Following is a question by the Hon Alice Mak and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (July 3):
In connection with the conservation of declared monuments and relevant law enforcement actions, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the number of inspections of declared monuments initiated by the authorities in each of the past five years; the number of cases in which the monuments were found during the inspections to have been damaged or vandalised, and set out in a table the relevant details, including the names, ages of the buildings, the damage, progress of the repair works and costs of such repair works;
(b) of the number of inspections of declared monuments conducted by the authorities upon receipt of reports in each of the past five years, and set out in a table the relevant details, including the names, ages of the buildings, the damage, progress of the repair works and costs of such repair works;
(c) of the provisions of the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (Cap. 53) and the circumstances under which the Antiquities Authority (i.e. the Secretary for Development) and persons authorised by him may regularly inspect the conservation condition of declared monuments privately owned;
(d) of the respective numbers of those monuments owned by the Government and private individuals among the existing 103 declared monuments; and
(e) whether the manager or the owner of a declared monument will be held criminally liable for not taking the initiative to report to the authorities any damage to the monument which has resulted in that monument becoming beyond repair; if so, of the number of monuments involved and the penalties imposed on the persons concerned in the past five years; if not, whether the authorities will take measures to ensure constant and proper conservation of the monuments?
My reply to the five parts of the question is as follows:
(a) The Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) arranges inspections for declared monuments in the light of their individual circumstances. For instance, inspections for declared monuments with works are accorded top priority while monuments managed by the AMO and open for public visits are accorded high priority. According to the records of the AMO of the past five years, the AMO has conducted over 500 inspections of the declared monuments each year. No vandalism or damage to declared monuments was found during these inspections.
(b) Over the past five years, there was no instance of inspections being arranged by the AMO only upon receipt of reports on declared monuments which have been damaged.
(c) Pursuant to section 5(1)(a) of the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (the Ordinance), the Authority (i.e. the Antiquities Authority) and any designated person authorised by him in writing, may, for the purposes of the Ordinance, enter and inspect any declared monument at all reasonable times. At present, the AMO inspects each declared monument at least once a year to ensure that they are properly maintained.
(d) Of the 101 existing declared monuments in Hong Kong, 57 are Government properties and the remaining 44 are privately owned (including those owned by private bodies).
(e) The Ordinance does not require the manager or owner of a declared monument to report to the Authority any damage to the monument. However, section 6(1) of the Ordinance stipulates that no person shall (a) excavate, carry on building or other works, plant or fell trees or deposit earth or refuse on or in a monument; or (b) demolish, remove, obstruct, deface or interfere with a monument, except in accordance with a permit granted by the Authority. Therefore, anyone who needs to carry out any act prescribed under section 6(1) of the Ordinance within a monument boundary must obtain a permit from the Authority. The permit holder must strictly comply with all the terms and conditions set out in the permit when carrying out such an act. The AMO will inspect the monument concerned to ensure that the act is performed in compliance with the permit. Section 19(2) of the Ordinance stipulates that any person who contravenes section 6(1) shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for one year at the maximum. No case of contravention of section 6(1) of the Ordinance was recorded in the past five years.
Ends/Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Issued at HKT 11:30