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SCA calls on young people to take part in constitutional development discussion

The Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, encouraged young people to continue to care about Hong Kong's constitutional development, and to participate actively in the consultation exercises of the Constitutional Development Task Force.

Mr Lam made the above appeal to the young participants while attending a summit on constitutional development organised by the Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong today (October 23).

Mr Lam said that when the consultation for the Third Report issued by the task force ended on October 15, some 470 written submissions were received.

The task force would publish the Fourth Report before the end of the year for another round of consultation. The Fourth Report would consolidate the public views received in the last consultation.

Mr Lam said that the present review on constitutional development focused on dealing with the methods for selecting the Chief Executive in 2007 and for forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2008. He would regard these electoral systems as the "constitutional hardware".

He pointed out that the smooth operation of the "constitutional hardware" was dependent on the development of the "political software".

The introduction of the Accountability System in July 2002 was a step forward towards establishing the "political software".

Party politics was another key component of the software. To provide more room for the political groups/parties to participate in public affairs, the government introduced the $10 per vote financial subsidy scheme in the LegCo election this year.

The appointment of the leaders of three major political groups/parties into the Executive Council was another measure to broaden party participation in politics.

Mr Lam said that the "political software" of Hong Kong was still in an evolutionary process. Time was required for further development and for maturity to be brought to the system.

Mr Lam said that the political institutions in Hong Kong possessed a strong democratic element.

The day-to-day work of the government was subject to the scrutiny of the media and the public. The transparency and openness of our operation was comparable to that in western democratic regimes.

In accordance with the Basic Law, the government was accountable to the LegCo. By constitutional design, the executive and the legislative authorities operated on the principle of checks and balances. Any government bill or budgetary proposal would require LegCo's approval before implementation.

Since reunification, the rule of law remained as strong as ever. And, the judiciary operated independently to administer justice.

Mr Lam said that these constitutional institutions provided the best guarantee that Hong Kong people would continue to enjoy freedom and democracy.

He said that when Hong Kong promoted its constitutional development towards the ultimate aim of universal suffrage, we should also ensure that the integrity of these institutions and core values would be maintained.

Ends/Saturday, October 23, 2004