LegCo Round Up

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Thursday October 23rd

Continuation of Council meeting
A quorum was lost at the beginning of the meeting, causing it to be suspended. The quorum count was raised by Gary Fan (GC- NT East, Neo Democrats) who told the press that he didn’t anticipate the quorum being lost. 16 pan-democrats and 20 pro-establishment members were absent.

Friday October 24th

Meeting of House Committee
Short meeting lasting only 12 minutes. Three subcommittees were created to look into the double taxation matters with Korea and Vietnam; changes in the Overseas Lawyers (Qualification for Admission) examinations in 2015; and the emission standards of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and respirable suspended particulates.

Meeting of Finance Committee
Discussion to approve a $1.6 billion funding proposal for the design and construction of the organic waste treatment facilities phase 1 in Siu Ho Wan in North Lantau. Albert Chan (GC- NT West, People Power), Gary Fan (GC- NT East, Neo Democrats) and Longhair (GC- NT East, LSD) filibustered the proposal by asking up to 9 questions each and moving around 40 amendments but were all voted down. The proposal was finally approved with 37 members voting in favour and 1 against.

Saturday October 25th

Meeting of Bills Committee on Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014
Discussion continued on addressing the copyright issues for the exemption of parody work. 171 deputations attended the hearing to voice their opinions. Many individuals opposed the Bill but organisations like Hong Kong Copyright Alliance and Hong Kong and International Publishers’ Alliance welcomed the new legislation.

Meeting of Bills Committee on Private Columbaria Bill
37 deputations attended a hearing and discussed the Bill which will license non-Government columbaria. While most deputations agreed on the need to license for columbaria, some Buddhist organisations and temples disagreed with the need to license their columbaria which is used solely to store the remains of the temples’ monks.

Monday October 27th

Meeting of Panel on Economic Development
1. Updates on the operation and latest developments of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. The Administration estimated that there will be 28 cruises using the terminal this year and 55 next year. Members such as James Tien (GC- NT East, Liberal Party) considered the numbers were too low and urged for more supporting infrastructures and policies to boost the numbers. Paul Tse (GC- Kowloon East) suggested to creating a bar street as a new LKF. The Administration replied that they have met with an organisation to discuss the proposed bar street and more discussion and research will be needed.

2. Proposal to increase the Operation Area Permit fee of the Public Cargo Working Areas from $10 to $10.5 on 1 February 2015, and further increase to $11 on 1 August 2015.

Meeting of Subcommittee to Study the Implementation of Free Kindergarten Education
First meeting after the summer ended shortly. Starry Lee (FC- DC 2nd, DAB) was elected Chair and Ip Kin-yuen (FC- Education) as Deputy Chair. Members also discussed the work plan for the subcommittee.

Meeting of Panel on Environmental Affairs
1. Kenneth Chan (GC- HK Island, Civic Party) became Deputy Chairman without competition.

2. Proposal to open up the Shatin Transfer Station for private waste collectors, reducing the fee to use refuse transfer stations and to issue new equipment standards on refuse collection vehicles. The Administration said that since the South East NT Landfill now only handles construction waste, the measure to open Shatin Transfer Station will help the private waste sector while public waste collectors will have to dump the waste directly to North East NT Landfill without stopping in Shatin.

3. Proposal to control the air pollutant emissions of non-road mobile machinery, such as vehicles used only in construction sites and airport. It stipulates that the sale, lease and supply of all these non-road mobile machinery will have to comply with the European Union Stage III A standard.

Special meeting of Panel on Security
Discussion on the Police’s handling of public assemblies since 26 September 2014. The Administration showed a video about the protest that didn’t include the footage of the Police using pepper spray, tear gas and batons. This provoked criticism from pan-dems including Claudia Mo (GC- Kowloon West, Civic party). Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok condemned the protest and said the Occupy Central with Love and Peace has now turned to “hatred and violence”. The Police said that they have strict guidelines regarding the use of force and justified the use of batons in several circumstances as protesters were using umbrellas to confront the Police’s defensive line.

Meeting of Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways
1. Michael Tien (GC- NT West, NPP) stepped down from his position as Chairman and did not deem himself fit to compete again as he is now the Chairman of the Panel on Transport and will have too much work to do. Chan Han-pan (GC- NT West, DAB) and Wong Kwok-hing (GC- HK Island, FTU) were elected as new Chairman and Deputy Chairman respectively.

2. Discussion on the railway development strategy 2014. Wu Chi-wai (GC- Kowloon East, DP) was concerned with the monopoly of the MTR and suggested to separate the railway business from non-railway business and place the railway business under control of the Government to control ticket prices. Secretary for Transport and Housing Prof Anthony Cheung replied that the spin-off will require intensive research but reinstated that the current ticket price was decided after considering different factors. Asked whether the Government is too ambitious to build 7 railway lines in 8 years, Prof Cheung said that it was just a preliminary plan. He also said that the estimated cost of the 7 lines is $110 billion, cheaper than the 5 new lines the Government is working on which cost $200 billion.

Meeting of Bills Committee on Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes (Amendment) Bill 2014
Clause-by-clause examination on allowing phased withdrawal of MPF upon early retirement and terminal illness. Examination underway.

Tuesday October 28th

Meeting of Bills Committee on Veterinary Surgeons Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014
Tommy Cheung (FC- Catering, Liberal Party) became chairman without competition. The Bill is to improve the complaint-handling capacity of Veterinary Surgeons Board against registered veterinary surgeons, adding 6 elected seats among registered veterinary surgeons and 3 appointed seats to the Board. Raymond Chan (GC- NT East, People Power) asked the administration if they had a target as to how much faster they could expedite the handling of complaints. The administration replied that while they don’t have a hard target they hope broadening the membership will help significantly since a lay member must sit on each committee and there are currently only two members in the formation of the board. Discussion underway.

Meeting of Subcommittee on Poverty
37 deputations attended a hearing to express their voices on the work of the Commission of Poverty. Salvation Army Community Project criticised the poverty line for being set too low. Alliance for Children’s Development Rights complained that CY Leung’s promise to implement 15 years of free education was stalled. Wong Yuk-man took the opportunity to criticise the Government for refusing to re-arrange the funding proposals in the Finance Committee.

Meeting of Bills Committee on Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Bill 2014
Tong Tse (FC- Architectural, Surveying and Planning) was elected as Chairman. The Bill is to increase the penalties for unlawful occupation of unleased land. Discussion underway.

Meeting of Panel on Development
1. Lau Wong-fat (FC- Heung Yee-kuk, BPA) was elected Deputy Chairman, beating pan-dem Gary Fan.

2. Funding proposal of $92m for a detailed feasibility study and preliminary site
investigation works for the proposed Environmentally Friendly Linkage System for Kowloon East. Dr Lo Wai-kwok (FC- Engineering, BPA) welcomed the proposed linkage system and praised a similar linkage system in Tokyo.

3. Stage Three Public Engagement of the Tung Chung New Town Extension Study. The engagement exercise ended on October 31th. Based on the public views gathered from previous stages of public engagement, the original plan to reclaim Tung Chung Bay will be dropped for conservation purpose.

4. Discussion on the supply of Dongjiang Water. The new agreement for the supply of DJ water with Guangdong between 2015 and 2017 is $47.9m higher than planned and the Administration will seek funding from the Finance Committee soon. Cyd Ho asked whether the money can be spent on building a new water collection system or other water saving plans. The Administration replied that they have calculated the cost for collecting rainwater and other sources of water but it turned out to cost more than buying water from Guangdong, due to costs of cleaning the water collected and building the infrastructure needed to transport the water to households.

Wednesday October 29th

Meeting of Public Works Subcommittee
Alan Leong (GC- Kowloon East, Civic Party), Chairman of the subcommittee, said he will consider rearranging the agenda items – an unusual practise. Pan-democrats would like to discuss the less controversial and urgent issues earlier. Leong said he would wait for the Government’s response and seek legal advice. Decision will be made before the meeting on 19th. See our cover story on the Subcommittee.

Meeting of Subcommittee on Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulation 2014
The amendments were to include formula products and prepackaged food for infants and young children under the age of 36 months in the Nutrition Labelling Scheme. Members questioned whether the penalty level is sufficient for deterrent effect. The administration said that the penalty would be appropriate, as any non-compliance would result in a criminal liability, and the maximum penalty could be as much as a 6 month jail term. Discussion is underway.

Council meeting

Selected Oral Questions
Albert Ho (FC- DC 2nd, DP)
Q: Concerning the remuneration of £4m received by CE from UGL Limited, is the CE required to declare at the beginning of his term of office and annually thereafter such remuneration received by him?

Carrie Lam, The Chief Secretary for Administration
A: When CY Leung and UGL signed the agreement, CY was not yet elected as Chief Executive, and resigned as a member of Executive Council. Moreover, CY never provided ​​services to UGL after the contract was signed. CY Leung, in accordance with the Basic Law, had declared the property to the Chief Justice when he took office. However, the Basic Law does not specifically define what is meant by the property.

Gary Fan (GC- NT East, Neo Democrats)
Q: What is the number of CSSA applications received and approved by the Government since CFA’s handing down of the aforesaid judgment which were made by persons with less than seven years’ residence in Hong Kong?

Matthew Cheung, Secretary for Labour and Welfare
A: By the end of last month, there were more than 7600 cases involved persons with less than seven years’ residence in Hong Kong applying for CSSA, and nearly 6,700 cases have been approved.The total number of CSSA recipients with less than seven years of residency is 18,000, which is 4.8% of the total number of CSSA recipients.

Motions
1. Gregory So, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, proposed setting up the
Innovation and Technology Bureau. Albert Chan (GC-New Territories West, People Power) and Chan Chi-chuen (GC- New Territories East, People Power) raised 32 amendments, but were all voted down. Most pan-dems voted against the resolution. They said that the new bureau has overlapping functions with the current ones, and the Government failed to adequately explain reasons for opening a new bureau. Leung Kwok-hung also proposed a motion to adjourn, but this was rejected. Gregory So said the community and the industry have a strong demand for the establishment of the Bureau. The motion was passed (35 to 19).

2. Government’s motion for a proposed resolution to regulate the sales of three chemicals: Regorafenib (tumour suppression), Tofacitinib (broad application anti-inflammatory) and Vilanterol (pulmonary disease).The motion passed (39 to 0).

Thursday October 30th

Continuation of Council meeting

Members’ Motion
1. Tam Yiu-chung (GC- New Territories West, DAB), as the chairman of Committee on Rules of Procedure, proposed to change the quorum rules- if a quorum is lost after 15 minutes when the Chairman in committee of the whole Council has summoned members, the committee will resume as Council meeting and the LegCo President will then adjourn the meeting. The motion was passed both in the FC (22 to 0) and GC (21 to 0). Essentially it will reduce the number of times the Chair must count members present, speeding LegCo functioning.

2. Wong Yuk-man (GC- Kowloon West) and Andrew Leung (FC- Industrial 1st, BPA) respectively moved two Motions under the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance. Wong proposed an inquiry into the police’s handling of the triad gangs’ attacks on citizens rallying in Mong Kok on 3 Oct, while Leung suggested a comprehensive inquiry into the incident of the breaking out of large-scale unlawful occupation of roads in a number of districts since 28 Sep. Lai Tung-kwok, Secretary for Security, responded that the authorities oppose the motion proposed by Wong Yuk-man, because the police have arrested a few people in the incident, and the case will enter the judicial process. If the Council set up a committee investigating the police’s handling, it will impact the judicial trial. Lai said the Government fully understands the motion put forward by Leung, agreeing that the economy and people’s livelihood were affected. He said that the police will keep an eye on the movement.

Friday October 31st

Continuation of Council meeting
Debate continued on Wong yuk-man’s and Andrew Leung’s motions. Wong’s motion was voted down in the FC (8 to 21) and Leung’s motion was voted down in the GC (11 to 18).

Meeting of House Committee
Cyd Ho (GC- HK Island, Labour Party) and Kenneth Leung (FC- Accountancy, Professional Commons) moved a motion to create a select committee to investigate whether CY Leung has contravened Article 47 of the Basic Law and is guilty of conflict of interests arising from his alleged holding of shares in DTZ (Japan). Starry Lee (FC- DC 2nd, DAB) condemned the pan-dems for staging a political play. Abraham Shek (FC- Real Estate and Construction, BPA) opposed the motion. He said that history will judge CY’s performance but the fact that CY has not served any companies since he became the CE meant the accusation on him was incorrect. The motion was voted down, 20 for, 31 against.

Meeting of Finance Committee
Chairman of the committee Tommy Cheung (FC- Catering, Liberal Party) and the Government ignored the request of 23 pan-dems to re-arrange the agenda items. Discussion soon resumed on the following funding proposals: $2 billion for the extension of the Southeast New Territories Landfill in Tseung Kwan O; $7.3 billion for the extension of the Northeast New Territories Landfill in Ta Kwu Ling; $36.8m for the consultants’ fees and investigations to study the extension of the West New Territories Landfill in Tuen Mun; and $18.2 billion for the reclamation of about 16 hectares to form an artificial island near Shek Kwu Chau and to build an incinerator on it. Albert Chan moved a motion to adjourn the meeting but was voted down by 13 to 30. Discussion underway.

Monday November 3rd

Meeting of Panel on Financial Affairs
1. Briefing on the work of Hong Kong Monetary Authority. CEO of HKMA Norman Chan said that the stock market and currency has not changed much compared to before the Umbrella Movement broke out. He also said that the protest is illegal and if it continues, Hong Kong’s rule of law will be impacted and this will have adverse effect on the financial market.

2. Discussion on the automatic exchange of financial account information (AEOI) in tax matters with other countries. 14 jurisdictions amongst Hong Kong’s top 20 trading partners, have already indicated support to the implementation of AEOI and 44 jurisdictions will pursue the first automatic information exchanges in 2017.

3. Proposal to carry out pre-construction consultancy services for a new joint-user government office building at the junction of Tung Chau Street and Tonkin Street West in Cheung Sha Wan. The consultancy services will cost $103.2m.

Meeting of Bills Committee on Sex Discrimination (Amendment) Bill 2014
17 deputations attended a hearing to express their views on the Bill which is to protect service providers from being sexually harassed by customers. Amnesty International Hong Kong supported the legislation but criticised that it came too late. Cyd Ho asked if an employer who failed to protect employees from being sexually harassed continuously would be liable under the new law. The Administration replied that liability of the employers is not covered.

Meeting of Panel on Housing
1. Christopher Chung (GC- HK Island, DAB) was elected as Deputy Chairman, beating DP’s lawmaker, Wu Chi-wai.

2. Discussion on the partnering arrangements between Estate Management Advisory Committees and NGOs to promote neighbourliness in public rental housing estates. The Administration said that it had held 420 activities last year to improve the neighbourliness and the satisfaction rate was up to 99%.

3. Proposal to build Public Transport Interchanges at Kwai Chung and Kiu Cheong Road East and Ping Shan for the sake of public housing developments. Estimated cost tallies at around $675m.

Meeting of Bills Committee on Pharmacy and Poisons (Amendment) Bill 2014
The Bill is to revise the current rules governing the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products and licensing of manufacturers, importers, exporters and wholesalers. It will also empower the Pharmacy and Poisons Board to carry out disciplinary actions. Emily Lau (GC- NT East, DP) asked, “Why not publish all information online to make it more convenient for people to access the information?”. The Administration will address Lau’s question in next meeting. Discussion underway.

Tuesday November 4th
Meeting of Bills Committee on Property Management Services Bill
Discussion continued on the bill which proposes to establish a Property Management Services Authority and to introduce a licensing regime to regulate property management services. The Administration is studying how to engage more residents in property management and will put forward suggestions to the Committee soon. Discussion underway.

Meeting of Subcommittee on Overseas Lawyers (Qualification for Admission) (Amendment) Rules 2014 (Commencement) Notice
Dennis Kwok (FC- Legal, Civic Party) was elected as Chairman. The amendment is to change the admission examination of overseas lawyers next year. It requires entrants to test for their knowledge in the Basic Law. Exemptions are also given for entrants if they have some legal experience in the common law jurisdictions. The subcommittee finished examining the amendment.

Meeting of Panel on Security
1. Chung Kwok-pan (FC- Textiles and Garment, Liberal Party) and Michael Tien (GC- NT West, NPP) moved two motions to express their support to the police for their work during the protest and to provide mental support to the police. Both motions were approved.

2. Proposal to extend the contract of an AO at the Narcotics Division for three years to handle treatment and rehabilitation services for drug abusers.

3. Rehabilitative services to persons in custody by the Correctional Services Department. There are over 10 types of vocational training and the Department has provided employment support to inmates. By mid-October 2014, around 100 inmates have received job offers from employers and more than 300 employers have registered as “Caring Employers”.

Meeting of Bills Committee on Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014
Discussion continued on addressing the copyright issues for the exemption of parody work. The Administration replied on some views collected in the latest hearing, for example to follow Canada and provides exemption for user-generated content (UGC). The Administration, given that Canada is the only country giving such exemption and the definition of UGC is vague, refused to incorporate such view to the Bill. UGC allows an individual to use an existing work which has been published or made available to the public, in the creation of a new work if it is for non-commercial use. Discussion underway.