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Transcript of SCA's standup

Following is the transcript (English portion) of a standup briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at the Central Government Offices this afternoon (December 5):

SCA: The Mainland legal experts have expressed their opinions on the important provisions and principles in the Basic Law concerning constitutional development. The position of the HKSAR Government has always been that we will deal with the review of constitutional development beyond 2007 in accordance with the Basic Law. It is also our position that we will seek to build consensus on the way forward according to the Basic Law.

Reporter: Will you consider the Basic Law drafters' saying that Hong Kong people should not decide on their own, that it is actually a move to suppress Hong Kong people's call for democracy?

SCA: I think what the Mainland legal experts have expounded on yesterday is basically the current principles and the provisions of the Basic Law as enshrined in the Basic Law itself. The Basic Law clearly provides that if there is a need to change the method for electing the Chief Executive subsequent to the year 2007, then we need two-thirds majority support in the Legislative Council, consent of the Chief Executive and approval by the Standing Committee of National People's Congress. All that the Mainland legal experts have expressed yesterday is restating these important principles and provisions in the Basic Law itself.

Reporter: Are you concerned that social unrest will actually increase now that the Mainland authority is essentially saying through the Basic Law drafters that Hong Kong people should not focus on democracy ..... Would you consider the Hong Kong Government being stranded in this dilemma?

SCA: There are two points on which I wish to respond. Firstly, I have absolute faith in the ability of Hong Kong people to deal with the question of constitutional development calmly and peacefully. Secondly, I also believe that the Hong Kong community as a whole will understand that provided that we all act according to the provisions of the Basic Law, we can arrive at some consensus.

Reporter: Will the constitutional review, the timetable for that be affected because of the Basic Law drafters' saying?

SCA: We will continue to act according to our original thinking, that is to commence the process of public consultation in 2004. In early 2004, we will start the process of listening to public views and gathering public views.

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

Ends/Friday, December 5, 2003