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Government's response to remarks by Dr Hon Yeung Sum on universal suffrage

Commenting on the remarks made by Dr Hon Yeung Sum on universal suffrage in his "Letter to Hong Kong" broadcast on RTHK today (April 15), a Constitutional Affairs Bureau spokesman said that the HKSAR Government was firmly committed to developing democracy in Hong Kong step by step according to the Basic Law. Ever since the Chief Executive (CE) established the Commission on Strategic Development (the Commission) in November 2005, the Government had initiated, for the first time in Hong Kong, wide-ranging and substantive discussions about universal suffrage.

"After the third term HKSAR Government has been formed in July, we will release a Green Paper on constitutional development in mid 2007. The Government will consult the public on the possible models, roadmap and timetable for electing the CE and for forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) by universal suffrage. All proposals received from political parties, different organisations and individuals will be covered by the Green Paper.

"Following the end of the three-month public consultation period, we will submit a report to the Central Authorities, which will reflect any mainstream views formed during the public consultation and other views expressed," he said.

The spokesman said that any option for implementing universal suffrage should be consistent with the Basic Law, and should not require any amendments to the main provisions of the Basic Law.

"We also hope that it will attract majority support among Hong Kong people, and will stand a reasonable chance of securing two-thirds majority in the LegCo and being considered seriously by the Central Authorities.

"Only then would we be able to attain universal suffrage for Hong Kong," he said.

The spokesman added that the HKSAR Government was firmly committed to achieving the ultimate aim of universal suffrage in accordance with the Basic Law.

The Commission was engaging in substantive discussions and had been narrowing down differences.

"The Commission will have its final meeting on June 21. The discussions of the Commission will form the basis for the Green Paper to be published later this year.

"We hope that, from now to mid-June, the representatives of different sectors in the community and various political groups will put forth different options for implementing universal suffrage to facilitate discussion by the community.

"We also hope that different political groups will be able to build on common grounds and accommodate mutual differences, both within and outside the LegCo, so as to secure consensus for implementing universal suffrage in Hong Kong," he said.

Ends/Sunday, April 15, 2007