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Transcript of SCA on close of nomination for District Council election

Following is a transcript of a stand-up briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at the Legislative Council building this (October 15) afternoon:

SCA: Today is the final day for nomination for the 2003 District Council election. After the close of nomination, the Registration and Electoral Office colleagues are still counting and tallying the total number of registered nominees. As at 5.30 pm, according to our information, over 840 candidates have been nominated. This exceeds the number of about 800 candidates for the 1999 DC election. The increase in the number of nominated candidates marks an increase in the interest of participating in Hong Kong's politics. I warmly welcome this trend. Also, we have, according to the preliminary count, over 10 percent of the candidates who are younger than 30 years old. This represents an infusion of new blood into Hong Kong's political circles. This is also a trend to be warmly welcomed. I very much hope that on November 23, the election day, many more registered voters will take part in the election. A higher number of voters turning out will mean that the representativeness of Hong Kong's District Councils will be enhanced. It will also be a positive sign for Hong Kong's long-term democratic development.

Reporter: To what degree do you see in the increase in candidates as ..... July 1 ?

SCA: I think what happened on July 1 marks an important event in Hong Kong's political history. Also, following on from July 1, there are a number of candidates who have come forth with the particular aim of participating in Hong Kong's election so that they can have a direct voice in the affairs of the councils. But, I also think that it also means that over the years and months, different political groups and political parties have done a lot of work in their respective districts so they now have a large collection of individuals who are young and others who are more experienced, who are willing to continue to take part in the District Council election in November.

Reporter: Stephen, what is the linkage in your mind, if there is one, between the pace of constitutional development ... timing of it and also the timing of bringing up the Article 23 legislation ?

SCA: Well, I think Article 23 legislation is a constitutional duty which the HKSAR Government has to fulfill. As of now, my colleagues in the Security Bureau are still reviewing the proposals we have generated to date. We do not have a specific time frame for tabling once more these proposals in the Legislative Council. So far as constitutional development is concerned, the Basic Law has provisions, which stipulate that we should continue to make gradual and orderly progress having regard to the actual situation in Hong Kong with the ultimate aim of attaining universal suffrage.

Reporter: Are they linked or are they separate in your mind ?

SCA: They are different provisions of the Basic Law, so far as the Government is concerned, we do not have a specific timetable to retable proposals on Article 23. But as far as constitutional development is concerned, we will make a decision on the timetable for the constitutional review and for the public consultation.

Reporter: Would it be easier to bring up the Article 23 legislation if the timetable ... out there and in the community for constitutional development ?

SCA: We have made clear that as and when we table proposals on Article 23 or National Security legislation, we want to gain majority support in the Legislative Council and we want to carry the community with us.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript)

Ends/Wednesday, October 15, 2003