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Transcript of SCA's briefing

Following is the transcript of a standup briefing to the media by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, after a meeting of the Subcommittee to Study the Administration's Proposals for the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive (CE) in 2007 and for Forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2008 this afternoon (November 15):

Reporter: Mr Lam, what do you think if the resolution is really voted down? Is the Government going to put forth another amended proposal? Or should we simply go back to the 2002 CE election method?

SCA: We have tried our very best to come up with a package of proposals which, we believe, reflects general public support in this community. According to the opinion poll which we ourselves have conducted, and others which universities and newspapers have conducted, there remains a significant degree of public support for these proposals. In the next few weeks, until we vote on these proposals in the Legislative Council, we will continue to try our very best to secure that level of support within the Legislative Council.

Reporter: You mentioned that there is about 60 per cent of the Hong Kong public supporting the proposals, but it seems that there will be no two-thirds of the Legislative Councillors' support. Do you feel disappointed? Or what can the Government do about it?

SCA: What we hope the Legislative Councillors will appreciate is that it is in the interest of Hong Kong for a higher degree of democracy to be introduced for the Chief Executive election in 2007 and the Legislative Council election in 2008, through incorporating the district councillors in these two electoral systems. We believe this is a positive step forward. And we believe it is not necessary for support for this package of proposals to be approved in conjunction with an immediate decision on the question of a timetable for universal suffrage.

Reporter: Functional constituency lawmakers are complaining that the Government may use tactics to affect the sectors they are representing by asking them to do polls to pressurise the lawmakers to change their votes. So what do you think towards that?

SCA: All we have done is to explain to the functional constituency representatives and their Legislative Councillors the support which we hope they will render to the package of (proposals for) the 2007/08 elections. We have explained to the best of our abilities why these proposals do represent a significant step forward in terms of promoting democracy. As to whether any particular functional constituency conducts surveys within their own membership, it is a matter for the functional constituency bodies to consider.

Reporter: So you disagree that the Government had pressurised the representatives from the functional constituency by asking the sectors themselves to do the polls?

SCA: I truly believe that the functional constituency governing bodies are all of them very professional and capable of making their own decisions as to whether they should poll their membership, and what views they should reflect as a professional body to their representatives in the Legislative Council. As far as the Government is concerned, it is our role and duty to explain to these respective functional constituency bodies the merits of the proposals which we put forth.

Reporter: There is a Commission on Strategic Development. Do you think that you can have a consensus on political reform? And, as some legislators said, are you worrying about that it would take over some of the LegCo Members' power?

SCA: The Commission on Strategic Development is only an advisory body. We have invited members of different backgrounds and sectors to take part in this work so that within the political sub-group of the Commission on Strategic Development, we can debate and discuss important issues such as how the Legislative Council should be formed when we reach the stage of universal suffrage. At the moment, functional constituencies represent the voices and the interests of different sectors in the community. We need to decide as and when we reach universal suffrage, how these different sectors should be catered for. And I believe that with the varied and different backgrounds of the members of the Commission of Strategic Development, we can have a productive and constructive dialogue in that forum.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript)

Ends/Tuesday, November 15, 2005