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Ombudsman probes arrangements on display of publicity materials in public housing estates

2 February 2016

The Ombudsman, Ms Connie Lau, announced today (February 2) the initiation of a direct investigation under section 7(1)(a)(ii) of The Ombudsman Ordinance (Cap 397) into the arrangements on the display of publicity materials in public housing estates of the Housing Department (HD).

 

The HD manages more than 210 public housing estates. Its main objective is to provide a safe, clean and tranquil living environment with a whole range of services for the residents. To keep the residents informed of various services offered by stakeholders in the community, the HD designates specific spots in public housing estates for different persons and organisations to display their publicity materials, such as banners, publicity boards, posters, pamphlets and leaflets, for disseminating information to local residents.

 

However, the Office of The Ombudsman has received public complaints alleging that the HD’s estate offices adopt inconsistent standards in screening the contents of publicity materials when approving applications for display of those materials. Some complainants have also alleged certain unfairness in the specific posting arrangements, improper handling of applications by persons with multiple identities (for example, an elected District Councillor who is also a member of the estate’s management advisory committee), and the lack of an effective monitoring system with penalties. A preliminary inquiry by the Office has revealed that there might be inadequacies in the HD’s handling of display of publicity materials in public housing estates.

 

Ms Lau said, “About 30 per cent of the population in Hong Kong live in public housing estates. Naturally, many groups and organisations providing diverse services in the community are keen to reach out to public housing residents through displaying publicity materials and other means. Any improper management of the display of publicity materials in public housing estates would easily lead to confrontation between different organisations or even among local residents. This Office has, therefore, initiated this direct investigation to examine whether the HD’s existing mechanism is sufficient to ensure fair and orderly display of such materials in public housing estates.”

 

The ambit of this direct investigation includes:

 

(1) the HD’s criteria in screening applications for displaying publicity materials in public housing estates and the arrangements on posting those materials;

 

(2) the HD’s mechanism for monitoring the display of publicity materials in public housing estates, including the mechanism for handling complaints, the maintenance of approval records and files, as well as the system for penalising non-compliance of regulations; and

 

(3) areas for improvement and enhancement.

 

The Ombudsman welcomes views from the public on the above subject. Comments in writing should reach the Office of The Ombudsman by March 1, 2016:

 

Address: 30/F, China Merchants Tower, Shun Tak Centre
168-200 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong
Fax: 2882 8149
Email: complaints@ombudsman.hk

 

Office of The Ombudsman
February 2, 2016

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