Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(2)284
(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, 25 August 1997 at 8:30 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 Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

Members Absent :

Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon LAU Wong-fat, JP

Public Officers Attending :

Item II

Mr LEE Lap-sun
Acting Secretary for Home Affairs

Acting Director of Home Affairs

Mr NG Hon-wah
Acting Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs

Mr John DEAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs

Clerk in Attendance :

Mr Colin CHUI
Acting Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Mrs Justina LAM
Assistant Secretary General 2

Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2 (Designate)

Mr Stanley MA
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 7

I. Confirmation of minutes of meeting and matters arising

(PLC Paper No. CB(2)136)
The minutes of meeting held on 22 July 1997 were confirmed.

II. Briefing on the policy objectives of the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB)

(Paper No. CB(2)146(02))

2. At the Chairman ' s invitation, HAB presented its paper which provided an overview of the role and responsibilities of HAB and Home Affairs Department (HAD). Their objectives were to help Government build a relationship of trust with the people it served and to encourage community participation in civic affairs. Their work comprised four main categories - (a) protecting the rights of the individual; (b) information policy; (c) community development; and (d) New Territories matters. The paper explained the work that HAB and HAD did in each of these areas.

3. HAB added that, in view of the forthcoming Legislative Council election scheduled for May 1997, a large-scale voter registration exercise would be conducted to update the voter register and encourage unregistered members of the public to register. It would brief members on details of the exercise later. HAB was also tasked with co-ordinating a programme of celebration activities on National Day. In addition, HAD was involved in the follow-up to emergencies.

Youth policy

4. In reply to a member, HAB pointed out that Government policies generally applied across the board rather than confining to a particular age group. As such there was no specific youth policy. The Commission on Youth was established to advise Government on matters pertaining to youth. It also undertook studies and research to obtain more information on youth, liaised with other parties involved in youth development and exchanged ideas and information with organisations involved in youth matters. The Charter for Youth, developed by the Commission in 1993, enunciated the principles and ideals of youth development. It affirmed the value of these principles and provided a point of reference for policy makers, youth service providers and others involved in promoting the welfare of young people. The second biennial review of the implementation of the Charter would be held later this year. The terms of reference of the Commission did not specify age limit for youth. In general, teenagers and persons in their twenties were regarded as youth.

Management of private buildings

5. On the question of insufficient manpower and other resources to provide Government services in relation to management of private buildings, HAD stated that it encouraged and assisted owners of private buildings to manage their buildings effectively on a self-help basis. HAD would help owners form Owners ' Corporations (OCs) under the Building Management Ordinance (BMO). Liaison officers would be provided with more training on building management matters so that they could assist and advise OCs on these matters. HAD was considering the establishment of ' building management resource centres ' to enhance Government services in this area. Professional bodies like the Law Society of Hong Kong, the Society of Accountants and the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors were willing to give free advice to OCs in the resource centres. Regarding the review of BMO, HAB said that it was preparing amending legislation to improve the Ordinance. With the Administration ' s proposed amendments BMO would be more user-friendly and, inter alia, aimed to empower OCs to carry out improvement and upgrading works on their buildings.

Government services to Mutual Aid Committees (MACs)

6. On the question of Government services to MACs, HAD pointed out that it would assist MACs ' office bearers in running MACs which were essential to community development. Financial assistance was provided to MACs on a quarterly basis for reimbursement of some of their office expenses. The amount of the assistance had just been raised after a recent review. The 18 District Offices would soon organise seminars for MACs to share experience and discuss problems which MACs had encountered.

Integration of new arrivals into the local community

7. Noting that over half a million new arrivals from mainland China were expected over the next ten years, a member was also concerned about the arrival of the estimated 60,000 mainland children, who had right of abode under the Basic Law, in the coming two years. He raised whether there was adequate provision of services to these people. HAB said that to facilitate new arrivals ' integration into the community, Government and non-government organisations (NGOs) provided them with services such as general enquiries, welfare and counselling, assistance in applications for public housing, and employment/ school placements. HAD played the role of a coordinator rather than a service provider in facilitating the integration of new arrivals into the local community. The Director of Home Affairs chaired a Steering Committee comprising representatives of concerned Departments and major NGOs to identify special needs of new arrivals and recommend measures to assist their integration. District Steering Committees ensured that services for new arrivals were efficiently co-ordinated and well-targeted. HAD also conducted regular surveys to ensure that such services were on the right track.

8. Regarding the education problems of the newly arrived mainland children, HAB said that the Government would provide additional school places to cater for their needs. On the question of accommodation for new arrivals, HAB pointed out that new arrivals were treated like other Hong Kong residents in the application for public housing. The Government would consider ways, such as assistance under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme, to relieve the crowded situation of new arrivals ' accommodation in private buildings. The Government also provided interim accommodation for the homeless.

9. Regarding another member ' s concern about discrimination against new arrivals, HAB said that public education was important in enhancing public awareness of the issue and fostering attitudes conducive to the acceptance of new arrivals who should not be stigmatised. The Steering Committee chaired by the Director of Home Affairs made much effort to work in this area.

10. Upon request, HAB undertook to provide statistics on the resources/facilities provided to the new arrivals.HAB

Promotion of the Basic Law

11. On the question of promoting awareness of the Basic law, HAB pointed out that HAB and the Constitutional Affairs Bureau (CAB) had separate programmes in this regard. In the 1997-98 financial year, HAB had earmarked a sum of $5 million for this purpose. HAB would subsidise promotional programmes organised by 20 NGOs. Other means of promotion included Announcements of Public Interest on radio, posters in Mass Transit Railway stations, roadshows, booklets on promoting the Basic Law, teaching kits for youth, floppy disks for distribution to children and youth and computer programme design competition. A member considered that promotional programmes on the Basic Law should also emphasize that, unlike other laws of Hong Kong, the Basic Law was a constitutional document and a national law of the People ' s Republic of China. The power of amendment of this law was vested in the National People ' s Congress. HAB undertook to refer his views to CAB for consideration in drawing up its promotional programme.HAB

Provision of Government services to Hong Kong residents outside the territory

12.Members expressed concern whether the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government would provide any services to Hong Kong residents outside the territory. They would like to know whether the Government would continue to provide services, e.g., student services and assistance to clansmen associations similar to those provided by the former London Office, to overseas Hong Kong residents and, if so, by whom. On a similar subject, Panel members would also like to know if any Government services were provided to assist Hong Kong residents in mainland China and, if so, by whom. HAB said that according to the Basic Law, the Central People ' s Government was responsible for the foreign affairs relating to the HKSAR. In place of the former London Office, the Trade and Industry Bureau had set up an Economic and Trade Office (ETO) there. Similar ETOs were also established in other major cities in the world. Hence a line had to be drawn between the services provided by the Chinese embassies and ETOs. As the matter fell outside its ambit, HAB would refer the questions raised by members to CAB and the Trade and Industry Bureau for a reply.TAB

(Post-meeting note : HAB had been requested to co-ordinate the relevant information to the questions raised by members and brief the Panel on the progress of the matter at the next meeting.)

National Day Celebrations

13. In reply to the Chairman, HAB briefed members on the programme of celebration activities on the National Day. All Provisional Legislative Council Members were provided with the press release on the programme before issue to the public on 19 August 1997. The following celebration activities would take place -

  1. At 8 am, the National Flag would be raised at a simple and solemn ceremony to be held at the seafront promenade of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, near the statue of the Gold Bauhinia which was a gift from the Central People ' s Government to mark Hong Kong ' s reunification with China. A new and taller flagpole would be erected in front of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre so that more people could watch the flag-raising ceremony.

  2. The two provisional municipal councils would organise recreation and sports activities in Victoria Park, Sha Tin and Tsuen Wan in the afternoon to celebrate the occasion.

  3. The Chief Executive would host a reception at the Grand Hall of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Extension at 4:30 pm or so. It was expected that the reception would be attended by about 5,000 invited guests from all sectors of the community.

  4. Meanwhile, a full programme of celebration activities would be sponsored by the 18 Provisional District Boards (PDB) at district level. HAD was applying for funds ($200,000 for each PDB) to enable PDBs to meet some of the costs of the district activities.

  5. A cultural performance organised by the Association of Compatriots in Hong Kong for Celebration of the National Day of the People ' s Republic of China would take place at the Hong Kong Coliseum from 7 to 9 pm.

  6. To round off the evening, the Association of Hong Kong Guangdong Community Organisations for Celebration of Return of Hong Kong to China was planning to stage a 23-minute fireworks display at Victoria Harbour at around 9:30 pm.

HAB added that details of the official and unofficial events were still being worked out. The public would be informed of the detailed arrangements once they were available.

III. Items for discussion at the next meeting
(Paper No. CB(2)146(02))

14. Members agreed that the following items would be discussed at the next meeting to be held on 15 September 1997 at 10:45 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building -

  1. regulation made under the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance; and

  2. integration of new arrivals from China into the local community.

IV. Any other business

15. On the question of research support to Panels raised by a member, Assistant Secretary General 2 explained the services provided by the Research and Library Services Division of the Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat.

16. The meeting ended at 10:20 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
10 September 1997