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Transcript of SCMA's remarks at a media session

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at a media session after attending the seminar on 21st Anniversary of the Promulgation of the Basic Law today (September 24):

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: At today's Basic Law promotion seminar, we have reviewed how, in the course of the last 21 years the Basic Law has guided Hong Kong's developments, and how, in the course of the last 14 years since the establishment of the HKSAR, the Basic Law has contributed to Hong Kong's developments in many spheres.

     Firstly, we achieved a smooth transition in 1997. Secondly, we made progress with democracy in the course of last few years. In 2007, we established under the Basic Law a universal suffrage time-table for the Chief Executive to be returned by universal suffrage in 2017, and following that the Legislative Council can be returned by universal suffrage in accordance with the Basic Law in 2020.

     Also in terms of economic developments since the implementation of the Basic Law in 1997, in particular since the country has joined the WTO as a member, we have been able to extend and strengthen the economic co-operation between Hong Kong and the Mainland. This will enable Hong Kong to develop into an offshore Renminbi service centre and also promote our service industries in the Mainland market.

     Also, today is the final day for a two-month public consultation period regarding the replacement mechanism for filling Legislative Council vacancies. In the course of the last two months, we have attended 13 forums including those open to the public, those organised by professional sectors, chambers of commerce, trade unions, political groups and political parties. We have also listened to the views given to us by Chairmen and Vice-chairmen of the District Councils. According to our statistics, we have met over 1 800 members of the public and representatives of different sectors through these forums. My feeling is that it is very important and very useful for us to be able to listen directly to views from across the political spectrum and from among different sectors in the last two months.

     We have also observed that there are eight or nine organisations which have conducted opinion polls at various stages. These include academic and research organisations, and also political parties. Some of these polls have indicated that over 50 per cent of the Hong Kong public would support plugging the loophole and amending the relevant legislation. Some of these polls indicate a level of support in this regard of over 60 per cent. We have also received a substantial number of emails, faxes and letters regarding this particular issue.

     We will do a comprehensive report to make public all the position papers and correspondences which we have received. We will assess very carefully and we will not rule out the possibility as to whether we should amend the draft legislation we have placed before the Legislative Council. Our overall aim is to ensure that we can complete the enactment of the relevant legislation within the 2011/12 legislative session.

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

Ends/Saturday, September 24, 2011