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Response to seven CSD members' views on constitutional development

In response to media enquiries regarding the supplementary views on the principles and concepts relating to universal suffrage expressed by seven members of the Commission on Strategic Development (CSD) today (July 21), a spokesman for the Constitutional Affairs Bureau made the following statement:

"The paper on the discussions on the principles and concepts relating to universal suffrage, issued by the CSD Secretariat after the meeting in May, sets out the conclusions after members’ discussions at the meeting. The principles relating to universal suffrage as outlined in the paper are consistent with the Basic Law. These principles include:

(1) the basic policies of the State regarding Hong Kong;

(2) the four principles on constitutional development, namely, meeting the interests of different sectors of society, facilitating the development of the capitalist economy, gradual and orderly progress and being appropriate to the actual situation in Hong Kong;

(3) the principle of an executive-led system; and

(4) the principles of universal and equal suffrage.

When amending the methods for selecting the Chief Executive (CE) and for forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) in order to take forward Hong Kong's constitutional development, this must be handled in accordance with the Basic Law and the Interpretation of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of April 2004.

Regarding the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 39 of the Basic Law has already prescribed that the relevant provisions shall remain in force. The Government’s consistent position is that, when the Covenant was applied to Hong Kong in 1976, a reservation was made not to apply Article 25(b) in so far as it might require the establishment of an elected Executive or Legislative Council in Hong Kong. This reservation continues to apply. However, universal suffrage can be implemented in Hong Kong, because the Basic Law stipulates this as the ultimate aim.

The CSD will soon start examining models for implementing universal suffrage for the CE and the LegCo, and will commence discussion on models for implementing universal suffrage for the CE at the meeting on July 28. Discussion on models for implementing universal suffrage for the LegCo will also commence in the next six months. The Government has not taken a view on how to implement universal suffrage, and welcome individual members of the CSD, as well as individuals and organisations from different sectors of the community, to put forth specific proposals.

Any amendments to the two electoral methods shall require the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all Members of the LegCo, which means that the support of members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections as well as those returned by functional constituencies will be required. Therefore, different political parties and sectors of the community need to approach the question with an attitude which accommodates mutual differences, in order to enable Hong Kong’s constitutional development to be taken forward."

Ends/Friday, July 21, 2006