VI. Liveable City
210. For Hong Kong people to be happy, hopeful, confident about the future and have a sense of belonging, a vital prerequisite is that Hong Kong is a liveable place. Our people’s aspiration for a liveable city has grown in step with social development. In addition to increasing the supply of land and housing that are necessities of our community, a convenient transport network, a green countryside, a beautiful harbour, a sustainable environment, a heritage of historical significance, as well as culture, arts, recreational and sports activities and good social order are all indispensable building blocks that make up a quality city, where people will be keen to stay and make it their home.
211. Although small and densely-populated, Hong Kong has developed into a liveable city with our continuous effort in improving public transport services and facilities. Over the years, it has been the Government’s transport policy to develop a public transport-oriented system with railway as the backbone. At the same time, we strive to develop other public transport services to complement the railway services and provide the public with more choices for added convenience. Over 12 million passenger trips are made on different public transport services in Hong Kong every day, accounting for over 90% of the total passenger trips made on a daily basis. This percentage is unparalleled anywhere in the world. That is why officials from other major cities often come to Hong Kong to learn from our success.
Public Transport Strategy Study
212. That said, we cannot afford to be complacent. We must continue to develop and enhance our public transport services so that the public can travel conveniently. The Public Transport Strategy Study, completed in June this year, reaffirmed the key factors for the success of Hong Kong’s public transport system and put forward concrete improvement measures so that the public can enjoy even more efficient, convenient and diversified public transport services. The Government is actively implementing these measures. One of them is the increase of the maximum seating capacity of light buses from 16 to 19 since July 2017, which enhances the overall carrying capacity of the light buses to meet passenger demand, particularly during peak periods. The first batch of 19-seat light buses has already commenced service. Meanwhile, we are making preparation for launching franchised taxis with “online-hailing” features to address the new demand for personalised and point-to-point public transport services in the community. We are also working with the franchised bus companies on the implementation of trial schemes of new long-haul bus services and mid-sized single-deck bus services so as to provide more choices for passengers and meet different service needs of the community. In addition, we will continue to take forward the short-, medium- and long-term measures for enhancing the carrying capacity of the Light Rail as well as the study on the long-term operation model of outlying island ferry services.
213. The Government is actively discussing the implementation details of the low-floor wheelchair-accessible light bus trial scheme with the relevant light bus operators. Examination and approval of the specifications and installations of the new vehicle models are underway. The trial scheme is expected to be implemented in phases, starting from the fourth quarter of this year, on three hospital routes, covering Queen Mary Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital and St. Teresa’s Hospital.
214. The Government is pressing ahead with a number of major road infrastructure projects. The Central-Wanchai Bypass and the Island Eastern Corridor Link is targeted for commissioning in end 2018 or the first quarter of 2019, and the Tseung Kwan O-Lam Tin Tunnel in 2021. In addition, we hope to obtain early funding approval from the LegCo for constructing the Central Kowloon Route. We will also take forward the construction of the Cross Bay Link in Tseung Kwan O as well as the widening of Tai Po Road (Sha Tin Section) in order to meet the transport needs in different districts in Hong Kong.
215. Railway is the backbone of the public transportation system, with a daily patronage of over 5.2 million. The overall performance of the railway service in Hong Kong is steady, attaining international best standards. The Tai Wai to Hung Hom section and the Hung Hom to Admiralty section of the Shatin to Central Link is targeted for commissioning in mid-2019 and 2021 respectively. By 2021, the railway network will cover areas inhabited by more than 70% of the Hong Kong population. For the next stage of railway development, the Government will take forward the new railway projects under the Railway Development Strategy 2014 in an orderly manner. We aim to consult the public on the railway schemes of Tuen Mun South Extension and the Northern Link (and Kwu Tung Station) in 2018. In parallel, we will proceed with the detailed planning for the East Kowloon Line, the Tung Chung West Extension (and Tung Chung East Station) and the North Island Line.
216. The MTR network is admittedly quite congested during peak periods and individual incidents have led to service disruptions, thus causing inconvenience to passengers. The Government has requested the MTR Corporation Limited to consider encouraging passengers to ride during non-peak periods so as to divert the peak-hour passenger flow; and to enhance the release of real-time train service information so that passengers could make early planning for their trips.
Alleviating Road Traffic Congestion
217. Like other major cities, Hong Kong has to cope with a heavy vehicular and pedestrian flow. We are committed to making the best use of the road network to shorten the commuting time for the public and reduce the social costs arising from road traffic congestion. The Government will continue to pursue various measures progressively to alleviate road traffic congestion. Among these measures, we will make early preparation for the implementation of the Electronic Road Pricing Pilot Scheme in Central and its vicinity in order to alleviate congestion in busy districts. We will also implement a series of short- and medium- to long-term measures to increase parking spaces in various districts having regard to the local situation in order to combat illegal parking. We will accord priority to meeting the parking needs of commercial vehicles, and will at the same time provide an appropriate number of parking spaces for private cars. These measures include studying the opening up of parking spaces and loading/unloading bays currently designated for own use of the development projects concerned and putting them up for night-time public parking of commercial vehicles; requiring developers to provide parking spaces at the higher end of the range under the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines; and providing public car parks in suitable new government, institution and community facilities.
Co-location Arrangement for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link
218. Since the inauguration of the current-term Government, one of the most concerned issues that has attracted the widest public attention is the arrangement for customs, immigration and quarantine clearance (clearance arrangements) for the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL). Since our announcement of the proposal for implementing the co-location clearance arrangement at the West Kowloon Station of the Hong Kong Section of the XRL on 25 July this year, there has been extensive discussion in the community. Efficient and time-saving clearance procedures are absolutely essential to realising the full potential of the XRL in terms of speed and convenience. Similar co-location arrangement can be found in the cross-border transport services in other cities and countries around the world, and I believe many Hong Kong people have experienced such clearance service when travelling elsewhere. The co-location arrangement for Shenzhen Bay Port, in smooth operation since its implementation in 2007, has been well received by travellers. The proposal of implementing a co-location arrangement at the West Kowloon Station is a practical and effective solution in line with “One Country, Two Systems” and does not contravene the Basic Law. It is also the most practical and cost-effective option to realise the transport, social and economic benefits of the XRL. This arrangement will also maximise convenience to passengers and avoid causing security problems. The Government has given notice to initiate a motion debate on this issue at the LegCo sitting on 25 October this year. After examining the views from various parties including LegCo members, the Government will take forward the follow-up tasks of the co-location arrangement pursuant to the “Three-step Process” proposal announced earlier. These include reaching a Co-operation Arrangement with the Mainland, seeking the approval and endorsement of the Co-operation Arrangement by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress through a decision to be made by the Standing Committee and commencing the local legislative process thereafter so as to meet the target of implementing the co-location arrangement at the West Kowloon Station upon the commissioning of the Hong Kong Section of the XRL in the third quarter of 2018.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge
219. We will continue to press full steam ahead with another external land transport infrastructure project of Hong Kong – the construction of the Hong Kong Section of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) – to dovetail with the commissioning of the HZMB. We will announce the commissioning date of the entire HZMB as soon as possible subject to factors such as the implementation of cross-boundary traffic measures, the results of the discussion among the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao and the subsequent reporting to the HZMB Central Task Force.
220. The Government will continue to take forward “Walk in HK” and encourage people to walk more so as to reduce the use of mechanised transport for short-distance commuting. This will help alleviate traffic congestion and improve air quality, and develop Hong Kong into a walkable city. The “Walk in HK” initiative will provide user-friendly information on walking routes, enhance pedestrian networks, make walking a pleasant experience, and provide a safe and quality pedestrian environment. Measures include progressively taking forward the construction of covers for suitable walkways in different districts, selecting two pilot areas in Hong Kong within next year to study the creation of an innovative measure and comfortable walking environment on a pilot basis, and commencing a study towards the end of this year to review and improve the assessment mechanism for proposed hillside escalator links and elevator systems projects.
221. A quality city has to be well managed, in addition to being equipped with various public facilities. Our standard of city management has always been acclaimed internationally. Hong Kong is also one of the safest cities in the world. We have a clean and efficient civil service and an array of professional public organisations of a high quality, including the AAHK, the MTR Corporation Limited, various bus and public transport service providers as well as power and gas companies. They provide the community with up-to-date public services round the clock, ensuring our quality of life and the efficient operation of our city.
222. The successive typhoons hitting Hong Kong in the past few months did not bring serious casualty or economic loss. Our resilient infrastructure including slope safety and flood prevention facilities, proved to be up to the test. Various government departments and public service organisations activated their emergency response mechanisms and co-operated effectively and seamlessly in various areas from alert and preventive measures, dissemination of information, arranging temporary shelters and emergency rescue services, to the prompt resumption of transport services and daily public services afterwards. This bears testimony to the efficient and orderly city management of Hong Kong. Global climate change will bring more extreme weather, and Hong Kong cannot be spared. The Government will stay vigilant and strive to keep hazards at bay. We will enhance our preventive capability and resilience against natural disasters by making continuous investment in various resilient infrastructure projects, keeping the existing emergency response mechanisms and measures under review and further improving them on an on-going basis.
223. City management is also about safeguarding the safety of our citizens’ homes. The Government thus also attaches importance to the maintenance of old buildings. The Operation Building Bright initiative launched in 2009 has largely been completed, benefiting 3 000 buildings.
224. There are over 5 000 residential and composite buildings aged 50 years or more in Hong Kong. Without timely inspection and maintenance, they will pose hazards to both the residents and passers-by. To further safeguard public safety, the Government plans to launch “Operation Building Bright 2.0” at a cost of around $3 billion. The initiative will adopt a risk-based approach, with a focus on the most needy owners and providing more targeted assistance. Subsidy will be provided to owner-occupiers of aged residential or composite buildings with rateable values not exceeding the prescribed level for undertaking primarily inspections of their buildings and repair works as required under the Mandatory Building Inspection Scheme.
225. Apart from structural safety, enhancing fire safety of old buildings is also critical in protecting lives and properties. In view of this, the Government also plans to devote about $2 billion to subsidise owners of old composite buildings to undertake fire safety enhancement measures as required by the Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance.
226. We hope to launch “Operation Building Bright 2.0” and the afore-mentioned subsidy scheme for fire safety works in the second half of next year to assist owners in tackling structural hazards and enhancing the fire safety standards of their buildings. In addition, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) is carrying out a study on the Building Rehabilitation Strategy with a view to prolonging the serviceable lifespan of buildings and arresting urban decay. The URA is also setting up a one-stop Building Rehabilitation Platform, with the participation of professional bodies and members of the industry, to provide comprehensive information and technical assistance to owners.
Drinking Water Safety
227. The “lead in drinking water” incident in public rental housing estates two years ago has aroused public concern about drinking water safety. We will take forward the Action Plan for Enhancing Drinking Water Safety in Hong Kong announced in September this year. The plan covers five components, including establishing a set of drinking water standards tailored for Hong Kong and implementing water quality, monitoring at the consumers’ end, strengthening the regulatory control of plumbing materials and commissioning requirements for new plumbing installations, promoting the implementation of the Water Safety Plan for buildings, enhancing public education and publicity on safe use of drinking water, setting up an independent dedicated team in the Development Bureau to take up the role of a water quality regulator, and conducting detailed studies to establish a drinking water safety regulatory regime suitable for Hong Kong.
Water Quality of the Victoria Harbour
228. The water quality of the Victoria Harbour has improved substantially following the completion of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS) Stage 2A. As a result, the cross-harbour swimming race this year will be held right at the centre of the Victoria Harbour, reviving a race route used forty years ago. To speed up the amelioration of the near-shore odour problems of the Victoria Harbour, the Government is conducting tender exercises for various sewerage improvement projects and the construction of dry weather flow interceptors in Kowloon and the New Territories. The upgrading of the Kwun Tong Preliminary Treatment Works commenced in September and other works projects will commence one-by-one within this year.
Beautification of the Harbourfront
229. The harbourfront is a precious natural asset in our urban area. We encourage the community to make better use of the harbourfront so that it will become more vibrant and more quality public space will be available for public enjoyment. In partnership with the Harbourfront Commission, we will take action in this area, including the identification of suitable harbourfront sites for non-governmental organisations to operate community facilities or organise community events. In this regard, we aim to make available a site in Kennedy Town for the running of a community garden and related uses through a short-term tenancy in the first quarter of 2018.
Environment and Nature Conservation
Climate Change and Energy
230. This summer, Hong Kong was repeatedly hit by tropical cyclones. The storm surge induced by Hato caused serious tidal back flow in some low-lying areas. Climate change will lead to a continuous rise in the sea level, and the challenges of extreme weather will exacerbate.
231. To combat climate change, we take actions in three areas, namely mitigation, adaptation and resilience. The Steering Committee on Climate Change, chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration, has enhanced co-operation across bureaux and relevant departments in implementing the “Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2030+”. We will review the effectiveness of various measures in a timely manner and remain vigilant at all times.
232. Among others, the Climate Change Working Group on Infrastructure co-ordinates the effort of works departments in combating climate change. Such effort includes reviewing the design standards of infrastructure and the resilience of existing infrastructure, and updating them as necessary to enhance protection against extreme weather. The Government will also continue to put in more effort for carrying out analysis of climate change, making forecasts on extreme weather and promoting disaster preparedness in order to enhance the city’s resilience against climate change.
233. Mitigation of climate change also calls for immediate action. The Paris Agreement, in effect since November 2016, applies to the HKSAR. To help achieve the vision of the Paris Agreement, the Government will drive Hong Kong’s low-carbon transformation towards our target of reducing carbon intensity by 65% to 70% by 2030 compared with the 2005 level.
234. Our low-carbon transformation takes a multi-pronged approach. These measures include: adopting cleaner fuels, promoting territory-wide energy saving, commuting green and reducing waste, etc. Among others, we will gradually replace most of our coal-fired generation units with cleaner energy sources, further encourage the development of renewable energy, and implement the “Energy Saving Plan for Hong Kong’s Built Environment 2015~2025+” with a view to promoting energy efficiency, energy conservation and green building, etc.
235. The Government entered into new Schemes of Control Agreements (SCAs) with the power companies in the first half of this year. We will announce details of the Feed-in Tariff and the Renewable Energy Certificates Schemes next year to promote distributed Renewable Energy. Details of a series of new energy-saving initiatives under the new SCAs will also be announced.
236. In addition, we will actively promote the adoption of Renewable Energy, energy conservation and green buildings on government premises. Measures include the development of large-scale Renewable Energy facilities at suitable venues. An innovative example is the study undertaken by the Water Supplies Department (WSD) to examine the feasibility of developing large-scale floating solar farms in Hong Kong by reference to the results of the pilot schemes of the installation of floating photovoltaic systems at the Shek Pik Reservoir and the Plover Cove Reservoir.
237. From a macro perspective, while implementing the action plan set out in the “Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong 2013 – 2020”, the Government is undertaking a review on the Air Quality Objectives (AQOs), which is conducted once every five years. Through the working group and the public consultation forum, we engage the community interactively and seize this review opportunity to explore the possible scope for tightening the AQOs and the strategies on relevant improvement measures. We plan to complete the review in 2018.
238. Despite the discernible improvement in air quality over the past few years as a result of the considerable effort made by the Government, marine vessels remain the largest local emission source of air pollutants. To tackle this, the Government has signed a co-operation agreement with the Mainland on joint efforts to take forward the implementation of a Domestic Marine Emission Control Area in the Pearl River Delta. We plan to mandate vessels in Hong Kong waters to use low sulphur fuel starting from January 2019. The establishment of the emission control area in this region will set a leading example in Asia.
239. In addition, we will explore the launch of pilot schemes for local ferries and new government vessels to adopt green technologies to reduce their emissions.
Waste Reduction and Recycling
240. The promotion of a “Use less, Waste less” culture is crucial to achieving low-carbon living. This calls for a multi-pronged approach, and waste reduction at source holds the key. The implementation of municipal solid waste (MSW) charging is central to the “Hong Kong: Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013 – 2022”. It will introduce financial incentives to drive a behavioural and cultural change, and encourage the community to practise waste reduction and clean recycling more proactively. We are refining the implementation arrangements announced earlier and aim to introduce an amendment bill into the LegCo later.
241. To complement the implementation of the MSW Charging Scheme, we will further step up our effort in supporting waste reduction at source and clean recycling. Among others, an outreaching service and another round of publicity and public education programme on clean recycling will be launched to enhance public awareness of waste recycling. This in turn will increase the recyclability and economic value of recyclables, thereby enlarging the supply of suitable recyclables for the recycling industry.
242. Starting from early next year, the Mainland will progressively introduce new measures in reforming its import management regime on recyclables. This will bring new opportunities to the recycling industry in Hong Kong. We are fine-tuning the operation of the Recycling Fund step-by-step to assist the industry, especially small and medium enterprises, in expanding and upgrading their businesses. New subsidy programmes under the Recycling Fund were launched in recent months to encourage the trade to process their recyclables to a standard that meets the latest import requirements of the Mainland.
243. In addition, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) will provide better support for collecting recyclables with lower recycling value through enhanced co-operation with non-governmental organisations and stakeholders. For instance, we will implement central collection of waste plastic bottles so that these recyclables can be processed most cost-effectively.
244. The EPD will also study the feasibility of nurturing a local manufacturing industry using recycled materials in the long run. Under this study, we will examine how best to support the development of such an industry with the land and ancillary facilities at the EcoPark and look for more long-term, effective and diversified ways out for the processing of local recyclables.
245. On addressing the challenge of food waste, following the gradual establishment of a network of organic resources recovery centres, the EPD will set up a dedicated Food Waste Recycling Group to implement source separation and collection of food waste, study and formulate new regulatory measures on food waste disposal, administer the Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign, and facilitate food waste reduction and recycling. Furthermore, the Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign will enter a new stage, during which we will foster the “Food Wise” culture among the public and promote centralised food waste recycling in the commercial and industrial sectors.
246. In response to the strong demand of the international community for strengthening the control of ivory trade to eliminate the threat to the survival of elephants, the Government moved the second reading of the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants (Amendment) Bill 2017 in June this year, to ban the import and re-export of elephant trophies, phase out the local ivory trade, and impose heavier penalties on smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species. The LegCo has set up a Bills Committee to scrutinise the Bill, and we hope that the Bill will be passed as soon as possible. We will also follow the common international practice of offering no compensation to the ivory trade to avoid sending a wrong message, which might lead to further poaching of elephants and smuggling of illegal ivory into Hong Kong by illicit traders for seeking possible compensation. However, the Government will offer appropriate assistance to the affected ivory craftsmen as far as possible.
247. While taking forward the “Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2016 – 2021”, we will continue to organise the Hong Kong Biodiversity Festival in collaboration with community organisations to promote public appreciation of the nature and wise consumption of biological resources in our daily lives.
248. Country parks are Hong Kong’s precious resources. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of country parks, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department organised a series of programmes on the theme of “Country Parks Our Legacy” for public enjoyment and to promote nature conservation.
249. Remote areas in the countryside are rich in ecological, architectural and cultural resources. The Government will enhance the conservation of these areas, thereby protecting the natural ecology of the countryside, revitalising the architectural environment of villages, and conserving our precious cultural resources. These actions will not only bring new life to the almost desolate remote countryside, but also promote eco-tourism, thus responding to the community’s vision for urban-rural symbiosis. In collaboration with various NGOs, the Government has earlier carried out various revitalisation projects and minor improvement works to rehabilitate the ecological, cultural and architectural environment in Lai Chi Wo. The initiative has the support of the villagers, and is well received by the community.
250. The Government will establish a Countryside Conservation Office to co-ordinate conservation projects that promote sustainable development of remote countryside, and has earmarked $1 billion for such conservation effort and revitalisation works. As a priority, the Office will, in collaboration with NGOs on an interactive basis, organise diversified and innovative activities, take forward the planning of enhanced effort on countryside revitalisation in Lai Chi Wo, and implement an ecological conservation project in Sha Lo Tung. We will keep under review the implementation of the initiative and the effectiveness of these projects from time to time, and will extend the initiative progressively to other remote countryside areas.
Intangible Cultural Heritage
251. We announced the first Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Hong Kong (Representative List) in August 2017, which comprises 20 items of high cultural value and with an urgent need for preservation. They include nanyin (southern tunes), sek pun (basin feast), paper crafting technique and Hong Kong-style milk tea making technique, etc. The Government will closely liaise with the respective organisations and bearers, and organise thematic exhibitions and a wide range of activities to enhance public knowledge of the items on the Representative List. The Government will continue to encourage various sectors of the community to participate in and support the protection of intangible cultural heritage.
252. The invaluable cultural heritage of Hong Kong stands witness to the historical development of our city. The Government adopts a multi-pronged approach in promoting heritage conservation, which includes enforcement of the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance, implementing the grading mechanism for historic buildings, providing subsidies and grants under the Built Heritage Conservation Fund, implementing the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme (Revitalisation Scheme) and organising promotional and public education activities, etc. So far, five batches of projects under the Revitalisation Scheme have been rolled out, involving a total of 19 projects, including the “Viva Blue House” at the Blue House Cluster in Wan Chai, which was opened last month. Various projects under the signature initiative of Conserving Central are completed one by one. Furthermore, the “Heritage Vogue • Hollywood Road” street carnival held in July this year was well-received with enthusiastic public participation. We will continue to organise similar activities for public enjoyment in future.
Arts and Culture
253. Arts and culture are the soul of a city. They enrich people’s life, support diversification of industries, promote tourism and provide alternative employment opportunities for young people. After years of planning and preparation, the much anticipated West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) is gradually becoming a prominent landmark on the waterfront of the Victoria Harbour. Major facilities of the WKCD to be completed in the next few years include the Xiqu Centre, the M+ Museum, the Lyric Theatre Complex, the Freespace, the Art Park and the Hong Kong Palace Museum. I am pleased that as the WKCD progresses to the next stage, the Hon. Henry TANG Ying-yen has agreed to assume once again the chairmanship of the Board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) to lead the WKCDA team to start a new chapter in Hong Kong’s arts and culture sector.
254. In addition to the WKCD, the Government will strive to provide an environment conducive to arts and cultural development. Apart from exploring ways to assist the arts and cultural sector in the context of the review of the industrial building revitalisation policy conducted by the Development Bureau, the Government would also continue to identify suitable locations for development into arts space. With the support of the Government, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) is looking into the possibility of opening new arts space in revitalised industrial or commercial buildings offered by private owners for use by young artists at affordable rentals based on the mode of operation of the “ADC Arts Space” in Wong Chuk Hang.
255. The realm of arts knows no boundary. Let us not forget that there is a much wider world outside Hong Kong, where our arts sector has gradually earned a fine reputation with years of hard work. During the year, to complement the celebration events organised for the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to our Motherland, we have arranged arts groups to stage performances both within and outside Hong Kong. These performances won wide acclaim. To consolidate Hong Kong’s status as an international cultural metropolis and to create more opportunities for our young artists, we will allocate more resources to support the local arts and cultural sector. In the next few years, we will increase the resources support for local artists and arts groups to perform and stage exhibitions outside Hong Kong and for hosting Hong Kong Week in some of the major Mainland cities to showcase the essence of Hong Kong arts. We will also provide a funding of $36 million in the coming six years for continuing the training scheme for arts administrators and encouraging young artistic talents to study and exchange experience with their counterparts elsewhere.
256. We also attach importance to cultivating the cultural literacy of our younger generation and building a wider audience base. In this connection, the Government will support the work of the HKADC in fostering further collaboration between arts groups and schools. This will help promote the better use of school premises as arts space as well as nurture students’ interests in arts, thereby laying a foundation for future cultural development in Hong Kong.
257. The Government is taking forward the Kai Tak Sports Park Project to provide modernised and multi-purpose facilities to support holistic sports development and the hosting of more world-class sports events. Having completed the prequalification process, we will invite qualified tenderers to submit tenders within this year. The construction works are expected to commence in the second half of 2018 and be completed between 2022 and 2023.
258. Starting from this school year, the EDB and the HAB have launched the Opening up School Facilities for Promotion of Sports Development Scheme, which provides additional subsidies to public sector schools to encourage them to open up their school facilities to sports associations and help promote a sporting culture in schools. We will collect views from relevant schools and sports associations to further enhance the scheme.
259. Following the completion of the Consultancy Study on Sport for People with Disabilities in Hong Kong and the public consultation on the study, the HAB developed a detailed work plan in collaboration with stakeholders. One of the key measures is to launch a pilot scheme to provide full-time training to athletes with disabilities and funding support to elite sports for the disabled. We will draw on the experience gained from the pilot scheme when devising a long-term elite support scheme.
260. Ball games played by teams have always been the most popular sports among students and young people. However, given the larger number of players involved in team sports, more resources are required to organise training in order to enhance their chance of achieving good results in major international games. To promote the development of team ball games, we will earmark $130 million for the launch of a five-year development programme to provide additional funding for the relevant national sports associations to formulate and implement training programmes for Hong Kong representative teams to compete in the Asian Games. Funding support will also be offered to members of Hong Kong representative teams, with the aim of enhancing the performance of team sports progressively and increasing their chances of attaining elite sports status in future.
261. Public safety is an important indicator of a liveable city. Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world and the overall crime rate in recent years hit a record low. In view of the rapid development of the global counter-terrorism situation and the potential threat posed by terrorism to Hong Kong, the Government must ensure the adequacy of Hong Kong’s counter-terrorism capability and preparedness and reinforce this with continuous enhancement. We will establish a dedicated Inter-departmental Counter-terrorism Unit led by the Police and comprising relevant law enforcement agencies. The unit will monitor the global terrorism trends and regimes on countering terrorism, review and improve counter-terrorism strategies in Hong Kong, and formulate measures and action plans in collaboration with relevant departments. The Government will also strengthen intelligence-sharing with the counter-terrorism agencies elsewhere, and enhance our capabilities in intelligence gathering and analysis. In addition, we need to develop specialised training on counter-terrorism, specialised investigation and capability in combating and continuously improve the emergency response plans and enhance public alertness and education.