Following is a question by the Hon Alan Leong and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (October 30):
On the 17th of this month, the Chief Executive (CE) announced the formation of a task force led by the Chief Secretary for Administration to handle the tasks of public consultation on constitutional development (the task force) in relation to the method for forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2016 and the selection of CE by universal suffrage in 2017. Other members of the task force include the Secretary for Justice and the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs. The task force will publish a consultation document on constitutional development by the end of this year at the earliest. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) when the task force will convene its first meeting, and whether it will meet on a weekly basis thereafter;
(b) of the task force's timetable for various tasks, including the time for launching the various stages of consultation, the time required for the various consultation stages and for the consolidation of findings of the consultation, as well as when it will consult the public on the concrete proposals for constitutional reform; given that the "Interpretation of Article 7 of Annex I and Article III of Annex II to the Basic Law", adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in 2004, provides that the constitutional reform process must go through a "five-step mechanism", of the timetable for these five steps;
(c) of the budgeted expenditure and the manpower required for conducting the consultation on constitutional development; and
(d) whether the consultation document for the first stage consultation will consult the public on the following issues:
(i) whether the CE selection in 2017 should adopt a mechanism for civil nomination of the candidates (i.e. a person who intends to stand for the election is eligible for becoming a valid CE candidate if he/she has obtained the nomination by a certain number of voters); if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(ii) whether the boundaries of the geographical constituencies for the 2016 LegCo Election should be redrawn; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(iii) whether the split voting system of LegCo should be abolished in 2016, and whether the ratio between the LegCo seats returned by functional constituencies elections and those returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections should be changed?
Our reply to the questions raised by the Hon Leong is as follows:
(a) The Chief Executive (CE) has announced at the Legislative Council (LegCo) CE's Question and Answer Session on October 17, 2013 the immediate establishment of the Task Force on Constitutional Development (Task Force) headed by the Chief Secretary for Administration, with the Secretary for Justice and the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs as members, to handle the public consultation on the methods for selecting the CE in 2017 and for forming the LegCo in 2016. Work of the Task Force has already started and a meeting has been convened to discuss the preparatory work. The Task Force would meet on a need basis.
(b) The Task Force is carrying out related preparatory work, aiming at issuing the consultation document around the end of this year to formally launch the public consultation on the methods for selecting the CE in 2017 and for forming the LegCo in 2016, with a view to preparing for the first step of the "five-step" process of constitutional development, i.e., the CE to make a report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC). The Government will reserve adequate time for the public to give their opinions on the two electoral methods. As regards the specific timetable, we will announce in due course.
(c) The Administration has set aside about $7.3 million (excluding staff cost) and created six time-limited posts (including one Administrative Officer, one Senior Executive Officer, one Executive Officer II and three Assistant Clerical Officers) in 2013-14 for the pubic consultation on the methods for selecting the CE in 2017 and for forming the LegCo in 2016.
(d) Implementation of universal suffrage for the selection of the CE in 2017 is the common aspiration of the Central People's Government, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the public at large. The HKSAR Government would carry out the public consultation on constitutional development strictly in accordance with the Basic Law and relevant Interpretations and Decisions of the NPCSC. Same as previous arrangements in handling consultations on constitutional development by the HKSAR Government, the current term Government would listen to views from the public on various issues with an open mind during the first stage of public consultation on the methods for selecting the CE in 2017 and for forming the LegCo in 2016. At this stage, the HKSAR Government would not put forward any specific proposals on the two electoral methods.
Regarding the delineation of boundaries of the geographical constituencies (GCs), the Administration will take into consideration a number of factors, such as changes in population, when reviewing the GCs for the LegCo and the upper and lower limits of seats for each GC. The independent Electoral Affairs Commission will consult the public on the delineation and number of seats of each GC, according to the number of GCs and upper and lower limits of each constituency as approved by the CE in Council, and in accordance with relevant legislation.
Ends/Wednesday, October 30, 2013