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|SCA on proposed financial assistance scheme for DC election candidates
Following is the transcript of a media briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, on the proposed financial assistance scheme for District Council (DC) election candidates at Central Government Offices this afternoon (March 28) (English portion):
SCA: The Executive Council earlier today had agreed that we should extend the financial assistance scheme for the Legislative Council (LegCo) election of $10 per vote to the DC elections in 2007.
When the scheme was first introduced in the LegCo election in 2004, we had two main purposes in mind: firstly, to encourage more people to stand in elections and take part in this process of seeking to serve the public of Hong Kong. Secondly, we wanted to create an environment which would enable us to groom more political talents in Hong Kong.
In respect of the 2004 LegCo election, the purposes were met. We achieved record highs of the number of candidates standing in the 2004 LegCo geographical election, and we also scored a record voter turnout rate of 1.7 million Hong Kong people coming out to vote in that election.
In expanding the financial assistance scheme to the DC elections in 2007, we have set the rate at also $10 per vote primarily for two reasons. Firstly, both the geographical LegCo election and the DC elections involve the same type of voters, basically the three million registered voters of Hong Kong.
Secondly, for the 2003 DC elections and for 2004 LegCo geographical election, according to the returns of candidates who took part in the geographical elections, on the whole the expenses incurred per vote on average was about $20. If our purpose and policy intention is to subsidise the financial outlays of candidates by up to 50 per cent, the rate of $10 per vote will be appropriate.
Reporter: Do you expect that there will be a record number of candidates who will stand in the elections?
SCA: We would expect that the overall environment and atmosphere surrounding the 2007 DC elections to be somewhat more exciting than before. However, we would not be able to forecast at this particular juncture the number of candidates standing in the 2007 DC elections because we are still more than one and a half year away from that particular point in time. I do believe that since we are issuing signs of encouragement and we are also increasing the number of seats available for direct election in the 2007 DC elections, there will be more interest among political parties, political groups and independent candidates. We certainly hope that the scheme will encourage more people to stand because basically in elections as in other service industries in Hong Kong the more competition there is, the better the overall results.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Tuesday, March 28, 2006