Two days after my last report on 19 December 1996, I was elected
a member of the Provisional Legislature. I am pleased to note
Council's decision to maintain a close working relationship
with me in that new capacity after 1 July.
Hong Kong entered the year of 1997 in expectation and mourning.
The Chief Executive of HKSAR named his full line-up of executives
and patriarch Deng died. Instead of giving Hong Kong the long
anticipated tremor, these important historic events went by
in a relatively calm atmosphere. With much of the political
uncertainties now removed, the Financial Secretary (FS) lost
little time in announcing a record HKD 31.7 billion surplus
for 1997-98 and an enormous HKD 360 billion reserve. The transitional
Budget, glimmering in gold, echoed strongly the lavish words
of confidence from celebrities of the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) held in Hong Kong just the week before. In response,
should the accountancy profession join the chorus of 'feeling
good' or the 'off-key' criticisms of the FS's misery? Council's
On a more personal note, I submitted two successive articles
stating my stance on 'the Selection Committee' and 'the Provisional
Legislature' to the Hong Kong Accountant. The first already
appeared under LegCo Column in the last issue and the other
one awaiting publication.
II. Committees and Panels
1. Public Accounts Committee (PAC):
The PAC met a total of 15 times before I tabled the PAC Report
No. 27 in LegCo on 29 January 1997. The Committee reached consensus
on all issues despite of the fact that the report contained
some highly controversial recommendations e.g. removal of the
Commissioner of Police from his government quarter.
I met the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on 10 March 1997
in LegCo and pressed the case on behalf of Hong Kong for the
return of the HKD 1.1 billion loan.
2. Financial Affairs Panel:
The Panel held 4 meetings (Agenda attached as Appendix I) since
the last report. The Panel studied the Insurance Companies (Amendment)
Bill 1997 and concluded that a Bills Committee was not necessary.
I confirmed with TD subsequently that HKSA would not make a
submission. The Bill will be tabled for Second and Third Readings
before the end of this month.
3. Administration of Justice and Legal Services Panel:
The Panel held 8 meetings since the last report. The use of
Chinese in Courts was extensively discussed. No significant
business for HKSA.
4. Welfare Services Panel:
The Panel held 5 meetings since the last report. The discussion
on the arrangement to relax the 'Absence Rules' for elderly
recipients was widely reported. No significant business for
5. Matters relating to the Formation of Parliamentary
The Group met once since the last report. No significant business
6. Finance Committee and House Committee:
TD of HKSA kept informed of progress on all bills on a weekly
basis. There were 8 meetings of Finance Committee and 7 meetings
of House Committee. I took side with the Administration and
successfully lobbied for the passage of funds to sustain the
Office of the Mandatory Provident Fund.
7. Special Transport Panel:
The Panel held 2 meetings since the last report. The high-priced
Western Corridor Railway is proceeding quietly away from political
III. Bills Committee Joined
1. Independent Police Complaints Council Bill (IPCC):
I attended as Vice-Chairman of IPCC and protracted
discussion continues on the best way to reorganize IPCC.
2. Securities and Futures Commission (Amendment) (No.
3) Bill 1996:
After a long wait at the bottom of a long queue of
Bills, the Bill is gradually surfacing again as the result of
extra efforts put in by LegCo to clear all the backlogs before
handover. Meanwhile, the Law Reform Commission has written to
LegCo to communicate its hesitation in supporting the Bill.
3. Subcommittee on Travel Industry Compensation Fund
(Amount of Ex Gratia Payments and Financial Penalty) (Amendment)
(No. 2) Rules 1996:
The Subcommittee met once and rejected a suggestion from the
Democratic Party to raise compensation to travellers in the
case of defaulted outbound tours from 90% to 100%.
4. Social Workers Registration Bill:
This Bill seeks to create a statutory council to register professional
social workers. I attended as Chairman of the Hong Kong Council
of Social Services (HKCSS) and was elected Deputy Chairman of
the Bills Committee. LegCo members also valued my input because
of the experience I gained in managing professional and statutory
5. Child Care Centres (Amendment) Bill 1996:
This Bill seeks to certify and control childminders operating
small private centres. I attended as Chairman of HKCSS and former
Chairman of the Social Welfare Advisory Committee (SWAC) which
helped to shape the Bill.
6. Medical Registration (Transitional Provisions) Bill
In response to the Medical Council's decision to hold
unified examinations without granting a transition period to
some Hong Kong students now studying overseas, the Hon. Selina
Chow has moved a Private Member's Bill to legislate for a transition
period against the wishes of the medical profession.
I decided to support the Private Member's Bill not only because
it is the right thing to do, it is also important for our own
students to feel absolutely sure that they would not have to
face the same predicament when we begin to implement our own
independent examinations. The LegCo representative of the medical
profession, Dr. the Hon. C.H. Leong, has acknowledged my position
and there should be no adverse repercussion on our future co-operation
with the medical profession.
IV. Motion Debates
List attached as Appendix II. Speeches on my Web Page and highlights
will be published in my circulars to members.
I have asked 3 written questions (Appendix III) since my last
report. They are on corporate governance, MPF and tax collection
respectively. The relevant HKSA Committees may wish to be advised
and to consider the replies further.
VI. General Political Background
It seems that all eyes are on the Chief Executive of the HKSAR
in the next few months before the handover. Needless to say,
Mr. Tung will have a difficult act to play particularly in how
he balances his powers with the Preparatory Committee and the
Provisional Legislature . China is still likely to play an active
referee role in this process behind the scene for some time
JLG negotiations are likely to shift to high gear as practical
results would be urgently needed. It is apparent that diplomats
from both sides would wish to keep political wrangles to the
negotiation table and not through media microphones. In place
of political debates, celebration activities may begin to dot
the media headlines.
The Subcommittee of the Preparatory Committee Studying the
Formation of the 1998 First Legislature is likely to come up
with a final decision in principle by late May. It seems that
current thinking is to leave the Accountancy Functional Constituency
untouched but a follow up letter from HKSA to restate our case
is still useful during the month long consultation period ending
31 March. I shall keep the matter in view as a member of the
aforesaid Sub-committee and Council might like to think about
a voters registration drive soon afterwards.