LegCo round-up October 11th to 21st

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Saturday October 11th

Meeting of Subcommittee on Retirement Protection
12 academics attended a hearing to voice their opinions on the Research Report on Future Development of Retirement Protection. Some of the academics disagreed with the universal pension proposal by Prof Nelson Chow. Prof Chou Kee-lee from the Hong Kong Institute of Education urged society to focus discussion on the goal the retirement protection system wants to achieve, then a proposal can be built towards that goal.

Tuesday October 14th

Meeting of Bills Committee on Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014
Discussion continued on addressing the copyright issues for the exemption of parody work. Ronny Tong (GC- NT East, Civic Party) said there was no prosecution in the past regarding the copyright infringement of parody work and asked why the government has to provoke online users by pushing this amendment bill when there are more important policies to address. The administration replied that they have studied the practices of other nations and believed this amendment will boost the economy and protect online users. Discussion underway.

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. Discussion underway.

Meeting of Subcommittee on Road Traffic (Amendment) Ordinance 2012 (Commencement) Notice
Amendments include a public light bus (PLB) that is first registered on or after 1 December 2014 to be fitted with an approved electronic data recording device and an applicant who applies for a PLB driving licence on or after 1 June 2015 will be required to have attended and completed a pre-service course before he/she is issued with a PLB driving licence. Driving school lobby jubilant. Subcommittee finished the examination the legislation.

Meeting of Bills Committee on Electronic Health Record Sharing System Bill
The 7th meeting of this bill committee was supposed to be held on September 29th but due to the OC and the absence of Privacy Commissioner Allan Chiang (he was out of town), the meeting postponed to October 14th. This meeting did not address privacy issues. Elizabeth Quat (GC- NT East, DAB) raised concerns on which software would the Administration use and they replied that they are still looking into different softwares in the market, and will cooperate with the Medical Association and Dental Association to search for the best software available. (Read our special feature on the e-Health Records system on page 1)

Wednesday October 15th

Meeting of Bills Committee on Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014
Discussion continues on the bill to improve the court system. Ronny Tong disagreed with the abolition of the existing as-of-right appeal mechanism for civil causes or matters to the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal, fearing this will impede the rights to appeal for some people. The administration replied that the current system already allows exemption for some cases that do not have ‘great and general importance’ to stand. As a result, this new legislation will not impede people’s rights to appeal. Discussion underway.

Meeting of Bills Committee on Property Management Services Bill
Discussion continued on the bill which proposes to establish a Property Management Services Authority and introduce a licensing regime to regulate property management services. Wu Chi-wai (GC- Kowloon East, DP) asked if there are enough property managers that will meet the licensing requirement since property management degrees in tertiary education only came out in the 90s. Administration replied that there are currently 4,500 level one property managers and around 7,000 in level two though these are non-official licenses and the proposed licensing requirement will be more tight. Elderly caretakers with one foot on the door and a nap underway, take note. Unemployment looming (if minimum wage didn’t get you).

Wednesday October 15th, 2014

Council meeting

Council is back! After some members got over the willy-nillies from crowds of study groups in the streets (only Hong Kong…), Council got back underway!

1. 37 members approved a petition presented by Tam Yiu-chung (GC- NT West, DAB) and Ip Kwok-him (FC- DC 1st, DAB) to investigate the OC movement. Sin Chung-kai and Kwok Ka-ki (GC- NT West, Civic Party) also presented a petition to investigate police’s handling of the protesters. 25 supported the petition. Both petitions will be handled in the House Committee as to whether to form select committees.

2. Urgent questions by 5 members. Frederick Fung (FC- DC 2nd, ADPL), Cyd Ho (GC- HK Island, Labour Party) and Kwok Ka-ki questioned the police’s handling of the protesters, including the ‘inappropriate’ weapons used. Helena Wong (GC- Kowloon West, DP) asked about measures to protect the personal safety of assembly participants and journalists. Tam Yiu-chung asked for the measures to alleviate the impact of Occupy Central movement on society.

3. Alan Leong (GC- Kowloon East, Civic Party) moved a motion to adjourn the Council meeting to debate on the handling of people’s assemblies by the Police since September 26th.

Thursday October 16th

Continuation of Council meeting
Debate continued on Alan Leong’s motion to adjourn the Council. Ronny Tong disagreed with Regina Ip (GC- HK Island, NPP) who said that candidates are screened in all elections in the world. Tong said what pan-democrats have been talking about is whether the system allows people from different parties to have a chance to be nominated, instead of focusing on the process of election. Tong emphasised that “competition among political parties does not mean screening.” Tong also criticised the Police for abusing protesters, saying “no matter what they did, you should solve the problems in the court.”

Friday October 17th

Continuation of Council meeting
Debate continued on Alan Leong’s motion to adjourn the Council. The motion was voted down by split voting. Meeting will resume next Wednesday.

Meeting of House Committee
1. A Bill Committee was set up to legislate the charges to private non-domestic projects on the use of the district cooling services provided by the Government at the Kai Tak Development.

2. Emily Lau, Abraham Shek, Vincent Fang, Wong Ting-kwong, Cyd Ho, Chan Kin-por, Ip Kwok-him, Ng Leung-sing, Charles Mok and Kenneth Chan became the new members of the LegCo Commission and the Committee on Access to the Legislature’s Documents and Records.

3 Sin Chung-kai (GC- HK Island, DP), Claudia Mo (GC- Kowloon West, Civic Party) and Dennis Kwok (FC- Legal, Civic Party) proposed to set up a select committee to investigate into CY Leung’s alleged receipt of secret payments from an Australian firm. Abraham Shek disagreed with the use of power derived from the LegCo’s Power and Privilege Ordinance to investigate into private companies, which by doing so will severely harm Hong Kong. Shek also said there were other ways to investigate CY Leung, such as the reporting to ICAC. The proposal was voted down by pro-establish members by 22 to 38.

Meeting of Finance Committee
The committee was scheduled to approve a funding proposal of $1,589m for the design and construction of the organic waste treatment facilities phase 1 on Lantau Island. However, at the beginning of the meeting, Lee Cheuk-yan (GC- NT West, Labour Party) proposed a motion to adjourn the Finance Committee, saying the Government has no recognition among the people to seek fundings. Lee said they should wait for the results from the dialogues between the Government and the students. James Tien (GC- NT East, Liberal Party) disagreed with Lee which he considered all the funding proposals apolitical and if Lee disagrees with certain funding proposal, he should deal with it separately instead of shutting down the Finance Committee. Fernando Cheung (GC- NT East, Labour Party) said if the Government moved forward some important funding proposals, such as allowance for low income family, he will vote against Lee Cheuk-yan’s motion. However, the Administration replied that all funding proposals are important and thus will not re-arrange the order of the proposals. Lee’s motion was voted down by 22 to 34. Lee Cheuk-yan then asked whether the Chairman of the Finance Committee has the power to decide the agenda items. Tommy Cheung (FC- Catering, Liberal Party), the Chairman of the committee, said he will not handle Lee’s question as there was not any legal advisor present but said he will talk to the Government. Discussion underway on the organic waste treatment facilities phase 1 proposal.

Monday October 20th

Meeting of Bills Committee on Securities and Futures and Companies Legislation (Uncertificated Securities Market Amendment) Bill 2014
A hearing was held to discuss the implementation of an uncertificated securities market regime, meaning interests in the securities can be transferred without paper through the Central Clearing and Settlement System. Administration said the Bill will improve Hong Kong’s competitiveness to follow global trends since Australia has implemented such a regime in 1999 and EU has a mandate that all IPOs and securities have to be conducted in scripless form by 2025. Discussion underway.

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. The subcommittee needed to file for extension by November 5th but may be hindered from the long queue of agenda items in the Council meeting. Discussion underway.

Meeting of Panel on Constitutional Affairs
1. Discussion on the disqualification of District Council members and Rural Representatives who have unserved prison sentences. Administration is gathering views from the consultation which ended in September and will submit a report to LegCo soon. It proposes to suspend a disqualification during appeals and to allow those to hold office if they are not serving a sentence of imprisonment. If your debt is paid, it’s campaigning time!

2. 2014 voter registration figures. About 3.5m registered electors are contained in the
2014 Final Register of electors for GC, representing a registration rate of 73.5%. Amongst these electors, about 77,000 are newly registered. In FC, there are a total of 232,700 electors, of whom about 600 are newly registered.

Meeting of Bills Committee on Insurance Companies (Amendment) Bill 2014
The Bill will establish an independent Insurance Authority to license insurance intermediaries. The power of investigation, prosecution and ruling are all to be concentrated on the Authority. Discussion underway.

Meeting of Bills Committee on Construction Workers Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014
The Bill is about modifying of the construction workers registration scheme by changing the basis of registration from “trade” to “trade division” and providing arrangements for senior construction workers. Discussion underway.

Meeting of Panel on Health Services
1. Extending the posts of Head (Healthcare Planning and Development Office) and Deputy Head (Healthcare Planning and Development Office), for a period of five years to implement the Health Protection Scheme, strengthen the healthcare manpower supply and facilitate professional development.

2. Mechanism put in place by the Hospital Authority to ensure safety in the use of medical equipment and products in light of the the use of expired surgical sutures at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital this July. The Authority said there were around 236 patients affected in the incident and has initiated an investigation.

Tuesday October 21st

Meeting of Subcommittee to Prepare for the Operation of the Select Committee on the Petition Presented at the Council Meeting of 25 June 2014
Discussion on the use of terms, the work and the membership issues of the Select Committee on the petition submitted by Charles Mok (FC- IT, Professional Commons) and Wu Chi-wai to investigate the delay of the construction of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

Meeting of Panel on Commerce and Industry
1. Report on the work of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices, the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office (Taiwan) and the Office of the Government of the HKSAR in Beijing. Administration said the foreign offices have assisted in supplying information regarding Occupy Central to foreign media and business units. HT has copies of such ‘information’ which includes reiterating the ‘internal matters’ line whenever an actor abroad comments on OC.

2. Trade relations between Hong Kong and Taiwan. For merchandise trade, Hong Kong and Taiwan were each other’s fourth largest trading partner in 2013, with total bilateral merchandise trade amounting to over HK$339.3 billion (comprising exports of around HK$77.4 billion to Taiwan and imports of around HK$261.9 billion from Taiwan). See our Taiwan story on page 6.
3. Government’s assistance to small and medium enterprises who are affected by the Occupy Central movement. The assistance included the SME Loan Guarantee Scheme and the special concessionary measures under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme of the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation Limited which are backed up by the Government’s total loan guarantee commitment of $100 billion and to provide 80% loan guarantees to enterprises at a concessionary fee rate. These are pre-existing programs, so really just a reminder that they exist and can be used by affected firms.