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LCQ8: Elder's participation in social and public affairs

     Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, to a question by the Hon Wong Kwok-kin in the Legislative Council today (May 13):


     Regarding the participation of elderly people in social and public affairs, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of persons and its percentage in the population aged 60 or above who had registered as volunteers with the Social Welfare Department as at the end of April this year, as well as the percentage of that number in the total number of registered volunteers;

(b) whether it has compiled statistics on the respective numbers of electors aged 60 or above who cast their votes in the 2007 District Council Election and the 2008 Legislative Council Election, and the respective percentages of such numbers in the total numbers of voters in the elections;

(c) of the number and percentage of the non-official members of various advisory and statutory bodies who are aged 65 or above; whether the authorities will stipulate a minimum percentage of the number of elderly members in the total number of members of such bodies, so as to ensure that elderly people have sufficient opportunities to participate in social affairs and policy formulation work; and

(d) whether it has clearly requested various policy bureaux and government departments to establish specific channels for elderly people to express their views, as well as to extensively consult elderly groups and collate the views of elderly people prior to the formulation of major policies?



     Along with the Elderly Commission, the Government has been promoting "active ageing" to encourage elders to pursue lifelong learning, engage in community activities and have healthy living so as to lead an enriched life.  We encourage members of the public, including the elderly, to actively take part in community affairs such as joining volunteer service and fulfilling civic responsibilities.  In formulating policies and programmes, we also take into account the views of the elderly.

     My reply to the question is as follows:

(a) Interested persons can register as volunteers with the Social Welfare Department (SWD) and other organisations.  As at end-April 2009, a total of 108,271 elders aged 60 or above (about 8.9% as derived from the demographic data as at end-2008) have registered as volunteers with SWD, accounting for 13.4% of the total number of volunteers registered with SWD.

(b) In the 2007 District Council Election, the number of registered electors aged 61 or above who cast their votes was about 292,000, accounting for 25.4% of the total number of electors casting their votes.  In the 2008 Legislative Council Election, the number of registered electors aged 61 or above who cast their votes was about 344,000, accounting for 22.6% of the total number of electors casting their votes.  (The data on the age profile of electors who cast their votes is grouped by a five-year range (e.g. 61-65 years old).  We have therefore provided the figures on electors aged 61 or above who cast their votes.)

(c) Members of advisory and statutory bodies (ASBs) are not required to provide age information to the Government.  However, from information provided by those members, as at end-March 2009, of the 5,494 non-official members of ASBs appointed by the Government, 960 (17.5%) were aged 60 or above and 316 (5.8%) aged 65 or above.

     In making appointments to ASBs, the Government aims to secure the services of suitable persons to meet the requirements of the body concerned.  It is our policy to appoint more persons with experience and interest in community affairs.  Each appointment is made taking into account the candidate's ability, expertise, experience, integrity and commitment to public service, and having regard to the functions and nature of business of the body concerned and statutory requirements (for statutory bodies) to ensure that the composition of ASBs can broadly reflect the interests and views of the community.  That said, we will not set a minimum percentage of participation for different age groups.

(d) The Government has all along attached importance to public views on government policies and programmes so as to ensure that its policies are responsive to public demands.  For territory- and district-wide issues of public concern, the relevant policy bureaux will collect public opinion through different channels, such as consultation with the Legislative Council, District Councils, relevant organisations as well as other stakeholders.  We consider the existing channels adequate for the elderly to reflect their views and see no need to establish specific channels for the purpose.

Ends/Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Issued at HKT 12:26


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