Veteran archivists press for legislation in Hong Kong

The prominent group hopes to share its studies and findings with the Ombudsman

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 4:13am

Veteran archivists will assist the Ombudsman in an investigation into management of and public access to government records, in the hope that it will lead to archival legislation in Hong Kong.

Members of the Archives Action Group will meet the watchdog on Monday to discuss how they can help in the probe, announced earlier this month.

This emerged after the government revealed on Wednesday that it had dumped four million of its records in the past six months.

The group includes veterans like former director of the Government Records Service Simon Chu Fook-keung and retired High Court judge William Waung Sik-ying.

Waung said yesterday he hoped the Ombudsman's report would lead to a law to protect the records, although he does not see the government as supportive.

Speaking of the chief executive Leung Chun-ying's stance, he said, "I am very disappointed in him. I used to support him."

The group met Leung before he ran for election, and felt he was positive about such a law.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung announced last week that the Law Reform Commission would establish two subcommittees to review how the archives were being handled and consider access to information and an archives law.

Waung said this amounted to dragging their feet as the process would take at least a decade.

He said the group's studies in the past four years already showed that the law was needed.

The group hopes to share its studies with the Ombudsman, including a public records bill that it drafted three years ago.

The bill includes appointing a government archivist with professional qualifications and at least 10 years' experience in managing public archives and records, unlike the present Government Records Service that Chu said lacked expertise.

The group has called on professional bodies and the public to make submissions to the Ombudsman before February 4.

Chu said it was up to the government to introduce a law.