Following is a question by the Hon Kam Nai-wai and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 24):
Tens of thousands of people took part in the march on July 1 in each of the past several years. I expect that more people will participate in the march on the coming July 1, i.e. next Wednesday, to express their dissatisfaction with the Government’s lack of sincerity to implement universal suffrage and its various blunders in implementing policies. On the other hand, the applications by some political parties to the relevant government departments to set up pitches at the pedestrian precincts on Paterson Street in Causeway Bay and Mong Kok to promote the march have been rejected. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it has reflected on its refusal to implement dual universal suffrage in 2012 and its various blunders in implementing policies to find out the causes for so many people taking to the street to participate in the march each year; if it has, of the outcome; if not, the reasons for that;
(b) how many participants in this year's march are required to make the Government not to refuse the public's demand for expeditiously implementing dual universal suffrage in 2012 and to address their dissatisfaction with its blunders in implementing policies; and
(c) whether the authorities' recent rejection of the applications by political parties for organising promotional activities at pedestrian precincts for the July 1 march is an attempt to reduce the number of participants in the march?
(a) The HKSAR Government understands the aspirations for universal suffrage of the community. That is why we issued the "Green Paper on Constitutional Development" 11 days after the formation of the third-term HKSAR Government to consult the public on the models, roadmap and timetable for implementing universal suffrage. After the three-month public consultation, the Chief Executive (CE) submitted a report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) in December 2007 and made public the report in Hong Kong. The NPCSC made a decision on December 29, 2007, making clear the universal suffrage timetable.
The NPCSC had already made it clear that the CE may be elected by universal suffrage in 2017 and that following that all Members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) may be returned by universal suffrage in 2020. This decision is widely accepted by the community. We should look ahead and discuss seriously how to enhance the democratic elements of the two elections for 2012, so as to pave the way for implementing universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
As for the implementation of policies by the HKSAR Government, in the process of policy formulation, we give ample consideration to the views of the public and LegCo, and draw on previous experience. We also review regularly the policies pursuant to their implementation. For example, the swift response of the HKSAR Government to the outbreak of human swine flu was built on our experience on the handling of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003. The HKSAR Government will continue to adhere to the "people-based" principle and enhance communication with the general public, so as to embrace public sentiment and respond more effectively to the needs of the public.
(b) The HKSAR Government fully respects the people's right to take part in processions and their freedom of expression. Regardless of the size of the procession, we attach great importance to the different aspirations expressed by those who participate in such processions.
(c) Any organisation which intends to sell goods in public places for fund-raising purpose is required to apply to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) for a temporary hawker licence. Upon receipt of the application, the FEHD will consult the relevant departments, including the Police, the Lands Department and the Home Affairs Department. If the relevant departments have raised no objection, the FEHD will issue the temporary hawker licence to the applicant.
Recently, individual organisations had applied to the FEHD for temporary hawker licences so as to sell goods at pedestrian precincts and public places. Licences were granted to some of the applicants where no objection was raised by the relevant departments. However, some of the applications were rejected by the FEHD because, according to the Police and the Lands Department, the locations concerned had already been allocated to other organisations, or because the Police raised objection due to concerns on public safety after considering the flow of pedestrians and traffic in the vicinity. In addition, as some organisations put up their applications only three days prior to the sale activities, and the FEHD had insufficient time to consult the relevant departments, thus licences could not be granted in these cases.
Ends/Wednesday, June 24, 2009