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SCA: Rights not to be affected

The Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, today (June 21) said that the Central People's Government was concerned about the well-being of Hong Kong people and was willing to help Hong Kong resolve critical problems in accordance with the "One Country, Two Systems" principle.

"The legislative proposals of Article 23 of the Basic Law will not affect Hong Kong people's life style, rights and freedoms. Over time, this will become clear," Mr Lam said.

He noted that concerns had been expressed that the passage of the bill relating to Article 23 would bring into Hong Kong the Mainland practices.

However, in the six years since reunification, Hong Kong people's understanding towards the Mainland had deepened and their confidence in the Central Government had been enhanced, he said.

Mr Lam cited two examples to illustrate the Central People's Government's concern about Hong Kong.

The most recent example was after the outbreak of the SARS, Vice-Premier Wu Yi lobbied very hard for the support of the World Health Organization to lift the travel advisory against Hong Kong when she travelled to Geneva for meetings.

Furthermore, in a bid to facilitate Hong Kong's economic restructuring and recovery, the Mainland and Hong Kong would enter into the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement by the end of June, he said.

This arrangement would enable Hong Kong products to be imported into the Mainland at zero tariff and would provide new opportunities for our service industries and professionals to enter the Mainland market.

Mr Lam said that the above incidents had clearly demonstrated that the Central People's Government's concern about Hong Kong and their readiness to help Hong Kong resolve critical problems according to the principle of "One country, Two systems".

Mr Lam today officiated at the opening and prize presentation ceremonies of a photo exhibition and a civic education quiz to mark the sixth anniversary of the implementation of the Basic Law in Hong Kong.

He also took the opportunity to remind the public that under Article 26 of the Basic Law, they had the right to vote and to stand for election.

He called on permanent residents at age 18 and above to apply for registration as electors so to enable themselves to vote in the District Council elections and the Legislative Council elections to be held in this November and next year respectively.

Mr Lam added that, in the past two years, Hong Kong people's awareness of the Basic Law had been improved.

According to the findings of a recent survey conducted by the Government, the percentage of respondents who were aware of the Basic Law rose from 80 per cent in 2000 to 90 percent in late 2002.

Today's event was organised by the Joint Committee for the Promotion of the Basic Law in Hong Kong, sponsored by the Constitutional Affairs Bureau and supported by Radio Television Hong Kong, and co-organised by the New Territories Association of Society, Kowloon Federation of Association and Hong Kong Island Federation.

End/Saturday, June 21, 2003