Lawmakers have raised questions over some of the activities planned for the 20th handover anniversary, deeming them irrelevant.
The Home Affairs Bureau said HK$76 million has been set aside for organising or sponsoring celebratory activities. Over 300 of them will be organised locally.
The budget is part of a HK$640 million wider plan to celebrate the anniversary.
But pro-Beijing lawmaker Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, of the financial services sector, said he checked the government website for the celebratory activities, and found that they included cleaning old buildings in Sha Tin district, an inter-school project competition on climate change, and long-term volunteering work for elderly people.
“Some activities will make people feel they are being used to cook up the numbers,” Cheung said. “What kind of activities does the government count as celebratory activities for the handover?”
Cheung asked the question at a special Finance Committee meeting of the Legislative Council where lawmakers can ask for details of spending by government departments in the annual budget.
Permanent Secretary for the Home Affairs Bureau Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee said the activities were not limited to large-scale cultural or sports events.
Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah said the activities will not only include serious events, but leisure-related events to attract more people to participate: “We support activities that make the public happy to join,” he said.
Youth commission attendance
Meanwhile, Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong was concerned that some members of the government’s Commission on Youth failed to attend any of the meetings for the year 2016-2017.
They included Lee Ka-shing, executive director of Henderson Land, and Mak Yin-mei, head of pollster at the Hong Kong Research Association.
The two failed to attend all four meetings, but they were reappointed as members.
Chan asked how the government believed that the Commission can obtain opinion from them.
“Did you think that through connecting with them spiritually, that they were still giving opinion?” Chan asked.
Lau said the government hoped that the Commission would have members from different sectors of society, and that they would attend meetings.
He said the average attendance was 80 per cent which was very high.
Lau added that the government did not approve of no-shows and it will consider not reappointing members with low attendance. But he said it depended on individual cases. He also said he believed that whether he will stay in the next administration depended on the consideration of the Chief Executive-elect.