A modern, comprehensive and transparent archives law that covers all public bodies is long overdue in Hong Kong, argued the director of Hong Kong University’s Social Science Research Centre in response to the Law Reform Commission’s looking at legislation guaranteeing public access to information.
Professor John Bacon-Shone added that record keeping was an essential element of an effective and accountable government when he appeared at the April 30 club lunch as part of a panel discussing the need for an archives law.
The Law Reform Commission has come up with a report looking at both the need for an archives law and legislation guaranteeing public access to information. The report has gone out to public consultation. Some journalists, historians and archivists think the proposals are too weak.
Joining Prof. Bacon-Shone were Don Brech, a member of the Archives Action Group and former Director of the HK Government Records Service; and HKU University Archivist and member of the Law Reform Commission Archives Law Sub-committee, Stacy Belcher.
One point of contention among panelists was the potential to charge members of the public for access to information. Prof. Bacon-Shone said there was no cost attached to copying digital records, as opposed to a small cost for photocopying paper records.
However, Belcher argued that there was in fact a significant cost to keep digital records, including electronic storage fees, and administrative costs in transferring and archiving digital information.
Watch the full talk here.