Following is the transcript of the answers given by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, to media questions after attending the Legislative Council meeting this morning (December 2):
Reporter: Could you please respond to the concerns that were raised by legislators that there may be possibilities that the reforms may be postponed further beyond 2017 and 2020?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: We have consistently made it clear that the decision taken by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in December 2007 is a constitutional decision and it sets very clear directions for Hong Kong's pursuit of democracy in the years ahead. We have also stated that while the Hong Kong Government would like to definitely make progress on democracy for 2012 and we will make every endeavour to co-operate with the Legislative Council in pursuing this aim, it is clear that progress in 2012 is not a pre-condition for implementation of universal suffrage in 2017 for the Chief Executive. Also, we would like to emphasise that we believe it is important for the Chief Executive to be returned by universal suffrage in 2017 - he or she will have the widest possible public support and mandate - to lead the Hong Kong community to resolve the question of functional constituencies and to take forward the implementation of universal suffrage for the Legislative Council in 2020.
Reporter: Lawmakers also said that why not start scaling down the functional constituencies now. Would the Government do that now?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: What we have done is that, notwithstanding the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in 2007 which stipulates that for 2012 the ratio between geographical and functional constituencies should be maintained at 50:50, we have actually suggested that for the 10 extra seats for the Legislative Council in 2012, increasing the size of the Council from 60 to 70, we should have all these new seats returned either through direct or indirect geographical elections. Thus as a result, the ratio of geographical seats in the new Legislative Council for 2012 will be almost 60%. We are making substantive progress.
Ends/Wednesday, December 2, 2009