In response to media enquiries, a Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau spokesman made the following response today (March 12) to the Report from the Commission of the European Communities to the Council and the European Parliament on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2008):
"Regarding prisoners' voting right, in view of the High Court's judgment handed down on December 8, 2008, the HKSAR Government published on February 9, 2009, the Consultation Document on Prisoners' Voting Right to seek the public's views on the policy options on the relaxation of the ban on prisoners' voting right and the practical arrangements for prisoners and remanded unconvicted persons to vote.
After the public consultation exercise ends on March 23, the Government will formulate policy options on the relaxation of the restrictions, and make practical arrangements. The Government aims at enacting the legislation within the current legislative year.
Regarding racial harmony, the HKSAR Government is committed to eliminating racial discrimination and promoting equal opportunities for ethnic minorities. The Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO) was passed by the Legislative Council (Legco) in July 2008, and is expected to come into full operation in mid-2009.
The Government also attaches great importance to strengthening the support measures for the ethnic minorities. The Government has set aside funds for the establishment and operation of four regional support service centres this year by NGOs to provide language training and other support services to the ethnic minorities. One of these centres will provide centralised telephone interpretation services.
Regarding the issue of constitutional development, the decision adopted by the National People's Congress Standing Committee in December 2007 has determined the timetable for attaining universal suffrage in Hong Kong, i.e. the Chief Executive may be elected by universal suffrage in 2017 and the Legco may be elected by universal suffrage in 2020.
We will consult the public on the electoral methods for the Chief Executive and the Legco in 2012 in the fourth quarter of this year. The aim of the Government is to determine the two electoral methods for 2012 within the tenure of the current term in order to enhance democratic elements. This could then lay a solid foundation for attaining universal suffrage for the CE in 2017, and for the Legco in 2020."
Ends/Thursday, March 12, 2009