Following is a question by the Hon Fred Li and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (April 23):
Regarding the assessment on whether a place, building, site or structure should be declared a monument or graded as a historic building, will the Government inform this Council whether there are guidelines specifying that:
(a) the relevant assessment reports must be uploaded onto the Government web site for public information, or such reports must be made available for public inspection; if not, whether the Government will consider formulating relevant measures, and whether arrangement can be made to upload the relevant assessment reports in cases which involved the declaration of monuments or grading of historic buildings in the past five years onto the Government web site for public inspection;
(b) the relevant meetings, at which the Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB) discusses the above individual assessment cases, should be held in public; if not, whether the Government will request AAB to consider formulating the relevant guidelines; and
(c) AAB must conduct public hearings on the above individual assessment cases to allow the public to give views on the cases concerned to the Board; if not, whether the Government will request AAB to consider formulating the relevant guidelines?
(a) All discussion papers and minutes of the open meetings of the Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB), including documents on the assessment, development and conservation proposals of monuments and historic buildings, are uploaded onto the website of AAB for public information. In addition, the full list of monuments (together with brief descriptions) and the full list of graded historic buildings have been uploaded onto the Internet. The public can also view the filed information on monuments and graded historic buildings available at the reference library of the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre.
(b) To enhance its transparency, AAB has held open meetings for public observation since September 2005. At present, most topics, including the grading of historic buildings and related development as well as conservation proposals (e.g. the grading of Queen's Pier and the adaptive re-use of Central Police Station Compound) are discussed at these open meetings. If confidential information or sensitive issues are involved in the case of a particular historic building, such as private property rights, AAB will discuss the case in a closed meeting. In case AAB deems it appropriate and necessary (e.g. a case of public concern), it will inform the media and the public of the result of the deliberations after the meeting. A case in question is the discussion on the case of King Yin Lei early this year.
(c) As explained in paragraph (b) above, to enhance its transparency, AAB has been holding open meetings for public observation since September 2005. However, not many cases are controversial in nature and the public may not be interested in attending public hearing on each and every case. In order to strike a balance between the effectiveness of public hearings and the limited resources available, we do not consider it necessary to hold public hearing for each and every case. Nevertheless, to enhance its transparency, AAB will, on a case-by-case and need basis, hold a public hearing to listen to the views of different sectors of the community and concern groups on the conservation or adaptive re-use of a historic building that attracts much public attention before making an assessment on that particular building.
Meanwhile, as pledged by the Chief Executive in his 2007 Policy Address, we will set up the Commissioner for Heritage's Office to enhance public engagement and step up our promotional efforts. The Development Bureau has conducted a series of public engagement exercises for a number of important conservation and adaptive re-use proposals. For example, in the case of the adaptive re-use of the Central Police Station Compound, the Bureau attended a briefing for the Central and Western District on October 29, 2007 as well as a public forum for the residents and shop operators in the vicinity of the Compound on 12 March 2008. As for the case of the former site of the Central School on Hollywood Road, the Bureau organised an open day from March 28 to 29, 2008 and a public seminar will be held on April 26, 2008.
Ends/Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Issued at HKT 14:48