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LCQ2: Timetable for constitutional development review

Following is a question by the Hon Yeung Sum and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (October 8):


Will the Government inform this Council whether it will conduct public consultation on the review of the political system by the end of this year; if not, when it will commence the consultation exercise and when it plans to announce the outcome of the exercise?


Madam President,

During the National Day celebration, the Chief Executive has pointed out that the people of Hong Kong expect the HKSAR Government to promote democratic advancement according to the Basic Law, and that it is the clear duty of the current Administration to pursue this.

During 2003, the Constitutional Affairs Bureau has been conducting internal research on issues relating to constitutional development after 2007. There has been continued progress in this area of work.

The Chief Executive has also indicated that public consultation will commence in 2004.

We expect that relevant local legislation will be dealt with in 2006.

There are more than three years between now and 2006/07. We will ensure that there is sufficient time for the public to express their views and for us to handle the legislative work.

Constitutional development is important to the future of Hong Kong, and naturally we are all concerned about the timing for commencement of public consultation.

I expect that the Government will make a decision before the end of 2003 on the timetable for the review on constitutional development and public consultation, and that we will report to the Legislative Council after that decision is taken.

At this juncture, I would like to refer to a few points :

Constitutional development is a matter of concern to the whole community. It will affect the long-term development of Hong Kong. Thus, we will consult widely during the public consultation process before putting forward final proposals for the Legislative Council's consideration.

As stipulated in the Basic Law, if there is a need to amend our electoral system of the HKSAR after 2007, such amendments must be made with the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all Members of the Legislative Council. Therefore, in handling the issue of constitutional development, the Government will endeavour to widen the common ground and narrow the differences in the community with a view to enabling different political parties and Members of Legislative Council to participate actively in the process and to express their views towards building a consensus within our community.

In dealing with this subject of constitutional development, the Government will act according to the overall interest of the community and the future of Hong Kong. During the consultation and review process, we will adopt an open and receptive attitude, in order to maximize the chances of obtaining the support and securing consensus among two-thirds of Legislative Council Members.

Although I am not able to elaborate further today on the timetable and procedures with respect to public consultation, I hope that the points I have referred to will allow us to have a better understanding of the Government's basic attitude, and will thus facilitate future co-operation between the Government and the Legislative Council in handling the issue of constitutional development.

End/Wednesday, October 8, 2003