Following is the transcript of the remarks by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in response to media questions after attending radio programmes this morning (December 13):
Reporter: What kind of message do you actually want to tell the public? You are saying that you are listening to their views that they are supporting, like, 2012. But then on the other hand, you are saying that legislators, District Councillors, they support 2017 more. Are you saying that their views are more important than the public's view?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I would say that in Hong Kong, according to the Basic Law, we need to secure consensus within the Legislative Council and have any models for implementing universal suffrage to be supported by a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Council. Therefore, in presenting the reports to the Central Authorities yesterday, the Chief Executive has faithfully reflected the views of the public as put forward to us directly by members of the public and as reflected in different opinion polls. At the same time, the Chief Executive has taken into account the views of different political parties and individual Legislative Councillors. We have also reflected faithfully the views put forth by the District Councils. Over two-thirds of District Councils have passed motions to support implementation of universal suffrage for returning the Chief Executive no later than 2017 or in 2017. So, in presenting our report, and in taking forward our task in pursuing universal suffrage, we have to take an overview, and that overview incorporates the positions taken by different political parties in the Legislative Council, in the District Councils and among different sectors of society.
Reporter: Can you also tell us about when we can expect the timetable for universal suffrage, like direct election for the Chief Executive?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I would say that the discussions in the last few years about constitutional development and, in particular, the discussions which we have had in the context of the Green Paper public consultations, have been very helpful. On the whole, we can see that within the Legislative Council, there are over 20 Legislative Councillors belonging to the opposition camp who support implementation of universal suffrage for the Chief Executive by 2012. About half of the Legislative Councillors who belong to other political parties support implementation of universal suffrage for the Chief Executive no later than 2017, by 2017 or beyond 2017. So on the whole, the gap in terms of timing, timeframe for attaining universal suffrage for the Chief Executive has narrowed to one term, narrowed to a difference of five years. Now that provides a basis for us to make a further push in the hope that we can take things forward. And that is why in the context of the Chief Executive's report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the Chief Executive has drawn a conclusion. The conclusion is that there is expectation among the public for implementation of universal suffrage for the Chief Executive by 2012. This expectation should be respected and should be considered. At the same time, having taken into account the views of the Legislative Council, District Councils, different sectors of the community and the public, the Chief Executive considers that there is a better chance of implementation of Chief Executive universal suffrage by 2017 being accepted by the majority in our community. But the resolve of the HKSAR Government to implement universal suffrage according to the Basic Law is complete. We will continue to pursue this agenda within the current five-year term.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Thursday, December 13, 2007
SCMA meets DC Chairmen and Vice-chairmen
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, meets the Chairmen and Vice-chairmen of the 18 District Councils this afternoon (December 13) to explain the Chief Executive's report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and the "Report on Public Consultation on Green Paper on Constitutional Development".