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Government's proposed package can bring significant constitutional development progress

Commenting on the Hon Emily Lau's Letter to Hong Kong which was broadcast on Radio Television Hong Kong today, a Government spokesman said today (October 30) that it was regrettable that Ms Lau had failed to see the significant progress which the Government's proposed package on elections in 2007/08 would bring to Hong Kong's constitutional development.

"Under the proposal, of the 1,600 Election Committee members, over 440 (including 400 elected District Council (DC) members and 41 Legislative Council (LegCo) Members) will be elected by over 3 million voters in Hong Kong," the spokesman said.

"As for the LegCo, all 10 new seats, including five new seats to be returned by geographical constituencies, and five new functional constituency seats to be returned through elections by DC members from among themselves, will basically be returned directly or indirectly by over 3 million voters. This means that, close to 60 per cent of all LegCo seats, including all the seats returned by geographical constituencies and some of the seats returned by functional constituencies, will be elected through this way," the spokesman said.

"In other words, under the proposal, we will not be creating any 'traditional' functional constituencies which represent sectoral interests. All the five new functional constituency seats will go to DCs, which have a solid public mandate and relatively high level of democratic representation," the spokesman added.

The spokesman noted that, by any measure, these proposals represent substantive development towards the ultimate aim of universal suffrage whilst consistent with the relevant provisions of the Basic Law and the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of April 26, 2004.

"The proposals are firmly grounded on public views gathered by the Constitutional Development Task Force over a period of more than 18 months. They provide more room and opportunities for the public to participate in the elections of the Chief Executive and LegCo, and broaden the representativeness of the two electoral methods," the spokesman said.

The spokesman said that the Government would endeavour to secure the support of LegCo and the community on the package of proposals, so that Hong Kong’s constitutional development can move forward.

"For constitutional development to move forward towards the goal of attaining universal suffrage, supporting measures on many fronts are required. Our important task now is to make the necessary preparations for introducing universal suffrage. To this end, we will invite individuals of various background to join the Governance and Political Development Committee under the Commission on Strategic Development, and to work together in formulating a roadmap for attaining universal suffrage. Other measures include grooming of political talents, and review of the role and functions of the DCs," the spokesman said.

On Ms Lau's comment on Hong Kong's high degree autonomy, the spokesman said, " 'One Country, Two Systems' is being faithfully implemented in accordance with the Basic Law, and that there is no basis whatsoever in the allegation that it is being undermined in any way."

Ends/Sunday, October 30, 2005