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Government's response to Dr Hon Kwok Ka Ki's views on proposed 07/08 electoral package

Commenting on Dr Hon. Kwok Ka-ki's "Letter to Hong Kong" which was broadcast on Radio Television Hong Kong today (November 20), a Government spokesman said that he was puzzled by Dr Kwok's suggestion that "the functional group of district councillors is a mere small circle of functional constituency".

"That may well be why Dr Kwok has failed to see the significant progress which the Government's proposed package on elections in 2007/08 will bring to Hong Kong's constitutional development. At present, 400 elected District Council (DC) members are returned through universal suffrage by over 3 million voters. Indeed, there are also Legislative Councillors who are DC members. By no stretch of imagination could DC members be described as "small circle"," the spokesman said.

Under the proposed package, of the 1,600 Election Committee members, over 400 (including elected DC members and LegCo Members) would be elected by over 3 million voters in Hong Kong.

As for the Legislative Council, of all 10 new seats, five will be returned by geographical constituencies, and the other five new functional constituency seats will be returned through elections by DC members from among themselves. Close to 60% of all LegCo seats would be elected through direct and indirect elections.

"By any measure, these proposals represent substantive progress towards the ultimate aim of universal suffrage while being consistent with the relevant provisions of the Basic Law and the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of April 2004," the spokesman said.

He said that the HKSAR Government recognized the need for a road map and a timetable for attaining universal suffrage.

"As rightly pointed out by Dr Kwok, the Basic Law provides that the ultimate aim is to attain universal suffrage. The HKSAR Government is fully committed to achieving it.

"The HKSAR Government also recognizes that we need to prepare for a road map and timetable. However, these issues would affect the future of the whole community. These should be dealt with seriously and methodically. We cannot fix a date for attaining universal suffrage in a vacuum. There is a need to have in-depth discussions on the model for the political structure after the implementation of universal suffrage.

"For example, we need to decide on a structure for the Legislative Council which suits the need of Hong Kong. We need to decide how the views of different sectors, currently represented by the functional constituencies, will be addressed when the Legislative Council attains universal suffrage.

"The new model must be consistent with the Basic Law, the maintenance of capitalist system and balanced participation by different sectors of the community," he said.

"Therefore, we have established the Committee on Governance and Political Development under the Commission of Strategic Development, so that we, together with different political parties and sectors, can draw up a road map for attaining universal suffrage.

"Once we have got a road map, the timetable for attaining universal suffrage will fall into place quite naturally.

"There is no need for the pan-democratic camp to insist on linking a decision on a timetable for universal suffrage with whether they would support the 2007/08 electoral package. The two issues could be dealt with separately," the spokesman said.

The Committee on Governance and Political Development comprised a wide spectrum of personalities from different sectors of the community, including the political, business, academic and legal sectors, as well as the media.

"Any proposals from the Committee will be discussed with the public," the spokesman added.

The spokesman said, "'One Country, Two Systems'has been successfully implemented since the establishment of the HKSAR in 1997. Hong Kong is a free society under the rule of law, and our freedoms, human rights and an independent judiciary have been preserved and maintained. Hong Kong continues to be an international and regional trading and financial centre. Indeed, foreign businesses have continued to demonstrate confidence in Hong Kong. For example, there were over 3600 foreign companies with their regional headquarters or regional offices in Hong Kong last year. Also, Hong Kong has again been named the world's freest economy by the Heritage Foundation".

On Dr Kwok's comments on the Chief Executive's recent " Hong Kong Letter", the spokesman said that it was untrue that the Chief Executive had in any way "branded people with different views as opposing the Central Government".

"As always, we respect people's right to express their views through any legal means. We will continue to listen to and consider people's feedback to the proposed package.

"The proposed package is firmly grounded on public views gathered by the Constitutional Development Task Force over a period of more than 18 months. We believe that it has found a point of balance among different views received from various sectors of the community. We hope that the proposed package will be accepted by the Legislative Council and the community at large," the spokesman said.

Ends/Sunday, November 20, 2005