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SCA on District Councils review proposals after LegCo panel meeting (English only)

Following is the transcript of a standup briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, after attending the Special Meeting of the Panel on Constitutional Affairs in the Legislative Council this morning (April 27) (English only):

Reporter: Can you specify whether the Government is still open to the idea of eliminating appointed and ex-officio seats for 2008?

SCA: The package of proposals which we have put forth today are meant to strengthen the roles and functions of the District Councils in delivering services to the public in the 18 districts of Hong Kong. We have put forth substantive proposals to increase the resources available to District Councils to implement public works projects and to provide services and organise activities in all these districts.

So far as the composition of District Councils is concerned, we believe that we should continue to listen to views of the District Councils, political parties and the general public. This is a matter which is of public interest, and we have more than three months for public consultation with regard to these proposals put forth today. But in the meantime, we have also taken forward proposals to increase the number of elected seats for 2008 elections of the District Councils because there are certain districts in which we have experienced an increase in population, particularly in the new towns of Tseung Kwan O and Tung Chung. So in these respective districts, we will increase the number of elected seats. We will take forward legislation in coming months to implement these proposals.

Reporter: How about the appointed seats? Will they remain for 2008?

SCA: We believe that over the years, members of the District Councils, whether they are elected or appointed district councillors, have played an instrumental role in reflecting the views of people in the districts and in delivering services to the community. So we hope that people will appreciate that the district councillors, whatever their origins, have played a constructive role. But in the meantime, we are quite prepared to listen to views which the public, political parties and District Councils may have on the composition of the District Councils in the future.

Ends/Thursday, April 27, 2006