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Transcript of SCA's standup briefing

Following is the transcript of Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at a standup briefing after his visit to the polling station of Eastern District Council (DC) Tsui Wan Constituency By-election this (September 10) morning:

Reporter: Mr Lam, can you say a few words in English about the turnout for the by-election? What do you think of it so far? You said it was higher than before.

Secretary for Constitutional Affairs: The by-election today has been quite active. There are two candidates who have been very vigilant in pulling votes and encouraging residents to come out in their support.

So far up to 11.30 am, we have already had over 1,000 voters turning out. In terms of all the turnout rates, this is equivalent to 13.3 per cent, versus 11.5 per cent in 2003.

I believe that it is very appropriate that both candidates and residents should be concerned about affairs of the DCs.

The Government has made proposals that starting from 2008, we should allow the DCs to be more involved directly in the management of district facilities, such as swimming pools, libraries and sports grounds. And all District Councillors will have a role to play.

The executive departments of the Government will have to act in accordance with the views expressed by District Councillors and the DCs, so long as this is within the scope of our legislative and statutory authorities, and the resources available in the respective departments.

Reporter: On a different issue, the Liberal Party said that it will support direct election for the Chief Executive (CE) in 2012. What do you think of that?

Secretary for Constitutional Affairs: At the moment, we are in the process of conducting consultations and discussions about various modalities for implementing universal suffrage for the CE. We have also begun discussions on specific models for taking this forward.

By September 22, the CE will chair a further meeting of the Commission on Strategic Development. At that particular meeting, we will commence our discussions about various models for implementing universal suffrage for the Legislative Council.

At the moment, we are focusing very much on the specific provisions which we should adopt in accordance with the Basic Law to get these models for universal suffrage implemented at some stage.

Once we have attained consensus on this particular aspect, we will be able to design a roadmap, getting from where we are now, to the position of implementing universal suffrage. Only then would we be in a better position to focus on how long it will take for us to get to the ultimate aim of universal suffrage.

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

Ends/Sunday, September 10, 2006