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Government's response: resignations and by-elections unnecessary

     In response to media enquiries regarding the remarks made by Legislative Councillor Margaret Ng in her "Letter to Hong Kong" broadcast on RTHK today (April 11), a Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau spokesman said:

     "The consistent position of the HKSAR Government is that this round of resignations and by-elections is unnecessary and could have been avoided. In September 2008, the electors of Hong Kong voted 60 Members into the Legislative Council to serve the community for a term of four years. The five Members who resigned could have chosen to stay in the Council to deal with important issues like constitutional development for 2012 and other economic and social issues, and to reflect the views of their constituents. However, as they had chosen to resign, the HKSAR Government will, in accordance with the law, organise the by-elections to ensure that the public will be fully represented by 60 Members in the Legislative Council.

     "In order to roll forward Hong Kong's constitutional development and to amend the two electoral methods for 2012, we must act in accordance with the procedures as stipulated in the Basic Law and secure consensus among the three parties concerned, i.e. the proposals put forth by the HKSAR Government must obtain the support of a two-thirds majority of all Legislative Council Members, consent of the Chief Executive and endorsement of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC). The procedures for amending the two electoral methods for 2012 will not be affected by the results of the Legislative Council by-elections.

     "In its decision in 2007 on the universal suffrage timetable for the HKSAR, the NPCSC has made it clear that Hong Kong may implement universal suffrage for the Chief Executive in 2017 and thereafter for the Legislative Council in 2020. The timetable has provided a clear direction and timeframe for Hong Kong's constitutional development henceforth. The NPCSC has authorised the current-term HKSAR Government to handle the electoral methods for 2012. The objective of the current-term HKSAR Government is to determine, within the framework of the NPCSC's 2007 decision, the two electoral methods for 2012 by injecting new democratic elements into the electoral arrangements, so as to pave the way for implementing universal suffrage for the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council in 2017 and 2020 respectively.

     "Under the requirement of the NPCSC that the half-and-half ratio between Legislative Council Members returned by functional constituencies and geographical constituencies through direct elections shall remain unchanged, the HKSAR Government has abided by the principle of not creating new 'traditional' functional constituencies. To enhance the democratic elements of the Legislative Council, it has been proposed that the number of functional seats to be returned through election among elected District Council Members be increased in 2012. Out of 70 seats in the Legislative Council, 41 (or close to 60 per cent) of them will be returned by direct or indirect geographical elections.

     "As to how the functional constituencies should be dealt with in future, the HKSAR Government understands that views are diverse. The community will have sufficient time to discuss this controversial subject. The HKSAR Government has made it clear that any universal suffrage model for the Legislative Council in 2020 should comply with the Basic Law and the principles of universality and equality.

     "There is broad support among the Hong Kong community for progress to be made on constitutional development in 2012. We earnestly hope that different political parties and members in the Legislative Council will heed this clear community sentiment by seeking common ground and respecting mutual differences to build consensus, so that Hong Kong's electoral system can take a step forward."

Ends/Sunday, April 11, 2010