Interesting topics in LegCo this week: Surveillance, human reproductive technology and subsidies to DC election.
April 8 Wednesday
Meeting of Public Works Subcommittee
- $893.1 million to expand the Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service Headquarters. Proposal were approved and sent to the Finance Committee.
- $563.3 million for the refurbishment of Hong Kong Buddhist Hospital. Proposal were approved and sent to the Finance Committee.
April 9 Thursday
Meeting of Bills Committee on Interception of Communications and Surveillance (Amendment) Bill 2015
The Bill is to empower the Commissioner on Interception of Communications and Surveillance to examine, inspect and listen to protected products, and obtain information that is subject to legal professional privilege. Charles Mok (FC- IT) says he has received complaints that the enforcement authorities sometimes request information from the communication companies without having a warrant. Security Bureau replied saying if the request concerns with the content of the communication, a warrant must be applied under the Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance but if the request concerns other information, such as the details of the subscribers, a warrant may not be necessary. Discussion underway.
Meeting of Bills Committee on Human Reproductive Technology (Amendment) Bill 2015
The Bill seeks to ban the publication or distribution of advertisements purporting to promote sex selection services through human reproductive technology procedures, regardless of the locations where the services are provided. Although human reproductive technology is already banned in Hong Kong, Council on Human Reproductive Technology sees a need to legislate the promotion of such technology as it observed an increase in local press advertisements and leaflets promoting sex selection services available outside Hong Kong. The Council has so far received no complaints and therefore no prosecution has been recorded. Charles Mok and Cyd Ho (GC- HK Island, Labour Party) asked whether search engines will be found guilty for showing search results containing the promotion of human reproductive technology, the Administration says they will consider the “intent” for each case. The Administration didn’t reply to Cyd Ho’s question asking the investigation process regarding Peter Lee, son of Lee Shau-kee, hiring a surrogate mother in America. And when asked if the Bill will apply to other jurisdictions, the Administration says it will gather evidence and will prosecute in Hong Kong. Discussion underway.
Meeting of Subcommittee to Study the Proposed Subsidiary Legislation on the Procedures to be Adopted by the Competition Tribunal
Members discussed the legal framework and procedures of the Competition Tribunal with the judiciary, the Competition Commission and the LegCo legal advisor. Dennis Kwok (FC- Legal, Civic Party) asked whether the judges in the Tribunal will allow Queen’s Counsels from abroad to handle the lawsuits rather than through an ad hoc admission via the High Court. The Administration will reply in next meeting.
Meeting of Bills Committee on Promotion of Recycling and Proper Disposal (Electrical Equipment and Electronic Equipment) (Amendment) Bill 2015
The Bill seeks to amend the Product Eco-responsibility Ordinance and the Waste Disposal Ordinance to provide for a scheme for the recycling and proper disposal of several types of electrical equipment and electronic equipment. Lo Wai Kwok was made Chairman of the Committee.The administration proposes for distributors to pay a Recycling Fee for regulated electronic appliances and to make mandatory the provision of a collection service for disposed electronic equipment. After previous consultations, the administration suggest that small household appliances, such as small television sets, would require a $100 recycling fee; large household appliances, such as large TV sets and refrigerators, would require $200-250 dollars. Jeffrey Lam (BPA) questioned the execution of charging the fee, citing the difficulty to charge parallel electronic good traders. Charles Mok questioned whether electrical equipment purchased from outside of Hong Kong would be charged a fee. The administration explained that distributors from outside of Hong Kong would not be within the stipulations of the amendment.
Meeting of Bills Committee on Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014
Known by many as “Internet Article 23”, the Bill seeks to amend the Copyright Ordinance to provide for the rights to communicate a performance to the public by a copyright owner or performer, most controversially, for acts that may be done without infringing copyright or performers’ rights, and additional factors in considering whether additional damages should be awarded in an action for infringement. Now in its clause-by-clause discussions, the meeting touched on clauses 28-35, discussing copyright legislation regarding the copying, and communication of works in libraries and archives, and introducing museums to the relevant laws.
Meeting of Subcommittee on District Councils Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 7) Order 2015 and Maximum Amount of Election Expenses (District Council Election) (Amendment) Regulation 2015
The two subsidiary legislation will increase the financial assistance to this year’s District Council election, including raising the compensation from $12 per vote to $14 per vote and increasing the election expenses limit from $53,800 to $63,100.
Currently, elected candidates or candidates who received 5% of valid votes or more in the District Council election is eligible for financial assistance, which would be the lowest of the following amounts:
- the amount obtained by multiplying the subsidy rate (currently $12 per vote) by the total number of valid votes cast for the candidate (if the election is contested) or 50% of the number of registered electors for the constituency concerned (if the election is uncontested);
- 50% of the election expenses limit; and
- the declared election expenses of the candidate.
Emily Lau (GC- NT East, DP) asked whether the subsidies can be more. Former lawmaker and now the Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Lau Kong-wah replied that members agreed to $10 long time ago. The Subcommittee finished examining the subsidiary legislation.
April 10 Friday
Meeting of Panel on Home Affairs
- Discussion on the support to elite athletes. Currently, 27 secondary schools provide flexible curriculum to accommodate young athletes’ study, training and competition schedules. 139 athletes are pursuing degree programmes at local tertiary institutions under the Hong Kong Sport Institute’s (HKSI) scholarship. Last year, HKSI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Hong Kong Institute of Education to facilitate the admission of elite athletes into the Institute’s undergraduate programmes through a special scheme.
So far, HKSI has granted a total of about $16.9 million from the Hong Kong Athletes Fund to 169 athletes, allowing them to continue their studies and to develop alternative careers upon retirement from full-time sports training and competition. HKSI also offers athletes the opportunity to study a Bachelor of Education in Sports Training Programme at the Beijing Sport University. To date, 70 Hong Kong athletes have completed the course and 24 are studying.
- Discussion on the Signature Project undertaken in Wong Tai Sin, Sham Shui Po, Tsuen Wan and Sha Tin. The Signature Project was proposed in 2013 and provided each District Council $100 million for development. The projects include:
- $66.9 million for enhancement of Leisure Facilities of Morse Park in Wong Tai Sin
- $37 million for a Mei Foo Neighbourhood Activity Centre in Sham Shui Po
- $99.8 million for redevelopment of the Sai Lau Kok Garden in Tsuen Wan
- $58.7 million for revitalisation of Shing Mun River Promenade and $81.3 million for an open space for Tai Wai town centre
Meeting of Bills Committee on Insurance Companies (Amendment) Bill 2014
15th meeting to discuss the establishment of the Independent Insurance Authority and licensing regime. Discussion underway.