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Government to continue public consultation on constitutional development

In response to the "Letter to Hong Kong" by the Honourable Yeung Sum broadcast on RTHK Radio 3 today (October 17), a spokesman for the Constitutional Affairs Bureau made the following statement:

"The decision of April 26 made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress is both legal and constitutional. The Hong Kong SAR is obliged to take forward constitutional development in accordance with the Basic Law and this decision. Regarding the methods for the selection of the Chief Executive in 2007 and formation of the Legislative Council in 2008, we should make good use of the room available to us to further open up the electoral systems.

The ultimate aim of universal suffrage is widely supported by the Hong Kong community. What we need to explore further together is the pace and mode to achieve this aim.

The consultation period for the Third Report of the Constitutional Development Task Force ended on October 15. The Task Force will publish its Fourth Report before the end of this year and further consult the public with a view to formulating a proposal that is feasible and is acceptable to the Hong Kong community at large.

Since the Re-unification, the Central Authorities and the HKSAR Government have been implementing "One Country, Two Systems" in accordance with the Basic Law. The election of the third term Legislative Council is an important milestone in Hong Kong's constitutional development. The number of candidates and the turnout rate are both record highs. For the first time, 30 seats were returned by direct election in geographical constituencies. The pan-democratic camp candidates secured 62 per cent of the votes and 18 seats in geographical constituencies. Generally speaking, this is consistent with the principle of the proportional representation system for geographical constituencies.

The HKSAR Government will continue to endeavour to enhance the communication between the administration and the legislature and to canvass views in the community. The Principal Officials will conduct district visits and participate in radio programmes so that we can canvass public views to ensure that government policy proposals have broad support both within and outside the legislature."

Ends/Sunday, October 17, 2004