LegCo Round-up July 20th to 24th

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Lawmakers started the past week with packed meetings as they turned their focus to lead-in-water case; Tommy Cheung hosted FC end-of-session press conference.

July 20 2015

Meeting of Subcommittee on Strategy and Measures to Tackle Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence

A Subcommittee under the Panel on Welfare Services discussed on Monday measures to support domestic helpers against domestic and sexual violence. During the meeting, a concern group on women’s rights expressed concerns over maids losing their jobs and place to live after asking for help as they fall victim to violence. The group urged the government to set up an inter-departmental mechanism to protect the rights of domestic helpers. On the other hand, it was noted by another deputation that some domestic helpers would beat their employers’ kids intentionally to get fired.


Meeting of Bills Committee on Private Columbaria Bill

Principal Assistant, Secretary for Food and Health Diane Wong stated that current laws could not be applied to records and contracts of columbaria that were set up before the legislation. Democratic Party’s Wu Chi-wai proposed adding new requirements to existing contracts of columbaria operations to protect customers and avoid unnecessary disputes over the new regulation’s applicability.


Meeting of Panel on Public Service

The Panel on Public Service held a meeting on Monday to discuss the recruitment of ethnic minorities as civil servants. The then Secretary for the Civil Service Paul Tang stressed that the Government would only take into account an applicant’s capability and not his or her ethnicity when considering the application. The authority also noted that requirement on language ability would varies according to the nature of the post (ie. whether the post requires a high level of communications).


Meeting of Panel on Constitutional Affairs

The Panel on Constitutional Affairs discussed the upcoming district council elections. Ip Kwok-him from DAB believed that the turnout rate would increase after the Occupy movement and filibustering in the LegCo. Democratic Party’s Sin Chung-kai urged the authorities to work with digital media to provide more platforms for candidate debates.


Meeting of Bills Committee on Promotion of Recycling and Proper Disposal (Electrical Equipment and Electronic Equipment) (Amendment) Bill 2015

Liberal Party’s Vincent Fang worried that people would find it difficult to dispose or collect electronic waste as the proposed electronic disposal treatment plant would only start operation by 2017. Meanwhile, the Government noted that it would enhance cooperation with schools during the Summer vacation to help collect computer waste and equipment.


Meeting of Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services

Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok proposed making public the list of assets held by the Chinachem Charitable Foundation Limited for the sake of public supervision.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen responded by stressing that the Department of Justice, while it cannot regulate the charities unless there is sufficient information or evidence of breach of charitable trust, would fulfill its responsibility as protector of the charities in any feasible way. Yuen noted that the authorities would need further studies to decide which items on the asset list can be disclosed to the public.


Meeting of Panel on Health Services

The panel discussed measures to handle the lead-in-water issue. Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man pointed out at that a medical assessment would be conducted if higher-than-normal lead level in blood was recorded. Clinical diagnosis and/or detoxification treatment would be arranged for serious cases.

When asked if the Government should extend the blood test, Ko said it would depend on the test results of the 900 or so residents of Kai Ching Estate and if excessive lead was found in drinking water in other housing estates.


July 21 2015


Meeting of Subcommittee on Issues Relating to the Development of Chinese Medicine

The subcommittee discussed the professional development and remuneration package for the Chinese medicine practitioners. Yiu Si-wing (FC – Tourism, Independent) suggested Chinese Medicine Practitioners lack a professional qualifications system, which harms the prospects for young practitioners, asking the administration to set up one, including professional and examination systems.

Undersecretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan noted that Chinese medicine development was still in its initial stage as referring to the practice in the mainland and Taiwan. The Subcommittee will continue to study possible policies while the Government would take the responsibility to promote its development, including the proposal the reserve a land in Tseung Kwan O for a Chinese medical centre. Miss Janice Tse Siu-wa stated, the professionalisation of Chinese Medicine could have a far-reaching impact on education. Given there is no precedent, more research needs to go into the issue to reach a consensus with the industry.


Case conference with the Administration (Closed)


Meeting of Subcommittee on Poverty

The Subcommittee met with deputations to discuss the Community Care Fund and listen to the suggestions. Subdivided housing tenants indicated that the need for extra air-conditioning, in addition to overcharging by flat owners meant a heavy burden for them. They hoped the Community Care fund could provide them with seasonal subsidies.

Meeting of Panel on Environmental Affairs

The Panel discussed the progress of the Pilot Green Transport Fund, panel members were concerned how the scheme would apply to the taxi industry. Andrew Lai, Deputy Secretary of Environment Protection pointed out that, the operations of the taxi industry involve running four to five hundred kilometres a day. If taxis were to adopt electric vehicles, they would need to charge all the time, which is impractical. Wu Chi-wai (GC – Kowloon East, DP) suggested the installation of more rapid chargers. The administration stated that rapid charging can be harmful to the battery and would therefore be impractical for the industry. Frankie Yick Chi-ming (FC – Transport, Liberal Party) suggested the adoption of biodiesel fuel and Euro VI vehicles. Andrew Lai indicated that the department would be happy to coordinate with industry.


Case conference with the Administration (Closed)


Member’s interview with a member of the public (Closed)


July 22 Wednesday


Special Meeting of Panel on Transport

The panel discussed regulation of workshops carrying out repair and maintenance of liquefied petroleum gas vehicles, after the unfortunate explosion of a vehicle maintenance workshop in Tsz Wan Chan in April. Chan Kam-lam (GC – Kowloon East, DAB) claimed he received complaints that repair shops under housing buildings had problems such as excessive noise and illegal parking, and pointed out that the Voluntary Registration Scheme for Vehicle Maintenance is only a stop-gap measure, and longer term policy is in need. He suggested the government move these workshops under housing to safe and appropriate places.

Ms Ivy Law Chui-mei, Deputy Secretary for Transport and Housing (Transport), suggested that the voluntary registration scheme was implemented in hopes improving workshop service quality, and emphasised that there are other laws that regulate the operations of such workshops. She stated the Government will review the scheme in a year.


Member’s interview with a member of the public (Closed)


Case conference with the Administration (Closed)


Special meeting of Panel on Housing

The panel held a special meeting to discuss the lead found in water.

The members endorsed a non-binding motion moved by Aron Kwok Wai-keung (FC – Labour, FTU) to urge the Government to provide a timetable for water-tests and to provide clean water to residents affected by excessive lead found in drinking water.

Another motion moved by Democratic Party’s Wu Chi-wai to invoke the LegCo’s special power to probe the case under the Powers and Privileges Ordinance, however, was blocked by 10 to 8.


Case conference with the Administration (Closed)


Meeting of Panel on Development

The panel discussed the Hung Shui Kiu Development Area Planning, which would provide approximately 60,000 housing units, with private and public each making up half of them. Kenneth Chan Ka-lok (GC – Hong Kong Island, Civic Party) expressed his concern that the plan might force residents to find work in other districts, as jobs in the area might not be suitable for grassroots residents. Michael Tien (GC – New Territories West, New People’s Party) was concerned the current plan would bring unsurmountable pressure to the traffic systems.

Finance Committee end-of-session press conference

The Finance Committee (FC) announced at the press conference, that the committee held a total of 85 meetings, with a duration of 180 hours, both record breaking numbers. Out of the 100 Government funding requests, the FC approved 98, including 63 public works projects, totaling approximately one hundred billion HKD, which is three times that of last year’s.

The final two items both involved funding requests for the establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau. FC chairman Tommy Cheung Yu-yan (FC – Catering, Liberal Party) stated that the Government has the authority to rearrange the agenda, but refused to assess whether the Government’s decision was wise. He did comment that it “takes two to tango” and said lawmakers should reflect on whether that had forced the Government’s hand.


July 23 Friday


Meeting of Panel on Welfare Services

The panel met with deputations and the administration to discuss service quality and monitoring of private residential care homes. In relation with the earlier controversies surrounding the Cambridge Nursing Home, some legislators requested the Government to revamp the related laws. Voices from the industry blamed the quality of their service on their staff, saying many of them are “brainless”.

Responding to legislators requests to implement a compulsory review system, and revamp the current laws and monitoring mechanisms, Director of Social Welfare, Ms Carol Yip said it would take a long while and much deliberation to amend current laws, but the departments open to different possibilities.


July 24 Friday


Subcommittee on Members’ Remuneration and Operating Expenses Reimbursement meets with the Independent Commission on Remuneration for Members of the Executive Council and the Legislature, and Officials under the Political Appointment System of the HKSAR in the Central Government Offices to exchange views on the Subcommittee’s Report on the Review of Members’ Remuneration and Operating Expenses Reimbursement (Closed)