For information                                           

      on 13 May 2004

 

 

Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene

Strategies and Work Plan for Maintaining a Clean Hong Kong

 

 

PURPOSE

     

This paper informs Members of the strategies and work plan for 2004/05 adopted by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) in maintaining and improving environmental hygiene in Hong Kong.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

2.                                         Due to increasing community concern on the declining environmental hygiene conditions, a three-year Clean Hong Kong (CHK) programme was launched in December 2000 to address the environmental hygiene problems and to bring about improvements.  Under this programme, FEHD and 13 other Government Departments[1] undertook the following four-pronged strategies to improve the cleanliness of public places/venues -

 

l         stepped-up enforcement actions against littering and dumping of waste;

 

l         legislative changes to enhance the effectiveness of existing laws against littering and dumping;

 

l         joint efforts with District Councils (DCs) and local organizations to secure noticeable improvements at the district level; and

 

l         public education and publicity programmes to enhance public awareness of the importance to keep Hong Kong clean.

 

 

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

 

3.                                         In addition to the above, a seasonal thematic approach has been adopted to organize inter-departmental actions, e.g. marine/coastal areas and beaches in summer, country parks and recreational areas in autumn as well as public housing estates and public facilities in winter and spring.  Local support for the inter-departmental cleansing initiatives has also been galvanized through discussions with 18 DCs on the respective District Action Plans which map out detailed programmes to address particular environmental hygiene problems in individual districts.

 

4.                As part of our public education and publicity programme, a Health Education Exhibition & Resource Centre (HEERC) was established in 1997 to provide a permanent venue for educating the public, particularly students and local organizations, on the importance of food safety and environmental hygiene.  It received about 146 000 visitors in 2003.  The HEERC also runs very active outreaching programmes including talks/ roving exhibitions to schools and housing estates.  In 2003, around 2 300 seminars and school talks were organized by the HEERC��s dedicated outreaching team.

 

5.                In the wake of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, the then Team Clean chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration was established in May 2003 to develop and take forward a series of proposals for entrenching a high level of public and environmental hygiene in Hong Kong.  In the first three months after the issue of the Interim Report by the former Team Clean, the implementation of short-term measures (e.g. increasing the fixed penalty against four public cleanliness offences namely spitting, littering, dog fouling and illegal display of bills and posters from $600 to $1,500, adopting a ��zero-tolerance�� approach in enforcing the cleanliness legislation, reinforcing publicity/public education and supporting community and district involvement in promoting a clean Hong Kong) have resulted in a much cleaner environment.

 

6.                In a public opinion survey conducted by the Home Affairs Bureau in October 2003, over 80% of respondents considered that Hong Kong was in a good or satisfactory state of cleanliness.  Nearly 90% considered that Hong Kong was cleaner than before the SARS outbreak.

 

7.                FEHD, being responsible for the provision of environmental hygiene services, has also been provided with $365 million to create 4 250 temporary job opportunities from mid 2003 to early/mid 2004, lasting for six to 12 months, to provide mainly the following special/reinforced improvement in environmental hygiene -

 

l         cleansing and washing of public places and environmental blackspots;

 

l         cleansing and washing of private lanes and common parts of old tenement buildings and carrying out minor repair works and lime-washing at these places;

 

l         strengthening rodent and pest control services to prevent the spread of vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever; and

 

l         cleansing of markets, cooked food centres and hawker sites, and collecting bagged refuse at on-street dumping spots.

 

8.                Apart from the short-term measures mentioned in paragraph 5 above, the former Team Clean set out in its Final Report a wide range of recommendations to address entrenched habits, such as the introduction of community service orders for repeat offenders committing the four public cleanliness offences, reinforcement of civic education, improving hygiene of public markets and food premises, installation of close-circuit televisions for monitoring hygiene blackspots, etc.  Implementation of these recommendations by relevant bureaux/departments is well underway.

 

 

CHANGES IN INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS

 

9.                In late 2003, the Clean Hong Kong Steering Committee (CHKSC) was dissolved. Members endorsed in January 2004 the recommendation as set out in ACFEH Paper 17/2003 to strengthen the advisory role of the Advisory Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene (ACFEH) on environmental hygiene issues by taking on the new initiatives under the purview of Health, Welfare and Food Bureau/FEHD proposed by the then Team Clean and taking over the advisory role of the former CHKSC.  As a result, ACFEH is now responsible for, among others, considering and advising the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food on policies relating to environmental hygiene and monitoring their implementation, as well as  advising on community education and publicity programmes for promoting public responsibility for environmental hygiene.

 

10.               Under the new institutional arrangements laid down in the Team Clean Final Report, the Home Affairs Department (HAD) has now taken up the central coordinating role in spearheading inter-departmental efforts in district hygiene improvement, community involvement and civic education.  Relevant bureaux and departments will take charge of the implementation of Team Clean measures under their respective purview.   

 

 

FEHD��S STRATEGIES/PROGRAMMES FOR 2004/05

 

11.              As far as FEHD is concerned, we will continue to play a pivotal role in maintaining a clean Hong Kong and will adopt the following strategies/programmes in 2004/05 -

 

(a)      Enhanced cleansing actions

 

As part of the job creation initiative in the Chief Executive��s 2004 Policy Address, we will continue to engage temporary workers to provide enhanced improvement in environmental hygiene. 3 287 temporary jobs will be extended from previous job creation exercises to early 2005 to step up cleansing related work (e.g. rodent and pest control services) in public places/venues.  We will also continue to work with DCs in implementing the District Action Plans and support district environmental hygiene improvement actions coordinated by HAD;

 

(b)     Enhanced law enforcement and legislative changes

 

Since the increase of the fixed penalty in end June 2003 and up to end March 2004, around 18 000 $1,500 fixed penalty notices have been issued.  We will continue to adopt the ��zero-tolerance�� approach in enforcing the fixed penalty regime.  To increase the deterrent effect against repeat cleanliness offenders, we are now drawing up legislative proposals to impose heavier fine and community service order on those who have committed any of the four cleanliness offences twice or more within 24 months.  Meanwhile, we will also follow up on report forms received from members of the public in relation to littering from vehicles, and continue to take enforcement action against unhygienic licensed food premises and market stalls;

 

(c)      Publicity and public education

 

We plan to launch a new series of TV announcement of public interest and publicity around the summer of 2004.  Key messages are to thank the public for maintaining a clean Hong Kong and urge them to keep up the good work.  In addition to publicizing our usual messages on fixed penalty on cleanliness offences and other related themes like anti-rodent and dengue fever, we will introduce a special publicity drive to warn against littering from vehicles.

 

We also plan to organize around 2 000 seminars for the general public and school talks to disseminate public health messages, particularly on food safety and environmental hygiene.  Action is in hand to procure a publicity vehicle to help reinforce these important messages in special events, schools and housing estates; and

 

(d)     Community and district involvement

 

To encourage community and district involvement in improving the environmental hygiene, FEHD has granted a subsidy of $100,000 to each district in 2004 for organizing cleansing activities/campaigns and/or disbursement to local organizations for similar purposes.  We will also continue to provide support to district promotional cleansing activities organized by DCs and local community groups.

 

12.              In implementing the above strategies/programmes, we will continue to work closely with other relevant Government departments to bring about effective results.  With the support and co-operation of various departments and the public, we are progressing towards a cleaner and healthier living environment for all in Hong Kong.

 

 

ADVICE SOUGHT

 

13.              Members are invited to note the above strategies/programmes for improving the public hygiene conditions in Hong Kong in 2004/05.

 

 

 

Food and Environmental Hygiene Department

May 2004  


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[1] Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, Architectural Services Department, Buildings Department, Civil Engineering Department, Drainage Services Department, Environmental Protection Department, Home Affairs Department, Housing Department, Highways Department, Lands Department, Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Marine Department, and Transport Department