LCQ10: Grant of land to tertiary institutions for supporting the development of Chinese medicine teaching hospitals

Following is a question by the Dr Hon Lam Tai-fai and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (February 27):


On the 6th of this month, I raised an oral question on the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) seeking the Government's grant of the entire site of the former campus of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Lee Wai Lee) at Renfrew Road in Kowloon Tong (the Site) for the construction of student hostels and a Chinese medicine teaching hospital.  In response to the explanations and comments made by the Government when replying to the question, HKBU has openly expressed disagreement.  Regarding issues relating to the Government's grant of land to tertiary institutions funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC-funded institutions) for supporting the UGC-funded institutions to develop Chinese medicine teaching hospitals, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  given that on a radio programme on the 17th of last month, the Chief  Executive (CE) indicated that the Government and HKBU had reached an agreement that half of the Site would be used for constructing HKBU's student hostels and the other half would be retained by the Government for residential development, yet HKBU subsequently issued a statement pointing out that it had not reached the said agreement with the Government, whether the "agreement" mentioned by CE exists; if it does, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b)  given that HKBU has pointed out that it has all along been seeking the Government's grant of the "entire" Site in the past five years, whether the authorities can give a full account of the specific contents of the past discussions between the Government and HKBU on the use of the Site, including the dates, attendees and minutes of meetings as well as all written correspondence;

(c)  given that the Secretary for Development (SDEV) has indicated that the contents of the full-page advertisement placed by the teachers and students of HKBU in objection to rezoning the southern portion of the Site for residential development cannot be regarded as accurate or facts, which parts of the advertisement cannot be regarded as "accurate" or "facts";

(d)  given that SDEV has pointed out that the authorities at present do not have a policy for supporting UGC-funded institutions to establish Chinese medicine teaching hospitals, of the reasons for that;

(e)  given that UGC has been funding three universities (including HKBU) to operate Chinese medicine programmes, whether it knows why UGC does not provide funding for the universities to develop Chinese medicine teaching hospitals for teaching and clinical practice of students;

(f)  given that the Food and Health Bureau (FHB) will consider proposals from any organisations interested in developing Chinese medicine hospitals in Hong Kong, whether the "organisations" the proposals from which FHB will consider include UGC-funded institutions; if not, of the reasons for that;

(g)  as it was reported in the press on the 10th of this month that a spokesman of the Education Bureau (EDB) had pointed out that HKBU might apply to UGC for the construction of a Chinese medicine teaching hospital, whether EDB will consider afresh granting the southern portion of the Site to HKBU for the construction of a Chinese medicine teaching hospital; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(h)  given that SDEV has pointed out that FHB has all along been supporting the development of Chinese medicine and Chinese medicine hospitals in Hong Kong, of the concrete policy and measures of FHB in support of the development in this respect;

(i)  given that SDEV has pointed out that HKBU had conveyed to EDB on the 14th of last month its intention to study the feasibility of developing a Chinese medicine hospital on the Site and that HKBU has also indicated subsequently that it will raise funds on its own to meet the hospital's construction costs of over $1 billion, whether the authorities will take the initiative to discuss and study this matter with HKBU, if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(j)  under the circumstances that the authorities eventually do not give approval for HKBU to construct a Chinese medicine hospital in the southern portion of the Site, whether the authorities will consider granting that portion of the Site to other UGC-funded institutions for the construction of hostels or for teaching purpose; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(k)  given that SDEV has pointed out that the Metro Planning Committee of the Town Planning Board (TPB) has agreed to rezone the southern portion of the Site to "Residential (Group B)" and the amendments to the relevant outline zoning plan will be exhibited for two months for the public to make representations, whether the authorities will request TPB to extend the exhibition period; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(l)  of the circumstances under which the authorities will designate the Site for education purposes after the expiry of the exhibition period mentioned in (k); and

(m)  of the details of the sites, apart from the Site, which have been earmarked for higher education-related purposes and, among such sites, the number of those which the authorities plan to rezone for non-education purposes?



In response to the various parts of the question, a consolidated reply from the Education Bureau (EDB), Food and Health Bureau (FHB) and Development Bureau (DEVB) is as follows:-

(a)  On February 6, 2013, in response to the Legislative Council question on relevant issues involving different policy areas of three Policy Bureaux, the Secretary for Development explained in details with regard to the proposed change of use of the site on Renfrew Road, Kowloon Tong whereby the former campus of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Lee Wai Lee) was situated (ex-IVE(LWL) site), and some chronology of the case.  The Administration has no further comments to add. 

(b)  A chronology setting out proposals regarding the Chinese medicine hospital and the ex-IVE(LWL) site submitted by the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) to EDB, FHB and University Grants Committee (UGC) is at Annex.  Since the Administration has yet to obtain consent from HKBU, we do not consider it appropriate to publicise the relevant correspondence.

(c)  Some allegations against the Government in the advertisement are not correct.

For example, the Administration has all along been committed to promoting the development of Chinese medicine; FHB has all along assisted HKBU with its proposal with Tsim Sha Tsui Kai Fong Welfare Association (TSTKFWA) to develop part of the TSTKFWA's building in Tsim Sha Tsui into a Chinese medicine hospital, and has been in close communication with HKBU and the departments concerned to study and follow up on the proposal.  FHB would be happy to assist HKBU to take forward the Chinese medicine hospital proposal. However, FHB received a letter from HKBU on February 18, 2013 to formally withdraw the above-mentioned proposal. 

Another example, for instance, using "site area" as the single parameter to assess space availability cannot reflect objectively the relative situations of different institutions.  EDB clarifies that as institutions have varying geographical conditions (such as proportion of useable land within campus, geographical locations, development parameters of the respective lots, topology of campus buildings, etc) and individual circumstances (such as the total number of students and their disciplines of study, etc), in line with international practice, various factors such as the total number of students to assess the net operating floor area required by an institution should be taken into account.  In fact, all the public works proposals submitted by UGC-funded institutions (including HKBU) are currently based on the calculation of the net operating floor area.

According to the calculation formula used by UGC, as much as 93.6% of HKBU's requirements for campus space are met in the 2012/13 academic year.  In this regard, HKBU ranks second among the eight UGC-funded institutions, or first among the four institutions situated in the urban area of Hong Kong Island / Kowloon.  Meanwhile, based on data available to the UGC, even if measured by site area, HKBU still ranks third, rather than the last, among the four institutions located in urban area in terms of per capita site area.  This has yet to take account of the 3.6-hectare Joint Sports Centre immediately adjacent to HKBU's Shaw Campus in Renfrew Road, the day-to-day management of which is handled by the university.

(d)to(g)  UGC currently provides funds for its eight funded institutions to run academic programmes of different levels.  For individual programmes that include an element of clinical internship (such as medicine, Chinese medicine, physiotherapy, nursing, etc), the prevailing practice is for UGC to provide the necessary funding to institutions, and for institutions to seek partnership with operators of hospitals or other public health facilities directly (e.g. the Hospital Authority) to arrange for internship opportunities for their students.  The development and operation of public health facilities per se is beyond the purview of EDB and UGC.  As such, UGC will not pay for the expenses involved in constructing and operating public health facilities for the institutions' internship partners.  Neither will the UGC provide funds for institutions to develop, construct or operate public health facilities on their own.

For Chinese medicine, at present three local universities are offering UGC-funded programmes of this discipline.  These programmes all comprise an element of clinical internship, which is made possible by institutions partnering with local Chinese medicine clinics and Mainland Chinese medicine hospitals.  Graduates of these programmes are all recognised by the Chinese Medicines Board of the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong and are eligible for the Chinese Medicine Practitioners Licensing Examination to qualify as registered practitioners.  The three local universities do not have affiliated Chinese medicine hospital.

At the same time, the Administration has all along been committed to promoting the development of Chinese medicine and supports the establishment of Chinese medicine hospital in Hong Kong.  Given that a Chinese medicine hospital is a public health facility by nature, the case to set up one should first and foremost be established from the perspectives of public health and community needs for Chinese medicine services.  FHB in principle supports proposals for the establishment of a Chinese medicine hospital in Hong Kong by any interested organisations.  The Chinese medicine hospital will mainly provide in-patient services.  Should there be a need and where conditions permit, the Chinese medicine hospital so established may also provide clinical training opportunities for institutions in Hong Kong offering Chinese medicine courses.  It is not a must that the Chinese medicine hospital should be within or close to the institution campus.  In fact, currently many hospitals offering opportunities for clinical internship are not located in the immediate vicinity of institutions.

As with other public health facilities, the development and operation of a Chinese medicine hospital is not within the purview of EDB or UGC.  That said, if in future any organisation manages to obtain FHB's support in developing a local Chinese medicine hospital and there are institutions that intend to provide internship opportunities at this Chinese medicine hospital and seek additional resources from UGC for this purpose, UGC will process and examine the applications in accordance with the established procedures.

(h)  The Administration has been adopting an approach based on the concept of "evidence-based medicine" to facilitate the development of the Chinese medicine industry in Hong Kong.  The Chinese Medicine Ordinance enacted in 1999 has established a regulatory regime for Chinese medicine for further safeguarding public health and consumers' rights while strengthening consumers' confidence in Chinese medical services and Chinese medicines, in order to accord a professional status for Chinese Medicine Practitioners and ensure the safety, quality and efficacy of Chinese medicines.

The Administration has strived to establish and build up a sound regulatory regime for Chinese medicine.  On this solid foundation, the Administration is now proactively examining the development needs of the Chinese medicine sector, so that traditional Chinese medicine, as widely recognised by the general public, can play a more active role in promoting the health of the general public.  To this end, the Administration has established the Chinese Medicine Development Committee and invited representatives from the industry to join the Committee to study related policy and measures and tender advice to the Administration. The Committee, chaired by the Secretary for Food and Health, comprises members from the Chinese medicine practitioners, the Chinese medicine trade, academia, the research institutes, healthcare sectors and lay persons.  The Committee will focus its deliberations on a number of key areas and explore specific measures to further the development of Chinese medicine in Hong Kong.  These key areas include enhancing the professional standard and status of Chinese medicine practitioners; strengthening the research and development of Chinese medicine; promoting treatment with integrated Chinese and Western medicine; expanding the role of Chinese medicine in the public healthcare system; and introducing Chinese medicine in-patient services.

Under the promotion and leadership of the Department of Health, the Administration launched a research programme on the Hong Kong Chinese Materia Medica Standards in 2002 to establish standards recognised by internationally renowned experts and to align the standards with international requirements.  As at January 2013, this programme has established safety and quality standards for around 200 Chinese herbal medicines.  The Administration will annually establish standards for 28-32 Chinese herbal medicines which are commonly used in Hong Kong.

In order to incorporate Chinese medical services into the public healthcare system, the Administration has actively established Chinese medicine clinics (CMCs) in 18 districts on an incremental basis.  As at now, 17 CMCs have been established to provide quality Chinese medical services to the public. The CMCs operate on the principle of "evidence-based medicine" and, through conducting clinical researches, promote a system of Chinese medical diagnosis and treatment methods which are based on scientific evidence.  This helps establish a set of standards for Chinese medical treatments and develop a comprehensive system in the aspects of Chinese medical training and integrated Chinese and Western medical services. Besides, the Hospital Authority has been trying out different models of Chinese and Western medicines shared care services in over 20 hospitals to combine the advantages of Chinese and Western medicine systems in the treatment of specific illnesses through enhancing communication between Chinese and Western medical practitioners so as to provide well-suited medical treatment to patients.

As for research and development (R&D), the Administration provides funding support for local proprietary Chinese medicine manufacturers to carry out applied research projects relating to R&D and testing of Chinese medicine through various support programmes under the Innovation & Technology Fund.  Among these programmes, the University-Industry Collaboration Programme aims to encourage enterprises to leverage on the expertise of the universities and carry out R&D projects jointly with them whereas the Small Entrepreneur Research Assistance Programme provides funding support for small and medium enterprises to carry out R&D projects on Chinese medicine so as to assist them in starting new businesses and conducting market validation.  As for the General Support Programme under the Innovation & Technology Fund, it provides funding support for projects which can enhance and facilitate the development of Chinese medicine industry such as conferences, exhibitions, seminars, workshops, promotional activities, research and surveys.

In addition, the Administration also actively provides professional support to the World Health Organization (WHO) on the development of traditional medicine, including international classification of traditional medicine and formulation of a strategy for traditional medicine for the next decade.  The Health Department has taken the initiative to organise several meetings on international classification of traditional medicine in collaboration with WHO.  Through WHO, the Administration has strengthened its ties with the international network, and established an adverse event notification mechanism on Chinese medicine and enhanced its information exchanges and cooperation on regulation of herbal medicine with other regions.

(i)  FHB all along supports the development of Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. The newly established Chinese Medicine Development Committee will study the establishment of Chinese medicine hospitals in Hong Kong.  FHB will consider and study proposals from any organisations on developing Chinese medicine hospital with a suitable site available to them for establishing the proposed hospital.

HKBU wrote to FHB on February 18, 2013 to formally withdraw its proposal with TSTKFWA and submitted a non-site specific proposal for Chinese medicine hospital.  In its letter, HKBU mentioned the ex-IVE(LWL) site as a suitable site.  FHB will study the detailed proposal when it is received from HKBU. 

(j)  EDB has considered whether the southern portion of the ex-IVE(LWL) site can be used by other UGC-funded institutions for expansion purposes.  EDB takes the view that land resources are scarce and hence they should be deployed for the most optimal uses.  In deciding whether a particular site should be reserved for use by UGC-funded institutions, the Administration should take all relevant factors into account, e.g. whether there are any additional requirements for space by the institutions under the prevailing policies or whether the institutions' campuses are fully utilised.  In fact, EDB is in discussion with some of the institutions with a shortfall of hostels and academic facilities, with a view to exploring the feasibility of constructing hostels or academic facilities in various places in Hong Kong.  The southern portion of the ex-IVE(LWL) site is not among the sites identified.  Taking a holistic account of the above factors, EDB considers that there is no need to retain the southern portion of the site for the purpose of expansion by other UGC-funded institutions or for higher education purpose; EDB thus proposes to surrender the southern portion of the site to the Government for other uses to cater for other needs of the community and ensure optimal use of valuable land resources.

(k) and (l)  On February 15, 2013, the Town Planning Board (the Board) exhibited the draft Kowloon Tong Outline Zoning Plan No. S/K18/17 (the OZP) under section 5 of the Town Planning Ordinance (the Ordinance) for public inspection for a period of two months.  The amendments incorporated in the OZP involve the rezoning of a site at Renfrew Road covering the southern portion of the ex-Lee Wai Lee Campus from "Government, Institution or Community (9)" to "Residential (Group B)".  In accordance with section 6 of the Ordinance, any person may make representation to the Board in respect of the amendment from February 15, 2013 to April 15, 2013.  In accordance with section 6(3)(a) of the Ordinance, any representation made to the Board after the expiration of the period of 2 months, it shall be treated as not having been made.  There is no provision under the Ordinance for the Board to extend the exhibition period.

In accordance with section 6(4) of the Ordinance, the Board will make available all representations received for public inspection and comments.  In accordance with section 6B of the Ordinance, the Board will hold a meeting to consider the representations and comments received.  If the Board proposes further amendments to the draft plan for rezoning the site to other appropriate zones in accordance with the Ordinance for public inspection and submission of further representations, the Board shall then hold a meeting to consider the further representations, and to decide whether or not to amend the draft plan either by the proposed amendments or by the proposed amendments as further varied in such manner as it considers appropriate.  The Board shall then submit the draft plan together with the representations, comments and further representations (if any) to the Chief Executive in Council for approval.

(m)  As at February 2013, there are a total of 17 reserved school sites (including primary, secondary and special school use) in the territory that have concrete School Building Programmes.  Project planning and preparations for the construction works for these school building projects (e.g. technical feasibility study and school design) are being carried out in accordance with the prevailing procedures.

In the review of "G/IC" sites, apart from part of the ex-IVE(LWL) site, PlanD proposed to rezone two school sites located at Fung Shing Street, Ngau Chi Wan and Choi Hing Road, Choi Hung respectively to residential uses, which have been confirmed that they are not required to be reserved for school use; and searched for two other relocation sites to be reserved for school use.  The Wong Tai Sin District Council and the Kwun Tong District Councils were consulted on the rezoning proposal in November 2012 and January 2013 respectively.

Ends/Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:29