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Government's response to remarks made by Hon Lee Cheuk-yan on universal suffrage

Commenting on the remarks made by the Hon Lee Cheuk-yan on universal suffrage in his "Letter to Hong Kong" broadcast on RTHK today (February 12), a Government spokesman said that the Government was committed to promoting constitutional development according to the Basic Law.

The spokesman said, "It is incorrect for Mr Lee to suggest that our electoral system seeks merely to empower the business sector. Our functional constituencies comprise business chambers, professional bodies, trade unions and other occupations, such as teachers and social workers. This realises the principle of balanced participation."

"The Committee on Governance and Political Development of the Commission on Strategic Development (the Committee) had very detailed discussions on the concept and principles of universal suffrage at its meeting on January 20. Members generally agree that the concept of universal suffrage includes the principles of universal and equal suffrage, and that, broadly speaking, a universal suffrage system should be a one-man-one-vote system which may take the form of direct or indirect election."

"It has also been suggested by Committee members that universal suffrage does not necessarily require precise arithmetic equality in voting power. Indeed, in the case of Hong Kong, take geographical constituency elections as an example, there can be reasonable variations amongst the constituencies in respect of the ratio between the number of seats and the size of registered voters."

The spokesman said that, in November last year, the Chief Executive initiated the discussion on formulating a roadmap for universal suffrage through the Committee. The Chief Executive had said that the Committee aimed at concluding discussions on the principles and concepts relating to universal suffrage by mid-2006, and on the design of a universal suffrage system for the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council by early 2007.

The spokesman added, "After we have drawn conclusions on the discussions on the model and roadmap for universal suffrage, this will provide a basis for us to commence our study of the issue of a timetable for universal suffrage."

"As to the long-term composition of the Legislative Council and how universal suffrage can be implemented for the legislature, these are the issues being pursued through discussions in the Committee."

"The Government has not taken a view on the long-term future of functional constituency seats in the Legislative Council, and is willing to consider different views from all sectors of the community," the spokesman said.

Ends/Sunday, February 12, 2006