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Central Authorities' will to attain universal suffrage for HK made clear in timetable

     In response to media enquiries regarding the remarks made by Legislative Council Member Ronnie Tong in his "Letter to Hong Kong" broadcast on RTHK today (November 1), a Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau spokesman said that, by making clear the universal suffrage timetable, the Central Authorities had demonstrated the determination to attain universal suffrage for Hong Kong.

     "The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) made a constitutional decision in December 2007, which stipulates that the Chief Executive (CE) may be elected by universal suffrage in 2017 and all Members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) may be elected by universal suffrage in 2020," he said.

     The spokesman added that the decision also stated that when universal suffrage was implemented, the CE should be elected in 2017 by all registered electors i.e. by one-person-one-vote.

     "We have already made it clear that any universal suffrage model for the LegCo in 2020 should comply with the principles of universal and equal suffrage," he said.

     Although universal suffrage would not be implemented in 2012, the HKSAR Government was determined to further democratise the electoral arrangements for 2012, so as to pave the way for implementing universal suffrage in 2017 and 2020, the spokesman said.

     In November, the HKSAR Government would commence the public consultation exercise on the 2012 electoral arrangements for returning the CE and the LegCo. The CE would meet with LegCo Members on November 6 to listen to their views before the launch of the public consultation exercise, he said.

     After summarising the views received in the public consultation exercise, the HKSAR Government would present to the LegCo the proposed amendments to Annexes I and II to the Basic Law and strive to obtain the endorsement of the LegCo.  The relevant amendments would need to receive the endorsement of LegCo, obtain the consent of the CE and be reported to the NPCSC for approval or for the record. The Government hoped that this process could be completed within 2010, the spokesman said.

     "We sincerely hope that LegCo Members will not jump to the conclusion that the Government's proposal would not enhance the democratic elements of the electoral system in 2012 even before it has been introduced.

     "It is the constitutional responsibility of both the HKSAR Government and the LegCo Members to take forward Hong Kong's democratic development in 2012. Now that the universal suffrage timetable has been set, we call upon political parties and groups, as well as different quarters of our community to keep an open mind and be accommodating, and to work together with the HKSAR Government towards securing consensus for implementing universal suffrage in 2017 and 2020," the spokesman said.

Ends/Sunday, November 1, 2009