|With LegCo in recess, overseas news
dominate the headlines over the summer months. The unrest in
East Timor, the Taiwan quakes and more recently, the 50th
Anniversary Celebration of the People's Republic of China.
The economy had performed better and our GDP is back on a
growth track. The Government was still cautious though and
senior officials remained low key in breaking the news to
the world. In any case, it is still not worth blowing any
trumpet when compared with the faster recovery rates of many
other Asian economies. Also quietly but surely, the Government
speeded up plans to list the Mass Transit Railway Corporation
and its own brand of unit trust in a Trackers Fund. These
moves will bring billions to the Government's coffer which
would help to balance the budget this year and possibly the
Short of good stories, the media made a big fuss of the Inland
Revenue Commissioner's case. Accountants were given a short
break though while the media's own self regulation and ethics
had been put on the firing line. It showed that negative public
sentiments now spare no profession from intense scrutiny.
All the more reason for us to stay objective and very sensitive
to public demands when tackling the controversial Securities
and Futures Bill.
|II. Committees and Panels
||Public Accounts Committee (PAC):
||The Committee held 26 meetings, including 11
public hearings to discuss PAC Report No. 32. During the public
hearings, the Committee heard evidence from a total of 60 witnesses
including 10 policy Bureau Secretaries and 16 Heads of Department.
The Committee drew many practical conclusions to help the
Administration focus on the monitoring of public works, introducing
good work practices and internal control, highlighting areas
which are particularly vulnerable to possible corruption opportunities
and the pursuit of privatisation and outsourcing. The Committee
was particularly critical of the Administration for (1) allowing
more than 20 years to elapse, while none of the five Central
District footbridges, planned since the 1970s had been built;
and (2) the laxed attitude in enforcing the law against obscene
and indecent articles.
The widely publicised hearing of the China Light and Power
case is continuing and preparatory works have already begun
for PAC Report No. 33.
||Financial Affairs Panel:
||The Panel held 2 special meetings since the last
report and the relevant agenda are attached as Appendix I. The
first special meeting was held on the 7 September 1999 to study
the method and schedule of consultation on the 2000-2001 Budget.
The second meeting was a special joint meeting with the Panel
on Transport on the 4 October 1999 to receive a
briefing on the legislative proposal to privatise the Mass
Transit Railway Corporation.
A proposed list of future agenda items is attached as Appendix
II for reference.
||Welfare Services Panel:
||The Panel held 3 meetings since the last report.
The Panel studied the Neighbourhood Level Community Development
Projects (NLCDP) - Policy and NLCDP Team in Tai O, Hong Kong
Red Cross Report on the operation of the CSSA Scheme, the extension
of grace period for sale of owner-occupied residential property
and after school care service allowance for single parent families.
The Panel also focused on the CSSA issue, such as the Active
Employment Assistance Programme, CSSA - review of requirements
of disregarded earnings and the follow-up discussion on effect
of tightening of CSSA on the elderly as well as the disabled
and single parent families.
A Joint meeting with Home Affairs was held to discuss the
effect of the proposal of "one school social worker in
each secondary school" on youth services.
||Economic Services Panel:
||The Panel held 2 special meetings since the last
report. The Panel discussed the follow-up on year 2000 compliance
in Government, Government-funded and Government-regulated organisations
under the purview of the Economic Services Bureau and received
a briefing on the aircraft accident of 22 August 1999 at the
Hong Kong International Airport.
||Information Technology and Broadcasting
||The Panel held 2 special meetings since the last
report. The Panel mainly focused on the overall progress of
the Year 2000 compliance exercise. It also examined the progress
of the Cyber-port project and the progress report on the moratorium
on the issue of further local fixed telecommunication network
||Finance Committee and House Committee:
||Owing to the adjournment of the Legislative Council,
there was no Finance Committee meeting and only one meeting
of House Committee held on 24 September 1999.
TD of HKSA was kept informed of progress on all bills on
a weekly basis. The 1998/99 legislative programme dated 13
July is attached as Appendix III.
|III. Bill Committees Joined
||Revenue Bill 1999
||This Bills seeks to amend certain Ordinances
to give effect to the proposals in the Budget introduced by
the Government for the 1999-2000 financial year, and for connected
purposes. It was passed on 7 July 1999.
||Banking (Amendment) Bill 1999
||This Bill is to amend the Banking ordinance (Cap.
155) (the Ordinance) so as to: (a) bring Hong Kong's banking
supervision framework in closer conformity with the core principle
for effective banking supervision published by the Basle Committee
on banking supervision in September 1999; (b) revise the provisions
governing the publication and submission of annual audited accounts
of authorised institutions; and (c) improve the operation of
the Ordinance in the light of market developments.
It was passed without controversy on 7 July 1999.
||Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999
||The major provisions in the Bill seek to amend
the Legislative Council Ordinance in order to provide the electoral
law for the second term of the Legislative Council. The Bills
Committee held 23 meetings and also received submission from
a total of 69 individuals and organisations.
I proposed an amendment to alter the electorates of the Social
Welfare Functional Constituency, which was narrowly defeated.
However, the particular amendment had raised hot constitutional
issues which was widely reported and there were much debates
amongst political analyst of its Basic Law (Article 74) implications.
In the meantime, the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs
had already indicated to me that the Government will be moving
the Bill for me again in October as a Government Bill.
||Protection of Wages on Insolvency (Amendment)
||I was elected Chairman of this Bills Committee
as a recognised 'neutral' lawmaker on labour issues. The Committee
met twice since the last report. This Bill seeks to improve
the ex-gratia payment to employees who are owed severance payments
by their insolvent employers.
||Telecommunication (Amendment) Bill 1999
||There were 3 meetings since the last report.
The objective of this Bill is to amend the Telecommunication
Ordinance (Cap. 106) following the consultation on proposals
set out in the consultation paper entitled "1998 Review
of Fixed Telecommunications: A Considered View" issued
by the Information Technology and Broadcasting Bureau in September
1998 with a view to: (a) enhancing competition safeguards; (b)
improving interconnection and access arrangements to telecommunications
services; (c) streamlining licensing procedures; and (d) providing
the Telecommunications Authority with powers over certain technical
This Bill is very controversial but represent a significant
step of the Government in liberalising the telecommunications
market. HKSA had made a submission which is being followed
||Subcommittee on Resolution under Section 3
of the Dogs and Cats Ordinance (Cap. 167) and Dogs and Cats
(Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (97 of 1997) (Commencement) Notice
||There were 4 meetings since the last report.
The purpose of the Subcommittee is to seek the Legislative Council's
approval of the Dangerous Dogs Regulation ("the Regulation")
which provides for the control and regulation of fighting dogs,
large dogs and known dangerous dogs. I received a number of
representations from dog-owners within the Accountancy Functional
Constituent and I will follow up their cause.
||Subcommittee on Securities and Futures Bill
||The Subcommittee is to study the major reform
proposals under the Securities and Futures Bill prior to its
introduction into the Council.
A series of 4 meetings were held and I had forcefully put
the case of HKSA's very lengthy submission. I sensed an uphill
battle with the major political parties all indicating support
of the broad principles of the draft bill. However, the Subcommittee
was persuaded to give HKSA some time to sort out the matter
with the Administration and we should now be back on the negotiation
table. There is no more time to loose and I have suggested
a few lines to take to Mr. Nick Etches, our Task Force Chairman.
||Subcommittee on the Five Resolution made under
Section 4 of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters
Ordinance (Cap. 525) - Mutual Legal Assistance
in Criminal Matters (United States of America) Order
||The 2nd meeting of the Subcommittee
was held on 20 September 1999. In response to HKSA's representations,
the Administration confirmed that the various provisions in
the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill previously
proposed by us are not modified by the Order and will apply
to US requests. I have also passed the Administration's response
to our points raised on double criminality and the vagueness
and potential scope of the offences covering export control
etc. to the TD. It seems to me that we should have no major
objection to the Order after clarification is sought.
|V. Motion Debate
|List attached as Appendix IV. Speeches
on my Web Page and highlights will be published in my circulars
|VI General Political Background
|The Chief Executive will deliver
his Policy Address tomorrow. It is generally expected that the
Address will be quite short and that he will focus on tackling
'softer' issues like environmental protection; restructuring
of Urban Services; education reforms and youth policy objectives;
financial markets reform and plans to develop our infrastructure
and tourism industry. The Business Sector will also be looking
for signs of a more upbeat economy.
The District Board election to be held on 28 November 1999
is heating up. The popularity of different political parties
will again be tested. The Administration is likely to face
a harder time than usual as political parties will be even
more picky in order to attract publicity.
With some of the energy of political parties channelled to
the District Board elections, the rest of us will need to
concentrate on the scrutiny of the many important Bills coming