Drug centre criticised for contract extension

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2008, 12:00am

Lawmakers have denounced the Society for the Aid and Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers for extending its executive director's contract without first receiving government approval.

Kenneth Ho King-man, chairman of the society's executive committee, told a public hearing at the Legislative Council yesterday that there were no written guidelines concerning recruitment procedures for the post, but he later admitted that the extension of service required the government's endorsement.

'Previously, there was no disapproved endorsement for the extension of contract. It was an automatic endorsement, but maybe it was misunderstood this time,' he said.

In October 2006, the executive committee decided to extend Peter Pi Wing-lee's contract by another two years. The Department of Health was informed of the proposal but when the committee had not heard anything back, the contract was signed within 14 days and the government informed.

Director of Health Lam Ping-yan said he disapproved of the fact the contract was signed without government approval, adding that the administration insisted on open recruitment for the post.

Legislator Lau Kong-wah, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, also criticised the society for assuming that because the government did not get back to it quickly, it agreed with the extension.

The Civic Party's Mandy Tam Heung-man suggested that a detailed mechanism for the executive director's employment and contract extension be put in place.

Meanwhile, lawmakers criticised the government for failing to respond to the latest drugs trend - a shift from heroin to psychotropic substances.

In 2004, the society proposed the establishment of a HK$82 billion Centre for Anti-drug Education and Disciplinary Training at Shek Kwu Chau to provide new services for psychotropic substance abusers. But the project is yet to be approved.

Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong said a decision would be made as soon as possible.