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SCA speaks on discussions at governance and political development committee meeting

Following is the transcript of a media briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, after the meeting of the Committee on Governance and Political Development of the Commission on Strategic Development (the Commission) this afternoon (January 25) (English portion):

Reporter: Are you satisfied with the pace of the progress made in the task, given that it doesn't seem that members are any closer to a consensus? In the event that there is no consensus by, for example, by the time of the next meeting in April, when will be the timetable for a report? If by that time there is still not a consensus, will you still issue a report? And when?

Secretary for Constitutional Affairs: I would say that the Commission in, of course, the past year or so, has made useful progress. Firstly, in setting out various possible models for implementing universal suffrage for the Chief Executive (CE) and for the Legislative Council (LegCo). Secondly, we have narrowed our differences.

For example, in respect of today's discussions for the models for returning the CE by universal suffrage, members of the Commission basically focused on two possibilities.

Firstly, the possibility of forming the nominating committee on the foundation of the election committee with possible additional members to reflect more democratic elements.

Secondly, to consider the possibility of using the LegCo, the 60 members of the house, to form the nominating committee. These two models are models discussed by members of the Commission.

Most members did not think that using the LegCo would be a distinct possibility which is realistic, because the Basic Law has not prescribed such a role for the LegCo. This would not be consistent with the executive-led government provisions of the Basic Law, and also it would focus too much by way of nomination capability in the hands of the 60 members of the Council.

But we will have a further meeting in April. Depending on the progress made at that meeting, we would decide whether it would be necessary to hold further meetings or whether it would be possible for us to draw a conclusion and issue a report.

Reporter: Is there a possibility that there won't be a report issued?

Secretary for Constitutional Affairs: Definitely a report will be issued.

Reporter: By the end of this year?

Secretary for Constitutional Affairs: I would say (as soon as possible) within this year. Certainly, we will issue a report. But at any rate, the Commission will have another meeting in April. It will be an interactive process between ourselves, as government department and members of the Commission. We will continue to make the best endeavours to narrow differences.

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

Ends/Thursday, January 25, 2007