LegCo round-up January 5th to 9th

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2nd round of consultation on political reform was announced on Wednesday and motion to formulate policies to help young people was voted down. Also, discussion on having new ID card.

January 5th Monday


Meeting of Panel on Development

  1. Progress of the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point project. The Government is currently seeking funding in PWSC to increase the approved budget by $8.7 billion. Development Bureau said if the funding is approved without further delay, the project can be finished by 2018. Gary Fan (GC- NT East, Neo Democrats) questioned the need for the project as the traffic at the border has grown by 1% in recent years, comparing to the 6% in the past.


  1. Proposed revision of 7 government fees and charges for services under the purview of the Lands Department, such as inspection of land boundary record and supply of copies of plans.


  1. Proposed amendments to the Building (Standards of Sanitary Fitments, Plumbing, Drainage Works and Latrines) Regulations. The amendments will see more female toilets in shopping malls and cinemas.



Meeting of Panel on Financial Affairs

  1. First phase of implementation of the over-the-counter derivatives regulatory regime in Hong Kong. Members approved the Bill last year for the regime. The Administration is finalising the first batch of subsidiary legislation and will submit to LegCo soon.


  1. Proposal to revise 20 fee items relating to dutiable commodities and motor vehicles managed under the Customs and Excise Department. It includes raising licence fees for traders of dutiable commodities, bonded warehouse supervision charges and more.


  1.  Proposal to extend the profits tax exemption for offshore funds to private equity funds. The exemption was first granted in 2006 and Financial Secretary proposed to extend it in his last Budget. At the end of 2013, the combined fund management business in Hong Kong achieved a record high of HK$16,007 billion.


  1. Proposed staffing for the independent Insurance Authority. The Government plans to extend the position of an AO, an Assistant Commissioner of Insurance and to hire an EO.



Meeting of Bills Committee on Veterinary Surgeons Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014

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. The Government may submit amendments to the Bill. Discussion underway.



Meeting of Panel on Housing

  1. Discussion on Long Term Housing Strategy. FTU’s Wong Kwok-hing (GC- HK Island) urged the Administration to launch rent control. However, Secretary for Transport and Housing Prof Anthony Cheung says that research has shown that rent control will reduce the market supply of rental units and cause the rent to soar. He says the problem lies with the paucity of housing units.  


  1. Interim Scheme to Extend the Home Ownership Scheme Secondary Market to White Form Buyers. Data shows that the rise in property price of the second-handed housing units under the Home Ownership Scheme is greater than that of the private property market after the Scheme was announced but the Administration is not sure that the Scheme is the reason of the rise.


  1. Refining the Quota and Points System (QPS) and checking the eligibility of applicants under the QPS. Housing Authority’s Subsidised Housing Committee has decided to increase the annual allocation quota for QPS from the current 8% to 10% of the total number of flats to be allocated to general and QPS applicants, subject to a cap to be increased from the current 2,000 to 2,200 units.



Public hearing of the Public Accounts Committee

Second hearing of the latest comptroller’s report on the “Provision of health services for the elderly” will be conducted today. The report criticises the fact that the capacity of Elderly Health Centres has failed to keep up with the growth of the elderly population. From 2004 to 2013, there were around 200,000 more old people but the 18 Elderly Health Centres have provided less than 40,000 health assessments a year to the elderly.



Meeting of Bills Committee on District Cooling Services Bill

The Bill is to charge private non-domestic projects for their uses of the district cooling services provided by the Government at the Kai Tak Development. Discussion underway.



January 6th Tuesday


Special meeting of Panel on Environmental Affairs

A total of 123 green groups, activists and other concerned parties attended a hearing to express their views on the proposed Third Runway. One of the deputations, Green Sense warned the Government of the potential collision of flights when an aircraft flying to Hong Kong will need to enter the Shenzhen and Macau airspace for missed-approach procedures due to unfavorable landing conditions or a busy runway.  



Public hearing of the Public Accounts Committee

Another hearing on the latest comptroller’s report about aviation matters. The Audit Department found out that the new Air Traffic Control system which the Civil Aviation Department has obtained funding in 2007 and targeted to launch the new system in 2012 was still not yet in operation as at October 2014 and the latest estimate was that the new system would only be ready for operation in 2015. However, Director-General of Civil Aviation Norman Lo Shung-man revealed during the meeting that the new system will be ready in 2016 the soonest. Members were unsatisfied for the delay and Mr Lo replied that the estimate of the launching date was too optimistic back then.



Meeting of Panel on Security

Discussion on the Next Generation Smart Identity Card System to replace the existing smart identity cards for all card holders from 2018 to 2022. The Immigration Department has hired a consultant to conduct the third Information Systems Strategy Review in March 2010. The consultation recommended the Department to gradually replace its core computer systems which were developed and implemented between late 1990s and early 2000s, and will therefore be obsolete approaching the mid-2010s. The Government also claims the new ID card system will save taxpayers up to $3.1 billion of non-recurrent cost from 2017 to 2023. Dennis Kwok (FC- Legal, Civic Party) asked if the radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to be used in the new ID card, which is the use of wireless to transfer data, will pose a security risk to card holders. The Administration replied they will impose a two-tier encryption to secure data. The cost to roll out the new ID card will cost $1.45 billion.


At the end of the meeting, Ng Leung-sing (FC- Finance), as the interim Chairman of the Panel, proposed to vote on whether to send the funding proposal to the Finance Committee. Pan dems opposed to the Ng’s move as they want further information from the Administration before voting. However, with the backing of pro-establishment members, Ng insisted on proceeding to vote and disputed with pan-dems. At the end, the meeting time was up and there was no vote.



Meeting of Bills Committee on Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014

Discussion on Section 39 which concerns works about criticism, review, quotation, and reporting and commenting on current affairs. Chan Chi-chuen (GC- NT East, People Power) asked if the acknowledgement is a must for image or video capture. The Administration replied that acknowledgement, for example to address the author and his or her title are required, otherwise exemption may not be given. Discussion underway.



January 7th Wednesday


Meeting of Establishment Subcommittee

  1. Proposed retention of 2 AOs to support the Healthcare Planning and Development Office under the Health Branch of the Food and Health Bureau. Members approved the proposal without much discussion.


  1. Proposed retention of a Principal Government Engineer and one AO in the Home Affairs Bureau for four years from 1 April 2015 to continue monitoring the implementation of the West Kowloon Cultural District project. DP’s Wu Chi-wai (GC- Kowloon East) and Civic Party’s Claudia Mo (GC- Kowloon West) questioned the need for the posts since many of the construction projects have exceeded the budget in the past. Home Affairs Bureau considers the posts as important because they will communicate with the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and sit in the meetings of the Authority. Discussion underway.



Council meeting


Members’ questions


Claudia Mo (GC- Kowloon West, Civic Party)

Q: Why is there a change in the translation of “港人治港” in the “Hong Kong Fact Sheet” from “Hong Kong People ruling Hong Kong” to now “Hong Kong People administering Hong Kong”?


Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam

A: The changes were only editorial refinements and did not involve revisions of any content and information. The revisions will definitely not affect the PRC’s authorisation of the HKSAR to implement the principles of “one country, two systems”, “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the Basic Law.



Lam Tai-fai (FC- Industrial 2nd)

Q: Have the authorities comprehensively reviewed the deficiencies in the first round of public consultation on political reform which partly caused the occupation movement?


Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam

A: The Task Force on Constitutional Development attended a total of 226 consultation events and received about 124,700 written submissions. The Government also arranged meetings between LegCo and Central People’s Government’s officials. All these efforts were to objectively and truthfully reflect the views received during the consultation period and provided different ways for people and LegCo members to channel their opinions and aspirations on political reform.





Chief Secretary Carrie Lam announced the commencement of the second round consultation on political reform. All the pan dems walked out from the Council hall just as Mrs Lam began her speech, causing the meeting to cease temporarily. Continuing her speech after the meeting resumed, Mrs Lam urged members and Hong Kong people to “seize the opportunity”. Lam Tai-fai says he doesn’t see how the Government will handle the boycott and the uncooperative actions of the pan dems. Mrs Lam admitted to the huge difficulty to convince pan dems to approve the proposal but says the Government will try to the very last moment. She also hopes people can convince the pan dems.


Also a ExCo member, Starry Lee (FC- DC 2nd, DAB) questioned whether the room for negotiation is narrowed after the NPCSC decision in last August. Mrs Lam says the room for negotiation depends on the trust between Beijing and Hong Kong, extreme movements will dampen the trust and narrow the room for negotiation.



Members’ motions

  1. Jeffrey Lam (FC- Commercial 1st, BPA) moved a motion on formulating policies to help young people. Cheung Kwok-che (FC- Social Welfare, Labour Party) cited the recent result of a local music award ceremony which a song composed specifically for the Umbrella Movement has received most of the votes. Mr Cheung says this has shown that young people want to have a genuine universal suffrage in Hong Kong. He also criticised that the HKSAR Government has been making mistakes in formulating policies which has resulted in conflicts in the society. All amendments were voted down. The motion was also voted down with pan-dems abstaining.
  2. Frankie Yick (FC- Transport, Liberal Party) moved a motion to urge the Administration to launch the Fourth Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS) to comprehensively review the overall transport policy and the situation at present. The last study was conducted in 1997. However, the Secretary for Transport and Housing (Acting) Yau Shing-mu replied that the Government has no plan to start the Fourth CTS, as they would like to focus on Public Transport Strategy Study (PTSS). Members criticised the report that the strategy study was not comprehensive enough and in a lack of prescience. The motion was passed with 40 members voting in favour of it.