Application of Temporary Places of Public Entertainment Licence (2016/07/06) - (Oral)

Application of Temporary Places of Public Entertainment Licence (2016/07/06) - (Oral)

 Application of Temporary Places of Public Entertainment Licence (2016/07/06)

Following is a question by the Hon Yiu Si-wing and a reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (July 6):


     Recently, two large-scale entertainment events (i.e. the concert held at the Central promenade and a music party originally planned to be held at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal) could not be held as scheduled one after another due to the authorities' refusal to issue a Temporary Places of Public Entertainment Licence (the licence).  It is learnt that by the time the organisers of these two events received the notice that their licence applications had been rejected, it was already very close to the starting time of the events.  As such, the respective organisers had to postpone the concert and cancel the music party.  Apart from the economic losses suffered by the organisers, quite a number of fans, who had purchased the tickets and come from afar, not only ended up in great disappointment but also wasted money on airfare and hotel accommodation.  Some members of the public are worried that Hong Kong's international image has been tarnished by the aforesaid incidents and that such incidents will result in overseas tourists losing confidence in Hong Kong's ability in holding events on schedule in future, thereby hindering the development of performing arts-related tourism in Hong Kong.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of licence applications received by the authorities in each of the past five years, and the number of rejected applications (with a tabulated breakdown by reason of rejection);

(2) as the organiser of the aforesaid music party has alleged that one of the reasons for its licence application being rejected was its failure to satisfy the additional conditions suddenly imposed by the relevant government departments, of the licensing conditions newly introduced by the authorities in the past six months and the reasons for introducing such conditions; the specific reasons why the aforesaid two major events were not timely issued with the licences; and

(3) whether the authorities will consult the relevant industries on improving the guidelines for licence application so as to prevent recurrence of similar incidents; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

     Any person who intends to keep or use places of public entertainment (PPE) shall apply for a licence under the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance (Cap. 172) (the Ordinance).  The Ordinance serves the primary purpose of ensuring public safety and order at places of entertainment where members of the public congregate, covering such aspects as fire safety, building safety, electrical and mechanical (E&M) equipment, ventilation, hygiene and crowd management.  The Secretary for Home Affairs is the licensing authority and he has authorised the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene to execute the procedures for the issue of licenses.

     Upon receipt of an application for the PPE licence, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) will first consider the nature of the activity.  If the activity falls within the ambit of the Ordinance, FEHD will handle the application and, having regard to the nature of activity and the venue concerned, consult relevant departments, including the Hong Kong Police Force, Fire Services Department (FSD), Buildings Department, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, Environmental Protection Department, Transport Department, Highways Department and Lands Department, to ensure compliance with such criteria as plan specifications, as well as fire safety, building safety, crowd management, E&M and hygiene requirements. The relevant departments will advise on areas under their respective purview.  Upon receipt of feedback from these departments, FEHD will process the application on the basis of risk assessments made by the departments.  If the relevant departments do not object to the application, FEHD will issue to the applicant a Letter of Requirements, indicating the requirements imposed by all relevant departments for compliance by the applicant.  FEHD will not issue a licence until the applicant has completed the setting up of venue and the departments concerned have confirmed via site inspections compliance with the licensing conditions covering hygiene, building safety and fire safety requirements and others as imposed by the relevant departments and issued related certificates to the applicant.

     The Government has been handling applications for the PPE licence in a prudent manner based on the principle of safeguarding public safety.  Given the great importance we attach to public safety, tourists can participate in vari點擊打開鏈接ous large-scale events held in Hong Kong with ease of mind, facilitating the building of Hong Kong's international image.

     My reply to the Hon Yiu Si-wing's question is as follows:

(1) In the previous five years, the Government received more than 1 670 applications for the temporary PPE licence on average every year.  Only a very small number of cases were not approved based on considerations of issues mainly relating to building safety and accesses, traffic management, venue use, fire services equipment and environmental protection, etc.  Details of the breakdown are at Annex

(2) No new licensing conditions were introduced by FEHD and relevant departments in respect of applications for the temporary PPE licence over the past half year.  In order to effectively ensure public safety and order at places of entertainment where members of the public congregate, all licence applicants have all along been required to comply with the requirements imposed by relevant departments, including plan specifications, as well as fire safety, building safety, crowd management, E&M and hygiene requirements.  Apart from standard requirements, relevant departments may also impose specific conditions in accordance with the nature and special features of individual events.

     Regarding the two cases mentioned by the Councillor, FEHD processed the two licence applications received and consulted the relevant departments in accordance with the established procedures.  These departments also, according to their respective functions, maintained liaison and close communication with the organisers to facilitate their licence applications.

     As for the concert at the Central promenade, FEHD received the application for the temporary PPE licence in January 2016.  The event was originally scheduled to be held from April 28 to May 7, 2016 at the Central Harbourfront Event Space, Lung Wo Road, Central.  FEHD processed the application received and consulted the relevant departments in accordance with the procedures concerned, and maintained communication with the organiser regarding the views of various departments.  However, the organiser was still unable to comply with the relevant fire safety requirements as at April 28, the scheduled starting date of the event.  Based on consideration of public safety, FEHD was unable to issue a temporary PPE licence on that day and announced its decision immediately.

     Subsequently, relevant departments continued to offer assistance to the applicant and discuss with the applicant any feasible options. In the evening of April 29, FEHD and the relevant departments inspected the event venue again and confirmed that the organiser had met the fire safety and other licensing requirements imposed by relevant departments with the remedial measures taken.  As such, FEHD issued a temporary PPE licence to the organiser on that day.
     As regards the music party at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal as mentioned by the Councillor, FEHD received the application in December 2015. The event was originally scheduled to be held on January 23 and 24, 2016 at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.  Upon receipt of the application, FEHD consulted the relevant departments in accordance with the established procedures, and informed the applicant on January 14, 2016 of various licensing conditions imposed by relevant departments.  On January 18, the organiser notified FEHD of its request to postpone the event to May 28, 2016.  After receiving the notification, FEHD informed the relevant departments of the change.

     Subsequently on May 6, the applicant proposed alteration in the plan and structural drawing.  FEHD consulted the relevant departments on the updated plan and structural drawing submitted by the applicant in accordance with relevant procedures.  FEHD informed the applicant on May 16 of various updated licensing requirements imposed by the relevant departments in response to the alternation proposed by the applicant.  On May 18 , the applicant submitted the structural data of temporary structures.  On May 24, while the vetting of the application was in progress, the applicant notified FEHD of its withdrawal of the application for the temporary PPE licence without stating the reason.
(3) The workflow for processing applications for the temporary PPE licence has been operating effectively.  A guide to PPE licence application has been issued by FEHD, setting out information on the application workflow and relevant licensing conditions (e.g. fire safety and building safety) for easy reference by the public.
     Under the current arrangements, FEHD and the relevant departments will conduct site inspection after completion of venue set-up in order to ensure the safety of event participants.  A temporary PPE licence will be issued for approving the event only upon confirmation that the venue concerned complies with related safety requirements and licensing conditions.  The setting up of the venue will normally be completed until the time when it is very close to the commencement of the event, and only by then can relevant departments conduct site inspections to ensure that arrangements are in place for compliance with all the relevant safety and other requirements.  Therefore, FEHD is not able to issue a licence at an earlier time.  The Government will continue to keep in view the submission and vetting procedures of applications for the temporary PPE licence and facilitate licence application by the industry as far as possible.