The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, attended the meeting of District Council Chairmen and Vice-chairmen this morning (August 26) to brief them on the public consultation on the arrangements for filling vacancies in the Legislative Council. Following is a transcript of Mr Lam's response (English portion) to a media question after the meeting:
Reporter: With the July 1 march and also with what had happened at the consultation session recently, is there any definitive chance of this whole package being scrapped?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I would report as follows. This morning, I just had a meeting with the Chairmen and Vice-chairmen of the 18 District Councils. They have reflected to us four aspects. Firstly, the general community in different districts supports the plugging of this loophole. The people of Hong Kong generally do not want to see legislators resigning at will, and instigating unnecessary by-elections and organising a so-called "referendum". To members of the public, legislators who have been elected are expected to serve a full four-year term, and it will not be desirable for unnecessary by-elections to be held and lead to the expenditure of public funds.
Secondly, there is concern that in the new term Legislative Council starting from September next year, there will be five "super seats" in which elected District Councillors will stand as candidates, and over 3 million registered voters will put them into office. If any one of these five legislators were to resign in future, this would immediately lead to a by-election which will involve the whole community - over 3 million people - casting their votes in over 500 polling stations and leading to an expenditure of over $100 million. This is a loophole which needs to be plugged, and in so doing, of course we would have to abide by the Basic Law.
Thirdly, the Chairmen and Vice-chairmen reflect different degrees of support for the four options set out in our consultation paper.
Finally, it has been suggested that perhaps we need a cooling-off period after the completion of this public consultation exercise. I explained to them that at any rate, we will need time to analyse carefully and fully all the views that we have received and the documentation which has been put to us by different organisations, and letters from the public.
Therefore, we are grateful today for the reflection of public opinion by the 18 districts. We will continue to analyse very carefully how we should take forward this exercise.
As far as the HKSAR Government is concerned, our overall stance is that this loophole has to be plugged in accordance with the Basic Law, and that we will need to proceed effectively with a solution which is supported by the Legislative Council. Our hope is that we can complete this legislative amendment exercise within the 2011-2012 legislative session.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Friday, August 26, 2011
SCMA attends meeting of DC Chairmen and Vice-chairmen (1)
The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, attended the meeting of District Council Chairmen and Vice-chairmen this morning (August 26) to brief them on the public consultation on the arrangements for filling vacancies in the Legislative Council. The photo shows Mr Lam (centre right) at the meeting.
SCMA attends meeting of DC Chairmen and Vice-chairmen (2)
Mr Lam speaks at the meeting.