Reasonable and realistic

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 January, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 January, 1996, 12:00am

I REFER to the letter from Dr Samuel Wong headlined, 'Contradictory proposals' (South China Morning Post, January 4) and others recently from Mr John Boyd, of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers on the Buildings (Amendment) (No 3) Bill 1995. Their views are based on a misunderstanding of government proposals and must be clarified.

The Buildings (Amendment) (No 3) Bill 1995 contains a package of proposals drawn up as a result of a thorough review. The package is comprehensive in that it covers all areas where safety assurance may be strengthened: registration of building professionals and contractors, supervision of works and sites and powers of the Building Authority. The new system for the registration of building professionals is the result of a consensus between professional institutions and the Government. Based on the principle of self-regulation and relying on the participation of members of the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers, Hong Kong Institute of Architects and Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors through the relevant professional registration boards, the system recognises and promotes the competence of registered professionals.

The Building Authority's requirements demand nothing beyond the competence of a registered professional. The Government's proposals are not contradictory but reasonable and realistic.

Dr Wong questions the justice in holding registered professionals responsible for the areas of work which are 'outside their competence'. The bill aims to enhance safety assurance for building works and sites with works in progress; areas proposed to be covered by the bill relate to supervision.

This duty was first created in 1955 for the then 'Authorised Architect'. The same duty was reaffirmed in 1974 when 'Authorised Person' and 'Registered Structural Engineer' were created and their duties fine-tuned. They have been carrying the duty of supervision for over four decades now.

The bill does not propose to change this position. It merely requires an effective assurance for safety against the background of the collapses Hong Kong has suffered in recent years. Not proposing such a safety assurance would be irresponsible on the part of the Government.

The Buildings Department has a staff of some 260 professional architects, engineers and surveyors amassing a wealth of expertise and experience in building and construction unsurpassed by any organisation in Hong Kong or elsewhere in the world.

I beg to differ with Dr Wong in his view about the professionalism in our department. The Buildings Department considers the Buildings (Amendment) (No 3) Bill 1995 to be a reflection of our community needs and concern in terms of building safety.

CHENG WEI-DART Assistant Director (Legal and Management) for Director of Buildings