Following is the transcript of the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam's remarks (English portion) to the media at the media centre of the 2010 Legislative Council By-election this morning (May 17):
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: We have completed the 2010 Legislative Council By-election in an orderly manner. According to our latest count, there were about 579,000 voters who turned out to vote yesterday and the voter turnout rate is approximately 17.1 per cent. This is the lowest-ever turnout rate for any Legislative Council election since the Handover, including general elections and by-elections. Thus it is clear that there is only a rather low level of support among the community with regard to the resignation and by-election plan instigated by the Civic Party and the League of Social Democrats.
However, following the By-election today, the people of Hong Kong will have a full complement of 60 Members of the Legislative Council to serve them in dealing with issues such as constitutional development and other Legislative Council issues.
Whatever the outcome of yesterday's By-election, this will not affect the procedures under which the HKSAR Government will deal with the 2012 constitutional development package. We will continue to try our best endeavours to secure two-thirds majority to support the 2012 package before the Legislative Council's summer recess in mid-July.
In the last few months, the Hong Kong community has been engrossed with the by-election exercise. It is now time for us to refocus our efforts on dealing with the 2012 constitutional development package. It is also necessary for Hong Kong to move on. According to opinion polls conducted by research organisations and various universities, there are about 50 to 60 per cent of members of the public who would like to see the Legislative Council passing the 2012 constitutional development package so as to pave the way for implementation of universal suffrage in 2017 for the Chief Executive and in 2020 for the Legislative Council.
Reporter: Is the Government responsible for the record low voter turnout and should Hong Kong people feel bad about yesterday?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Well, I wouldn't think that it is the responsibility of the Hong Kong Government for the relatively low turnout rate. I would say that the people of Hong Kong are very astute, very mature in assessing political issues and in choosing political parties to represent them in the Legislative Council. It is a fact that only 579,000 people have turned out to vote and that about 2.8 million of our registered voters have chosen not to take part in this by-election exercise. The Hong Kong Government has done its utmost in dealing with this by-election exercise according to the law. You all understand that within the Legislative Council, there was opposition to the allocation of funds - $159 million - for this by-election exercise. There were those who queried as to whether the Hong Kong Government should act according to current legislation in organising this By-election. So, we have done our duty in organising this By-election and we are now encouraging everybody to move forward and deal with the 2012 constitutional development package.
Reporter: Is yesterday a good day or a bad day for Hong Kong democracy?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Well, I would say it is a step that we have taken and that this is a phase that we have gone through. For the last few months, the Hong Kong community has been immersed in a debate as to whether this round of five geographical constituency by-election should have been avoided or could have been avoided. At any rate, we have now acted according to the law and have completed the by-election in an orderly manner. It is now for Hong Kong to move on and deal with the 2012 constitutional development package in the hope that we can roll forward democracy for Hong Kong.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript)
Ends/Monday, May 17, 2010