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Transcript of SCA's press briefing after LegCo's motion debate

The following is the transcript of a stand-up briefing by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, after attending the Legislative Council meeting this evening (November 9) (English only):

Reporter: Basically you are saying that if the legislators and the democrats support the proposal, then they will get the fish. And then if they support the work of the Commission of Strategic Development, they will even gain more. Just elaborate this.

SCA: Actually, the message that I was trying to convey was that everybody could have the best of both worlds. Because on the one hand, we are proposing a package of electoral reforms, which will enhance the democratic elements in the election of the Chief Executive in 2007 and the formation of the Legislative Council in 2008. So if members of the Legislative Council support this package, then Hong Kong stands to gain.

Secondly, I mentioned that we are establishing the Commission on Strategic Development and the political sub-group will discuss the question of a road map towards universal suffrage. And eventually, of course, this will lead to a timetable for attaining universal suffrage. This is actually in line with the proposition made by members of the pan-democratic camp over the years that if we are not yet ready to talk about a timetable for universal suffrage, then we should try to establish a road map. And that's precisely what we have done.

Reporter: But the problem seems to be that the democrats are still not happy with the government's explanation. Why can't the government go and talk to Beijing further and see whether a better package with more democratic elements could be introduced?

SCA: As far as the package of the proposals for the elections in 2007 and 08 are concerned, we have done our very best. This is the maximum we can do. As far as the question of a timetable for universal suffrage is concerned, basically Hong Kong community is not yet ready to take a decision and it is not possible to achieve consensus on this very fundamental question within a short space of time. There are divergent views within the community and within the Legislative Council on this. There are those who support 2007 and 2008 for obtaining universal suffrage. There are those who go for 2012. There are those who support 2017 and beyond. But this government is prepared to move ahead and talk about the question of forming a roadmap for attaining universal suffrage.

Reporter: That's understandable. But just why can't the government go further and discuss with Beijing further on improving the package?

SCA: It is not just a question of discussing with Beijing. There are divergent views within Hong Kong on...

Reporter: I mean as far as Beijing is concerned?

SCA: There are divergent views within Hong Kong community itself on the question of the timetable for attaining universal suffrage. At the moment, we have 30 functional constituencies representing different sectoral interests in the Legislative Council. As and when we attain universal suffrage in the Legislative Council, how are we going to maintain the present arrangements which enable different chambers of commerce, trade unions and professional sectors to have a voice and to have their representation within the Legislative Council? These are very fundamental questions which we need to resolve. And, there are those who suggest maybe we should have a bi-cameral system to accommodate both geographical and functional interests. So these are issues which we need to discuss within the broad spectrum of views to be encompassed by the Commission of Strategic Development.

Reporter: Is Beijing actually inviting pro-democracy legislators for a visit to discuss the constitutional reformation?

SCA: I have no news to announce on this particular front.

Ends/Wednesday, November 9, 2005