Hospital Authority member calls for open meetings

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 October, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 October, 1997, 12:00am

A HOSPITAL Authority member has called for more openness at plenary meetings following the inauguration of the authority's $400 million head office building.

Authority member Dr Leong Che-hung, who is also a Provisional Legislative Council member, has written to chairman Peter Woo Kwong-ching asking the next plenary meeting to consider opening future meetings to the public.

'I have long been urging it. Openness would help to increase accountability to the public,' he said.

The Hospital Authority is based near Kowloon Hospital and moved in in August.

A Hospital Authority spokesman said the conference room was still being furnished.

However, it is understood the room, which is equipped with seats for the public and press, has already been used for a plenary meeting.

The spokesman said it was not known when meetings would be opened to the public.

A government official agreed that Hospital Authority meetings should be open. 'This would help increase transparency,' the official said.

For instance, the public had the right to know how the authority would handle recent medical blunders.

'They asked for more than $400 million to build the headquarters including the conference room, arguing for press seats to be included. It is time they conducted open meetings,' the official said.

When the Government submitted the funding request to the Legislative Council two years ago, legislators queried the amount spent and the size of the conference room.

The administration said at the time the multi-purpose conference room would have 155 seats including 94 for the press and public, and would be used by committees as well as by the full board.

Despite the fact that it was planned to include seats for the public and press, no undertaking was given by the administration on when plenary meetings would be made public.

It said it would support an increase in transparency but the final decision would rest with the board.