|Transcript of SCA's standup briefing
Following is the transcript (English portion) of a standup briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at Central Government Offices today (February 20):
Reporter: Why did you decide not to allow Chinese medical practitioners to be included in the Medical Functional Constituency (FC)?
SCA: Back in 1999/2000, we mooted this idea and we undertook to reconsider the question before the arrangements for the third term Legislative Council elections were put in place. Two months ago, we started a round of consultations with the respective professional bodies and persons concerned involving doctors, dentists and Chinese medical practitioners.
The results of our consultation indicate that there is no consensus among the various professions; that the doctors and dentists are opposed to the idea. Even among Chinese medical practitioners, there are three types of views. Some would like us to include them in the Medical FC now with an understanding that they would get a separate FC seat comes 2008. There are those who want to have a distinct FC seat this time round. There are others who would wish to have a separate FC seat only in 2008 and no change, maintenance of status quo for the time being.
Broadly speaking, Chinese medical practitioners want a distinct FC seat which is not achievable and not attainable now. So we have decided for 2004 Legislative Council elections not to include them in the Medical FC.
Reporter: How does this funding scheme work? How could you justify the scheme under the budget constraint?
SCA: Maybe I should make two other major points concerning the Bill. This Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill, which is going to be gazetted tomorrow, covers a number of important points.
Firstly, we are going to put forth this proposal in legislative language the retention of five Geographical Constituencies comprising four to eight seats each. This formula leaves enough room for the Electoral Affairs Commission to retain the current five Geographical Constituencies if the Commission so wishes. It also enables political parties, political groups and independent candidates to retain and maintain their links and relationship with the constituents in respective districts.
Secondly, we will implement a financial support scheme of offering $10 per vote to all candidates who are able to attract five per cent votes or more in any Legislative Council elections. The scheme is devised to encourage political parties and independent candidates to take part widely and broadly in forthcoming elections. We have one measure to ensure that we do not have to devote too much additional resources to make this work. At the moment, there are two rounds of free mailings for candidates to take part in the elections to contact their constituents. We intend to restrict that to one round of free mailings for the 2004 elections. Swings and round abouts, we do not think we will have to spend too much more additional money.
Reporter: How will you achieve that savings if you pledged to cut savings in this elections?
SCA: I am going to reduce the number of free mailings to one round and that saves some resources. We have an estimate done on the basis of the 2000 Legislative Council elections. The sums more or less balance out but of course in 2004, much will depend on the voter turnout rate and the percentage of votes attained by individual candidates. So we have to see how the 2004 elections actually turn out.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion)
End/Thursday, February 20, 2003.