Following is the transcript (English portion) of the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Mr Stephen Lam's response to media questions after attending the Legislative Council meeting this afternoon (March 3):
Reporter: On the LegCo debate, listening through translation, it seemed that you were saying that this "de facto referendum by resignation" was somewhat not genuine. Would you explain what your point was?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I would say that the consistent position of the HKSAR Government is that these two political parties and the five former legislators should really have chosen to remain in the Legislative Council to serve out their four-year term. The voters in September 2008 supported these five former legislators for a four-year term so that as part of the Legislative Council, they would be able to deal with the issues of constitutional development for 2012 and a range of livelihood issues for the people of Hong Kong. Now that they have chosen to resign from the Council, by law the Government will have to organise a by-election. But this by-election is in a sense artificial. This is unlike a by-election which has to be arranged following the death of a Legislative Council member, or a Legislative Council member losing the capacity as a member in accordance with other provisions of the law. Be that as it may, the Hong Kong Government is very concerned that the people of Hong Kong, our 7 million population and the 3.3 million registered voters, should be fully represented in the Legislative Council and, therefore, we are organising a by-election for May 16 so that we will have a full slate of legislators in the Council.
Reporter: Will senior officials, particularly the politically appointed ones, be making a decision closer to the time on whether to take part as voters?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: All registered voters of Hong Kong, including the Secretaries of the Government, will have their right to choose to vote or not to vote under the law. We, Secretaries of the Government, our colleagues, will make our individual decisions closer to the time. For now, we have not yet begun the nomination process. We do not yet know which candidates will stand in this by-election and, therefore, it is premature for any one of us to decide whether to take part or not to take part in the voting on by-election day.
Reporter: Could I have an English answer on Legislative Council members' visit to Shanghai?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Over the years, the Hong Kong Government has been very practical and positive in making use of each and every opportunity to arrange for different political parties and members of the legislature to visit the Mainland. We have done so in recent years in terms of visits to Sichuan and to Guangdong. Expo 2010 is a very important event for our country. It is also the first time since 1986 for Hong Kong to have its own pavilion in an Expo event. Therefore, we welcome the initiative taken by the Legislative Council itself to consider the possibility of visiting Shanghai and visiting Expo. If the delegation of the Legislative Council will indeed go ahead, the Shanghai Economic and Trade Office of the Government will be very happy to complement whatever arrangements we can on the spot.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Wednesday, March 3, 2010