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Transcript of SCA's stand-up briefing

Following is the transcript of a briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, after joining a radio programme this (October 26) morning.

Reporter: You talk about political reform and consultation time frame etc. Does it include the election of the Chief Executives in future? There is a lot of political views about direct elections, how can that be included in your ....?

SCA: Thank you for the question. According to Annex 1 of the Basic Law, the final paragraph, if there is a need to amend the method for the selection of the Chief Executives subsequent to the year 2007, then we need the two-thirds majority support in the Legislative Council, consent of the Chief Executive, and the approval by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. For some months, the Constitutional Affairs Bureau have been researching into the meaning of the words, "subsequent to the year 2007", to ascertain whether this phrase covers the third-term Chief Executive expected to take office in July 2007. We have made progress with our research and analysis. Basically, I do not think there is a major problem. However, there are some legal technicalities and aspects which I have to deal with before I can give everybody a final answer. I do not expect that this will take too long and I certainly hope to be able to produce a final answer no later than the end of the year when we decide on the timetable for the constitutional review and the timetable for public consultation.

Reporter: When you say there is not a big problem, do you mean there is no big problem of being inclusive of the third-term Chief Executive or do you mean exclusive of that?

SCA: I will give you a final answer as soon as I can. But, I do hear very clearly the views in the community that we need to move forward, and that we need to take a positive attitude on the review of constitutional development and for democratic reforms.

Reporter: The other thing you talked about was that the Chief Executive's cabinet in future may include members from various political backgrounds, how do you think those with different political backgrounds can be included in the cabinet and Principal Officials, and how can that facilitate leadership?

SCA: Last year, when we introduce the Principal Officials Accountability System, we also took decision to invite two leaders of two political parties to join the Executive Council. This morning, I put forth a notion that there is a possibility that the third-term Chief Executive after election may need to consider inviting more members of political parties to join the Executive Council and to be candidates for nomination as Secretaries of Government. In the long run, I still believe that political talents in Hong Kong can come from three main sources, people who with political backgrounds, government colleagues who have served in the civil service previously, people in the private sector who have had an interest in rendering public service among professional sectors, business sectors and other sectors. I think these are the three types of political talents which future Chief Executives would need to consider. It's just a matter of rolling things forward. And, it is, I think, a necessary consideration for any future Chief Executive to determine how best he or she can cooperate with political parties both within the Legislative Council and in the wider community.

(Please also refer to the Chinese transcript.)

End/Sunday, October 26, 2003