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Transcript of SCA's media session

Following is the transcript (English portion) of a media session by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at the Legislative Council Building today (April 2):

SCA: I would like to make a response in respect of the proposal by the Honourable Emily Lau that the budget for the Constitutional Affairs Bureau should be reduced.

So far as I can see, the position of Ms Emily is based on a subjective expression of opinion, rather than objective analysis. As far as the work of the Constitutional Affairs Bureau is concerned, we have been following up and pursuing all our responsibilities and all relevant issues thoroughly and positively. For example, with regard to the 2003 District Council elections, we have proposed legislation and enacted legislation to increase the number of elected seats by 10. And this is now being implemented.

In respect of the 2004 Legislative Council elections, we have put forth a draft bill to propose a formula for retaining the five geographical constituencies, each with a range of seats from four to eight seats. We have also proposed a formula for supporting candidates to stand in the 2004 Legislative Council elections.

In respect of the constitutional developments after 2007, a subject which is close to the heart of many people, I have also outlined a timeframe even though we have not yet set a detailed timetable. We are pursuing in 2003 internal research. We hope that in 2006 we would be in a position to take forward local legislation. So the likelihood is that in 2004 or 2005, we will be conducting public consultation.

We have been dealing with the subject of constitutional developments after 2007 methodically and seriously. This is actually part and parcel of the Policy Agenda issued by the Government in January. This Policy Agenda has the collective support of all the Secretaries of the Government and all Principal Officials.

Therefore the view expressed by the Honourable Leung Yiu-chung today speculating on a discussion in the Executive Council about the subject of constitutional developments after 2007 is pure speculation.

We have undertaken as part of the Policy Agenda to begin to make suitable preparations for conducting the review of constitutional development after 2007. That is part and parcel of our Policy Agenda that has the collective support of the Government's team.

In closing, I would say that the views of Ms Lau and Mr Leung basically represent their political views rather than an objective analysis of the Bureau's budget. Thanks very much.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion)

End/Wednesday, April 2, 2003