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SCA: Fair, open electoral system in HK well-established

Following is the transcript (English portion) of a standup briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, on the upcoming Legislative Council election after attending an RTHK programme this (September 11) morning:

Reporter: ...... on the turnout rate tomorrow, and how do you see it will match your forecast?

SCA: In the last few months, we have applied ourselves very fully to encourage all registered voters to come out and vote on September 12. Our hope is that this will be at least on a par with the turnout rate in 2000 which was somewhere between 43 and 44 per cent. But this depends of course on the final decision to be made by each and every registered voter.

Reporter: What about the issue of blank ballot?

SCA: It is up to each registered voter to decide how to cast his or her vote. But this time round, we have a record number of 159 candidates standing in our election. I hope that this provides a broad enough choice for all registered voters to make their decision. But of course in the final analysis, we respect any decision to be taken by individual voters.

Reporter: Do you mean the blank ballot, the number of which will be very few because of the broad number of candidates?

SCA: Our experience in the last few elections is that blank ballots and ballots which are invalid are of a tiny number, a tiny percentage of the total votes cast. We do not expect this to change dramatically tomorrow.

Reporter: What do you think about the US's foreign statement that, you know, they are concerned about Hong Kong, and they will keep an eye on Hong Kong's election? Does it show that they do not have much confidence in Hong Kong's election system?

SCA: Hong Kong is an international city. It is natural that foreign governments and foreign chambers of commerce are interested in Hong Kong's political developments. But I also emphasize that Hong Kong's electoral system is managed according to the Basic Law and Hong Kong laws. And I do hope that foreign governments will continue to respect this basic principle that the politics of Hong Kong are for Hong Kong to manage. However, I would also add that the fair, open electoral system in Hong Kong is very well-established. And that the freedoms of Hong Kong are an example to different societies around the world. We are one of the freest societies in Asia, and our democratic system has continued to make progress since our Reunification in 1997.

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

Ends/Saturday, September 11, 2004