Legislative Council

LC Paper No. CB(2)419/98-99

Ref : CB2/PL/HA

LegCo Panel on Home Affairs

Minutes of Meeting
held on Monday, 14 September 1998 at 4:30 pm
in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building Members Present :

Hon CHOY So-yuk (Chairman)
Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon Christine LOH
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP

Members Absent :

Hon Albert HO Chun-yan (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP

Public Officers Attending :

Mr NG Sek-hon
Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (Culture and Sport)

Mr William SHIU
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (Culture)

Deputy Director of Urban Services (Cultural)

Miss CHOI Suk-kuen
Assistant Director of Regional Services
(Culture and Entertainment)

Mr TAM Chun-kit
Assistant Director of Education
(Chief Inspector of School)
Attendance by Invitation :

Hong Kong Arts Development Council

Mr Vincent CHOW, JP


Centre for Cultural Policy Research, University of Hong Kong
Dr Vicki OOI

Centre of the Arts, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Mr Danny YUNG

Hong Kong Arts Centre

Hong Kong Cultural Sector Joint Conference
Mr Mathias WOO
Mr Peter TSI
Mr Andrew LAM
Mr WONG Tim-keung

Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture

Hong Kong Society For Education In Art
Mr YU Shu-tak
Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2
Staff in Attendance :

Miss Flora TAI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2
I. Confirmation of minutes of meeting and matters arising
[LC Paper Nos. CB(2)204/98-99 and CB(2)241/98-99(01)]

The minutes of meeting held on 27 July 1998 were confirmed.

2. The Chairman informed members that the Administration's response to a member's enquiry at the last meeting about the safety requirements of guesthouses and holiday flats had been circulated to members vide Paper No. CB(2)241/98-99(01).

II. Information paper issued since the last meeting
[LC Paper No. CB(2)190/98-99]

3. Members noted the letter from Hong Kong Hostel and Tourism Association Limited which was addressed to the President of the Legislative Council, expressing concern on the licensing system for guesthouses. The Chairman said that the issue would be further discussed by the Bills Committee on the Hotel Accommodation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1998 when it was formed.

III. Items for discussion at the next meeting
[Appendix to LC Paper No. CB(2)241/98-99]

4. Members agreed that the next regular meeting scheduled for Monday, 12 October 1998 at 4:30 pm would cover the following items -

  1. briefing by the Secretary for Home Affairs on the Chief Executive's Policy Address 1998; and

  2. sports development policy (discussion of the item had been deferred from the present meeting to allow more time for discussion on the long-term cultural policy).
5. The Chairman reminded members that a special meeting was scheduled for 22 September 1998 at 2:30 pm to discuss racial discrimination.

IV. Meeting with deputations on long-term cultural policy

6. The Chairman welcomed representatives of the deputations attending the meeting for the discussion on long-term cultural policy, and representatives of the Administration observing the meeting with deputations. At the invitation of the Chairman, representatives of the deputations presented their views to the Panel members.

Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC)
[Paper No. CB(2)261/98-99(01)]

7. Chairman of the HKADC briefed members on the written submission which presented a synopsis of the recent work of the HKADC, focusing on promotion of arts in schools, cultural exchange and promotion of arts in the community. He highlighted that HKADC had increased its resources on Council-commissioned projects in the past two years in order to gather more information to further its plans. On the allocation of resources, HKADC had been committed to allocating as much money as possible to the arts in view of a 30 % increase in the number of grants applications in 1997/98. The administration costs only represented about 10% of HKADC's budget. He considered that while there were increasing demands for funding support, funding increase was not the only key to arts development in Hong Kong. The governmental infrastructure would require some fundamental changes so that Hong Kong would not lag behind other countries in developing the potential of its people and enhancing its international image in arts and culture.

Centre for Cultural Policy Research, University of Hong Kong (CCPR)
[Paper No. CB(2)257/98-99(01)]

8. The representative of the CCPR presented her views and proposals on the structure of administering arts and culture in Hong Kong as detailed in her speaking notes. She expressed concern about the existing fragmented policy on culture and the lack of leadership in the coordination of cultural policy and management of resources. She suggested the Government to formulate a draft plan on a comprehensive cultural policy and arrange for independent expert evaluation and public consultation on the draft plan.

Center of the Arts, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)
[Paper No. CB(2)248/98-99(01)]

9. The representative of the Center of the Arts of HKUST referred to his experience in participating in recent overseas cultural exchange programmes. He was disappointed that the Government had not taken part in these prestigious international cultural exchange programmes, while the governments of neighbouring countries such as Singapore often assumed an active leading role in such activities. It appeared that no policy bureau in Government was really responsible for international cultural exchange, and this had made it difficult for the Government to keep up with the latest cultural developments in other countries. He considered that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government should adopt a more proactive approach and liaise with non-governmental arts/cultural bodies in participating in these international cultural exchange programmes. In his opinion, it was a matter of protocol that the Government rather than HKADC should represent Hong Kong at the international forum. This would help enhance Hong Kong's international image and establish its position as a cultural capital in Asia.

Hong Kong Arts Centre
[Paper No. CB(2)248/98-99(02)]

10. The representative of the Hong Kong Arts Centre (HKAC) highlighted the following major points in its written submission -

  1. The Government should create a level-playing field for all artists and performing companies in Hong Kong by encouraging local arts groups to become independent and enhancing healthy competition in arts industry. The heavy Government subsidies to some selected arts groups had created a false market and dampened creativity and initiatives among local artists. The heavy investment in arts in Hong Kong did not yield good return;

  2. There was no debate in Hong Kong on which forms of arts were truly relevant to the community of Hong Kong and which should be funded by Government. The absence of a clear-cut cultural policy at the national and regional levels had made it difficult for local artists to develop in the best possible way; and

  3. The present Government structure for arts and culture responsibilities was incorrect and should be reviewed. There should be one single authority under the Government to deal with funding and management of arts and culture resources, while the actual operation of the arts should largely be privatised.
Hong Kong Cultural Sector Joint Conference (HKCSJC)
[Paper Nos. CB(2)252/98-99(02) and CB(2)276/98-99(03)]

11. Representatives of the HKCSJC briefed members on their written submissions. They considered that the formulation of a comprehensive long-term cultural policy was an important subject which deserved more in-depth discussion by the Panel. As 90% of the government resources on the arts was controlled by the two municipal councils, HKCSJC was concerned about the future government structure for arts and culture following the review of district organizations. In this connection, they suggested that the following eight areas should be addressed in devising the long-term cultural policy -

  1. the relationship between arts/cultural development and economic development

  2. international cultural exchange policy

  3. arts education policy

  4. freedom of expression and creativity

  5. policy on libraries and museums

  6. the role of government in promotion of arts and culture

  7. public arts policy

  8. cultural exchange between Hong Kong and China under the "One Country, Two Systems" principle.
Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture (HKICC)

12. The representative of the HKICC apologized for not being able to provide a written submission before the meeting. She said that Singapore had been playing a very active role in cultural exchange, striving to be a cultural centre in Asia for the 21st century. Being a city of pluralistic culture, Hong Kong could also become a global cultural centre in the next century. She considered that cultural exchange had a significant impact on Hong Kong in relation to its international image as well as tourism and economic development. However, it appeared that no policy bureau in Government was responsible for cultural exchange. In her view, there was an urgency to designate an office or bureau within Government to coordinate international cultural exchange programmes, otherwise Hong Kong would not be able to maintain its competitiveness as a tourist and cultural centre in Asia. As the Administration was currently reviewing the district organisations, she considered it opportune to critically examine the future infrastructure and strategies for arts and culture.

Hong Kong Society for Education in Art (HKSEA)
[Paper No. CB(2)241/98-99(02)]

Referring to the written submission, representative of HKSEA commented that, unlike other developed countries, the Government of Hong Kong had not attached sufficient importance to art education. The present educational structure was not conducive to developing creativity and art education. This was evident in the lack of facilities and graduate teachers for teaching art in secondary schools, and the low percentage of students taking music or art as a subject in senior forms. The new "School Management Initiative" had only encouraged secondary schools to concentrate more on academic subjects rather than achieving a balanced education. He therefore urged Government to have long-term vision and strategies for promoting art education. The representative was also of the opinion that HKADC should be responsible for arts policy while Education Department should oversee art education in schools including the implementation of the "Artists-in-Schools Programme". He considered that the Panel should have further discussion with Education Department in this respect.

Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting's submission
[Paper No. CB(2)252/98-99(01)]

13. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr Timothy FOK presented his views on cultural development in Hong Kong. He said that art and culture had been neglected in the past and the problem lay mainly in the structure which had made many arts bodies dependent on government subsidies. He considered that art and culture should be viewed in context as these had significant impact on the economic development of Hong Kong. The Government should encourage competition of arts companies on commercial principles while continuing to support those art forms which were of lower commercial value. Mr FOK suggested that a statutory Cultural Authority incorporating the HKADC be set up to formulate a clear-cut cultural policy. The new Cultural Authority must be representative and accountable, and it should examine, inter alia, the privatization of the management of facilities for arts and culture. He also supported the suggestion that the Panel or a working group under the Panel should devote more time for discussion of this subject.

Hon MA Fung-kwok's views

14. Mr MA Fung-kwok referred to the motion on formulating a cultural policy which was moved by himself and was carried at the Council meeting of the Provisional Legislative Council on 25 March 1998. He expressed disappointment at the lack of positive response from the Government to the carried motion. He reiterated the importance of formulating a comprehensive cultural policy for enhancing the cultural qualities, creativity and competitiveness of the whole community. Given the recent organisational changes involving the policy bureaux and municipal councils responsible for art and culture, he considered it was now time to examine the policy and structure on culture matters. In this connection, he requested the Administration to explain its position in clear terms to facilitate further discussion by the Panel.

Discussion with deputations

15. After the deputations and Messrs Timothy FOK and MA Fung-kwok had presented their views to the Panel, the Chairman invited members to ask questions on the views expressed.

Devising a new structure on art and culture

16. Miss Christine LOH said that she supported the suggestion of some deputations that art organisations and performing companies should be encouraged to operate on commercial principles to enhance healthy competition and entrepreneuring. In this connection, she sought further information from deputations about the experience of other countries that Hong Kong could model on. Representative of the Arts Centre responded that overseas countries had adopted different models and Hong Kong would have to work out its own model to suit its conditions. He pointed out that art development in most overseas countries was led by the artists themselves with the support of the Government. He was of the view that Government should only play a facilitative role so that the artists could create the art environment with minimal interference. He added that most overseas countries had developed their cultural policy at national, regional and local levels. Although such cultural policy might not be in absolute, precise terms, it could at least provide a vision for directional development.

17. Mr LEE Wing-tat referred to the comment that the $2 billion investment on arts in Hong Kong was not yielding good return. He asked the deputations about the reasons for the observation. Representative of the Arts Centre responded that arts investment in Hong Kong did not have a multiplier effect as other overseas countries did. The reason was that Hong Kong had an administration-led environment in which a large amount of public money had been used to subsidize the audience. The taxpayers in Hong Kong were heavily subsidising a small audience who were accustomed to receiving free or low-priced cultural programmes. In most overseas countries, however, the audience had to pay a substantial proportion of the cost of any artistic programme, thus reducing the burden on the average taxpayer.

18. Secretary-General of HKADC cautioned that there was no official figure on arts expenditure in Hong Kong. It might not be very meaningful therefore to draw a direct comparison between the figures of arts investment in Hong Kong and in other countries, since different countries might not have included the same components (such as capital expenditure and administration costs) in calculation. In this connection, a representative of the Hong Kong Cultural Sector Joint-Conference pointed out that the unhealthy allocation of art resources in Hong Kong had reduced the cost effectiveness of arts investment. While municipal councils were the principal controllers of arts investment, their functions were restricted by their respective governing legislation. These bodies tended to subsidize the audience rather than the artists. In his opinion, the Government had also failed to allocate the scarce resources to more deserving arts activities due to its misconceived concept of art activities. There was therefore little incentive for initiative and creativity in the art community. As regards the absence of a cultural atmosphere in Hong Kong, he said that this was attributed to the neglect of art education in the community, unhealthy art structure, government bureaucracy and absence of a directional cultural policy. These representatives therefore urged the Panel to actively follow up the issue with the Administration and press for formulation of a cultural policy.

Cultural exchange activities

19. Referring to the comment that Government should take a more active role in international cultural exchange programmes, Miss Christine LOH asked whether the municipal councils, being the major controller of public funds in culture and arts, should assume such responsibilities. Representative of the HKICC responded that although she was not representing the Urban Council at the meeting, she would like to point out that the ambit of the municipal councils was restricted to their respective regions within Hong Kong. It was therefore not possible for the municipal councils to go beyond their boundaries and participate in international cultural exchange programmes although they sponsored indirectly some of these activities.

Comments on HKADC's functions

20. In response to a member's concern that small and developing arts bodies might have difficulties in obtaining funding support from HKADC, Secretary-General of the HKADC said that in fact a large proportion of HKADC's resources was allocated to support activities of small arts bodies. On the comment that there was a lack of participation of professional artists in HKADC strategies, he said that there were ten appointed members on HKADC as nominated by different arts interests. The HKADC strategies and activities were also open to public scrutiny through publication of annual reports.

Meeting with the Administration

21. Members in general shared the view of some deputations that the Panel should have further discussions on formulating a long-term cultural policy. As this was a very complex subject, it would require thorough discussion and input from the cultural community at subsequent meetings. Due to time constraint, the Chairman suggested and members agreed to defer discussion with the Administration to a future meeting.

V. Way forward

22. At Miss Christine LOH's suggestion, members resolved that a subcommittee be established under the Panel to study long-term cultural policy. Miss HO Sau-lan, Mr MA Fung-kwok, Miss Christine LOH, Mr Andrew CHENG and Mr Timothy FOK Tsun-ting had indicated their intention to join the subcommittee. Members agreed that the subcommittee would follow up the discussion with the Administration and would meet more deputations if necessary. In this regard, the Administration was requested to provide the following for the subcommittee's consideration - Adm

  1. a detailed response to the written submissions received; and

  2. a position report on the $300 million fund set up in 1995 for promoting culture, recreation and sports.
23. The meeting ended at 6:40 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
14 October 1998