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SCMA speaks on District Council appointment system

     The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, hosted a luncheon for District Council Chairmen and Vice-chairmen this afternoon (September 14) to brief them on the District Council appointment system. Following is a transcript of his remarks (English portion) to the media after the luncheon:

Reporter: Why have you decided to abolish the District Council appointed seats in phases but not in one go? Secondly, is the Government determined to abolish all appointed seats ultimately?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I can put forth the position of the HKSAR Government as follows. Firstly, the HKSAR Government considers that the District Council appointment system could be abolished in phases by going through a transitional period.

     Secondly, as a start, we intend to reduce by one-third the number of appointed members in the fourth term of the District Council in 2012, and that is, we will be appointing only 68 members and not the full slate of 102.

     Thirdly, after the District Council elections in November, we can embark on a further round of public discussions as to how this issue should be dealt with, including how long the transitional period should be, and how the relevant legislative provisions should be dealt with.

     As to the duration of the transitional period, after 2012, we can abolish the remaining 68 seats in one go in 2016, or in two lots by 2020. On this matter, the HKSAR Government has an open mind.

     We believe that over the years, the appointed members of District Council have contributed extensively to community development and to the work of the District Councils. Also, whether they are appointed or elected members, the District Councillors actually work together very well to help promote community development. We consider that allowing this matter to be phased out over a transitional period is the appropriate thing to do.

Reporter: Is the opposition from some people with vested interests one of the reasons why you can't abolish all appointed seats in one go?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: No. We believe that the appointed members of the District Councils over the years have contributed significantly to community development. We also believe that it is appropriate for us to retain a certain element of appointed District Councillors in the next few years. In the meantime, we will undergo a further round of public discussions after the November District Council elections. Following that round of public discussions, we can make a final decision. I believe that different political parties and political groups are actually very committed to participating in District Council elections. Every day, all of you are reporting on the slate of candidates being put forth by different parties. So I think this electoral scene is going to get more and more busy.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Wednesday, September 14, 2011