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Government's response to remarks made by the Hon Audrey Eu on Constitutional Development

Commenting on the remarks made by the Hon Audrey Eu on constitutional development in her "Letter to Hong Kong" broadcast on RTHK today (January 15), a Government spokesman refuted the suggestion that it was Government's position that "there would be no democratic progress for a long time".

The spokesman said, "The Government is fully aware of the public's aspirations for universal suffrage. The Commission on Strategic Development is taking forward the work relating to a roadmap for universal suffrage. The Chief Executive has said that the Commission aims at concluding discussions on the principles and concepts relating to universal suffrage by mid-2006, and on the design of a universal suffrage system for the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council by early 2007."

The spokesman noted Ms Eu's comment that there should be gradual and orderly progress in our electoral systems, and that the Government should propose changes to the electoral systems.

"Indeed, the Government did put forth a package of proposals on the 2007/08 elections. If approved by the Legislative Council, the package would have broadened substantially the public's participation in the 2007/08 elections. It would have taken Hong Kong forward towards the ultimate aim of universal suffrage in a gradual and orderly manner," the spokesman said.

"Approving the 2007/08 package would have created more room for widening political participation. The ten additional seats proposed for the Legislative Council in 2008 would have allowed political parties and independent candidates to stand for election to serve the community."

"Regrettably, 24 Legislative Council Members, including members of the Article 45 Concern Group, decided to vote against it despite majority support in the community for the package."

The spokesman said, "Constitutionally, as the package did not receive the required two-thirds majority support of all Legislative Council Members, the existing electoral arrangements would continue to apply in the 2007/08 elections. At the same time, the Government remains committed to promoting democratic development in Hong Kong and would pursue the question of universal suffrage through discussions in the Commission on Strategic Development."

Ends/Sunday, January 15, 2006