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Government's response to public procession and comments made in Taiwan

In response to the public meeting and procession today (March 18), a Government spokesman said that the HKSAR Government was taking active and concrete steps to take forward universal suffrage.

He said that the Commission on Strategic Development was now having substantive discussion on possible models for selecting the Chief Executive (CE) and for forming the Legislative Council (LegCo).

He said, "The Commission will meet again in April. Depending on progress made, the Government will publish a report around mid-2007 to summarise the discussions of the Commission for public consultation.

"The public can express views on possible models for implementing universal suffrage for selecting the CE and forming the LegCo. We hope that this will help promote discussion within the community, with a view to narrowing differences and forging broad consensus."

He said that the community must first have sufficient discussions and broad consensus on the models for universal suffrage, in order that a roadmap for universal suffrage could be developed.

"Once there is a roadmap, the timetable for attaining universal suffrage will fall into place naturally."

The spokesman added, "For the first time in Hong Kong's history, the Basic Law has set universal suffrage as the ultimate aim for our constitutional development. It also represents the common aspiration shared by the Central Authorities, the Government and the public.

"Community consensus is important in taking forward universal suffrage. We hope that consensus will emerge with concrete discussion and a readiness to build on common ground and to accommodate mutual differences," he said.

The spokesman supplemented that in accordance with Hong Kong's fine tradition, the CE election on March 25 would be held in accordance with the Basic Law and the relevant electoral legislation, and in an open, fair and just manner.

In response to official comments made in Taiwan yesterday about Hong Kong, the spokesman said, "In recent weeks, both CE candidates have the opportunity to communicate with Election Committee members and the public, and to explain their manifestos. Thus, the CE election has adequate transparency and will ensure that the elected Chief Executive will be accountable both to the Central Authorities and to the HKSAR in accordance with the Basic Law.

"Constitutional development concerns the affairs of the HKSAR under 'One Country, Two Systems' and is a matter for the Central Authorities and the HKSAR to deal with in accordance with the Basic Law. Under the framework of the Basic Law, those in Taiwan have no role in Hong Kong’s constitutional development," he said.

Ends/Sunday, March 18, 2007