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SCA speaks on proposed additional elected seats for Islands and Sai Kung DCs

Following is a transcript (English portion) of the standup briefing by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, on the proposed addition of elected seats for Islands and Sai Kung District Councils at Central Government Offices this afternoon (February 14):

Reporter: (... the consultation period is going to end in March. Do you think it is too short a period for the consultation?)

SCA: We do not believe that this is too complicated a process or rather this issue is pretty straightforward. According to our analysis, between 2003 and 2007, the overall population of Hong Kong will increase by 3%, basically increasing from 6.79 million to 6.99 million. In particular there is going to be a steep increase in populations centering around Tung Chung and Tseung Kwan O new towns. In these two new towns, the population growth will be substantial. We expect population increase of over 80% in Tung Chung new town. As for Tseung Kwan O new town, by 2007 the population will be over 330,000. In the southern part of Tseung Kwan O new town, we expect the population growth between 2003 and 2007 to exceed 25%. So by proposing to increase the number of seats by two for Islands District, and by three for Sai Kung District, we believe that this will, on the one hand, ensure there is adequate representation in the District Councils for the new town populations, and on the other hand, we can make sure that the Electoral Affairs Commission will not have to alter too substantially the constituency boundaries of the seats in respect of the districts. We will have a period of about two months to consult the Legislative Council and the District Councils. Of course, by the time we put forward local legislation, there will still be scope for discussion.

Reporter: How about the expansion of District Councils' powers?

SCA: You will recall that last October, the Chief Executive made it clear that we should put together plans to devolve certain management responsibilities over district facilities to District Councils. At the moment among respective policy bureaux and departments concerned, we are putting together a consultation document and this will encompass facilities such as swimming pools, libraries and community halls. We intend to put together this consultation paper and issue this for public discussion in the near future.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Tuesday, February 14, 2006