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Government's response to remarks made by Hon Fernando Cheung on constitutional development

Commenting on the remarks made by the Honourable Fernando Cheung on constitutional development in his "Letter to Hong Kong" broadcast on RTHK today (January 8), a Government spokesman said that he was surprised that Mr Cheung, having voted against the Government's package of proposals on the 2007/08 elections, was suggesting that the Government had not been promoting democratic development.

"The Government package, if approved by the Legislative Council, would have broadened substantially the public's participation in the Chief Executive election and the Legislative Council election. The package had the support of the majority in the community, as well as the support of more than half of all Legislative Council Members. Regrettably, 24 Legislative Council Members decided to vote against it," the spokesman said.

The spokesman noted that as the package did not receive the required two-thirds majority support of all Legislative Council Members, existing electoral arrangements would continue to apply to the 2007/08 elections. "This constitutional fact was well known to the public and the Legislative Council before the vote on the Government package," the spokesman said.

"It would be for the Legislative Council Members who voted against the package to explain why they believed their action was in the interests of Hong Kong."

The spokesman emphasized that it was misleading for anyone to suggest that there could be a second package for 2007/08 elections which would receive the support of different sectors of the community as well as the support of two-thirds of all Legislative Council Members.

"The Government is fully aware of the public's aspirations for universal suffrage. The Commission on Strategic Development will continue to take forward the work relating to a roadmap for universal suffrage," the spokesman said.

Ends/Sunday, January 8, 2006