LCQ2: Loaning venues for use as assembly point and starting point of mass rally held annually on July 1
July 1 of this year marks the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). It has been reported that the State President will probably visit Hong Kong at that time. On the other hand, on July 1 of each year from 2004 to last year, the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) was loaned, free of charge by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), the soccer pitches at the Victoria Park for use as an assembly point and starting point of a mass rally. However, LCSD has rejected the relevant application submitted by CHRF this year because the venues have been loaned to the Hong Kong Celebrations Association (HKCA) for holding a science and technology expo. LCSD has indicated that priority has been accorded to HKCA in making advance booking for the use of the venues because it is a charitable organisation. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has received any notification regarding the State President's visit to Hong Kong on the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of HKSAR; if so, of the relevant dates, visiting arrangements and estimates of expenditures;
(2) whether LCSD made the decision to loan the aforesaid venues to HKCA purely on the basis that HKCA was a charitable organisation, and had not considered if the science and technology expo that HKCA planned to hold in the venues was a charitable event; whether LCSD will review the mechanism for vetting and approving applications for use of recreation facilities free of charge, with a view to ensuring that non-charitable community organisations will have fair and reasonable opportunities in using recreation facilities free of charge; and
(3) whether it has assessed if LCSD's rejection of the application submitted by CHRF will give members of the public a negative impression that the Government, in view of the probable visit to Hong Kong by the State President during the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of HKSAR, is trying to contain the number of people taking part in the mass rally so as to create a euphoric atmosphere; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
On top of a series of celebration activities to be organised by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of HKSAR, many local organisations also intend to organise celebration activities at the venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:
(1) For part (1) of the question, the Government does not have information to announce at the moment.
(2) Victoria Park is a leisure venue under the management of LCSD, with many applications from organisations for using the soccer pitches and Central Lawn therein for large-scale events given the easy accessibility. LCSD processes and assesses the booking applications for using its leisure venues according to the established guidelines and procedures. The "Booking Procedure For Use Of Non-Fee Charging Recreation And Sports Facilities" (the Booking Procedure) prioritises applications according to the type of applying organisations and spells out clearly the priority and advance booking period with examples provided. According to the Booking Procedure, organisations which are allowed to reserve recreation and sports facilities three months prior to the date of events include charitable organisations registered with the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), subvented non-governmental organisations registered with the Social Welfare Department, affiliated clubs of National Sports Associations, statutory bodies, bona fide associations and corporations registered under the Companies Ordinance or the Societies Ordinance, offices of District Council members etc., with registered charitable organisations and subvented non-governmental organisations being accorded a higher priority. The Booking Procedure is available on the website of LCSD for public information.
LCSD received an application from the Hong Kong Celebrations Association (HKCA) on March 15, 2017 for booking the six soccer pitches at the Victoria Park from late June to early July 2017 for organising activities in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of HKSAR. Subsequently, on April 3, 2017, LCSD received an application from the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) under the name of Ap Lei Chau Community Trade Union (ALCCTU) for booking the six soccer pitches, Central Lawn and Band Stand at the Victoria Park from June 30 to July 1, 2017 for the public procession on July 1, 2017.
Since HKCA is a charitable organisation registered with IRD which had submitted its application for using the venue three months prior to the date of event (i.e. during the period between March 1 and 31, 2017), LCSD approved this priority application in accordance with the established guidelines. As a result, ALCCTU's application for using the six soccer pitches at the Victoria Park for an activity simultaneously could not be accepted.
In general, in case different organisations apply for using the same venue simultaneously, LCSD will consider the booking applications with regard to the order of priority set out in the Booking Procedure and try to co-ordinate the activities as far as practicable. For instance, LCSD will examine whether applications from different organisations can be approved at the same time or whether the organisation(s) concerned can be persuaded to consider the possibility of changing the booking period or using another venue instead so that different applying organisations can reserve LCSD's venues for their activities after co-ordination.
The Booking Procedure (including the order of priority contained therein) has been effective, and conducive to ensuring fairness, openness and impartiality in the booking and allocation of venues. LCSD will review relevant arrangements from time to time as necessary.
(3) As stated above, given that an application had already been received from an organisation for holding a large-scale event at the six soccer pitches at the Victoria Park from late June to early July, and the organisation concerned enjoyed a higher priority in the booking of facilities, LCSD could not accept application from other organisations for using the same facility during the same period. In processing the application, LCSD had maintained liaison with CHRF and subsequently received its application for using other facilities at the Victoria Park for the public procession on July 1 this year. Having considered factors such as crowd flow during the activity, traffic conditions and public order, etc. and consulted other relevant government departments, LCSD approved CHRF's application for using the Central Lawn and Band Stand of the park on July 1.
Ends/Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:55
Issued at HKT 14:55