The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, attended an event organised by the Hong Kong Youth Association this evening (January 26). Following is the transcript (English portion) of his remarks to the media after the event:
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: The HKSAR Government deeply regrets the decision taken by five Legislative Council Members to resign from the Council despite our earlier call on them to pull back from the brink. We believe that the people of Hong Kong will be disappointed with this decision. Members have been elected to serve the community for a period of four years. They really should not choose to leave behind their duties in mid-term. These Members could have chosen to remain in the Council to deal with the issue of 2012 constitutional development and also a full range of social, economic and livelihood issues on behalf of the people of Hong Kong. Today, due to the resignation of these five Members, we will need to spend $150 million to organise a by-election, and that amounts to about $30 million each for these five resignation decisions. Taxpayers will have views about this. Nonetheless, the Government will organise the by-election in accordance with the law so that the people of Hong Kong will be fully represented in the Legislative Council.
Reporter: Will the Government have enough funds to organise this election if the Legislative Council rejects the funding?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Under the Legislative Council Ordinance, if vacancies occur in the Legislative Council, we will need to organise by-elections. This is part of our statutory duty. We hope and believe that Legislative Council Members will understand that this is a statutory duty and will act accordingly.
Reporter: You said that you regret their decision but the people must speak through the ballot box, why is it for you to say that this is regrettable?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I believe that it is entirely proper for us as the Government responsible for the public administration of Hong Kong to express our view. It is our duty to act in accordance with the law. We also believe that these five Legislative Councillors have been elected to serve the people of Hong Kong for a term of four years and they could have chosen to remain in the Council to fulfil their duties as legislators.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript)
Ends/Tuesday, January 26, 2010