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Transcript of SCA's standup briefing on procession

Following is the transcript (English portion) of a stand-up briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at Central Government Offices today (January 2):

SCA: The HKSAR Government will make full use of the next three years in dealing with the issue of constitutional development beyond 2007. As a pluralistic society, Hong Kong has a variety of views on the pace of constitutional development. We will listen closely to views from all sectors in the process. We will also act according to the principles of the Basic Law in dealing with this issue. We will act according to the principle of gradual and orderly progress and have regard to the actual situation in Hong Kong. It is our intention to work closely with all parties concerned in the hope of building consensus on the way forward.

Reporter: The people have expressed their views on democracy.... Is there any possibility that the Government is considering speeding up the timetable?

SCA: The principles in the Basic Law are very clear. The Basic Law has set out a blueprint for Hong Kong's constitutional development for the first 10 years after the establishment of the HKSAR. Beyond 2007, if we wish to change the system for electing the Chief Executive, then we need to have two-thirds majority support in the Legislative Council. We need to have the consent of the Chief Executive and we need to have the approval of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. If we need to change arrangements for forming the Legislative Council, then we need to report any proposed change and proposed amendment to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for the record.

So, the essence is, within the Legislative Council and outside the Legislative Council, we need to have thorough discussion and also we need to try to obtain consensus on the way forward. Constitutional change is a most important aspect of how this community develops. It is important that we have a wide discussion and it is important that it is up to the legislature, which represents different constituencies and represents the community, to reflect their views and to try to forge consensus in that regard.

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

Ends/Friday, January 2, 2004