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Speech by SHA at Legco Finance Committee special meeting

    Following is a speech by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho, on the key areas of work of the Home Affairs Bureau at the Special Meeting of Legislative Council Finance Committee today (March 13): (Translation)


     As Members will realise, the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) covers a wide range of policy and programme areas with resources accounted for under a total of seven Heads of Expenditure. My respective Controlling Officers have provided answers to 223 written questions from Members accounting for the use of resources under their purview. They are here to respond to any further questions that Members may wish to raise. I would like to take a few minutes to brief Members on several priority areas of the HAB in the new financial year. These are sports development, community building and civic education and the District Councils Review.  

Sports development

     The 2009 East Asian Games marks an important milestone in sports development in Hong Kong and I am grateful for the Legislative Council's support in the appropriation of funds for this major event. The East Asian Games will be the first ever multi-sports international games to be hosted in Hong Kong. It will facilitate our sports development, and strengthen Hong Kong's position as a major sports events capital in the region. To oversee the planning and preparation of the Games, we have set up a cross-sector Planning Committee. Drawing reference from the institutional set-up for organising major games elsewhere, and hoping to host the East Asian Games in a more flexible and pro-active approach, we have also formed the East Asian Games Company comprising members from different sectors. The Government is firmly committed to supporting the event. We will continue to work closely with the local sports sector and the community in the coming years to make the event a success.

     While planning for the East Asian Games proceeds in the coming year, the year 2006 is an important year for our athletes competing in the 2006 Asian Games to be held in Doha.  Significant additional resources of some $70 million have been included in the 2006-07 Estimates to enhance the elite athlete training programmes of the Hong Kong Sports Institute Limited in anticipation of the Doha Asian Games as well as the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2009 East Asian Games to be held in Hong Kong. In fact, this is the single expenditure item with the biggest year-on-year growth in my portfolio in 2006-07.

     Apart from devoting considerable resources, we are also committed to maintaining a steady funding provision for elite sports training and development through adopting the "athlete-centred" principle. On top of the recurrent subvention to the Hong Kong Sports Institute Limited for supporting elite training, the HAB has earmarked a total of $9 million as an additional "booster" through provision of direct incentive to eligible Hong Kong Sports Institute scholarship athletes who are going to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games and 2009 East Asian Games. In addition, a further sum of $40 million under Arts and Sports Development Fund has been earmarked for these upcoming major sports games. I look forward to Members' continued support for our efforts to enhance sports development in Hong Kong.

Community building and civic education

     Fostering harmony in the community is the common wish of the people of Hong Kong. To this end, the HAB will strengthen its community-building work through various programmes targeting young people, new arrivals, ethnic minorities, etc. For example, the HAB and the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education (CPCE) have been working in close partnership to promote civic education outside schools. This year, we will focus on promoting the concepts of "Harmonious Society", "National Education" and "Corporate Citizenship".  To achieve the objectives, we will implement the following measures:

* Through the annual Community Participation Scheme, we will provide financial subsidies to community organisations for organising activities on the theme of "Harmony and Integration". We will also continue to promote the concept of "civility" by launching publicity and promotional programmes and producing publications on civic education with a view to building an integrated civil society.

* We set up a Working Group on National Education comprising members from the CPCE and the Commission on Youth in mid-2004 with an aim to strengthening the promotion of national education in Hong Kong. Since then we have organised a series of promotional activities, including a survey on the sense of national identity and pride of Hong Kong people, television announcements in the public interest, an international symposium and the Community Participation Scheme for Organising Study Tours to the Mainland, etc. We will continue to launch promotional programmes that meet with the aspirations of the public and changes in the society. In particular, we aim to help promote public understanding on the contemporary history of China and its political situation, so as to give them a full picture of developments in our motherland.

* Hong Kong is an international financial and business centre with a working population of over three million. Therefore, the promotion of "Corporate Citizenship" or "Corporate Social Responsibility" will help promote civic education to the adult population (particularly the working population) and build a sustainable civil society. To this end, we organised a Corporate Citizenship Seminar last year and will conduct a large-scale survey this year to find out how well Hong Kong companies are aware of and practising "Corporate Social Responsibility". The findings will be taken into account for preparation of a handbook or charter on "Corporate Citizenship".

     We will continue to strengthen cooperation with civic education committees/organisations at district level, and will consolidate the input of the education sector, the media and professionals so as to enhance the overall effectiveness of civic education.

District Councils Review

     With a view to enhancing our work in districts, the Chief Executive has stated in the 2005-06 Policy Address that Government would allow each District Council to assume responsibility for the management of some district facilities. Specifically, the executive departments will follow the decisions of the District Councils in managing such facilities, within the limits of their existing statutory powers and resources available. A working group set up for the District Councils Review is working out an implementation plan for this initiative.

     In the context of preparing for the review, we have listened to the views of Legislative Council Members, District Council Chairmen and Vice Chairmen as well as various interested parties. The working group has conducted preliminary studies on the role, functions and composition of District Councils and is formulating the proposals for public consultation. It remains our objective to commence formal public consultation as soon as possible.


     Chairman, this concludes my opening remarks. My colleagues and I will be happy to answer any questions that Members may wish to raise. Thank you.

Ends/Monday, March 13, 2006
Issued at HKT 16:42