Following is a question by the Hon Steven Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Ms Bernadette Linn, in the Legislative Council today (May 17):
The Government previously set up Community Liaison Teams (Liaison Teams) for certain projects involving New Development Areas (NDAs) to, through the operating organisations, enhance the communication with households (including those engaged in the agriculture and fisheries industry) potentially affected by development plans, enhance their understanding of the relevant development proposals, collect their views and concerns, and provide them with timely assistance. However, there are views pointing out that some members of the Liaison Teams have taken the lead in inciting stakeholders of the relevant development projects to oppose the Government, District Council members and Legislative Council Members, not only defeating the original purposes of setting up the Liaison Teams but also making it difficult to implement government policies. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the qualifications required for applying to become a Liaison Team; the details (including the operating organisations and the resources approved) of the Liaison Teams approved to be set up (including those set up for the Kwu Tung North and Fanling North NDAs, Yuen Long South Development, and Hung Shui Kiu NDA); the Liaison Teams still in operation at present;
(2) of the mechanism put in place to monitor the performance of the Liaison Teams, and how to gauge whether the performance of the Liaison Teams meets expectations;
(3) whether it will continue to deal with the NDAs or other development projects through the Liaison Teams; if so, of the details; and
(4) as there have been criticisms from the community in recent years that the work of some Liaison Teams is inconsistent with the purposes of their establishment, and given that major infrastructure developments such as the artificial islands in the Central Waters under the Lantau Tomorrow Vision and the Northern Metropolis will commence one after another, whether the Government will introduce corresponding reforms (e.g. by incorporating terms into relevant mechanisms, establishing a monitoring mechanism and appointing operating organisations with credibility) to ensure that the Liaison Teams will serve the Government's development projects in earnest and communicate effectively with the affected farmers and fishermen?
As the Government takes forward various works projects in the New Development Areas (NDAs) on a large scale, the households and business (including the agriculture and fisheries industry) operators in the NDAs may be affected. Apart from the provision of compensation and rehousing according to the policy, both the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) and the Lands Department (LandsD) currently appoint community liaison service teams (service teams) to provide services for the affected parties in Kwu Tung North and Fanling North (KTN & FLN), Hung Shui Kiu/Ha Tsuen (HSK/HT) and Yuen Long South (YLS) NDAs, where the works have already commenced. The services include identifying affected parties’ needs, explaining the development plans and the compensation and rehousing arrangements, offering counselling, referrals and other assistance, as well as facilitating their communication with government departments.
My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:
(1) The operating organisations of the service teams must be charitable institutions or trusts that are exempt from tax under Section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap. 112), and the key personnel responsible for providing the services must be registered social workers with related service experience. The departments concerned appoint service teams by open tender or quotation. The latest information regarding the service teams in the NDAs are set out in the Annex.
(2) to (4) As the development projects in KTN & FLN, HSK/HT and YLS NDAs enter the land resumption and construction stages, there is a need to maintain the community liaison services mentioned above to cater for the needs of the affected parties. The Government will explore ways to consolidate the resources of the service teams of CEDD and LandsD so as to provide more focused and better services. With the implementation of other NDA projects, we will consider setting up dedicated service teams in a timely manner to cater for the needs of affected parties, having regard to the progress of the projects.
In monitoring the service quality of the service teams, the departments concerned will assess their performance through daily work observation (including their performance in meeting with the affected parties), the monthly work reports they submit, and the monthly work meetings held with them, etc. The departments will make reference to the track records of the service teams concerned when considering the award of a new round of community liaison service contracts. Separately, in order to meet the service needs, the Government would review the contract terms from time to time, as well as the current qualification requirements for the operating organisation and personnel responsible for providing the services. Members of the Legislative Council and the community are also welcome to put forward any views or recommendations they may have to the Government on the services provided by the service teams for improvement.
Ends/Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Issued at HKT 15:10