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Transcript of SCA's briefing after passage of CE election bill

The following is the transcript of a standup briefing by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at the Legislative Council after the passage of the Chief Executive Election (Amendment)(Term of Office of the Chief Executive) Bill today (May 25) (English portion):

SCA: We have had a very full debate in the Legislative Council today about the Chief Executive election amendment bill. The bill has now been passed and I will return to the Government Secretariat to make my report. The Chief Secretary for Administration has expressed his views previously that he will await the passage of this bill before deciding whether he will stand for election. I believe that he will make his decision and will, at a suitable juncture, explain to the media what he has decided.

Reporter: Does the Acting Chief Executive have to sign this bill before he would resign or how would the process work?

SCA: The Chief Executive will have to sign the bill before it is gazetted and implemented. That is standard procedure.

Reporter: You said in the chamber (just now) that there were pressing matters that were important but not urgent, and that those matters will be dealt with at later days. Does that mean that this bill is pretty much a "patch fix"?

SCA: This bill has clarified, put beyond doubt that the new Chief Executive to be elected to fill the vacancy will serve the remainder of the term. There are other issues which we need to explore and which we need to deal with. For example, whether a new Chief Executive elected could serve up to seven years or 12 years. This is a matter which we need to explore in the months ahead but it is not one which requires immediate resolution.

Now that the bill has been passed, we can listen to views among legal experts in Hong Kong and from the Mainland. We can also begin discussions in Hong Kong about matters relating to this issue and other issues. But this bill itself is complete. It reflects the interpretation given by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress about the new Chief Executive to be elected and that he or she should only serve the remainder of the term. This now allows us to move ahead.

Reporter: What if you need another Election Committee before 2007? You seemed to indicate that you would not rule out using this one again.

SCA: Our position has always been we will not form a new Election Committee lightly, because we do not want the new Election Committee formed to impinge on the review of the electoral method for returning the Chief Executive in 2007. However, if it does happen that we have a vacancy arising again before July 1, 2007, the HKSAR Government will consider the possibility of forming a new Election Committee. But if we do so, we have to be very clear about the implications and have to consider fully how this might impinge on the review of arrangements for electing the third term Chief Executive in 2007.

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

Ends/Wednesday, May 25, 2005