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Transcript of SCA's briefing

The following is a transcript of a stand-up briefing by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam Sui-lung, at Central Government Offices today (July 25):

Reporter: Will the Chief Executive agree to meet representatives of these two groups?

SCA: We have received this letter from the Honourable Emily Lau and representatives of other organisations. We will consult the Chief Executive's Office before giving a formal response. But, I would like to take today's opportunity to emphasize that the HKSAR Government places importance on constitutional developments. We will put together a plan for public consultation. At this juncture, we do not have a firm timetable or a specific plan as to the mode of public consultation. But, what we will do is that we will ensure that prior to 2007, we have adequate time for completing this public consultation exercise. And, it is also important for us to leave adequate time for the Basic Law provisions to be brought into effect, if it is necessary to change Hong Kong laws on elections and constitutional provisions.

Reporter: Is it something going to be discussed at your get-together with the others this weekend?

SCA: I think it is something which we need to deal with specifically together with the Chief Executive's Office as to how we respond to this request for a meeting and an exchange of views with the Government.

Reporter: These groups are specifically calling for a constitutional convention. Is it something the Administration will consider?

SCA: We haven't decided on the timetable nor the mode of public consultation as regards the future constitutional developments. But, what we will do is to make sure that we have consultation with a broad spectrum of views in the community including political parties, other organisations, District Councils, the academic circles and the wider public. I think there will be many ways in which we can gather public views and I think different organisations will have different proposals to make.

Reporter: You said you would allow adequate time for consultation. But we haven't got very long, and you haven't got a timetable yet. Isn't it about time you should begin consultation soon?

SCA: What I will do is that I will listen to views on the specifics of the timetable, and mode of public consultation, see what other political parties have in mind, and what other political organisations have to propose. For the time being, our immediate priorities are to organise the District Council elections in 2003 and the Legislative Council elections in 2004.

What I would also like to emphasise is that ever since we had elections to the Legislative Council in the mid-1980s, Hong Kong has made significant progress. We now have a fully elected legislature which is representative of different views within the community. We have an uncorrupt, clean and open government which is accountable to the public. We have an independent judiciary and we have a free press. So, all the institutions which underpin civilised societies in the developed world, we do have in Hong Kong. We have a good solid basis.

Reporter: Ms Emily Lau said that the majority of Hong Kong people do want to elect their government?

SCA: The majority of Hong Kong people already have an opportunity to participate in electing representative institutions these days. We will take a close look on how we should move forward beyond 2007.

Reporter: Will you come up with a timetable for public consultation before the end of this year?

SCA: I do not yet have a set timeframe. But what I will do is in coming months, I will listen very carefully to the views of the community, political parties and other organisations as to how we should take forward the review of constitutional developments beyond 2007.

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

End/Thursday, July 25, 2002.