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District Council election: Transcript of SCA's media session at press centre after close of poll

Following is the transcript (English portion) of a media session by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at the District Council election press centre after the close of poll today (November 24):

Reporter: Some people and commentators said that the high turnout rate collectively meant that people want a faster pace of democracy and also they are rather discontented with the Government. Do you think ...?

SCA: I think that the high turnout rate this time goes to show, firstly, that Hong Kong people are keenly interested in the work of (district) councils and that they care about the community in which they live. Secondly, the maturity of the Hong Kong public in terms of participating in public affairs has increased. Thirdly, it goes also to show that the work of different political parties in different districts in Hong Kong has matured and that the investment of time and energy which they had put in is bearing fruit. Also, on our part as a Government, we have done what we can and applied ourselves fully in terms of promoting this round of elections.

So I think there is a host of factors which had helped, had contributed to enhancing the voter turnout rate this time. As for the interest of the Hong Kong community and Hong Kong public in our longer term constitutional development, this is one area in which we have focused and in which we will listen very closely to the community.

We will begin a process of public consultation in 2004 on constitutional development beyond 2007. During that process, we shall be listening very carefully to the views of the Hong Kong people. We also expect that the legislators who represent geographical constituencies and functional constituencies to present the views of their constituents in the Legislative Council and to the Government. The Government will work closely with all political parties and all legislators to make sure that we stand the best possible chance of arriving at consensus, building consensus and working out a way forward.

Reporter: Stephen, this afternoon and tonight you kept emphasizing beyond 2007...the Chief Executive. Have you already reached the decision that the Basic Law ... review as to whether include the 2007 Chief Executive ...?

SCA: On a different occasion in the Legislative Council, as I have already said that following months of investigation and looking into the background of Annex I of the Basic Law regarding the method for the selection of the Chief Executive, we have arrived at the conclusion that if there is a need, the words "subsequent to the year 2007" can be interpreted to include the third term Chief Executive. So if there is a need, the method for the selection or election of the third term Chief Executive, amendments to that method may be considered.

As far as we are concerned, we are now in the final process of preparing for the public consultation of the constitutional development beyond 2007. We will make a decision on the timetable for conducting that review before the end of this year.

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

Ends/Monday, November 24, 2003