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SCA:Bill to amend CE Election Ordinance consistentwith NPCSC's interpretation on tenure of new CE

The following is the transcript (English portion) of a standup briefing by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, after attending Legislative Council meeting today (April 27):

Reporter: You welcome this (the interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Article 53(2) of the Basic Law concerning the term of office of the new Chief Executive), but others may not. What would you say to those who don't?

SCA: I would say that the interpretation issued by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) is entirely consistent with the constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Basic Law. This position, the issuing of an interpretation, has been taken in the overall interest of the Hong Kong community. This provides a very clear and solid constitutional basis for us to elect the new Chief Executive on July 10 in a timely manner and in accordance with the law.

Reporter: Mr Lam, ...interpretation observes the other way ...is the language of the amendment bill consistent with the interpretation...?

SCA: The Chief Executive Election (Amendment) (Term of Office of the Chief Executive) Bill which we have submitted, we believe, is consistent with the interpretation given by the NPCSC today. The concept is that, so long as we have a system of an election committee with a term of five years, if the position of the Chief Executive falls vacant, then the new Chief Executive to be elected should only serve the remainder of the term. So long that as this system continues, the provision which we have proposed, the amendment which we have suggested for the local ordinance will remain in force and will be consistent with this principle.

Reporter: Does it apply only to this election or to future vacancy that may arise?

SCA: It will apply for as long as a system of having an election committee serving a term of five years remains in force.

Reporter: What is the justification for not allowing the Chung Hwa representative to meet Lien Chan at the airport?

SCA: The General Manager of the Chung Hwa Travel Service did approach the HKSAR Government to ask if he could join the reception line to welcome Chairman Lien and his delegation. We gave him a clear answer that this could not be arranged. He is fully aware of this position and he did so confirm with the media yesterday about his acknowledgment of our position. Also our consistent position is that in receiving dignitaries of the political sector from outside of Hong Kong, aside from representatives of Hong Kong Government, from time to time we do have representatives of Central People's Government offices established in Hong Kong or consulates established in Hong Kong. The Chung Hwa Travel Service has no such official status. It has never been the arrangement for us to invite them to join the reception party.

Reporter: The question of having an election committee with a five-year term, will this be part of the public consultation exercise?

SCA: So far, during the last year or so, we have received a lot of views about how the election committee could be reformed in future. There are views which suggest that we should consider increasing the number of members of the election committee. There are those who suggest that we should expand electorate size for these members of the election committee to be returned. In dealing with the fifth report, the Constitutional Development Task Force will also consider the issues which have arisen through this exercise of interpreting Article 53 and associated articles of the Basic Law. And in dealing with the reforms of the election committee and the method for electing the Chief Executive in 2007, we will need to consider whether we want to keep the system of having an election committee which lasts five years.

Reporter: Did you receive views specifically on the five years ... term for election committee?

SCA: So far the views which we have received have not focused very much on whether the term of election committee should continue to be five years or whether we should make changes in that regard.

Reporter: Is there sufficient time left ...

SCA: I think we can continue to discuss that issue and in the context of issuing our fifth report, we will be well prepared to listen to those views.

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

Ends/Wednesday, April 27, 2005