The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, continued his duty visit in the Mainland today (May 31) at the invitation of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council. Following is the transcript of Mr Lam's remarks (English portion) to the media at the Office of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government in Beijing this afternoon:
Today, I would like to speak to all of you about three aspects.
Firstly, I and my colleagues from the Government Secretariat of the HKSAR Government have begun a visit this week to Beijing and the Mainland. This is an arrangement of reciprocal visits which we have begun with the State Council Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office. During our visit in Beijing in the last two days, we have visited the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, the National People's Congress, the National Development and Reform Commission, and also the Taiwan Affairs Office. We have discussed various aspects, in particular, the discussions revolved around the implementation of the National 12th Five-Year Plan. There is a dedicated chapter regarding Hong Kong and Macao in the current Five-Year Plan. It refers to the Central Government's support for Hong Kong to continue to develop and to be enhanced as an international financial, trading and shipping centre. In particular, it supports Hong Kong's further development as an offshore Renminbi (RMB) centre. We believe that this provides ample room for Hong Kong to continue to develop our business in this regard.
In the course of 2010, the amount of RMB accumulated in Hong Kong has increased from RMB50 billion to over RMB400 billion, and in the first quarter of 2011, this has further increased to over RMB430 billion. Experts in the banking field tell us that it is possible within about a year for the amount to be accumulated to exceed RMB1,000 billion. So we believe this provides ample room for Hong Kong's further development of our economic prospects.
We have also discussed the ability under the Five-Year Plan for Hong Kong to expand the pilot measures under CEPA (Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement) currently applied in Guangdong to other provinces, such as Fujian and Sichuan. There are specific areas within Guangdong Province which require our involvement, including Nansha and Qianhai, and we also discussed the prospects for Hong Kong's participation in these fields.
We have also reviewed Hong Kong-Taiwan relations. Since the establishment of the bilateral councils between Hong Kong and the Taiwanese side last year, we have rolled forward our preparatory work. We hope that progress can be made in the near future regarding financial co-operation, air services arrangements and the establishment of a multi-functional office by the HKSAR Government in Taiwan.
(Secondly) also, earlier today, we published in Hong Kong a Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill. This is to implement our proposals for there to be a replacement mechanism to deal with vacancies arising in the Legislative Council. This Amendment Bill has been put forth in response to Legislative Councillors' opinion that we should legislate at an early date. Also, this deals with certain opinions that have reservations about us taking this forward in the form of a Committee Stage Amendment. So we have put forth this -- a complete Bill -- to embody our proposals.
There are three aspects in this Bill which are important. Firstly, after a general election, beginning in September 2012, the Returning Officers will gazette a list of potential replacement candidates according to the largest remainder votes which they have secured. This will be used to fill vacancies as they arise in geographical constituencies and in the newly created District Council functional constituency. Also, as and when these lists are gazetted by the Returning Officers, we will make provision for the candidates concerned to file election petitions with the courts if they so wish. This will ensure the fairness of our arrangements.
(Thirdly) finally, today in the media there were concerns raised regarding the rooftop of my residence. There are suggestions that maybe the canvas and the fence structures on my rooftop may not be entirely in compliance with building regulations. I would like to emphasise that when I moved in a few years ago, I sought professional opinion, and the engineering advice was that these fences and canvas canopies would not affect the structural safety of the building. However, in the light of the questions raised, I have asked my designer to seek a second opinion from an authorised person. This is to ensure that the structures on my rooftop will continue to comply with building safety and building regulations. I have acted in good faith and in compliance with the law. I will continue to do so and undertake extra remedial works if necessary in the light of this second professional opinion.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2011 providing for arrangements for filling vacancies in the Legislative Council