regarding the suggestion of Tuen Mun Provisional District Board Members (TMPDB) to raise the current limit of $15 million for RPIS minor works projects undertaken by the Home Affairs Department (HAD), PAS/HA(4) said that this might affect the delivery of the current projects in view of the manpower constraints and tight schedule of the programme. He advised that the Territory Development Department (TDD) had a much larger establishment with adequate technical support to undertake major projects above the $15 million limit. Moreover, major projects were closely linked to territorial strategy and development, implementation of which would require active participation of TDD during planning and construction. The Administration was therefore of the view that it would be more efficient for TDD to continue to administer RPIS projects above the $15 million limit.

14. The Assistant Director of Home Affairs (AD/HA) added that the issue had been discussed at a meeting of the RPIS Minor Works Steering Committee on 26 January 1998 which was attended by representatives of Heung Yee Kuk and Chairmen of Provisional District Boards in the New Territories. Although the majority of those attending the meeting welcomed the suggestion of TMPDB, the meeting accepted the Administration ' s view that raising the project limit at this stage would have an adverse impact on the delivery of improvement projects under the current RPIS minor works Programme.

15. While acknowledging that TDD should continue to be responsible for RPIS major projects, a member considered that sufficient resources should be allocated to HAD to expedite minor rural improvement projects. In this connection, he enquired about the progress of the current RPIS Programme. On minor works projects, AD/HA said that HAD had spent roughly half of the $1.6 billion provision, and the remainder of the programme was under detailed planning or construction. HAD would consider the way forward towards the end of the current programme. Regarding major projects for new towns and strategic development, Assistant Director (Development) of TDD reported that 15 out of the 35 approved projects had been completed while seven were under construction. These projects would cost about $2,000 million. The remaining 13 projects were under planning and they involved mainly improvement works in Yuen Long.

16. On the question of whether the current limit of $15 million for RPIS minor works projects should be adjusted in line with inflation, AD/HA pointed out that the limit had been raised substantially form $10 million to $15 million when HAD took over the responsibility in 1994. He advised that raising the limit would have resource implications on HAD and would require careful consideration.

17. The Deputy Chairman requested the Government to give priority to the construction of vehicular access roads to remote villages in Sai Kung to facilitate rural development. AD/HA advised that the district working groups determined the priorities of improvement projects in their districts. As far as he was aware, some road projects were not given priority because the project would only benefit a small number of residents, or the villages were situated in country parks creating difficulties in road construction. The Chairman advised that the Government should find ways to resolve the technical difficulties.

III. Items for discussion at the next meeting
[Paper No. CB(2)985(05)]

18. With reference to the list of discussion items and members ' suggestions at the meeting, the Panel agreed to include the following items in the agenda of the next meeting scheduled for 16 March 1998 -

  1. Progress on implementation of the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance;

  2. District management :

    1. composition and functions of Area Committees and District Management Committees; and

    2. government subsidies and support to Mutual Aid Committees

  3. Building management :

    1. measures to improve management and fire prevention in buildings and mandatory formation of Owners ' Corporation; and

    2. monitoring and enforcement of the Deed of Mutual Covenant in respect of carpark management in private buildings.

(Post-meeting note : The next meeting was subsequently re-scheduled to 23 March 1998 and an additional item on ' the mechanism for the recovery of alimony ' was included in the agenda.)

19. The meeting ended at 12:40 am.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
17 April 1998