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SCA: We encourage all voters to vote

Following is the transcript (English portion) of a standup briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, after he cast his vote in the Legislative Council election this (September 12) morning:

SCA: The third term Legislative Council election is taking place today. For the forthcoming session of the Legislative Council, we have increased the number of directly elected seats from 24 to 30. This marks an important milestone in Hong Kong's constitutional development. Also this time round, we are setting two other new records. We have 3.2 million registered voters. We also have 159 candidates standing in this particular election. All these indicators are historic all-time highs. Five hundred and one polling stations around the territory have started operation between 7.30am and 10.30pm. We will encourage and welcome all registered voters to come out and cast their votes for candidates of their choice.

Reporter: What do you think will be the turnout rate?

SCA: Yesterday, I have already made my expressions of hope very clear. We would like to encourage all voters to come out and vote between 7.30am and 10.30pm during the day, so that they can make their choices and cast their votes for candidates whom they can identify with. This is very important for Hong Kong. This Legislative Council will be the one which will determine the constitutional package for 2007 and 2008. This is an important milestone in Hong Kong's constitutional development and we encourage all registered voters to come out and vote.

Reporter: What do you think, how many voters will vote?

SCA: I have already made my expressions of hope clear yesterday. We hope that this voter turnout rate, this time round, will not be lower than that of 2000, somewhere between 43 and 44 per cent. Of course, this is for individual voters to make their own choices.

Reporter: Do you think this will serve as a referendum on democracy?

SCA: Hong Kong's democracy is developing gradually and orderly and in accordance with the Basic Law. We will continue to monitor public aspirations and we are already in the process of consulting the public through the work being done by the Constitutional Development Task Force. Our consultation period ends on the 30th of September. Beyond that, we hope to issue a fourth report in the autumn.

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

Ends/Sunday, September 12, 2004