Performance under increased scrutiny

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 December, 2008, 12:00am

The performance of district councillors is subject to closer public scrutiny now that attendance records at meetings from the past year have been released.

According to tallies posted on the councils' official websites, 430 of the city's 533 councillors - or about 81 per cent - had attended all council meetings in the session that ran from January to September.

Among the city's 18 districts, Sham Shui Po had the best record with 25 of its 26 councillors present at all meetings, while Central and Western district rated the worst, with only 10 of its 19 councillors doing so.

Although attendance at council meetings was generally high, participation in the working committees under the councils varied. Eleven councillors did not attend any committee meetings.

Independent Au Chi-yuen, an elected member of Tuen Mun District Council, had the lowest attendance record, showing up for 33 per cent of the council meetings. He did not attend any meetings of the traffic and transport committee, the only one of which he was a member. Mr Au could not be reached for comment.

Sha Tin district councillor Cheng Tsuk-man, of the Democratic Party, had the second-poorest attendance record, showing up for 43 per cent of the council meetings. 'I have many other meetings to attend,' the directly elected Mr Cheng said, citing gatherings of residents' groups and The Frontier, to which he belonged before the party's merger with the Democrats.

The secretariats of the district councils have been posting attendance records since May. Discussion papers, voice recordings and minutes of meetings are available for public inspection on the councils' homepages.

A spokesman for the Home Affairs Bureau said staff members were retrospectively uploading documents of previous council sessions so that a transparent record of the past would be available to the public.

Central and Western District Council chairman Chan Tak-chor said the measure had received positive feedback. 'Some non-governmental organisations have listened to the voice recordings online when they could not come to meetings in which we discussed issues of their concern. They then told us their opinions afterwards.'