Council set to hold more open meetings

AN Urban Council select committee agreed in principle yesterday to enhance the council's transparency by holding more open meetings and re-classifying documents.

Meeting Point's Fred Li Wah-ming, who raised the matter at yesterday's Administrative Select Committee meeting, said the proposal was triggered by the controversy over the $5 million gala opening of the Hong Kong Stadium.

He said because the issue was discussed in private and information was kept confidential, the public was not able to judge the councillors' performance or the overall picture of the event.

To facilitate the free flow of information, he suggested that present documents classified as ''restricted'' should be eliminated and all ''confidential'' items should be carefully examined to see if it was necessary to grade them at that level.

They should be available to the press and upon public request, he said.

All meetings, including all the 29 working groups and sub-committees of select committees, which are now closed, should be open.


''These are meetings where the council's policy is generated, so they should be open to public scrutiny,'' Mr Li said.

''I can't see there is anything sensitive [about] Urban Council [discussions] when all meetings in the Legislative Council are open.'' Mr Li said only matters relating to tendering and staff recruitment should be held in camera.

Committee members generally endorsed the proposal, but maintained that it should be implemented with flexibility.

Urban Council Chairman Dr Ronald Leung Ding-bong said he would like to have some controversial issues kept confidential until consensus was reached, so that they would not be distorted by the media.


He noted that open discussions on some politically sensitive issues - such as whether the council should screen Taiwanese movies at a film festival - should also be avoided.

Appointed councillor Marvin Cheung Kin-tung expressed reservations about open meetings.


The Urban Services Department will draft a detailed proposal which will be discussed next month.