Government's response to comments on local legislation proposals

In response to comments by legislator, Mr Ronny Tong, made in Radio Television Hong Kong's "Letter to Hong Kong" today (November 7), a government spokesman said:

The HKSAR Government has acted entirely consistent with the understanding reached when the 2012 constitutional package was passed by the Legislative Council(LegCo) in June this year. The proposals on local legislation for the 2012 Chief Executive and LegCo Elections have been formulated to ensure that there will be ample scope for political parties, large and small, and independent candidates to take part in the LegCo Election.

In proposing the nomination threshold of 15 subscribers for the five new District Council functional constituency seats, we have taken into account proposals put forward by various political parties, which ranged from 10 to 20 subscribers. As each list can consist of a maximum of five candidates, this translates into three subscribers per candidate, which is the lowest threshold amongst the elections for all constituencies.

As regards the election expense limit of $6 million for the five new District Council functional constituency seats, it is proposed having regard to the proposals put forward by various parties ranging from $4 million to $8 million. We anticipate that the proposed election expense limit would be adequate and appropriate to enable candidates to introduce their election manifestoes to registered electors. Since this election expense limit only serves as a ceiling for the amount each list of candidates could incur, it would be entirely possible for certain political parties or candidates to choose to run their campaigns without
having to incur election expenses up to the limit. Taking into account the cumulative inflation between 2009 and 2012, we have also proposed to increase in subsidy rate in the financial assistance for candidates from $11 to $12 per vote.

We believe that, with the implementation of the proposals on local legislation for the 2012 Chief Executive and LegCo Elections, the two elections in 2012 will be free, open and competitive.

We achieved important constitutional progress in June when the 2012 package was passed. This signifies that the Hong Kong community is capable of generating consensus on constitutional reform. It demonstrates that the five step procedure for amending the Basic Law for amending our election systems is viable. It paves the way for implementing universal suffrage in the 2017 Chief Executive Election and 2020 LegCo Election. The HKSAR Government values the co-operation we established with different political parties and independent LegCo Members. We will continue to build on this foundation in enacting the relevant local legislation and in taking forward discussion on constitutional issues henceforth.

Ends/Sunday, November 7, 2010