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Government's proposal of abolishing appointed District Council seats in 2012 at the earliest

In response to media enquiries on the Government's proposal announced today (December 19) to phase out appointed District Council (DC) seats, a government spokesman said that if the Government's 07/08 electoral package was endorsed by the Legislative Council (LegCo), all appointed DC seats would be abolished in 2012 at the earliest, or in 2016 at the latest.

Details of the Government's proposal to phase out appointed DC seats are as follows:

(i) the maximum number of appointed DC seats will be reduced from the existing 102 to 68 when the new term DCs commences in January, 2008; and

(ii) the Government will decide in the light of the prevailing situation, which would mainly be the reaction of the community and the operation of the DCs following the reduction in the appointed seats, before the end of 2011 whether the maximum number of appointed DC seats should be further reduced to zero in January, 2012, or to 34 in January, 2012 and then to zero in January, 2016.

"The proposal to phase out appointed DC seats forms part of the Government's overall package for the 2007/08 electoral arrangements. If the 07/08 package is endorsed by LegCo, we will implement the changes to the DC appointed seats through amendments to local legislation," the spokesman said.

"In the event that the Government's package is rejected by LegCo, we will not proceed with the changes to the DC appointed seats on its own. However, this is a subject which the community may continue to discuss in the context of the review of the roles, functions and composition of DCs, which will start in the first quarter of 2006."

The spokesman added, "The 07/08 electoral package proposes that all the newly added functional constituency seats will be returned through election by District Council members from among themselves. Appointed members of the new term DCs commencing in 2008 can take part in the LegCo DC functional constituency election in 2008.

"As regards the electoral method to be adopted, for example, whether it will be a block vote system or a proportional representation system, we are pleased to listen to the views of LegCo and different sectors of the community. If the Government's proposed package for the 07/08 elections is endorsed by LegCo, we plan to introduce the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill into LegCo in 2007 to firm up the detailed arrangements."

Ends/Monday, December 19, 2005