The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, attended a meeting of the Democratic Party to discuss the constitutional development issue at the party's headquarters tonight (March 16). Following is the transcript of his remarks (English portion) to the media after the meeting :
Reporter : Mr Lam, how significant do you think were the talks? Will there be further dialogues like such in the future? And, after tonight, are you more confident that the Democratic Party would eventually back the Government's proposals if you do not include the ultimate destination for 2017 and 2020?
The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs : There are three points which I would summarise from today's session with the Democratic Party. Firstly, the Government warmly welcomes the fact that the Democratic Party has initiated a process of rational and calm discussions about the issue of constitutional development in recent months. We believe this is a constructive and useful process.
Secondly, today we have discussed at some length how universal suffrage could be implemented for the Chief Executive in 2017 and for the Legislative Council in 2020. I have explained to members of the Democratic Party that in the context of the 2007 Standing Committee of the National People's Congress' ("the Standing Committee") decision, it is stipulated that the Chief Executive for 2017 will be returned by all registered voters of Hong Kong casting their votes and, therefore, it is a "one person, one vote" system. As for the future of functional constituencies in 2020 when we implement universal suffrage for the Legislative Council, I cited two examples to members of the Democratic Party today. For example, if the Government were to put forth a motion proposing the abolition of all functional constituency seats in 2020, we believe that as the Legislative Council stands today, there will be more than one-third of Members voting against such a motion. Similarly, if we were to put forth a motion proposing that functional constituency seats shall be retained for the long term in 2020, there will also be more than one-third of Legislative Councillors voting against such a motion today. I cited these two examples to demonstrate that the issue of attaining universal suffrage for the legislature remains a contentious issue, and it can only be resolved through consultations and discussions in the years ahead.
Thirdly, I would also emphasise that I explained to members of the Democratic Party that I understand fully their wish to have a full roadmap for implementing universal suffrage for the Chief Executive in 2017, and for the legislature in 2020. Even though as things stand the Government is not able to provide a full roadmap, I have put forth two steps, two practical steps, which we can take to roll forward democracy for Hong Kong. Firstly, we should make our very best efforts to attain consensus for making progress in 2012 for the Chief Executive and Legislative Council elections. This will pave the way for rolling forward democracy in 2017 and 2020. The second step which we can take is that there is a partial roadmap in the decision of the Standing Committee in December 2007. It is stipulated that all registered voters shall return the Chief Executive by universal suffrage elections and, therefore, it is "one person, one vote". That Chief Executive returned by universal suffrage in 2017 will have the broadest possible public support and he or she will be in the best position to put forth a model for implementing universal suffrage for the Legislative Council in 2020. We also believe that as and when he or she proposes that model, there will be broad support within Hong Kong and among the Legislative Council for that ultimate question to be resolved.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Tuesday, March 16, 2010