Press Releases

Government responds to Human Rights Watch World Report

In response to media enquiries, a government spokesman said today (January 19) that the Human Rights Watch World Report 2006 had presented a distorted picture on Hong Kong’s constitutional development.

"The Government’s package of proposals for the 2007/08 elections, if approved by the Legislative Council (LegCo), would have broadened substantially public participation in the Chief Executive (CE) and LegCo elections.

"More than 25% of all Election Committee members, and almost 60% of all LegCo seats, would have been elected either directly or indirectly by more than three million registered voters. It would have taken Hong Kong forward towards the ultimate goal of universal suffrage," he said.

"The majority of the public supported the package. The majority of the public also supported separating the question of the 2007/08 electoral arrangements from the question of a roadmap and a timetable for universal suffrage.

"Regrettably, as 24 LegCo Members decided to vote against the package, it did not receive the required two-thirds majority support of all LegCo Members for it to be processed further," he said.

The spokesman emphasised that the Government was fully alive to the public’s aspirations for universal suffrage.

"The Commission on Strategic Development is taking forward the work relating to a roadmap for universal suffrage. The Chief Executive has said that the Commission aims to conclude discussions on the principles and concepts relating to universal suffrage by mid-2006, and on the possible models of a universal suffrage system for electing the CE and the LegCo by early 2007," he said.

The spokesman explained that the constitution provided that the Central Authorities had the constitutional powers and responsibilities to determine the political structure of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Unlike sovereign states, Hong Kong could not decide its political structure on its own.

"We hope that commentators will respect this constitutional fact when commenting on Hong Kong’s constitutional development," he said.

Ends/Thursday, January 19, 2006