LCQ21: Vetting and approval of donation applications by the Board of Management of the Chinese Permanent Cemeteries
It has been reported that the Hong Kong Army Cadets Association (HKACA), established in January last year, was granted, prevailing over two uniformed groups with long histories in the relevant application process, a vacant school premises on June 21 this year by the Government for use as a training venue after renovation. The renovation cost needed stands at $66 million, with $30 million of it to be met by a donation from the Board of Management of the Chinese Permanent Cemeteries (BMCPC). HKACA submitted its application for donation to BMCPC immediately on the same day after it was granted the school premises, and BMCPC approved the application in the form of a special approval at its meeting held on the 27th of the same month. Some members of the public have queried that the approval of an application for donation not within the category of "annual charity donation" by BMCPC within such a short time has aroused concerns over the role of the Secretary for Home Affairs (SHA) in this matter, given that he is both an Honorary Advisor to HKACA and the Chairman of BMCPC. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the total amount of donations to charities approved, the number of projects subsidised and the average time taken to vet and approve an application, by BMCPC in each of the past three years;
(2) of the number of cases in which a donation not within the category of annual charity donation was approved by BMCPC in the form of a special approval in the past 10 years, as well as the details (including the nature of the project subsidised, the date of receipt of the application, the date of approval of the donation, and the amount of the donation approved) of each case; and
(3) whether SHA, in view of his role as an Honorary Advisor to HKACA, withdrew from the meeting at which the application for donation from HKACA was considered by BMCPC so as to avoid any conflict of roles; if he did not, of the reasons for that?
Our reply to Hon Chan's question is set out below:
The Board of Management of the Chinese Permanent Cemeteries (BMCPC), established under the Chinese Permanent Cemeteries Ordinance (Cap 1112) (the Ordinance) and operating on a non-profit-making basis, provides burial lots, niches and ash scattering services for Chinese people in Hong Kong.
All along operating on a self-financing basis, BMCPC does not receive any government subsidy. According to the Ordinance, BMCPC may donate to any charity operating for the benefit of the community of Hong Kong or any sector of that community any moneys vested in it which are or may become surplus. Upholding the principle of promoting public good, BMCPC has been donating to local non-profit-making organisations for implementation of meaningful initiatives to benefit the community.
Apart from subsidising non-profit-making organisations to carry out improvement works and procure equipment via the Annual Donation Scheme and to launch activities under the theme of "community building" or "life education" through the Annual Thematic Donation Scheme every year, BMCPC also gives considerations to individual donation applications submitted by non-profit-making organisations outside the two annual exercises. In general, BMCPC would take into consideration such factors as feasibility and benefits of the project, as well as the applicant's competence in implementing the proposed project in deciding whether the annual or special donation application should be supported.
Our response to the three parts of the questions raised by the Member is as follows:
(1) Generally, BMCPC accepts applications under the Annual Donation Scheme and the Annual Thematic Donation Scheme in around March or April every year. In the past three years, over 200 applications were received annually. After considering each and every application, BMCPC would usually notify the applicants of the results of the two schemes in the third quarter of the same year. In the previous three years, about $54 million were granted to non-profit-making organisations under the Annual Donation Scheme and the Annual Thematic Donation Scheme to subsidise 205 projects.
(2) As mentioned above, BMCPC gives considerations to individual donation applications from non-profit-making organisations submitted outside the two annual Schemes. Donations made to individual organisations outside the two annual exercises in the past are set out in the table below:
|Year||Recipient Organisations||Project||Approved Donation
|1996||Hong Kong Girl Guides Association||Redevelopment of camp site||1,000|
|1997||Home Affairs Bureau||Development of Youth Square||200,000|
|1999||Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups||Hong Kong Leadership Institute||10,000|
|2002||Kwong Wah Hospital, Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs)||Setting up of dental clinic||2,660|
|Ruttonjee Hospital||Setting up of hospice centre||32,500|
|2003||Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital||Setting up of hospice centre||6,200|
|Haven of Hope Holistic Care Centre||Setting up of hospice centre||30,000|
|TWGHs Wong Tai Sin Hospital||Setting up of hospice centre||30,000|
|2006||The University of Hong Kong||Design on Cemetery and Memorial Park||100|
|Summer Youth Programme Committee||Summer Youth Exchange Programme||2,000|
|Ruttonjee & Tang Shiu Kin Hospitals||Setting up of Hospice Centre||4,430|
|Celebration Fund for the 10th Anniversary of Establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region||Celebrating activities for the 10th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region||20,000|
|2009||Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care||Special life and death education programme||1,570|
|Hong Kong Association of Youth Development||Youth Training Centre||8,200|
|2009 East Asian Games (Hong Kong) Limited||East Asian Games related activities||10,000|
|2010||Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care||Special life and death education programme||1,780|
|2011||Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care||Publications on life and death education||230|
|2012||Asian Youth Orchestra||Concert to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region||350|
|Hong Kong United Youth Association||Parade and singing contest to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region||1,700|
|2013||St. James' Settlement||Special life and death education programme||2,450|
|Po Leung Kuk||Elderly support centre||4,760|
|2015||Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care||Special life and death education programme||800|
|Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council||Special life and death education programme||1,100|
|Po Leung Kuk||Special life and death education programme||1,610|
|2016||Po Leung Kuk||Special life education programme||1,060|
|Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council||Special life education programme||1,550|
|Hong Kong Army Cadets Association (HKACA)||Youth training and activity centres||30,000|
Note 1: The projects set out in the table were applications directly made to BMCPC by the recipient organisations. They do not include projects that were sponsored by BMCPC, but directly handled and approved by government departments or advisory bodies.
Note 2: The donation projects before 2006 are major development projects according to available records.
(3) The Secretary for Home Affairs (SHA) is the Chairman of BMCPC. He chairs meetings of BMCPC to deliberate on various proposals (including the donation application submitted by HKACA) put up by the Board's secretariat for members' consideration. Despite SHA's capacity as the Honorary Advisor to HKACA, the title is honorary in nature without any concrete function and SHA has never participated in any actual operation of HKACA. Hence there was no conflict of interests in BMCPC's consideration of the donation application from HKACA and would not warrant SHA's withdrawal from the meeting. In fact, to support youth initiatives and encourage the development of uniformed groups, SHA has been, upon invitation by various uniformed groups, assuming honorary titles, including the Honorary President of the Hong Kong Road Safety Association, the Honorary Vice President of the Hong Kong Girl Guides Association and a Member of the Advisory Board of the Hong Kong Red Cross.
Ends/Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:37
Issued at HKT 14:37