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SCMA speaks to the media after meeting with Alliance for Universal Suffrage

     Following is the transcript of the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Mr Stephen Lam's remarks to the media after a meeting with the Alliance for Universal Suffrage this afternoon (April 26):

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: We had a meeting today with the Alliance for Universal Suffrage. This is the second meeting which we have had since the first meeting in February. Both the Government and the Alliance consider such communication to be useful. We believe that it is important for rational dialogue to proceed and that this will be conducive to the possibility of the Hong Kong community arriving at a consensus on constitutional development. Therefore, both sides agreed that we should arrange a further meeting some time in May.

     Secondly, the Government has explained once again to the Alliance for Universal Suffrage that the third-term HKSAR Government is authorised only to deal with the constitutional arrangements for electoral reforms in 2012. However, as to views put forth by the Alliance concerning constitutional arrangements beyond 2012, the third-term HKSAR Government will summarise, will consolidate and will put these to the next-term Government for consideration.

     Thirdly, we have emphasised to the Alliance that it is not quite possible for the HKSAR Government to make adjustments to the amendments which we have proposed at the constitutional level to the relevant Annexes of the Basic Law concerning the Chief Executive Election Committee formation in 2012 and the Legislative Council election in 2012. However, at the local legislation level, there will be some room for us to listen to their views and views of other organisations and Members (of Legislative Council), and make necessary adjustments. For example, we have proposed that there will be 117 members of the Election Committee to be returned by elected District Councillors. As to the form of the election - whether it should be "first-past-the-post" or proportional representation - we can discuss. Likewise, for the Legislative Council in 2012, we have proposed that there should be a total of 70 seats, six of which will be returned by elected District Councillors by proportional representation election: what form of proportional representation election? And how will these elections be held? Again, we have room to listen to the views of parties concerned and make necessary adjustments.

     Finally, we have once again heeded the wishes of the Alliance to communicate with the Central Government. We have previously reflected these wishes to Beijing and we shall continue to do so.

Reporter: ... modify the proposals out of the question though, the ones demanded by ...?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs : Well, I would say this. The Alliance for Universal Suffrage has made a few proposals on the way forward. For example, they have proposed that the Legislative Council should comprise 80 seats for 2012 instead of 70 seats. But there are other political parties within the Legislative Council which do not agree with such a proposal. For example, the Liberal Party has suggested that if we were to increase the size of the Legislative Council from 70 seats to 80 seats, then this would give the District Councils too much of an influence in the Legislative Council; and, therefore, they would not support such a proposal. Similarly, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong has indicated that they do not support the proposal of the Alliance (for Universal Suffrage). Therefore, as the Administration, we have to assess whether such proposals will stand a fair chance of gaining support in the Legislative Council and whether we will be able to attain two-thirds majority. Having considered issues in the round, we believe that the proposal which we have put forward, i.e. the Legislative Council for 2012 to comprise of 70 seats, stands the best possible chance of gaining two-thirds majority. Of course, we still have to continue to make efforts (to gain support).

Reporter: We all know what the Alliance wish to achieve from these talks. What exactly does the Government wish to achieve as a result of these talks with the Alliance?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs : Our view on this is very clear. It is very necessary for Hong Kong to promote useful and constructive dialogue to enable consensus on constitutional reforms to be engendered. It is a useful beginning that we have had since February this year, and it is important for us to continue our efforts in this regard. We welcome the fact that the Alliance for Universal Suffrage has come up with their proposals and has made contact with different political parties. We also welcome the fact that they have agreed that continuation of dialogue with the Government is important. This process of communication will enable us to have a fuller understanding of all the respective positions both within and outside the Legislative Council. It is helpful to us in assessing the situation and trying to convince all political parties concerned and all Legislative Councillors to support that constitutional reforms should be allowed to take a step forward.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Monday, April 26, 2010