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Transcript of SCA's media session

Following is the transcript (English portion) of a media session by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, before the recording of a TV special programme on the District Council election today (November 22):

Reporter: Mr Lam, how would you think that ... Government ... higher turnout rate in the DC election this year, given that there are expectations from critics there will be a better expected turnout rate this year?

SCA: I have always been saying that we do our very best to keep the electorate informed about tomorrow's election date. In the last six months, we have been taking various steps to encourage higher turnout and voter registration rates. Six months ago or thereabout, we started this year's voter registration campaign. Our focus was on registering more young people as voters. Last year, we had a registration rate of 39% among those who are 18 to 25 years old. This year that rate has increased to 43%. Also since late September and early October, we have been doing promotion through the media and in various districts to remind electorate of the voting date on November 23, and also to remind them that it is important for them to exercise their voting right, so that we can choose the right people to be representatives of the people in the District Councils.

As for the overall turnout rate, this is a joint effort between the Government's publicity and the efforts of the individual candidates and their political parties in different districts. I think with this combination of efforts, we will see what results we have tomorrow. I have always been saying that I hope this year's turnout rate will be higher than that in 1999.

Reporter: How do you rate the ... activity that the Government had put into ... election?

SCA: We have maintained our long-standing emphasis both on encouraging people to register as voters and to turn out to vote on election day. This has always been our overall approach. But this year we have emphasised particularly on registering young people. It is important for us to maintain this position because every year we have a new generation of young people turning 18 and acquiring the civic right to vote. It is important that we continue this level of publicity and education among our younger generation, so that they would cherish and value their right to vote and to promote the higher level of public participation in Hong Kong's public affairs.

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

Ends/Saturday, November 22, 2003