'Terrifying' 4 million government records dumped in 6 months

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 January, 2013, 4:08am

The government has in the past six months dumped records equivalent to 55 times the height of the Two IFC building, an amount a retired government archivist called "terrifying".

The records were among 3.9 million appraised by the Government Records Office in the last six months and came mainly from two unspecified government departments, legislators heard yesterday.

Former service director Simon Chu Fook-keung questioned whether the documents had been handled properly, given that the office had only one archivist responsible for appraising records.

"How can one person appraise four million records within six months?" Chu said. "Unless there are details as to what sort of files were appraised and dumped, it seems terrifying to me that such a huge amount of records were thrown away."

Stacked together, the discarded documents would have reached 23,189 metres - 55 times the height of the landmark IFC Two tower in Central, which is 450 metres tall.

There is no public data on the number of records appraised and dumped in the past few years. But in 2008, the office received and appraised 50,000 records.

The figures were revealed in a written reply from Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to a question by lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan, who recently started an investigation into the government's long-criticised records-management system.

Chu has campaigned for legislation to make officials properly appraise and preserve documents of historical value. At present, there is only a loose code guiding civil servants on methods of record-keeping.