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District Council election: Transcript of SCA's media session at noon

Following is a transcript (English portion) of a media session by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at the District Council election press centre at 12.15pm today (November 23):

SCA: The 2003 District Council election has been going on for more than four hours now and the overall conduct of the election so far has been very smooth. This morning we have received over 300 complaints. Most of these complaints concern election advertising and also certain activities taking place in prohibited areas. The Registration and Electoral Office and other departments concerned will pursue and follow up these reports.

As at 11.30am, the overall voter turnout rate has already passed 10%, compared to the same period back in the 1999 election of 8.4%, we have witnessed a 20% growth in voter turnout so far. If this trend is to maintain for the rest of the day, we stand a good chance of exceeding the overall turnout rate of 35% in 1999. If we achieve this, this marks an achievement made by Hong Kong people collectively in the sense that they are concerned about public affairs and they are interested in promoting community services through enhancing the representativeness of District Councils. But let's see how the overall voter turnout rate comes about by the end of the day.

Reporter: ...

SCA: If we are able to achieve a higher voter turnout rate this time round, this will have a positive bearing on the review of constitutional developments beyond 2007 because it is important for us in conducting this constitutional review to try to arrive at a consensus both within and outside the Legislative Council. If the people of Hong Kong, the electors of Hong Kong demonstrate this time round that they are interested in electoral politics and that they want to have a higher say on which representatives should represent their interests at the district level or for that matter at the central level, then it is helpful to us in securing this consensus through discussions on the future of constitutional developments in Hong Kong.

Now as for the impact of the July 1 demonstration, first of all, I note that after the demonstration, a few political groups have been formed and they have put forth various candidates to take part in election this time round. However, at the same time, I also note that different political parties over the years have attracted, have brought into their ranks young people, fresh blood who are interested in participating in electoral politics. This time round, we have 89 candidates who are under 30 years old taking part in the District Council election. This demonstrates that infusion of new blood will enable us to continue to roll forward the work of different political parties and candidates in the respective districts. So, I think there are both short-term and long-term factors which generate more interest in the District Council election this time round. And in the long run, it will be up to the Government, political parties, independent candidates to continue to maintain this interest among the community. But, at the end of the day, it is the people of Hong Kong who will help and who will decide whether electoral politics is something which they continue to show a higher degree of interest in.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Sunday, November 23, 2003