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SCA: We are widening our network of conducting public consultation

The following is the transcript of a standup briefing by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, after attending the meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Constitutional Affairs today (January 13)(English only):

Reporter: What do you think about the lawmakers' suggestion for having a timetable for constitutional development?

SCA: On the question of the timetable for universal suffrage, this is a complex issue and it is an issue on which Hong Kong community is quite far off from attaining consensus. There are those who support universal suffrage in 2007/08, there are those who support introducing universal suffrage in 2012, and there are those who go beyond 2012. In this context, we have decided as the Constitutional Development Task Force that we will focus on dealing with the electoral methods in 2007 and 2008 and coming up with a consensus and mainstream proposal in respect of the electoral methods for returning the Chief Executive in 2007 and the Legislative Council in 2008. This is the immediate priority.

Reporter: There is a saying that the views that the committee (the Task Force) gets from the public is not extensive enough. So will you consider to collect more views from more members of the public or even conduct a public opinion poll?

SCA: We are widening our network of conducting public consultation. I have started a process of visiting all 18 District Councils to gather views directly from District Councillors. We will organise open forums for individual members of the public to come forth and put forth their views to us as the Constitutional Development Task Force. We will organise district forums and invite academics, professionals and district personalities to discuss all these issues in detail, such as whether we should increase the number of Legislative Councillors, the number of members for the Election Committee and whether we should widen the electorate for the Election Committee and the Functional Constituencies.

As regards the question of a public opinion poll, we have not ruled out that possibility and we will consider this question very carefully.

Ends/Thursday, January 13, 2005