Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(2) 887
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)


Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport and
Panel on Security

Minutes of Joint Meeting held on Friday, 7 November 1997 at 10:45 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

* Hon MA Fung-kwok (Deputy Chairman)
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
* Hon Henry WU
* Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
* Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

PLC Panel on Security

# Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP (Chairman of the meeting)
Hon CHENG Kai-nam (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon IP Kwok-him

Members Absent :

PLC Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport

Hon MOK Ying-fan (Chairman)
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
* Hon CHAN Choi-hi

PLC Panel on Security

Hon Allen LEE, JP
Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon KAN Fook-yee
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok

(* Also a member of the PLC Panel on Security)
(# Also a member of the PLC Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport)

Public Officers Attending :

Mrs Sarah KWOK Security Bureau

Assistant Director (Environmental Health)
Urban Services Department

Senior Staff Officer (Public Health)
Urban Services Department

Mr Philip LAU
Assistant Director/Specialist
Buildings Department

Chief Fire Officer (Protection)
Fire Services Department

Mr Charles CHU
Deputy Chief Fire Officer (Protection)
Fire Services Department

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Sharon TONG
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 1

Staff in Attendance :

Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Mr Colin CHUI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2

I. Election of Chairman

1.Mrs Selina CHOW was elected Chairman of the joint meeting.

II. Licensing of karaoke establishments

[Paper No. CB(2)521(01)]

2.At the invitation of the Chairman, Principal Assistant Secretary for Security (PAS(S)) briefed members on the Administration's paper on licensing of karaoke establishments. The salient points of discussion are set out below.

Scope of proposed licensing scheme

3.In reply to Mr Henry WU, Assistant Director of Urban Services (Environmental Health) (ADUS)¡@said that karaoke establishments not operated in conjunction with a restaurant licence would be required to obtain a specific licence. Licensed restaurant operators operating karaoke activities would only need to apply for a written permission endorsed on the restaurant licence.

Fire safety requirements

4.In reply to the Chairman, the Chief Fire Officer (Protection) said that the fire safety requirements set out in paragraph 8 of the Administration's paper were put forward to address fire safety problems of karaoke establishments with dim lighting and a number of individual cubicles rather than licensed restaurants.

Building structure requirements

5.In reply to members, Assistant Director of Buildings/Specialist (AD of B) said that fire resisting separation between cubicles and internal corridors (paragraph 9 (e) of the Administration's paper) referred to a construction which could resist fire for a minimum period of half an hour as required under the Building Ordinance.

6.Members expressed concern about the practical difficulties in meeting the proposed building structure requirements referred to in paragraph 9 of the Administration's paper, in particular the requirement of an emergency door to be provided to individual cubicles. There was no such requirement for hotels which, like karaoke establishments, also had a number of rooms on a floor. It might be more appropriate to prescribe a minimum width of internal corridor rather than providing an emergency door. AD of B responded that the Buildings Department (BD) was now giving further consideration to these building safety requirements. BD was also researching into the fire safety code on karaokes and similar establishments in Japan, with a view to working out a set of practicable building safety requirements for karaokes. At the request of members, AD of B undertook to take into account Taiwan's experience in this aspect in drawing up the building safety requirements. Adm

Public safety requirements

7.Regarding the public safety requirements for karaokes, PAS(S) pointed out that if licensed restaurants were already covered by a liquor licence, the Police would not need to be consulted in respect of these requirements.

8.The Chairman pointed out the problem of abuse of soft drugs in karaoke establishments. She enquired whether any possible steps could be taken to address the problem during the licensing process. PAS(S) undertook to discuss with the Police on the issue. Adm


Regarding the exemption period for the existing karaoke establishments, PAS(S) said that it was intended that operators of these establishments should complete the necessary upgrading work of fire safety measures and obtain the requisite licences or written permissions within the proposed exemption period of 12 months. The Administration was still considering how flexibility should be exercised in requiring existing karaoke establishments to meet the safety standards, e.g. whether a phased implementation approach should be adopted.

9.As the Director of Fire Services(DFS), Director of Buildings (D of B), Commissioner of Police (C of P) and Director of Home Affairs (DHA) would not be the licensing authorities under the new legislation on karaoke establishments, members enquired about the need to provide them with statutory power of entry to inspect the premises and enforce the provisions of the legislation. PAS(S) responded that the licensing authorities, i.e. the two Provisional Municipal Councils, would require expert advice from DFS, D of B and C of P as to whether the karaoke establishments met the respective fire safety, building structure and public safety requirements prescribed in the new legislation. Being the licensing authority on clubs under the Clubs (Safety of Premises) Ordinance, DHA would be responsible for giving written permission endorsed on the Certificate of Compliance issued to operators of clubs registered under the Ordinance. Officers of these departments might therefore need to enter and inspect the premises before giving their advice or granting written permissions. The Administration would consider the suggestion of allowing the licensing authorities to delegate this power of entry instead of directly conferring the department heads with this power in the new legislation. Adm

Mechanism within licensing authorities for dealing with karaoke licensing work

10.Mr Andrew WONG asked whether a licensing board similar to the Liquor Licensing Board would be set up in the two Provisional Municipal Councils to consider karaoke licence applications. ADUS¡@said that the mechanism for dealing with the licensing work would be determined by the two Councils which, he believed, would take into consideration the present licensing framework.

11.The Chairman questioned on how appeals against the decision of the licensing authorities would be dealt with. ADUS said that the initial proposal on the appeal mechanism for karaoke licence applications was similar to that for restaurant licence applications. Under existing appeal mechanism in respect of restaurant licences, persons dissatisfied with any decisions of the licensing authorities could apply to the Review Select Committee of the Provisional Urban Council for review. Subsequent appeals against the decisions of the licensing authorities upon review would be dealt with by the Municipal Services Appeals Boards, chaired by a High Court Judge.

Automatic exemption from karaoke licensing requirements

12.Members expressed concern about the Administration ' s proposal to require the existing restaurants (licensed under the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance) with karaoke facilities to seek further approval, in the form of written permission endorsed on the restaurant licence, for operating karaoke activities. The proposal would cause unnecessary nuisances to such restaurant operators. ADUS said that the spirit of the endorsement was to save licensed restaurants, which had already met the stringent fire safety, building safety, public safety and health requirements, from starting over the process of seeking approval regarding licensing requirements for operating karaoke activities. To expedite the processing of applications for karaoke licences or written permissions, PAS(S) said that the departments concerned would deal with the applications concurrently. ADUS added that it was envisaged that, under normal circumstances, it would not take a long time to obtain the additional written permission endorsed on the restaurant licence.

13.Members pointed out that many restaurants only provided karaoke facilities as ancillary services but did not operate karaoke activities as their main business. As the operators had already complied with the stringent licensing requirements for restaurants, it was unnecessary for them to seek such approval in respect of the licensing requirements for operating karaoke activities. They unanimously urged that, to streamline procedures, these restaurants should be given automatic exemption from karaoke licensing requirements. To avoid possible abuse of automatic exemption, members suggested that a ratio of karaoke facilities to usable floor area of restaurants could be imposed as a criterion for exemption. PAS(S) agreed to consider members ' views in finalizing the proposal.Adm

Timetable for new legislation on proposed licensing scheme

14.On the timetable for new legislation on the proposed licensing scheme, PAS(S) said that a consultation exercise lasting for three months would commence shortly. The Administration would take into account comments received in drawing up a bill on the proposed licensing scheme. It intended to introduce the bill into the Legislative Council in the next session.

15.The meeting ended at 11:45 am.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
8 January 1998