Following is a question by the Hon James To Kun-sun and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 15):
The Government advised the Panel on Constitutional Affairs of this Council in July last year that proposals concerning the abolition of the District Council (DC) appointment system would be submitted to the Panel, but the Government has to date still not submitted the relevant proposals. Given that the forthcoming election for the fourth term DCs is imminent as it will be held on November 6 this year, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether the DC appointment system will be completely abolished by means of amending the District Councils Ordinance; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(b) whether it will put forward the details of the abolition of the DC appointment system after the announcement of the results of the election for the fourth term DCs; if it will, whether such an arrangement is made because of the need to analyse the changes of political forces at district level; and
(c) whether it has assessed if the complete abolition of the DC appointment system is conducive to expediting the development towards democratisation of Hong Kong; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
(a) When the Chief Executive (CE) made a public statement on June 21, 2010 regarding the 2012 constitutional reform package, he stated that after the passage of the motions on constitutional reform by the Legislative Council (LegCo), we shall put forth proposals for the abolition of the District Council (DC) appointment system. The HKSAR Government will take forward this issue in accordance with this position.
At present, we are examining internally the issue of abolition of the DC appointment system and have not yet decided on the final proposal. We will put forth the proposal as soon as practicable and will deal with any issues concerning the District Councils Ordinance at that time.
(b) We will endeavour to put forth the proposal for abolishing the DC appointment system as soon as practicable. We will aim at putting forth the proposal before the ordinary election of the fourth term DC.
(c) With regard to democratic developments in Hong Kong, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) made a decision on December 29, 2007, making clear the timetable for universal suffrage: Hong Kong may implement universal suffrage for the CE in 2017 and subsequently for the LegCo in 2020. This is a most significant breakthrough in the constitutional development of Hong Kong.
Last year, we put forth the proposal concerning the amendments to the methods for the selection of the CE and for the formation of LegCo in 2012, including the "one-person-two-votes" proposal for returning the five new DC functional constituency seats in 2012. On June 24 and 25, 2010, the LegCo passed by a two-thirds majority the motions put forth by the Government concerning the draft amendments to the methods for the selection of the CE and for the formation of the LegCo in 2012.
The CE gave consent to the draft amendments on June 29, 2010.
The NPCSC approved and recorded respectively the amendments to Annexes I and II of the Basic Law on August 28, 2010.
On March 3 and 5 this year, the LegCo passed respectively the Chief Executive Election (Amendment) Bill 2010 and the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2010, which provide for the relevant amendments.
The above developments represent important milestones of the HKSAR moving towards universal suffrage. The five new DC functional constituency seats will be elected by 3.2 million registered electors. This will greatly enhance the democratic elements of the LegCo election. This is also the most important part of the DC system concerning the constitutional development. The abolition of the DC appointment system is an important issue and a development which we are all concerned about. However, there is no direct relationship between the abolition of the DC appointment system and the ultimate aim of attaining universal suffrage for the selection of the CE and the formation of the LegCo under Articles 45 and 68 of the Basic Law.
Ends/Wednesday, June 15, 2011
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