Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ1: Elderly Commission

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Kwok-hung and a reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (April 25):


     Quite a number of members of the social welfare sector and elderly people have relayed to me that the appointment of most of the members of the Elderly Commission (EC) is very controversial and contrary to the general rule that a non-official member of an advisory body should not serve on the same body for more than six years.  Despite criticisms from a number of Legislative Council Members of the current term, the Government continues to re-appoint such members or even appointed some of them as EC Chairman or Vice-chairman.  Some frontline social workers have pointed out that the Government's practice of cronyism has led to years of failure in its elderly policy, causing quite a number of elderly people to suffer innocently.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of elderly people who died in the past five years while waiting for elderly services (including places in subsidised residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs), private RCHEs participating in the bought place scheme (including contract RCHEs), subsidised Nursing Home, Integrated Home Care Services and Enhanced Home and Community Care Services), and set out the breakdown and the total numbers by year;

(b) as the EC Chairman has been appointed as non-official EC member for 13 years and the Vice-chairman for nine years, whether the Government assesses the performance of EC members on the basis of the number of elderly people who died while waiting for elderly services to decide if such members should stay on or be appointed as EC Chairman or Vice-chairman; and

(c) of the Government's measures to enhance the credibility of EC and address the public concern that EC may have become a bargaining chip for political deals and transfers of benefits for political parties, the business sector and people from the pro-Government camp; whether the Government will consider appointing members of the Panel on Welfare Services of this Council and representatives from the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and various elderly groups as ex-officio EC members, so that they may assist in formulating policies from a professional point of view and reflect public opinion; if it will, of the time of appointment; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Elderly Commission (EC) was established in 1997.  It is mainly tasked to advise the Government on the policy for the elderly and related programmes and services.  Appointment of members to the EC is made in accordance with the Government¡¦s general guidelines (guidelines) for the appointment of members to advisory and statutory bodies.

My reply to the question raised by the Hon Leung Kwok-hung is as follows:

(a) For the period between 2007 and 2011, the numbers of elders who passed away while waiting for subsidised nursing home (NH) places, care-and-attention (C&A) places and home care services each year, as well as the aggregate numbers in these five years, are provided at Annex of the written reply.

     The Government acknowledges that elders have to wait for some time to be admitted to subsidised places at present, in particular for NH places which provide a higher level of care.  In this connection, we have adopted a series of measures to increase the provision of subsidised places.  From now on (ie 2012-13) to 2014-15, over 1 600 additional subsidised residential care places for the elderly are expected to commence operation, of which over half (about 900 places) are NH places.  Besides, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) has earmarked sites in ten development projects for the construction of new contract homes.

     The waiting time for subsidised places is affected by a number of factors, such as the number of applicants, their specific preference for homes (including location and religious background), the turnover rate of residents in individual homes, etc.  The statistics of SWD as at the end of February 2012 indicated that 95% of the applicants for NH places and 99.7% of the applicants for C&A places had specific preference for home location.  In fact, the waiting time could be substantially reduced if an applicant has no specific preference.

     As regards home care services, it now takes about two months on average for frail elders to wait for regular subsidised services.  The Government will provide 500 additional places for Enhanced Home and Community Care Services this year.  The additional places outnumber the elders currently waiting for such services (ie about 300).  We believe that this will further ease the waiting situation.

(b) & (c) According to the guidelines, a non-official member of an advisory body normally should not serve more than six years in any one capacity.  Where a member is appointed to a different post (eg chairman or vice-chairman) of the same body, however, such an appointment should be regarded as a new appointment and the six-year rule will apply afresh.  The appointments of all current EC members (including the Chairman and Vice-chairman) are in compliance with the above requirement.

     In selecting members for advisory bodies, the basic principle adopted by the Government is to appoint individuals on their own merit, so as to secure the services of the most suitable persons to meet the requirements of the bodies concerned.  Also, the composition should broadly reflect the interests and views of stakeholders in the community.  Factors for consideration include the ability, expertise, experience, integrity and commitment to public service (eg with reference to their track record in public service and other community services) of the persons concerned as well as the functions and nature of business of the advisory bodies.  EC now comprises members from the health care, social welfare, elderly group, elderly homes, professional and academic sectors, etc.  They all have experience in other community services.

     Besides, as in the case of many other Government advisory bodies, EC members are appointed on an ad personam basis.  Generally speaking, appointing members of advisory bodies on an ad personam basis is more in line with the principle of selecting people on their merit, and can allow them to contribute their talent, expertise and experience without constraints.  It also introduces diversity to the membership and reduces the possibility of conflict of interests.

Ends/Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:31


Print this page