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Government releases proposals for selecting the CE by universal suffrage

     The Government has today (April 22) published the Consultation Report and Proposals on the Method for Selecting the Chief Executive by Universal Suffrage (Consultation Report and Proposals).

     Speaking at the Legislative Council (LegCo), the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, said that implementing universal suffrage for the selection of the Chief Executive (CE) in 2017 was the most important policy objective of the current term of the HKSAR Government.

     "The CE has emphasised on many occasions that selecting the next-term CE through 'one person, one vote' in 2017 by five million eligible voters for the first time in our history is not only a big step forward for Hong Kong's constitutional development, but also a historic moment for our country," Mrs Lam said while making public the Consultation Report and Proposals.

     The proposals come after two rounds of public consultations which started in December 2013 and ended in March 2015. The second-round consultation from January to March 2015 included 88 consultative sessions and district activities and attracted over 130,000 written submissions.

     "When the second round public consultation on constitutional development was launched, the HKSAR Government stressed the need to 'Seize the Opportunity in 2017!'," Mrs Lam told legislators.

     "The most pressing objective now is to make it happen and implement universal suffrage as scheduled and in accordance with the law so that five million eligible voters can elect the CE through 'one person, one vote' in 2017.

     "If the universal suffrage proposals for the selection of the CE are vetoed, we will miss this golden opportunity.

     "Not only will constitutional development come to a standstill, it will also be impossible to say when the 'Five-step Process' can be initiated again to implement universal suffrage for the selection of the CE.

     "Conversely, if we can implement the selection of the CE by universal suffrage in 2017, the CE selected by universal suffrage and the HKSAR Government under his/her leadership will have the political mandate required to further take forward constitutional development, including the aim of electing all the members of the LegCo by universal suffrage."

     The main points of the Government's proposals are:

     Composition and Formation Method of the Nominating Committee (NC): The 1,200-member NC should follow the 38 subsectors in the four major sectors of the existing Election Committee (EC); the subsectors and number of members of each subsector should remain unchanged; the method for selecting members of the 38 subsectors should remain unchanged.

     Procedures for the Nominating Committee to Nominate Chief Executive Candidates: The NC will nominate CE candidates as an institution; nominating procedures should be divided into two stages, namely the stage of "members recommendation" and the stage of "committee nomination".

     For "members recommendation", a person recommended by 120 NC members can seek nomination for the CE election. Each NC member may recommend only one person and each person seeking nomination may obtain no more than 240 recommendations. This system could allow at least five and at most 10 places for those seeking nomination.

     For "committee nomination", the NC should nominate two to three CE candidates through a secret ballot vote. Each NC member may vote for all persons seeking nomination, or only some. Each NC member should support at least two persons seeking nomination. The two to three persons endorsed by more than half of all NC members and with the highest number of endorsements will become candidates.

     Voting Arrangements for Universal Suffrage: All five million eligible electors may elect the CE-elect from the two to three candidates nominated by the NC through "one person, one vote" using a first-past-the-post system.

     Mrs Lam said an objective fact stood out during the two rounds of public consultations and the first-hand experience of members of the Task Force on Constitutional Development that she chaired.

     "This fact is that: the community at large has all along been eagerly looking forward to the smooth implementation of universal suffrage for the selection of the CE in 2017," she said.

     "This is a widely held aspiration in society which has been consistently reflected in various opinion polls."

     Mrs Lam said the Government's proposals strictly complied with the Basic Law and the August 31, 2014 Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and were attempts to find the greatest common ground and strike the right balance amongst numerous divergent requests and perspectives.

     "Today, the Government sincerely puts forth specific proposals that have been formulated on the basis of public aspirations as well as the overall and long-term interests of the Hong Kong community," she said.

     "Our constitutional development has reached a critical juncture. Whether our constitutional development can move forward or will suffer a standstill is now in the hands of every LegCo Member.

     "Since the Basic Law gives each Member the constitutional power to examine the proposals put forth by the Government, Members should therefore shoulder this constitutional responsibility.

     "This is a call made on you by this era, and it is history which places this responsibility on your shoulders."

     Mrs Lam said she hoped that LegCo would start examining the proposals as soon as possible with a view to completing the voting procedures before the LegCo's recess this summer.

     "LegCo has crucial constitutional roles and responsibilities in the constitutional development of Hong Kong," Mrs Lam said.

     "I sincerely urge all Members, especially our friends in the pan-democratic camp, to pause and reflect: if LegCo vetoes the proposals, the aspirations of the general public to elect the CE through 'one person, one vote' will be shattered, which would in turn be a great disappointment to the public; if constitutional development remains at a standstill, how can it possibly benefit Hong Kong's future constitutional development?

     "At this historic and critical moment, the general public and I both expect Members to shoulder their responsibilities and to have regard to the overall situation, so as to allow Hong Kong's democratic development to continue to move forward to establish this most important milestone.

     "I truly believe this is the biggest and most important step for Hong Kong's long-term constitutional development. It is also the most courageous step forward after overcoming many difficulties taking every step before.

     "Last but not the least, I would like to conclude by citing the catchphrase on the cover of our Consultation Report and Proposals: '2017: Make it happen!'

     The Consultation Report and Proposals can be accessed from www.2017.gov.hk or obtained from the Public Enquiry Service Centres of the District Offices.

Ends/Wednesday, April 22, 2015