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SCA meets the press after CSD meeting

The Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, and the Head of Central Policy Unit, Professor Lau Siu-kai, met the press after the meeting of the Committee on Governance and Political Development of the Commission on Strategic Development (CSD) this afternoon (May 26). Following is the transcript of what Mr Lam said in the meet-the-media session (English portion):

SCA: I will repeat in English some of the main points which I and Professor Lau made just now. Firstly, we have just gone through about half a year's discussions regarding the principles and concepts for attaining universal suffrage in Hong Kong. Basically, the participants of the Commission on Strategic Development generally agreed on the main principles for pursuing universal suffrage, and these include balanced participation, the maintenance of capitalist system in Hong Kong, gradual and orderly progress and the actual situation in Hong Kong. These four principles have already been cited in the paper which we circulated earlier this week.

I also just like to emphasise that on the questions of capitalism and democracy, members of the Commission generally agree that there is no intrinsic conflict between the two. Indeed, the two can proceed hand in hand.

Members are also generally aware that we have to beware that in moving towards universal suffrage, we do not introduce "welfarism" as some Western democracies had in the last few decades. This is a reminder that we should cite because the Basic Law requires the HKSAR to maintain balanced budgets and also to maintain a low tax regime.

As for our discussions in the second half of 2006, Members of the Commission are keen to commence discussions on various models for implementing universal suffrage. I can foresee a lot of interest in the models for formulating, for putting together the nominating committee for candidates to be put forth for universal suffrage, when we introduce one-man-one-vote system for returning the Chief Executive (CE).

There will be quite a lot of discussions as regards the models for forming the nomination committee. There are members who have suggested that maybe we should consider modelling the nomination committee on the basis of the current Election Committee. There are those who propose alternative models. One such example would be a model proposed by some participants that maybe we should use the 60 Members of the Legislative Council (LegCo). So there is quite a wide spectrum of models proposed.

The other question, which I think, will continue to attract quite a lot of interest is the further development of functional constituencies, as we move towards universal suffrage for forming the LegCo. We have cited various suggestions in paragraph 40 of the paper discussed today. And I believe that during the second half of 2006, there will continue to be quite a lot of interest on this particular matter.

There was a question asked in Chinese just now, "Why we have stated our aim of issuing a summary report by early 2007?" This is basically to provide a basis for taking forward constitutional development during 2007 to 2012, i.e. during the term of office of the third-term CE. We believe that in taking forward, in promoting, the discussions in the CSD during 2005 to early 2007, this is important to Hong Kong. And we would like to use the discussions in the Commission as a foundation for taking forward democratic progress in Hong Kong during 2007 to 2012. That is basically the situation.

Reporter: I am just a little bit confused... the reasoning that you (Professor Lau) have put forward as to why it might be premature to suggest a timetable for universal suffrage. Would it not be possible within the discussions that you will have within the next six months, you perhaps may be not come up with a tangible figure but to generally collate the views of all the members and reflect a range of views of possibly when universal suffrage might be put forward? Would it be possible at the end? If not, why not?

SCA: To supplement (what Professor Lau has said), in a nutshell, first we need to know where we are heading and what sort of model we will adopt in pursuing universal suffrage for the CE and the LegCo. Once we know our final destination, then we can tell more clearly from our current stand point and in reaching towards the final destination, what sort of stages we need to go through. And thereafter a timetable will probably fall into place naturally. But first we need to do our very best in generating consensus on the models for dealing with, for achieving, universal suffrage for the CE and the LegCo.

(Please refer to the Chinese portion)
Ends/Friday, May 26, 2006