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Government's response to Letter to Hong Kong

     In response to media enquiries on Legislative Councillor Albert Chan's remarks in Radio Television Hong Kong's "Letter to Hong Kong" broadcast earlier today (September 18), a spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said:

     "The decision adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) in December 2007 has made clear the universal suffrage timetable for Hong Kong, i.e. the Chief Executive may be elected by universal suffrage in 2017 and the Legislative Council (LegCo) may be elected by universal suffrage in 2020.

     In order to pave the way for implementing universal suffrage, the Government put forth a constitutional reform package for 2012. The package was passed by the LegCo in June last year and the relevant amendments to Annexes I and II of the Basic Law were approved or recorded respectively by the NPCSC in August last year. The relevant local legislation was enacted by the LegCo in March this year to implement the package.

     The package greatly enhances the democratic elements of the two electoral methods for 2012 and broadens the room for political participation. It brings about concrete progress to democratic development in Hong Kong and is more advanced than the package proposed in 2005. Under the 'one person, two votes' arrangement, all the 3.5 million registered voters will have two votes in the 2012 LegCo Election: one vote in geographical constituency election and another vote in functional constituency election. This has strengthened the confidence of the community towards the implementation of universal suffrage for Chief Executive election in 2017 and thereafter for the LegCo election in 2020.

     As regards the resignation of five LegCo Members last year which led to the conduct of by-election in all the five geographical constituencies, the by-election had a record low voter turnout rate of only 17 per cent. This has indicated that most Hong Kong people did not accept that legislators could resign at will to instigate the so-called 'referendum'. The 2010 LegCo by-election, which cost around $126 million, was considered by members of the public and some political parties as an unnecessary and significant drain on public resources, which could have been deployed for other more productive purposes.
We are currently consulting the public on the arrangements for filling vacancies in the LegCo. We shall consider all views collected in detail and study the issue carefully. Upon the completion of the consultation, the Administration will publish a report and we intend to resume and complete the legislative exercise in the 2011-2012 legislative session.

     The Administration will ensure that the final proposal put forward for consideration by the LegCo will not just be constitutional and legal but also reasonable and rational."

Ends/Sunday, September 18, 2011