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Government's response to procession: opinions expressed during consultation period will form basis for assessment

    In response to the procession on constitutional development today (October 7), a spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said that the Government was sincere and determined to implement universal suffrage according to the Basic Law, and had thus published the Green Paper on Constitutional Development (the Green Paper) to consult the public on the issue, and to forge consensus within the community.

     The spokesman emphasised that the Government's objective of publishing the Green Paper was to identify for the community a set of solutions on how and when universal suffrage should be implemented.

     "We have been consulting the community widely and systematically through a variety of channels to encourage responses from the public and different sectors of society, and to listen to their views on the Green Paper.

     "Since the publication of the Green Paper on July 11, we had attended the meetings of all 18 District Councils, and the public hearings organised by the Legislative Council (LegCo) to listen to the views of over 150 deputations on the issue of universal suffrage," the spokesman said.

     "We had organised open and regional forums to facilitate the public and district personalities to express their views to the Government direct. We have also attended meetings with representatives of LegCo functional constituency sectors and Election Committee subsectors, as well as forums organised by various organisations to listen to their views and concerns about the issue of universal suffrage."

     "The Green Paper has set out issues relating to universal suffrage election models, roadmap and timetable. The Green Paper public consultation will end on October 10. The Government encourages the political parties, organisations and the public to seize the opportunity and to express their views. The HKSAR Government will make the assessment on issues relating to the implementation of universal suffrage according to views received within the consultation period," he said.

     "After the close of the public consultation, we will assess according to the views received whether differences in opinions have narrowed sufficiently within the community to provide a basis for consensus on the implementation of universal suffrage to be formed. After summarising the public views, the Government will submit a report to the Central Authorities to reflect the views gathered during the public consultation exercise," he said.

     The spokesman pointed out that it was important for political parties and groups, as well as different quarters of the community, to keep an open mind and be accommodating, stressing that consensus on constitutional development could only be forged through rational and pragmatic public discourse.

Ends/Sunday, October 7, 2007