|District Council election: Transcript of SCA's media session at 5.15pm
Following is the transcript (English portion) of a media session by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at the District Council election press centre at 5.15pm today (November 23):
SCA: The 2003 District Council election has been in operation for almost 10 hours. Today, even though we have a higher number of complaints, on the whole the conduct of the election has been very smooth.
As at 4.30pm, the overall voter turnout rate has exceeded 25%. Compared to the comparable rate in 1999 of 20%, we have experienced an increase of over 20 percent in the voter turnout rate. If the overall situation continues in this direction, there is a possibility that the people of Hong Kong, that the Hong Kong electorate, will be setting two new records today.
The first record will be, the 2003 DC election may well turn out to be the highest ever voter turnout rate among all these previous elections. There is a possibility that the voter turnout rate will exceed 40%.
The second record is, this is likely to be, the DC election which has attracted the highest absolute number of voters casting their votes. The fact that the people of Hong Kong are showing a keen interest in District Council work and community services is a feature which will be helpful to the promotion and development of District Council services in years to come.
Reporter: On the record voter turnout rates, what messages are they sending to the Government?
SCA: I think this sends to us various messages. Firstly, the people of Hong Kong are interested in the development of the community surrounding them. They have shown a keen interest in the representatives who will be managing the business of the District Councils. Also, if Hong Kong people want to participate more in community affairs, this will help us in promoting a wider discussion within the community on the longer term constitutional development in Hong Kong beyond 2007. This is a major commitment on the part of the Government. In 2004, we will be conducting public consultation on constitutional development beyond 2007. I think it is a very good start that Hong Kong people are demonstrating such a keen interest. I need to promote consensus and discussion within and among the Legislative Council Members. I also need the community and the Government to engage in discussion so that whatever proposals to be put forth in the next few years, there will be broad interest and acceptance among the Hong Kong community on the way forward.
Reporter: Why were there so many complaints in the DC election?
SCA: I think this is a result of quite a number of factors. The question concerns why there is an increased number of complaints in the District Council election this year. Firstly, we have the highest ever number of directly elected seats for this current election - 400 seats in total. Secondly, we also have a record high number of candidates participating. This is important to the overall process. That because there is so much keen interest in the broader community in this round of District Council election, naturally there will be a few more conflicts, a few more questions raised by opponents in the respective constituencies. But on the whole, from the inspections which we have undertaken in the last eight to 10 hours, the conduct of the election has been very smooth. The traditions of fair and open elections have been maintained throughout the day.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Sunday, November 23, 2003