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Public Policy Research - Layman summaries of projects funded in 2nd Round

CityU 1001-PPR-2
Development and Validation of Design Tools for Estimating the Indoor Daylight Illuminance under thw 15 CIE Standard Skies
PI: Dr Danny Hin-wa Li

Daylighting is an effective approach to allow a more flexible building facade design, and to enhance a more energy-efficient and greener building development. People desire good natural lighting in their living and working environments. Proper daylighting designs mean not only low electric lighting and reduced peak electrical demands but also reduced cooling requirements and potential for smaller air-conditioning equipment size. The prediction of the internal daylight levels is a key stage in daylighting analysis. Traditionally, daylight illuminance is determined using daylight factor approach (DFA) with the computations being based on the overcast sky conditions. However, DFA is not flexible enough to predict the dynamic variations as the sun position and sky conditions change. The interior daylight illuminance is influenced by he luminance and pattern of the sky in the direction of view of the window. Recently, the CIE has adopted a range of 15 standard skies covering the whole probable spectrum of skies. Lately, we have developed a simplified numerical procedure considering the sky illuminance levels and luminance distributions to estimate the indoor daylight under unobstructed skies. The proposed project extends this method to incorporate external obstructions via scale model and full scale field measurements and computer simulation techniques.

CityU 1003-PPR-2
The Possibilities of Gender Mainstreaming Social Policy on Family Violence in Hong Kong
PI: Dr Lai-ching Leung

The research contributes to the domestic violence policy in Hong Kong in four aspects: first, this research has identified the root causes of the problem and has suggested a clear direction and comprehensive approach to combat domestic violence in Hong Kong. Violence against women, whether by strangers or family members, is an act that violated basic human right, and therefore, both social service provision and law protection are need. Second, to gender mainstream the domestic violence policy has become a world trend since the Women's Conference in Beijing in 1995. This study suggests the strategies on how the gender and equality dimension can be taken into in domestic violence policies and activities: in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation phases. Third, the problems in existing practices of inter-professional co-ordination and collaboration in handling domestic violence cases have been identified. That helps to improve the service coordination among different social service organizations, for example, FCPSU, IFSC, and refugee centre, and to promote the communication between social workers and the police. At the same time, findings of this study also provide direction and focus for the training of front-line workers such as social workers and the police in the future. Fourth, a checklist has been developed for government departments as a tool to assess and monitor the policy and practices in handling domestic violence cases.

HKBU 2004-PPR-2
Development of Music Education in the 21st Century: Cultural and Policy Issues
PI: Prof. Wai-Chung Ho

In the face of calls for life-long education, character education, multicultural education and nationalistic education, one wonders how to build credibility for music and music education, and how to expand that portion of the population that enjoys and makes its own music. The goals of music education can best be accomplished through the combined efforts of music educators, school music teachers and parents. On the one hand, community music education, together with various music organizations, can encourage multicultural musical developments in the music profession by initiating programmes for both professional training and outreach programmes. Both schools and the community should provide the highest quality music education, and the willingness and ability to promote diverse music as a valuable aspect of community life. On the other hand, parents and school teachers who promote music in their children's lives are contributing most to their successful involvement in music. Given that educational institutions are an essential part of culture, diverse views of music education may reflect different ideologies, and have conflicting implications for practice and policy implementation. Besides promoting students' educational development, music can help them feel more socially accepted. Transforming music, education and society requires individual commitment, professional development and public policy.

HKBU 2005-PPR-2
The Relationship between Musical Aptitude, Musical Achievement, and Academic Aptitudes: Implications for Student Diversity and Educational Needs
PI: Dr Mang Ho Shun Esther

Music aptitude is a predictor of music achievement and a reliable means of informing teachers about individual differences. Since music aptitude is developmental, early formal training in addition to general classroom music instruction could foster better music achievement later in life.

Contrary to imprecise generalization, music achievement is a product of an individual's music aptitude level and the quality and appropriateness of musical training he or she received. Hence, benchmark for education assessment could also include progress made within the specific aptitude level of an individual student.

Findings of present study showed that Hong Kong students possess significantly higher Tonal Aptitude than Rhythm Aptitude as compared to that of a standardized US norm. It is imperative to put more emphasis on rhythm training and to further develop more advanced Choral program in schools. Results also suggest a positive relationship between long-term music training and some cognitive processing (Attention and Processing Speed).

Hence, more resources are warranted for early formal music training to maximize future music achievement. Supported by current literature on neuroplasticity, formal music training could be also beneficial in fostering cognitive development, which enables students to be equipped with skills for future academic achievement.

LU 3002-PPR-2
Fair Competition under Laissez-Faireism: Policy Options for Hong Kong
PI: Prof. Lin Ping

We review the decade-long development of competition policy in Hong Kong since its inception in 1998, critically examine the major arguments for and against introducing a cross-sector competition law, and evaluate various policy options for Hong Kong.

Following the pioneering approach of Gal (2003), we identify the special characteristics of small economies (importance of economy of scale, high concentration, high entry barriers, e.g.,) that may affect competition differently than for large economies. We pay special attention to the issues of merger control and the concerns of the SMEs which have been at the centre of policy debate since the release of the Competition Policy Review Committee's recommendations and the subsequent consultation paper of the government in November 2006. We recommend that a cross-sector competition law be introduced that covers horizontal agreements, mergers and acquisitions, and abuse of market power; and SMEs be exempted from two of the three areas but be liable for hard-core cartels violations.

In formulating our analysis and recommendations, we emphasize the insight from economic principles and relevant cases and practices of other jurisdictions. The findings of this project contributes in a timely manner to the on-going debate about whether Hong Kong should establish a comprehensive competition law. These also help clarify certain misconceptions about competition policy in Hong Kong's long-time laissez-faire policy.

CUHK 4009-PPR-2
The Effect of Medium-of-Instruction Policy on Educational Advancement in HKSAR society
PI: Prof. Tsang Wing-kwong

This public policy research has shed new light to an old education-policy issue in HK society, namely medium-of instruction (MOI) in secondary education. The study has also provided empirical evidences to the policy effects of the MOI Guidance for Secondary Schools, which have been implemented since 1998. This study revealed that the first two cohorts of students who have finished their secondary studies under the new MOI-streaming policy have significantly different mobility chance on the advancement path from secondary to university education. More specifically, CMI students' chances of meeting the minimum qualifications of admission to local first degree programs are only about half of those of EMI students. CMI students' chances of meeting the minimum requirement of admission into HKU (the only difference between the two minimum requirements is to raise the USE of English at AS-level from E to D) is one third of those of EMI students.

CUHK 4006-PPR-2
An Economic Analysis of Gender Earnings Gaps in Hong Kong, 1981-2006
PI: Prof. Zhang Junsen

The existence of gender wage gaps may discourage women from working and may arouse many other social problems. This project explores the underlying reasons for gender wage gap and offers some suggestions to government on how to narrow the gender wage gap. The project has the following main findings. First, gender wages gaps are very different at different positions of the wage distribution with larger gaps in the lower and higher ends. Second, the changes of gender wages gap are also very different at different positions of the wage distribution. Thus, it would be misleading to look at the mean value alone. Third, the gender wage gap among lowly-paid workers is mainly caused by discrimination, implying the need for minimum wage legislation and/or other laws. Fourth, gender wage gaps among highly-paid workers are mainly caused by occupation segregation. Fifth, higher education of new female entrants to labour market will reduce gender wage gaps. The policy implication of the research results is that, in order to further narrow gender wage gaps, the government may consider to focus on minimum wage law, reducing or eliminating occupational segregation, and raising the education of female workers at an early stage.

CUHK 4010-PPR-2
Resources, Distribution, School Autonomy and Student Achievement: Modeling Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) Effects
PI: Associate Prof. Chiu Ming Ming

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) data include reading test scores of 5,050 representative primary 4 students in 147 Hong Kong schools, and questionnaires completed by the students, parents, teachers, and principals. We showed that students scored higher in families or schools with more resources (SES, native born, two parents, educational materials, higher SES or female schoolmates, class time, educated teachers) or beneficial intangible processes (communication, discipline, teacher-student relationship). Equal distribution of country and school resources were linked to higher reading scores. School autonomy had positive, but not significant effects on reading achievement.

We mathematically modeled school system changes due to DSS expansion (to 10%, 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% of Hong Kong schools). Using the above HK-PIRLS estimated effects, we showed that expanding DSS mostly showed negative, but not significant effects on the reading scores of most students. Analysis of the highest-achieving, lowest-achieving, or poorest students yielded the same results. The richest students scored higher, but not significantly so, under DSS expansion. The results suggest that DSS expansion will not significantly increase Hong Kong students' reading scores. Hence, the Hong Kong government should not expand DSS to other schools if its sole purpose is improving student learning.

CUHK 4016-PPR-2
For a Sustainable Development of the Hong Kong Movie Industry: An Evaluation of the Film Council and the China Market as Policy Options
PI: Prof. Joseph M. Chan

The Hong Kong film industry is facing a crisis marked by a prolonged recession. This research is timely contribution to the search of policies to revitalize it. Through document analysis and interviews with movie practitioners, this study seeks to explore various measures by which Hong Kong can relaunch its film industry on a sustainable basis. Specifically, the study reviews the current policy measures for the local film industry from a comparative perspective, identifies the role that the Hong Kong SAR Government and other relevant parties should play in revitalizing the local film industry, and explores the potential of the China market as the key to salvage the Hong Kong film industry. To regain its competitive edge and keep up with the globalized competition, we recommend that the government and the movie industry work hand in hand to develop a long-term strategy. For the government, more active work should be done to consolidate the industry infrastructure and to lay the foundation for future development. Meanwhile, the industry should overhaul its value system, trade practices and quality perspective. What the movie industry badly needs is passion and commitment.

CUHK 4017-PPR-2
Traditional Chinese Medicine in Hong Kong: Utilization Pattern and its Role in the Future Healthcare System
PI: Prof Sian Griffiths

This research project aims to describe the utilization pattern of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in Hong Kong. We found the following characteristics of TCM use in Hong Kong:
TCM is often used as a complement of instead of an alternative to western medicine (WM). Co-use of TCM and WM services are popular amongst middle aged chronic disease patients. The perceived synergetic effect of TCM and WM is found to be the major reason for using both modalities.

Friends and family instead of TCM professionals are the main source of knowledge on TCM. Chinese herbal medicines (CHM) are often perceived as non-toxic and self administration is common. Patients are often unwilling to disclose their TCM use to WM professionals as negative responses are expected. Better understanding amongst public and professions of the benefits as well as potential risks is needed.

The public expect the government to take initiatives to provide TCM-WM integrative medicine (IM). Base on the findings above, the following policies could be considered by the government:

Local strategies for tackling the increasing levels of chronic disease: With the emerging evidence base of TCM and existing patients' choice, the government could consider the potential contribution of the TCM sector, especially in the management of chronic diseases when WM has little to offer while TCM could improve outcomes (e.g. Chinese herbal medicine for irritable bowel syndrome (Bensoussan et al. 1998), acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee (witt et al. 2005)).

Integrating the TCM sector into the Hong Kong primary healthcare system. The current health care reforms stress the need to develop primary healthcare and establishing an inter-professional collaboration platform for TCM and WM professionals would facilitate better working between the two different practices.

Educating the public on safe use of TCM, especially the administration of CHM with western medication.

Bensoussan, A., N.J. Talley, M. Hing, R. Menzies, A. Guo, and M. Ngu. 1998. "Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with Chinese herbal medicine: a randomized controlled trial." "JAMA: the journal of the American Medical Association 280 (18): 1585-9.
Witt, C., B. Brinkhaus, S. Jena, K. Linde, A. Streng, S. Wagenpfeil, J. Hummelsberger, H.U. Walther, D. Melchart, and S.N. Willich. 2005. Acupuncture in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized trial." Lancet 366 (9480): 136-43

HKUST 6001-PPR-2
Mortality transition in Hong Kong and its major theoretical and policy implications
PI: Dr Jow Ching Tu

This project provides a very detailed understanding of the mortality changes and its theoretical and policy implications in Hong Kong. Furthermore, it provides perspectives of potential future study in terms of major degenerative diseases and the impact of environment and climate changes.

HKU 7013-PPR-2
Hong Kong as logistics hub in global value chains: analysis and policies
PI: Associate Prof. James Wang

The research investigated Hong Kong's logistics sector. It confirms an important fact that Hong Kong has changed dramatically to a global supply chain management center. Through a questionnaire survey and many interviews, we have identified five different types of logistics firms in HK. They are acting as different parts in the global supply chains, mainly linking China as a source place with the EU or North America as the market.

Generally, the logistics services providers have been changing their role towards more value-added activities. The most obvious trend is that many of them gain from air-based trade rather than relying largely on port and shipping. Another trend is that more logistics firms tend to be trade-based rather than cargo-based: they focus on helping buyers to source in Asia in establishing flexible supply chains.

These changes and many details found in our research lead to a conclusion that the HK government needs to play a more active role in supporting logistics sector in their new direction-global supply chain management, which is an upgraded way that HK goes back to its basic role - an Asia's major hub for global trading. We have made 17 policy recommendations explaining how this can be done.

HKU 7022-PPR-2
Assuring Hong Kong's Water Supply: Learning the Lessons of the 1963 Drought
PI: Dr Ji Chen

In 1963, a severe drought lasting nearly a year occurred in southern China. During the drought period rigorous water restrictions were introduced in Hong Kong, with considerable social and economic effects. Economic development and population growth in Hong Kong in the past four decades has made the territory even more dependent on China for its water supply. Presently, about 80% of the water supplied in Hong Kong is diverted from the East River in Guangdong Province in southern China. There is every likelihood that Hong Kong will face another serious water shortage if a drought like that of 1963 reoccurs. However, there is little social awareness of Hong Kong's water supply situation and its vulnerability to a future drought, and the government dies not appear to have a comprehensive policy for addressing a water shortage in Hong Kong resulting from a drought in China. The aim of this project is therefore to address two main problems. Firstly, we will investigate the predictabilities of a regional droughts at he semi-annual, seasonal and monthly temporal scales. Secondly, we will develop different measures for attenuating severe drought damage, using the 1963 drought as a benchmark. We will analyze the project's results and put forward suggestions for an appropriate policy for water supply security and sustainability in Hong Kong.

HKU 7023-PPR-2
Urban Planning and Innovations for Sustainable City Development: an Analytical and Empirical Analysis of Master Layout Plans for Comprehensive Development Areas
PI: Prof. Lawrence Wai Chung LAI

(1) There were incidents of non-fulfillment of planning conditions in completed residential development. These could be a matter of delay, as there is no time limit in the planning law for compliance or sanction against non fulfillment, or because the Government leases do not fully reflect, if at all, the planning conditions.
(2) There were Master Layout Plans missing from the Land Registry. This means that home buyers may not be able to audit compliance with planning conditions before or after the purchase of units.
(3) Findings (1) and (2) have public policy and consumer protection implications and call for government re-investigation and action.
(4) Generally, there is a negative correlation between (a) planning conditions as consolidated in master layout plans and (b) environmental complaints but the strength of it is disappointingly not strong.
(5) Finding (4) calls for a more rigorous research on the relationship between planning conditions and environment protection because this research has been hindered by the refusal by EPD to disclose addresses of environmental complaints.
(6) The avenue for the public to shape planning conditions has been formally created under the amended Town Planning Ordinance and the public do make use of the new system.
(7) However, the actual contribution of the public in the formulation of planning conditions is little. Besides, planning conditions are more or less standard terms without details that can help promote innovations.
(8) Findings (6) and (7), subject to further and better research, could contribute to the weak correlation mentioned in (4) above and justify for continuing monitoring.

HKIEd 8001-PPR-2
Educational Provision for Ethnic Minority Students in Hong Kong: Meeting the Challenges of the Proposed Racial Discrimination Bill
PI : Prof Kerry J. Kennedy

The project examines the educational provision for ethnic minority students in primary and secondary schools. It provides insight into the promotion of social justice, equity and multiculturalism in a unique context where Chinese and Western, modern and ancient values, influence policy-makers, school administrators and school practitioners. Furthermore, having identified the unique organizational features of schools, in terms of the combination of different ethnic groups of students and the relationship between the majority and minority groups of school practitioners, this study will move on to develop effective strategies for promoting students' academic success, dealing with cultural diversity and fulfilling their diverse needs arisen in the various settings of school, home and community. The experience of Hong Kong schools will provide insight into both theory and practice, relating to theoretical and knowledge contributions to multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism and culturally responsiveness, and offers an explanation for new policies and their inability to meet the expressed needs of different groups of ethnic minority people.

HKIEd 8002-PPR-2
Improving Life Chances and Social Mobility Through language Proficiency In Early Childhood Education In Hong Kong: Meeting the Challenges of the Language Education Policy
PI: Dr Leung Cheung Shing Samuel

With reference to the implementation of the Hong Kong government's language policy of biliteracy and trilingualism as well as policies aimed at increasing opportunities for social mobility through education, the role of the local language teachers, NET, principals and as well as parents on this critical issue relating to recent educational reforms and effects on language learning in the pre-school settings are the main themes of this research study. How do kindergarten teachers and think and behave in fostering language learning in young children, particularly in relation to English? In addition, the role of parents in language education has not been explored. How do the parents' perceptions and expectations for all these changes embarked upon by the government? To what extent do the parents contribute in the expanding of home school collaboration in order to enhance children's language proficiency? What improvements can be made for pre-primary education in Hong Kong to meet the challenges of the future? Who should be our target groups and who should be involved in the research to yield the highest validity of the data?

All these are issues for the government to consider in the future with regard to language policy and its implementation.